Lingerie 1/3/09

I have been thinking about doing embroidery on lingerie for some time now.  I might be doing some laces or even some more dense design.  I love embroidery and figured a little bit of additional color would be great. 

A great deal of lingerie today is made from nylon and/or polyester tricot.  Tricot is a ‘warp-knit’ which can be woven with nylon, cotton, wool, silk, rayon and almost any other type of fiber or fiber blend.  Warp-knitting, shown on the left is when the yarn zigzags with the length of the fabric.  Standard knitting by contrast is normally done in a line by line (or variation thereof) stitching.  On the right is ‘stocking knit,’ a commonly used knit stitch.



The texture of tricot is different from stocking knit. Ribbing runs in a lengthwise, and the opposing side runs crosswise. The result is a soft and sturdy fabric with many uses like undergarments and lining for sleeping bags.  It is also used in camouflage as a durable and breathable cover.  Since silk is so delicate, manufacturing it in the tricot method makes it a stronger, more long-lasting and carefree fabric to wear often.

Tricot holds its shape; therefore sagging is not an issue.  The breathability makes it a year round fabric comfortable for lingerie, gowns and undergarments.  Since it is made from natural and/or manufactured yarns, the coloration is limitless. 

Tricot is listed with its ‘denier’ number which is a weight calculation for yarn.  While there are a number of computations for denier, for simplicity, it is approximately the “mass in grams of a 500-meter length which is divided by 0.05.”  Got that??  Well, the smaller the number, the heavier the yarn.

 I selected a nightgown to embellish.  I am putting a ‘sparrow’ on the left side of the skirt.

 I started out purchasing some fusible tricot.  I never heard of it before, but my embroidery dealer was telling me about it during one of their wonderful monthly meetings.  I wish I could bring all of you to these meetings because we share, laugh and learn at them.  So I fused my tricot to my underside of the gown.  Just a few moments of ironing and it was done.

I followed that important rule about using a very fine needle for this since my project is on a soft, fine fabric.  I used a number 70/10 sharp (as opposed to a ball point) needle.  I did slip an extra piece of water soluble stabilizer which was just under the hoop. 

I selected a soft brown and cream color for the thread.  I do almost exclusively use Madeira, and the design was digitized for Madeira with a darker brown and a light blue highlight.  I change my colors whenever I choose and I really liked this combination.  The gown is a pale blue so the contrast is just wonderful.



This does bring me to another point.  I don’t always agree with the coloration of the digitizer.  A really good digitizer must not only be able to digitize but also be an artist and a colorist with a really good eye for creating beautiful work. 

I want to examine digitizing because so many people purchase an embroidery machine and want to start digitizing rather quickly thereafter.  The whole concept of embroidery and making your own designs is fascinating to newbies (we love you!!).  A newbie sees creating designs for a child, grandchild or other loved one; they get stars in their eyes about the uniqueness of doing something all by themselves.

Let me assure you that you may well have all the necessary criteria to be a ‘master digitizer’ but such things do take time and a great deal of practice.  Let me show you a couple of designs which will help you understand what I am saying. 

With apologies to the unknown ‘beginning digitizer,’ here is what I mean. 



                                                            2nd Photo courtesy of

The first dog was done from a clip art; and we can and do use this dog caricature in a lot of ways.  Simple art work is where a new digitizer begins, and we all have to start somewhere!  But, they might have done a few things to make it more interesting such as slanting the ears and tail to mimic the actual growth of hair.  They might have added some shading creating some depth to the dog.  If you look at the mouth, it is in the same ‘plane’ as the collar, making it flat and lacking in dimension.

The second dog, done by a very experienced digitizer shows the mouth separate from the neck, the eyes have life, and muscles and other details right down to the nails are accurate.  I personally sewed out the second dachshund and each of the layers on the front chest have been placed incrementally so that the white peeks through each upper layer creating depth and personality for the dog.  I actually ran my hand down the dog and it felt like a soft, smooth coat.

Getting to the point of creating something similar to the second picture takes a lot of work and knowledge of digitizing, anatomy and life colors. 

 Do give digitizing a try and just have fun with it.

Comments (5) -

normahornung 1/4/2009 12:36:14 PM

Thanks a lot for this. I study the possibilities in digitizing at the moment and I have come to the same conclusion as you. I got 'Digitizing Made Easy' written by John Deer, a very experienced digitizer and I now know so much more. I recommend the book strongly.

Love from Denmark. Norma Hornung


The more I ME,  the more respect I have for digitizers! Yes, I was one of those newbies that thought I HAD to learn to digitize. But the more I learned, I realized that there were more than enough patterns already available. Patience is not one of my best virtues at the moment, so I figured . . .  why reinvent the wheel! Go with what the pros have provided & change colors if I need to. My projects get  finished & looks awesome!

In short, digitizing is NOT for me at this point. But thanks for pointing out the differences!

Love your work on the lingerie. I haven't worked with Madiera thread yet. My shop carries primarily Robison-Anton. It is frustrating to me to have to spend the time to convert patterns from Madiera or Sulky to RA before I get started. I can't seem to find a good conversion chart for all the thread manufacturers.

Keep the blogs coming! I may not always respond, but I'm always reading.


Thanks for your comments!!!  I felt like I was being a little unpleasant about digitizng and was hesitant to add this to my blog.  

The truth is that good digitizing is part art, anatomy and genius.   I too have acquired a strong respect for a talented digitizer.  Somethings are better left to the gifted.  I would love to see a method where we could better see how the digitizing looks before purchasing designs.  

Flora and fauna are challenging to digitize, and fall very flat if not done well.  Imagine the dachshund if he were digitized in straight lines. . . .


patriciagstalder 1/4/2009 4:59:42 PM

I think emblishing tricot is such a great idea.  I have never heard of the fusible tricot.  Now, I will look for it.  I know nothing about digitizing but it does sound rather complicated and quite expensive.  I have an 7 year old Baby Lock machine and I love it.  I'm not sure there is even any software out there for that old a machine and if there is I'm not sure I can afford it.  I'll stick to the wonderful designs out there for "flat" designs!  :  ) Thanks for all the information, though.  I'm going to feel very snazzy with my embroidered undies.  lol

I do have a source here in San Diego where I could get the fusible tricot.  If any one might be interested, let me know.  


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