Embroidering on stretchy polyester moisture wicking performance shirts can scare most new embroiders. Performance wear can be slippery, stretchy and sheer presenting a challenge even to the experienced embroider. Don’t let this profitable trend pass you by as the performance wear portion of the apparel industry is the fastest growing fashion segment in world. What makes embroidery on performance wear a challenge is that this moisture wicking fabric is designed to stretch in all directions. Embroidery on this fabric requires the right design and backing to succeed. Follow our basic tips and tricks to succeed with these garments.
Choose backings designed for performance wear, like ProStitch Cut Away Stabilizers. This cutaway backing was designed to reduce puckering when embroidering stretchy microfiber performance shirts and will minimize show-through. For extra stabilization, combine it with a medium weight tear away backing such as RipStitch #15. When hooping, make sure you do not stretch out the shirt. If your embroidery looks great in the hoop but puckers when you remove it, you stretched the shirt too much while hooping.
Use a smaller needle. Instead or your standard 11/75, reduce your needle size down to a ballpoint 10/70. A ballpoint embroidery needlewill avoid cutting the fabric and causing runs.
Digitize your performancewear designs to stitch from the center out, this reduces stretch and helps to prevent distortion and puckering. Keep stitch density to a minimum and avoid designs with too much density. When digitizing, pay attention to the push and pull of the fabric. In lettering, try thickening the columns by about 10%-15% and shortening the ends of columns by the same amount. The resulting letters will line up better. An underlay, can also help by basting the fabric to the stabilizer.
The use of an embroidery specific temporary adhesive can help control the fabric and provide some extra stabilization. Lightly spray your adhesive on both backings before hooping, do not spray the garment directly.
Practice before you embroider a customer's shirt for the first time. Practicing removes the fear and will let you experiment to find the correct combinations that product the best designs.