10 Things to Know About Sewing on Paper

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Yes, you can sew and embroider on paper!

With a few guidelines, sewing or embroidering on paper is quick and easy. Whether you are teaching kids to sew, embellishing blank greeting cards or adding color to scrapbook pages, sewing on paper is a CHEAP way to be creative. 

OESD Essential Sentiments #12282

Decorative stitches sewn with variegated thread add an amazing pop of color to any paper craft. Try out a variety of stitches and paper types while testing machine settings to find the best results. 

If using an embroidery machine, select embroidery designs without tons of fill stitches. Many embroidery companies create specific collections designed to be stitched out on paper.

Follow these helpful tips for successful stitched paper crafting using a sewing machine or embroidery machine. 

OESD Essential Sentiments #12282

1. Needle Selection for Sewing on Paper

This is the most common question we get when users want to sew on paper. What needle should I use? First, determine what thread will be used – thick or thin – than match the needle to the thread. It is recommended to use a sharp needle such as a Jeans, Topstitch or Microtex needle to achieve a nice hole through the paper. 

2. Selecting the Right Paper

Experiment with different paper weights. Cardstock, construction paper and handmade papers are a great place to start for stitches. Each are a bit sturdy and can support having holes and thread punched through them.

3. Stabilizer

With both sewing and embroidery stitching, it is best to add a layer of tear-away or cutaway stabilizer behind the stitching to assure the stitches do not tear the paper. This gives a layer of support and gives the stitches a bit more to secure themselves to.

4. Take Your Time

You will quickly realize that every stitch taken makes a hole in the paper. These holes are permanent and can not be undone. 

OESD Essential Sentiments #12282

5. Stitch from the Right Side

Stitching from the right side of the paper will give the best results. 

6. Do Not Use Pins

If you are in the need of securing the paper in place before stitching, consider using a dab of glue to hold the layers together. 

7. Machine Stitch Length for Sewing on Paper

It is wise to lengthen the stitch length to longer than normal setting to make sure the paper is not perforated. Avoid stitches that are too close together to keep the paper from falling apart.

8. Cleaning Your Sewing Machine After Sewing on Paper 

Sewing on paper is no worse than sewing on fleece or flannel. The extra lint and fuzz left in the machine after sewing on paper should be cleaned out prior to starting a new project.

9. Embroidering on Paper

As stated above, many embroidery companies offer embroidery collections designed to stitch out of paper or greeting cards. Use these examples to learn which embroidery designs you already own that would be good choices for your own paper stitched embroideries. 

10. Kids Love to Sew on Paper

When kids want to sew on your sewing machine, but you don’t want them wasting fabric, hand them paper! Better yet, print off basic mazes or dot to dot pictures to have them practice their new sewing skills. You don’t even need to put thread in the machine for these fun exercises. The needle will create a line of holes in the paper to see where they have stitched. 

Sewing on paper can be simple, fun and CHEAP. Next time you need to test out a stitch, try reaching out for a piece of paper instead of a piece of fabric. 

  1. Mary says:

    This reminds me of the sewing cards we used to get as children.
    We could do with more of these ideas to promote creativity and eye hand and fine motor co-ordination in children.

  2. Robin Zell says:

    What is the best thread choice? Thanks.

    1. Sara says:

      Good quality thread is key. I use Isacord a lot.

  3. Bernice Julkes says:

    How do I Learn which embroidery fonts would be good choices for my own paper stitched cards.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Bernice,

      I too would just need to experiment. Have fun trying out different ones until you find the ones that work for you. Cut-away stabilizer behind the paper will be the best stabilizer to use.

      Sara Snuggerud

  4. J Barash says:

    I have a 1981 Singer sewing machine. Can it be used to sew on paper, layers of paper and fabric.
    Thank you

    1. Sara says:

      Yes, you can sew on paper with any sewing machine.

  5. Katherine Livengood says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. It was very helpful.

  6. Barbara says:

    Great article!!!

  7. Karen Spica says:

    Do you know of alphabet letter that have low stitch count to add words to the inside of the card? The ones I have tried punch holes in the card stock.. My machine came with some scrip but the thread count seem to high. Please email me your thoughts….
    Thank you,

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Karen,

      We recommend looking into purchasing embroidery software that will have additional alphabet styles and the ability to adjust the density to sew them out on paper.

      Your local sewing machine store can help you with your embroidery software needs.

      Sara Snuggerud

  8. Karen says:

    Thank you!!😊

  9. Sylvia Hildman says:

    Thank you for this information. Noticing Isacord comes in different sizes 1000m thru 5000M Does the size thread require a certain needle size? I will need to order online and wondering which which is the better size for paper. I have a Singer Heavy duty basic 4452 can I use Isacord with it? I loved the idea for no thread while showing my grand girls stitching. THANK YOU so much for any help.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Sylvia,

      The difference in Isacord thread sizes is the total yardage on the spool. The weight is identical.

      Your Singer sewing machine will love Isacord thread. I usually use a Microtex 80/12 needle with this thread.

      Happy Sewing!

      Sara Snuggerud

  10. Chelsea says:

    Do you have a recommendation for a stabilizer t to hat can be used on paper? I’ve never used stabilizers before and everything I’m finding seems to be water soluble.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Chelsea,

      We recommend using Cut-Away stabilizer behind paper being embellished with sewing machine stitches.

    2. rebecca rath says:

      Hi there, I am a pediatric occupational therapist. I work with children with special needs. One of my biggest areas is to help children with their fine motor and visual motor skills. I am always designing my own therapy activities and have been sketching out ideas to work on sewing on paper. THis is really helpful. thank you

  11. Staci Staler says:

    Best beginner machine? Will only be used on paper.
    Thank you!

  12. Liz says:

    When I sew on paper the stitches come out “upside down” and yet this does not happen if I sew on fabric. Any idea what is wrong?
    Thank you!

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Liz,

      Paper can make stitches look a bit different than when they appear on the fabric. In your case, reduce (smaller number) the top tension until the top thread is pulled more to the backside.


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