Not Your Grandmother’s Jeans

I have always loved the look of machine embroidered jeans and remember a time when you could hardly find plain jeans in stores. That was many years ago when embellished jeans were all the rage. While fashion trends come and go, the good trends we all love eventually come around again, reinvented.

Embroidered Jeans

While the embroidered jeans of yesterday’s fashion trend had flowers and large roses, designs today  have a more vintage feel with a definite lace trend. The old has become new and I have decided to finally make myself a pair of embroidered jeans I can wear using a brand new embroidery collection called “Grandmother’s Tablecloth.” I’m so excited that I finally made something as simple as embroidered jeans.

I know what you’re thinking, embroidering on jeans is not simple– but it can be if you have the multi-needle embroidery machine and specialty hoops.

Embroidered Pocket

First, lets start with the design I chose to use.

After looking at all the pinboards with sewing and craft inspirations, I noticed all kinds of jeans with lace insertions added to the legs, the inside of pockets, or even created around the hemline of cutoff jean shorts.

I am all about embroidery, so rather than purchase lace, I needed to find designs that had the same feel as old vintage tablecloths, lines and scraps of lace, which led me to this collection. The designs have a vintage feel that reminds me of old, cherished tablecloths that would be tucked away in a chest, only to be taken out and used for special occasions.

Grandmother's Tablecloth

All of the designs are about 4” square, which would be too big to use in the pockets of jeans, so I choose a smaller circle and square designs, as shown below.

Embroidery Designs

Free-arm embroidery

The jeans have embroidery on the back pockets and inside of one front pocket. You could rip the back pocket off using seam ripper, and then embroider your design on a flat bed single-needle embroidery machine, but it’s no fun to sew the pocket back on in a way that won’t look like the original sewn pocket. If you own a multi-needle embroidery machine, it’s much simpler to just embroider inside of the pocket.

Not sure what the difference is between a single and multi-needle machine? Check out my previous blog post that explains the different between the two.


  • Vintage lace square embroidery designs
  • A pair of jeans with no embellishment on the back pockets (I found mine at Old Navy)
  • Multi-needle single head or multi-head embroidery machine
  • Specialty hoops for free-arm embroidery. I am using Fast Frames because it’s what is in my sewing room — there are other types of hoops on the market that work great too.
  • Sticky stabilizer
  • Blue water-soluble marker & a quilting ruler
  • Die-cutting machine
  • Rhinestone template kit
  • Steam iron
  • Press cloth


Preparing your jeans:

Step 1:

If you jeans are new, wash them to preshrink and remove the excess dye.
Step 2:

Use a water-soluble marker and a quilting ruler to draw vertical and horizontal lines on the back pocket, as shown below.

Square Design

Step 3:

Load the square design onto your machine, and find a Fast Frame that will fit inside the pocket.

To figure out which one will work, place the frame on the embroidery arm and slide the pocket over the free-arm area, and make sure there is enough room for the pocket to move freely while the machine is moving.

Embroidery Machine
Step 4:

Take the jeans off the frame and cut a piece of sticky stabilizer bigger than the hoop. Remove the release paper on the back of the stabilizer and stick it to the wrong side of the hoop. Put the frame back onto the embroidery arm and slip the pocket into the hoop, making sure the free arm, shown below, goes inside of the pocket, and center the embroidery design over the drawn lines.

Note: It’s very important to make sure you “trace” the embroidery design to make sure the needle won’t hit the frame during the embroidery. The specialty hoops do not register on the embroidery machine since they are a third-party product.

Step 5:

If you have an automatic basting feature on your machine, go ahead and baste the design to the sticky stabilizer. If you don’t have a basting feature, you can hand baste the pocket using a needle and thread, or use clips to hold the jeans to the frame.

Step 6:

Once you have made sure your design is inside the hoop area, push start. Don’t leave your machine! Stand close by, continually watching to make sure the pocket doesn’t shift while embroidering. The larger the size of jeans, the less likely shifting will occur.

Embroidering Jeans
Step 7:

Remove the pocket from the hoop and repeat the same steps to embroider the second pocket.

Embroidered Denim
Step 8:

To embroider inside the front pocket, pick a smaller frame and audition the design to make sure you have the right sized hoop and that you will be able to embroider far enough into the pocket so it won’t stitch on the edge.
Step 9:

Add the sticky stabilizer, baste in the hoop, trace your design and embroider away!

Embroidered Pockets

More Embellishments Anyone?

Once I finished the pocket embroidery, I decided the back pockets still needed a little something. I really wanted to embroider a larger design on the back pockets, but I couldn’t get enough clearance to embroider with the pocket intact, and I wasn’t about to rip off the pocket.

I own a die-cutting machine that can cut rhinestone templates, so I searched for a rhinestone design that would fit in the back pocket area.

Rhinestone Embellishment

If you don’t own a die-cutting machine, you can purchase rhinestone templates and apply your rhinestones one by one, using a special tool that heats the glue on the back of the hot-fix crystals, and then apply them individually to the jeans. There are also template books to make your own rhinestone designs that don’t require a die-cutting machine.

Bluprint offers excellent classes that will help you master machine embroidering on other fabrics, like terrycloth and knits. And for more machine embroidery fun with denim, read our post on re-embroidered lace.

How will you use machine embroidery to customize your denim?

  • (will not be published)

No Comments