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DIY: Embroidered Mantra Tops

DIY: Embroidered Mantra Tops

I’m baaaa-ack!

I very generously gave myself a few months off from the ol’ blog, but I’ve missed it! I’m back today with a fun DIY that I hope you’ll try: embroidered mantra tops. My sweet friend and neighbor sent me a link to Lingua Franca’s sweaters and said, “can we DIY this?”

Adorable sweaters that we can duplicate for a fraction of their $380 price tag? Say no more.

A few weeks later there were 6 of us gathered around my island drinking wine, laughing, and poking ourselves in the fingers repeatedly with needles. This project is an excellent one for craft night- nothing replenishes my soul like time doing things I love with the people I love.

Embroidered Mantra Tops

You’ll need:

  • A sweater!

  • I bought the tan ‘steminist’ sweater at Goodwill for $4

  • I bought the mauve ‘there’s only one of me’ sweatshirt at Target on clearance for $9

  • Several of the gals bought this sweater on Amazon for $20

  • Fusible interfacing- sold by the yard at Hobby Lobby; I recommend getting white for a light sweater and grey for a darker sweater to minimize how much it shows through

  • Embroidery floss in color of choice (unless you’re embroidering a long message, one should be enough)

  • Embroidery needle

  • Embroidery hoop (optional, but I think it helps a lot)

  • Chalk, fabric pencil, or washable marker (test it on the inside of the sweater to make sure it easily washes out!)

  • Iron

How to:

  1. Preparation:

    1. Pick a mantra! Use chalk, fabric pencil, or washable marker to write out your phrase. It doesn’t have to be perfect (the ‘handmade’ look is part of the aesthetic), but it’s helpful if you can get the phrase centered where you want it.

    2. Cut a piece of fusible interfacing slightly larger than the area you’re embroidering; iron it on to the INSIDE of the sweater under the area you’re embroidering. This makes it easier to embroider (better resistance) and also keeps the sweater from stretching where the letters are.

      • If it looks blocky underneath, we will improve that a bit at the end. To make that easier, iron it well in the center but loosely around the edges.

    3. Separate pieces of embroidery hoop. Place inside of hoop underneath area you want to embroider and press outside of hoop (with metal screw) around inside of hoop, sandwiching fabric in between.

      • Use the metal screw on the outside hoop to loosen/tighten as necessary

      • You’ll probably need to move the hoop over as you embroider depending upon the size of your hoop and the area you’re embroidering


  1. Cut about a 5” piece of embroidery floss, knot one end, and thread needle

  2. Stitch 1:

    • Holding hoop and looking at the front of the sweater, take needle and poke it up through the starting point of the first letter from behind.

      • At first you may have trouble getting the needle to pop up where you need it, but you’ll get the hang of it.

    • Pull floss through until knot catches

    • Poke needle back down through letter you’re embroidering about 1/4” from where the stitch started and pull through from behind

      • Depending on the look you’re going for and how big the letters are, you may want to make your stitches longer or shorter. For example, I always make my stitches smaller when I’m going around curves to get a smoother curve.

  3. Stitch 2 (and all subsequent stitches):

  • Poke needle up from back to front one stitch’s distance away from previous stitch. Pull all the way through.

  • Poke needle back down from front to back in the same hole as the previous stitch

  • Repeat stitch 2 until you reach the end


  1. When you’re done (or when you are close to running out of embroidery floss and need to start a new piece), get needle to back of sweater and tie a knot with floss around itself. Thread needle through stitches on backside to hide end and trim.

  2. Rinse marker/chalk off of sweater, or wash sweater

    • Pro-tip: if you get to a point where you need to move over and start working an area a few inches or father away from where your last stitch was, either bind off and start again with a new knot, or turn work over and weave floss through back of other stitches to get to where you need to be. I try to avoid having long stretches of floss criss-crossing the back of my work because they will catch on things.

    • If you can see the outline of the interfacing from the outside, turn sweater inside out and gently peel up the corners and peel around embroidery (up to, but not past, stitching). You can trim loosely around the embroidery if there is excess interfacing.

Total cost for mine was $9 thanks mostly to getting the sweater at Goodwill- the other supplies are pretty inexpensive.

And would you look at some of the fun sweaters my friends made? They’re naturals.

13.1 Miles in Glory Active

13.1 Miles in Glory Active