Monogrammed Baby Onesies: Embroidery for Your Newborn Infant

Humans began embroidering at least 32,000 years ago, and here you are reading this article thousands of years later.

Our ancestors embroidered for the
exact same reasons that we embroider today:


  • as a hobby
  • for art
  • to personalize items
  • for profit

Thanks to the internet and how fast the world is now, luxury brands are becoming more common, so people are looking for items that are unique. Also known as “bespoke,” these items are made of high quality materials to the client’s specifications with a personal touch.

While the practices of embroidery and specifically monogramming has been around for thousands of years, it’s become one of the most well-loved traditions to embroider clothes for children.

You can see expecting mothers with their embroidery tambourines sitting around a fire sewing in their baby’s initials while waiting for their little one to be born.

While some mothers have their embroidered baby clothes and onesies made-to-order, you may want to keep up this tradition.

If you have decided this, then this is the article for you. But beware, it’s not as easy as it looks.

Embroidering baby onesies is one of the most challenging tasks there is, because of their tiny, tiny size.

However, we simply cannot resist making something special for the little one. If you want to get an idea on how to make custom baby onesies, then come and read along.

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Preparation

Making the design

With embroidery, there are limitless ways on how you can make personalized onesies. One very good way of making a personalized onesie, is by stitching the baby’s initials into the fabric, which is known as monogramming.

stitching the baby’s initials into the fabric

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In making a design, it is wise to know the gender of the little one so you can appropriately choose the theme and color. For instance, in order to monogram onesie girl you can intertwine her initials with the wings of a butterfly as it sips nectar from a flower.

If you’re up for it, you can even stitch the baby’s full name to create personalized infant onesies.

If you are in want of ideas, you can browse the internet and go on websites like Pinterest or Etsy for design inspiration. You can also go window shopping to see some ready-made custom onesies.

Another approach is to ask a designer to sketch out a plan for your embroidery if you want stylized letters, calligraphy and small birds, flowers and leaves.

Gather the Materials

Gathering all the materials needed in one place before doing the actual process of making embroidered baby onesies will save a lot of time and effort.

However, before any sort gathering could take place, you must first have your containers.

Considering that embroidery requires a number of tiny things, say needles and threads, you will have to organize the different tools in a way most comfortable to you.

It may be arranged according to function, to size, to color, or to any other category, placed in various containers complete with written labels scribbled across the front.

the materials needed

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There must be one large container big enough to hold all the items needed in making monogrammed onesies for babies in one place if possible; one that is easy to handle and to carry around. Within this large container, there should be several other containers that must have the right size and shape for whatever will be placed inside.

For instance, needles must have a holder that will give you easy access of view and navigation, so you can easily see which needle you would want to use and you can easily get whichever you desire so you can efficiently make monogrammed onesies.

These can come in a form of a needle book, or a needle case; a pin cushion would be very convenient for temporary storage while working.

Another thing that you must take into consideration is your embroidery floss, or thread. When you have a design of monogrammed baby onesies in mind that is full of colors, then you will certainly require various kinds of threads.

You can cut them beforehand in the standard fingers-to-elbow length, and roll them around popsicle sticks, color pencils, wooden spools…you get the picture. Then arrange them in shades and hues that correspond to the color wheel in the various compartments within your container.

Whichever the case, organizing colors to monogram onesie is the perfect time for you to unleash your artistic self. The threads are waiting! Part of the fun of embroidering for your baby is that you get to go shopping for materials!

Remember, if you have tons and tons of floss ready to monogram onesies you can opt to have an entirely different container from the other embroidery tools.

Are your containers ready? Good. It is time to introduce you to the different supplies needed for embroidering.

Here are the tools you need to embroider your baby’s clothes with your own designs:

Needles

“Which is the right needle? Aren’t all needles supposed to just pull thread into and out of the fabric?” you ask.

Well, certainly all needles have the same function.

However, needles have varying eye and shaft size that can accommodate different kinds of threads – hence, different kinds of tasks.

Embroidery needle

slightly bigger than the shaft

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As its name suggests, these needles are the basic embroidery needles, with a long eye that is slightly bigger than the shaft and a sharp tip. These features are necessary to accommodate embroidery threads and to pierce through the fabric that is needed for surface stitching in making a monogrammed onesie, respectively.

