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Embroidered Sweaters

Add character to a store-bought pullover by embroidering your child’s initial. It looks as though the letter was knit into the sweater, but it’s actually stitched on top with a simple technique called the duplicate stitch.

Photography: Frank Heckers

Source: Martha Stewart


Ask your children which letter they would like to wear -- maybe their first initial, or the first letter of their school -- and then surprise them by stitching one up in an evening. A heavy sweater like this is a great project for a beginner.


Getting Started

You’ll need a tapestry needle if working with yarn, or an embroidery needle if using embroidery floss. Start at the bottom of the design and work upward. Try to avoid making some stitches tighter than others, as this will result in puckering. And be sure to snip yarn after finishing a motif; in other words, sew only one snowflake or letter at a time.


Creating your own design? It’s helpful to sketch it out first on graph paper, letting each square represent one complete stitch (or V) on the knitted garment. (To make thin or connecting lines, as we did for the pullover, you will stitch over only one side of the V.) Alternately, try mapping out your design on a counted cross-stitch chart, available at craft or sewing stores (design will appear slightly elongated).


  • Tapestry needle or embroidery needle

  • Yarn or embroidery floss


  1. From the inside of the garment, insert a needle threaded with yarn or floss, coming out at the base of the stitch (or V) that you’re duplicating. Find the stitch that’s directly above it, and then pass the needle behind it from right to left.

  2. Insert the needle back through the starting point in step 1. You have completed one duplicate stitch. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each stitch. When done, snip yarn, and weave ends under stitches on back.

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