Embroidery 101: Luck On My Side T-Shirt (Backstitch)

Today’s Embroidery 101 project is inspired by a great friend who has “Luck” tattooed down her ribcage, just so she always knows that luck is truly on her side. Bold move my friend! While we’re using a different kind of needle, we’ll have the same confidence boosting outcome.

This project is a great way to spruce up an old tee. T-shirt material can be difficult to stitch on, because it’s spongy and stretchy. I’ll show you a really simple technique to make it a whole lot easier, so now you can stitch on all you tees. We’ll also be learning the backstitch today. It’s a simple outline stitch that makes smooth continuous lines, which makes it perfect for text. There are an amazing amount of stitches and stitch variations, but honestly, you can make just about any project with the backstitch. So get to making, fortune favors those who stitch. –Jessica

The full how-to is after the jump…


-Template (download the CURSIVE template here and the BLOCK LETTER template here)
-Iron transfer pen or pencil
-T-shirt, washed
-Sewing pins
-Sewing thread
-5 x 8” piece of jersey cotton or any light weight cotton fabric
-Embroidery thread, Sublime Floss Red Dwarf (red), Bell Pull (yellow) & Tassel (orange)
-Embroidery needle, size 5
-4” Embroidery hoop
-water soluble pen (optional)


1. Print template and trace with your iron transfer pen or pencil. It’s in reverse so the when you flip it over to transfer your pattern will read correctly.

2. Try on your shirt and mark with sewing pins the top and bottom where you’d like the pattern to be placed.

3. Iron fabric to prep it for the transfer. Lay pattern face down on t-shirt in between pins. Remove pins and now pin the paper pattern to the shirt. Iron with even, firm pressure. Before you remove the pins carefully take a peek to make sure the pattern is fully transferred. It’s so hard to line up the pattern once it’s moved and easy to make a ghost print if the pattern moves while ironing.

*Note- If you have trouble seeing your transfer trace with a water soluble pen

4. With sewing thread baste your 5 x 8” fabric piece to the inside of your t-shirt. This acts as a stabilizer to add some stiffness to the stretchy t-shirt fabric. While this step is not necessary, it’s oh so helpful to making stitches that lay flat and aren’t bunchy.

5. Hoop your fabric and use the backstitch to complete the pattern. To start, tie a knot and come up through the back of the fabric with a simple forward stitch. Then come up through the fabric again a stitch-length ahead. Then go back down into your last exit point. Repeat, trying to keep your stitches uniform in length.

Start and end lengths of thread with knots with 1” tails. Remove hoop in between stitch sessions so it doesn’t mark your fabric.

* Note- A super easy way to end a length of thread is to split the ply evenly on the reverse side and knot the two pieces of thread.

6. When you’re finished stitching cut away baste stitching and trim inside backing fabric close to your stitches, careful not to cut your fabric.

7. Wear it! Especially, whenever you need a little extra luck.

  1. Wow, great idea! I just started learning to embroier. Very excited to try this project!

  2. Artsy Fartsy says:

    Please sell these. I cannot sew and do not want to learn. :-) BUT would buy these.

  3. That is so cute, but I agree too much work!

  4. Jonesy says:

    Too much work? You might be surprised at just how quickly you can stitch this, once you get the hang of it. Besides, it’s fun and enjoyable work!

  5. Casey says:

    Super cute idea! A simple backstitch is really easy, once you get the hang of it. It’s my go-to stitch whenever I decide to add some embroidery to my projects. I love the script template!

  6. So cute!! I’ve been doing the backstitch with wedding guests’ names on a tablecloth I used in place of a guestbook at our wedding. It is beautifully smooth. I never thought about trying it on a t-shirt!

  7. Great pointer on adding the fabric under your embroidery. Thanks! That would actually help with my cat pillow cases too since the black thread shows through the white fabric slightly.

  8. D.J. Holohan says:

    I’m going to make a couple of these for my Stepdaughter to take to college with her in the fall. She’s going to Colorado so maybe I’ll make her a hat with instructions to keep the “lucky” on the side.

  9. Becca Kae says:

    Love this idea! Pinned!

    (Though it would be great of you could make it so that when I do pin, the title of your post is automatically in the little “description” box, like it does with other blogs… thanks!)

  10. Amy says:

    This is such an awesome idea! Love it :D

  11. Kathryn says:

    looks like such a fun project! love it. :)

  12. amy Stone says:

    Love this! And love the tutorial. Thank you!!

  13. Sare says:

    Fusible interfacing as an alternative for the backing? I’ve never used it, but I would think it would have less potential to slip around or bunch.

    Supercute— although a bit too much like something from LUCKY brand jeans for me. I will have to embroider a different power word.

  14. Shelley says:

    So cute, I love the idea of ‘Luck on your side.’ Thank you for the tutorial & the fun project!

  15. Christina says:

    If you are not sure that your fabric irons well, there is also something called “soluvlies” out there. It’s a bit transparent so you can pencil your lines on it and it stabilizes your fabric, too while stitching. Afterwards you can just tear it away or solve it with water. You could also just use tissue or tracing paper for this.

  16. Susan says:

    Love this tutorial and look forward to finding just the right word to make one myself.

  17. Jacqui says:

    Love this idea and can’t wait to try it! I’d love however to have a template for love as well so I could have love on my side as well as luck!

  18. Kate says:

    Being a bit on the OCD side, I would also fuse a lightweight piece of fabric to the back side of the stitching once finished. It helps prevent any stitches or knots from working loose and is softer on the skin. If you use tissue paper to stitch over, like Christina suggested, there’s no extra bulk.

  19. This is so cute and can convey to baby clothes for personalized gifts! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Annette says:

    Love the idea and design – thanks

  21. Morgan says:

    What font is the cursive one? Great idea by the way!

  22. Emily says:

    Great tutorial! How do you make the template if you want to make your own design?

  23. liz says:

    an easier way to stabilize the tshirt is with tear -away embroidery stabilizer fabric which you can buy at the fabric store..iron it on, then it washes away/disitegrates in the washing machine.

  24. neda says:

    I want try something and you gave me idea how to…thanks

  25. I pay a visit every day some web sites and information sites to
    read articles or reviews, but this blog provides quality based posts.

  26. Elaine Mcd says:

    Brilliant!!!! I love it :)

  27. tee says:

    What’s up friends, how is all, and what you would like to say regarding this post, in my view its really remarkable for


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