Tapestry needle

Tapestry needles have eyes longer than that of embroidery needles with a blunt tip. This type of needle is suitable for needlework that does not require for the fabric to be pierced, like lacing.

suitable for needlework

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Straw needle

USE FOR overlapping layers

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The eye and shaft of straw needles have the same thickness, making them the perfect tool in making knots, like French knots. The sturdiness of the said needle allows it to pierce through manifold overlapping layers of thread.

Miscellaneous small tools

You need a nipper, threader, small scissors, a laying tool and tweezers. Make sure your tiny shears are protected so they don’t damage the other tools.

embroidery materials

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Embroidery floss

The embroidery floss, which is better known as the thread, is what you will pull, push, and pierce, through and into the fabric to create customized onesies with the personalized baby onesies name or initials.

Therefore, the most important factor in choosing threads is the color.

embroidery floss  for onesie

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All too often, finding the right color requires a few minutes to a couple of hours of decision-making to finally get it right. Using trial and error while making the design is a good way to see if this color will look good with that color, and so on.

Let’s say you want to make personalized onesies for baby girl, then it would be a great idea to choose pastel, feminine colors like pink, and purple.

Afterwards, it will only be a matter of matching up the color of the design with the thread.

This is where you can go crazy. The colors are up to you--what you really need to pay attention to is the organization. Put similar colors together or put the threads for one project separate from another.

You can see more methods on how to organize your thread here and here.

Embroidery Hoop

An embroidery hoop looks like a tambourine where you stretch the fabric you’re embroidering taught enough to be able to sew properly.

How to Choose a Good Hoop?

Test out the closure

The closure is the adjustable knob in the outer ring of the hoop that allows you to properly secure the hoop. Low quality hoops often have frail closures that are not sturdy enough to keep the hoop adequately tightened.

keep the hoop tightened

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In choosing a hoop, it is wise to test out the closure and see for yourself how well it can keep the tension.

What is the hoop made of?

The material that makes up the hoop is a very important factor. Often, good hoops are made out of hardwood, because hardwood can sustain the tension and keep the hoop tightened for a longer span of time.

Also, examine the surface of the hoop and see if it is smoothly polished. Slide your finger over and under the rings and watch out for any signs of splinters. Splinters are a big “NO” when working with fabrics.

Find a good fit

Is there are huge gap between the outer ring and the inner ring? Remember that the rings are supposed to keep the fabric stretched and flat by the tension between them once they click into place.

But if they cannot click into place because the fit is all wrong, then it is not a good hoop.

to keep the fabric stretched

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Stabilizers

Support with Stabilizers

 gives support to the fabric

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Stabilizers are necessary for machine embroidery because it gives support to the fabric while it is being bombarded by thick and multi-directional stitches from the machine.

For hand embroidery, it is not usually needed unless you feel that your fabric is too delicate and it needs some support.

Finding the right cloth for your baby onesie

Finding the right fabric for baby’s sensitive skin to make customized onesies is a must. It is important to take note that the immune system is yet to be fully developed at infancy and that your baby’s skin is easily-irritated.

allow the fabric to be sweat-absorbent

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Therefore, choosing the wrong kind of fabric can cause your baby to experience irritation, allergies, and eczema. These can be painful and confusing for a baby and can only make your life tougher when you care for him or her.

What you need is a cloth that is friendly to the skin, in terms of being breathable and elastic. These qualities allow the fabric to be sweat-absorbent, cooling and flexible, respectively.

Here are the top fabric picks that are usually preferred by mothers when making an embroidered onesie:

Cotton

Cotton is a favorite among mothers, due to its comfortability for babies and easy maintenance for moms. Choosing fabrics with 100% natural cotton fiber is a very good option, because it is very gentle on the baby’s skin.

However, it must be remembered that it has the tendency to shrink when exposed to heat.

Cotton Blends

Cotton and polyster blend is one example of a cotton blend that is a common pick among parents, especially busy ones. This is a good choice because it is quick to dry, and it is resistant to wrinkling and shrinking. Importantly, it is less expensive.

not prone to stains

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Linen

Linen is often used in summer clothes for babies, because it is very thin and very breathable. However, linen clothes are quite hard to maintain because it needs special care when washed and ironed.

A linen onesie would be the first to eventually get damaged in your child’s wardrobe from simple everyday wear.

Fleece

If linen is for warm weather, fleece is for cold weather. It is soft, warm, and gentle on the skin, especially for babies. More importantly, it dries quickly and it is not prone to stains, making it a hit with mothers.

Take note that embroidering fleece may be a little more difficult since it’s thicker.

Pro Tip: In choosing a baby onesie, it is advisable to buy the ones that are a little too big for the actual size of the baby.This is because babies grow very fast, and it would be impractical to buy clothes of the exact size since the baby will quickly outgrow them.

Now that you’ve prepared your needles, thread and other tools, let’s take a look at the cloth for your baby onesie.

How do you prepare your onesie for embroidering?

Hooping a Onesie

When making embroidered onesies for babies, it is wise to make use of hoops. Hoops will keep the fabric even and stretched, allowing the machine or your hand to move smoothly over the fabric. Otherwise, your onesie will look puckered and pulled over by the stitches.

 make use of hoops

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What you’re going for is an even pull for all your stitches so nothing looks loose or tight. Stretching the fabric helps you use the right amount of force when pulling your needle and thread.

A hoop is composed of an inner ring, and an outer ring. The fabric and the stabilizer (when needed) will be placed in between the inner ring and outer ring.

Imagine a burger, with the buns being the inner and outer rings, while the patty is the fabric and the stabilizer.

In this way, both the fabric and the stabilizer is held in place, flat and stretched, by the pressure of the two rings.

The real challenge

The thing is, hooping a baby onesie is one of the most challenging tasks because it is so tiny compared to other garments, especially when you are making embroidered onesies for newborns.

hooping a baby onesie

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It is quite difficult to navigate and to find the exact center using round hoops with tiny onesies. Therefore, using hoops with necks like the picture shown below will make the task easier.

How so?

Well, one advantage of using hoops with extensions like this is you simply have to insert it inside the onesie in such a way that the said extension will protrude from the neck of the garment, as shown in this link.

In this way, even when you want to make monogrammed onesies for newborns, which have very tiny garments, things wouldn’t be too difficult.

Here are some easy steps about how to hoop a onesie:


  • Insert the outer hoop inside the onesie with the hoop extension protruding from the neck hole. 
  • This step only applies to those who will use stabilizers. If embroidering by hand, move to the next step

Position the stabilizer over the outer hoop.

There are two variations in this step:

  • you can place the stabilizer over both the garment and hoop so that you directly stitch over the stabilizer; 
  • you can place the stabilizer inside the garment, and directly over the hoop.
  • Place the inner hoop over the garment and the stabilizer within the borders of the outer ring and click it in place.

Once you’ve gotten your baby’s bodysuit in your hoop, it’s time to start sewing.

Starting to sew the onesie

Two Methods of Embroidering

There are two methods you can use in embroidering baby onesies. There is the hand embroidery and the machine embroidery.

There is a great difference between hand embroidery and machine embroidery. In doing hand embroidery you have to manually transfer the design into the fabric and then trace it with stitches made by your very own hands

embroidering baby onesies

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Whereas, in machine embroidery, you simply have to hoop your onesie, position it on the machine, and then press some buttons to choose your design or to select your pre-installed design, and then the machine will do all the stitching for you.

There are several advantages and disadvantages for both methods. It is a given that machine embroidery is much faster, much less daunting, and so much more precise with the design and the stitches.

However, hand embroidery offers a greater freedom and flexibility in terms of exploring options of your own design for making a monogrammed baby onesie, especially with the tiny details. Moreover, if you enjoy doing creative handicrafts, then this method is for you.

Hand Embroidery

Transfer Design from Paper to Fabric

The objective of this step, is to transfer your design from paper to fabric, so as to have a guide when stitching. There are various ways on how to do this, let us tackle them one by one.

Method 1: Using a light source (Light box / Window)

This is the most old-fashioned way of transferring your design onto your fabric. All you need is the following:

  • your design template
  • a graphite pencil
  • a pigma pen
  • a little tape
  • your fabric

What you need to do is to tape the paper of your design underneath your garment. In the case of your baby onesie, you can overturn it to the underside, tape the design where the front portion is supposed to be, and overturn it again.

In this way, your design is directly underneath the front of the onesie.

Afterwards, with enough light source, you will be able to see the design under the garment.

Simply trace over it using any of the mentioned pens, and voila! You are finished.

Method 2: Using Transfer paper/ Carbon paper

trace over your design

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The first thing you have to do is to have your design on any kind of paper.

Next, insert the transfer paper/carbon paper between your design and the fabric.

