If you’re like me, you’ve seen something at a store and thought, “I can make that!”.  My sister and I were shopping and came across a child’s denim jacket with a couple of layers of tulle attached to the bottom and a price tag of $110. There were no other embellishments, just two layers of tulle.  Since I’m always itching to stitch out a design by JuJu, I knew that embroidered denim jackets were my next project. I picked up two jackets from a consignment shop for a few dollars each.  One would be for my granddaughter and the other for my niece.  

Embroidery on denim jackets is relatively easy to do. I spent more time deciding on the designs and the thread colors than I did doing the denim embroidery work itself. I’ll share more of the step-by-step for my granddaughter’s jacket and then add some notes from embroidering the second jacket.

After choosing several designs that would look great on an embroidered jean jacket, I decided to let the person who would wear this jacket make the final decision.  I sent my granddaughter several of JuJu’s designs, and she chose the rainbow unicorn from the DBJJ Sweet Unicorns.

The 5 x 7 design size for this embroidered denim jacket was perfect. I wanted the design to start about 3⁄4'' below the seam line, so I marked that with a fabric marker.  99% of the time, I convert the inches to cm or mm using an online converter. The 6.68” became 17 cm, which I divided in half to find the center of the top and bottom of the design. In my photo, you can see the marker I used. I also used a white pencil to mark the very center point so when it was under the needle, it was easier to see.

Using pins from the line on the front of the jacket to the inside, I marked a line on the inside.  The pin marking the center in this photo is difficult to see, but it is directly next to the arrow.

It’s often asked if a stabilizer is needed when embroidering denim jackets or other denim items.  The answer is YES. The stabilizer stabilizes the stitching and keeps it from puckering. Plus, a lot of denims have some stretch to them. I used a Pellon cutaway stabilizer. I like to draw lines on the stabilizer with a pencil to match the markings on the item to the lines on the stabilizer.  

After drawing my lines, I floated the jacket. Floating means you put the stabilizer in the hoop, spray it with an adhesive spray (I use 505), and then stick the item to it. I typically float all my embroidery, but floating these jackets was the right strategy. This first jacket had a lot of stretch, and it was easier not accidentally to pull as I laid it on the sprayed stabilizer. Not hooping also meant I didn’t need to worry about the bulky seams between the jacket panels. I matched the line drawn on the inside of the jacket back and the line drawn on the stabilizer to keep everything aligned

The other question that’s often asked about denim embroidery is which type of needle to use. The answer is still an embroidery needle. I used a 75/11 on these embroidered jean jackets.  

The unicorn design included applique. An easy way to add texture and/or color to an appliqued design is by choosing a fabric that will do double duty. The fabric I chose for the tail is multi-colored and has glitter. The body of the unicorn is a white glitter. (Glitter doesn’t show up well in photos.)

Because of the machine applique, I needed to remove the hoop to trim away the extra fabric carefully. I used applique scissors to get close to the stitching lines. I also used painter’s tape to pick up all the little thread snippings so they didn’t get caught up in other parts of the embroidery. If you do that, don’t touch the cut edges, or you may accidentally pull up more threads.  

It doesn’t show in my photos, but I also used painter’s tape to keep the sleeves out of the way.  You can use painter’s tape or black binder clips. Don’t leave your machine sewing unattended because the clips get caught, or the tape will slip.

I had trouble finding a pale yellow that I liked.  This yellow was too bright.  If I used the “wrong” side, the blue denim showed through, so I doubled up the fabric. Yes, you can use the “wrong” side of a fabric!

These embroidered denim jackets are for children, so I chose bright colors of fabric and threads that would stand out from the dark blue denim. I was not going for subtly.  

I usually just place all the threads I use for a design in a basket to keep myself organized.  This particular design had a lot of colors and stops, so I listed them on paper and even did a little drawing as a quick reference sheet.

Threads for the unicorn jacket vs threads for the flowered jacket.

Here are the embroidered denim jackets!  The flower design is from DBJJ Scandinavian Floral 1.  I found only a few differences when I did the second embroidered jacket. It was easier to float because it had little to no stretch. (But really, both were easy to float.)  I took greater care in centering the design because it’s symmetrical.  The flower was stitched out much quicker because there was no applique and fewer color changes. When all the machine work was done, I removed the excess stabilizer from the embroidered jean jackets.

Thank you to all the embroiderers who share their photos on the Designs by JuJu Embroidery Blessings Group Facebook page! I picked up many of my ideas for fabric and thread choices by searching the unicorn designs and embroidered denim jackets that others posted.