Embroidery on Weird Fabrics

Weird Fabric Wednesday – how to embroidery on straw placemats or hats.

Did you know that you can embroider on difficult fabrics, such as a straw hat or placemats?

It’s really quite easy. The trick is all in preparing the surface for embroidery.

machine embroidery on placemat

machine embroidery on placemat

I purchased these beautiful placemats from the reject shop ($10 for a set of 4, with 4 matching coasters). I fell in love with the placemats for a summer/spring outlook, and had to try them on my new collection – WreathsWreaths are a collection of 12 different Wreath blocks, showing off the best of summer/spring foliage.  Change the look of the designs just by using different threads, for an Autumn/Winter look.

You need to consider a couple of different road blocks when you are looking at embroidering on difficult fabrics. If you take into consider the following factors, your embroidery will turn out perfectly every time.


The first thing to realise is that you are not going to be able to hoop in a traditional manner. Even if the hat/placemat was not too thick to fit into the hoop, the hoop marks would destroy the weave on the straw.  Because of this, we need to look at alternatives.  The best alternative in this particular case is to use a sticky backed wash away stabiliser (such as WetAway Sticky).  This stabiliser is hooped, and then the item is placed on top of the stabiliser to adhere for embroidery.  There are many different types of sticky stabilisers out there on the market, however I love the WetAway Sticky for this application as it doesn’t “gum up” the needle, and the first time the placemats are washed/rinsed, all evidence of stabiliser will be removed from the back.

Speed Kills

Embroidery on this particular type of fabric/medium will take longer than normal embroidery. Turn the speed on your machine down to the LOWEST setting.  The stitches need to form over an uneven surface, and that can take extra time.  Using the lowest setting will allow the machine the opportunity to form the nicest stitch.

Presser Foot Height

A heavy fabric is another place that you will need to alter the presser foot height option on your machine. I find that I need to bring the height up to 2.5mm to fully make room for this thick fabric.


Think about how your item will be used. In this instance, my placemats are going to be used daily, probably washed weekly, and placed out in the sun to dry.  The best thread to use in this circumstance is Polyester.  The other joy of Polyester thread is it’s strength, and I find the strength a really great positive when I am stitching through a difficult fabric.


Keep it sharp. You need a really sharp needle to work its way through the layers of straw on these placemats or hats.  One of the many reasons I love the Organ PD needles is because of how long lasting they are.  I try and use an Organ PD needle that is near the end of it’s life.  This way it is still a sharp needle, that is incredibly strong, however I don’t feel bad about throwing it away after I finish the project.

Related Posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: