How To Machine Embroider Denim Jeans

by Laura Pifer, Trash to Couture

I love the look of embroidery on garments. It's a fun way to customize basics and add color and designs. Lately, I've seen many ready-to-wear looks embellished with machine embroidery, mainly on denim garments. Denim is an ideal textile to embroider on because of the medium-weight, woven material which does well with dense designs. I love doing machine embroidery on the back of denim jackets, cuffs, and pockets of jeans. Jeans can be a bit tricky to embroider because there aren't a lot of large panels like the back of a jacket for example. Plus you can open up a jacket to easily hoop the back. When doing embroidery on jeans you will most likely have to do some sort of seam ripping to open up seams. In this tutorial, I'm sharing how to machine embroider the bottom edges of a pair of jeans.


  • Coats Embroidery Thread
  • OESD Ultra Clean and Tear
  • OESD StabilStick TearAway
  • OESD's Needle Painted Florals #12221
  • Jeans to upcycle
  • Seam ripper
  • Brother PE800 Embroidery System
  • 4" x 4" or 5" x 7" hoop


Use a seam ripper to open up the inner seam of the jeans. This seam typically doesn't have the decorative topstitch which is usually on the outside seam of the jeans. Seam rip up to a few inches above where you want the top of the embroidery design to be. You may need to unpick part of the bottom hem along the seam to get the seam open initially.

Decide the placement of the design and mark with a fabric marking tool the center with a cross mark. That way I can adjust the design on the machine to be centered once hooped.

Stabilize the jeans: if you're using a smaller hoop you can hoop the jeans. It may be hard to get an ideal placement of the design this way and you will need to use a smaller hoop and therefore a smaller design. If you plan to do this then I like to stabilize with a Tear-Away stabilizer like Ultra Clean and Tear.

I wanted a larger design to cover most of the bottom edge. So I chose to use an adhesive TearAway stabilizer.

Hoop StabilStick TearAway so the adhesive side will be up once you remove the top layer. Remove the top layer to expose the adhesive. Tear completely away.

Align the center of the jeans down the center of the hoop (in between the hoop marks). It may help to draw a line down the center of the stabilizer as well.

From here I can set the embroidery design up to be exactly where I want it. My Brother PE800 makes it easy to adjust the placement and size, and even add designs together. Begin embroidery.

Once done remove from the hoop and remove the TearAway backing.

Flip the wrong side out pin the side seam and sew back up the seam allowance. Now you have a little more "spring" in your step!

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