Then, trace over your design with a transfer pencil, or a fabric pencil, and the transfer paper or carbon paper will simply mark what you have traced onto the fabric.

Method 3: Using the Hot Iron Transfer Pencils/Pens

Take note that this method transfers the reversed image of your design onto the fabric. Therefore, never forget to trace the reverse side of your design, so it will come out the right way.

This simply means that after you trace your pattern using an ordinary pencil on an ordinary piece of paper, you must turn the paper over and retrace it with the hot iron transfer pencils.

Afterwards, place the paper on the fabric when you want the design to be.

Then, use an iron that is heated to a level that is hot enough, but not too hot so as to scorch your paper or your fabric, and press it over the paper.

If you desire to move the iron to another portion of the paper that has not yet been heated, never slide it like you usually do when ironing clothes. Instead, simply lift it and then press it on the desired area.

Otherwise, the resulting image will be hazy.

Take a look at the other methods here as well.

Sewing methods

Stitch over the outline

After the outline has been transferred from paper to fabric, the only thing left to do is to fill it in with stitches. Now, there are quite a lot of stitches to talk about when embroidering. To keep things simple, we can stick to the general basics of embroidery stitches.

to fill it in with stitches

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Running Stitch

A running stitch is practically the most basic stitch that is common to most people, especially beginners. It is called as such because it creates one, smooth line. There are two ways on how you can do a running stitch:

  • Make a knot to keep the thread in place, pull the needle up, and then push the needle through the fabric to the direction where you want it to go to create a line in one smooth sweep. 
  • Make a knot, pull the needle up, and bring it back down. Then, pull it up right next to where the last stitch was, then push it back down. Simply repeat the process until you are finished.

Back Stitch

create a single line with your desired length

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First of all, make a knot to keep the thread in place. Afterwards, pull the needle up and go back down to create a single line with your desired length, say you want the length to be 1 inch.

When you pull the needle through the fabric back up, it must be an inch away from your previous entry point. Then, go back down again immediately beside the said entry point.

Satin Stitch

do this kind of stitch

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Satin stitches are used to fill up the spaces found within an outline. Accordingly it gets its namesake from the resulting smooth and shiny surface behind the fabric after doing this kind of stitch.

To do the satin stitch, first make a knot. Second, pull the needle up through the fabric then push it back down.

Split Stitch

The split stitch is a lot similar to the backstitch. However, instead of pulling the 3rd stitch up a length away from the 1st stitch, you have to pull it up right in the middle of the 1st and 2nd stitch.

Hence, the term “split” stitch, since it divides the stitch line into two.

Check out more tutorials and instructions here and here.

But how about using a machine to embroider? While definitely easier and faster, it may take away from the accomplishment of making the project for your little one.

Still, its efficiency cannot be denied and some women really aren’t cut out for sewing.

Machine Embroidery

the proper use of machine for embroidery

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One important note to remember when using a machine for embroidering:

Embroidery threads are different from bobbin threads.

Bobbin threads are finer and lighter compared to embroidery threads, which allows for the reverse side of the onesie to be less dense compared to the front.

Here’s how to do embroidery using a machine:

Set up the machine

Turn the power on, and make sure that everything about the machine is in the proper condition. If you have your own design, make sure that you have installed it into the machine, by way of a cable that connects the machine to the computer or a USB to the port.

Thread the machine

To do this step, you have to read the instruction manual of your machine because different machines have different ways on how they are to be navigated.

Attach the hoop into the machine

a hoop that is specifically designed to fit onto the arm

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Position the onesie in the machine by sliding the hoop into the arm of the machine. Most machines already have a hoop that is specifically designed to fit onto the arm.

After doing this, you will notice that parts of the fabric are not safely out of the way. In situations like this, spread the fabric outward and keep it in place by using a binding clip (or several when needed) to make sure that it stays attached to the sides.

Choose your design

Begin navigating the machine’s system: choose your design, readjust the dimensions, select the type of stitch you prefer, and whatnot.

Embroider

Then after finalizing everything, it is time to watch your machine go and have those baby onesies personalized!

Take a look at this video on how it’s done.

Making a customized onesie for your little one is a fulfilling task, because it has your creative mark on it.

A mark that shows your love and care for the baby. Embroidery is truly a wonderful activity where your creative spirit can freely express itself. Never hesitate to show it to the rest of the world!

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