Are you looking to add that extra flair or try something different to your embroidery projects? Why not add 3D puffy foam to your embroidery designs to literally make your design pop out! 


To help you better understand 3D embroidery foam, keep reading below to find out how and when to use it and how to easily make your own 3D foam wedding tag.

What Is 3D Puff Embroidery Foam?

If you’re new to embroidery or digitizing, you may be wondering what exactly foam embroidery is? Foam embroidery (also known as 3D or puff embroidery) is a great way to add dimension to your designs and impress your friends, customers, and even yourself. 

Foam embroidery is where your embroidery design or lettering is puffed above the garment by embroidering on or around foam to elevate your stitches, giving it a 3D effect and feel. Adding 3D foam can be a great way to increase your creativity while embroidering!

The 3D puff foam used for your embroidery stitch-outs can be made with embroidery foam or crafting foam.

The process may seem intimidating but remember to have fun with it. Embroidery is an art form, and like anything, practice makes perfect.

Want To See How Far You Can Take 3D Puff Foam Embroidery?

Watch this fun video showcasing a three-layer foam bulldog cap that won me my first digitizing Grand Prize with EMB Magazine in 1998.

It’s hard to believe that I digitized that design over 20 years ago! I remember when we ran it on the 24-head Tajima machine it was like embroidery magic when it was done. The reason why?  I used three pieces of 2mm foam and built up the design dimensionally. The eyes are set back right onto the surface material of the hat, then building it up 2mm, then 4mm, and finally up to 6mm which is just the dog’s jowls, brows, and top of his ears. When the design was finished on the machine that was all you saw, and when the foam was torn off the entire dog appeared… embroidery magic!

Machine Embroidery Designs For 3D Puff Embroidery

As with many other special embroidery techniques (such as mylar, applique, and in-the-hoop projects), 3D foam embroidery is embroidered specifically to incorporate foam in your design and use it with your embroidery machine.  

Due to the nature of 3D foam, we highly suggest only using foam with embroidery machine designs specifically digitized for their use. This will ensure the safety of your machine and garment. 

When choosing your desired embroidery design, you want to make sure the 3D foam embroidery designs you choose has a perforated border. Make sure you have needle penetrations in all directions of the object, so it tears away properly. You can think of it like baking cookies. If you have a cookie-cutter that has a little notch out of it, when you put it into the dough and pull that dough away, it’s not going to pull away cleanly—same idea with foam embroidery. You have to have a shape that’s cut out all the way around the edge for that crisp, clean look. 

foam embroidery smiley

Please note: 3D puffy foam embroidery should only be incorporated with designs that have been digitized specifically for the foam process. To view our Embroidery Legacy foam designs, click here.

Did you know that ESA foam fonts are object-based and can also be resized? A 3D font is built into Hatch embroidery software, where it generates the lettering perfectly. You can also easily add more 3d fonts into Hatch in seconds. Do you want 3D fonts that are extremely easy to use and stitch out flawlessly? Give ESA 3D fonts a try by downloading a free 30-day trial of Hatch by clicking here. We’ll also give you an additional $112.90 worth of added embroidery bonuses for downloading the trial directly through us.

Check out our collection of additonal ESA foam fonts by clicking here.

esa foam text

What Kind Of Stabilizer Should I Use With 3D Puff Embroidery Foam?

This answer depends on what garment you’re embroidering on.

If you’re embroidering 3D foam onto hats, I would suggest using a tear-away stabilizer. Because it’s a hat and doesn’t have much flexibility, it’s easiest just to tear the stabilizer away (hence the name). Hats are also generally not laundered much, which helps with the longevity of the foam. The less you wash, the greater the foam’ss lifespan.

If you’re using 3D foam on any wearable item, I would suggest using cutaway mesh. As I always say, “if you wear it, don’t tear it.” I would use no show mesh, so you don’t see it through the garment. 

If you’d like to learn more about different stabilizers, when and where to use them, check out our Complete Guide to Machine Embroidery Stabilizers by clicking here.

3D Puff Foam Embroidery Steps & Overview:

  1. Run the regular embroidered elements first -With “foam” designs, you need to run the regular embroidered elements first; all Embroidery Legacy designs are created with this in mind.
  2. Stop the machine -Once all regular embroidery colors are completed, your color information sheet will give you a suggested thread color and say the word “foam” after it. When reaching this color change, the design should move to the top of the design, and you should stop your machine.
  3. Lay the foam -At this point, you will lay the foam down within the areas to be embroidered. (Always try to use the same color thread and foam whenever possible).
  4. Sew the tack-down stitches -The first stitches to be placed down are “tack-down” stitches to secure the foam to the fabric.
  5. Continue sewing –Then, the design will proceed to finish all the areas to be done in foam.
  6. Remove the foam -Now you’re ready to pull the foam off, it should tear away easily with designs that have been digitized properly.
  7. Done! –You now know how to do foam embroidery.

How To Make Your Own 3D Embroidery Foam Tutorial: Wedding Tag Embroidery Design

Now that you know the steps involved in embroidering 3d puff designs, follow the tutorial instructions listed below to create your very own beautiful 3D foam embroidery wedding tag! The theory application listed here can be applied to other 3D foam embroidery designs. You got this!

More of a visual learner? We’ve got you covered. Watch our Youtube tutorial here.

Supplies needed for 3D foam wedding tag

3d foam supplies
  • 5 x 7 hoop
  • 3D foam wedding tag embroidery design 
  • Wet & gone stabilizer
  • Ribbon
  • 3D foam
  • Satin fabric backed with fusible no show mesh
  • Thread
  • Prewound bobbins in colors similar to the thread used
  • 6″ dual-edge curved scissors (recommended but not necessary, any scissor will work)

3D foam embroidery wedding tag tutorial:

Step 1: Hoop your wet and gone stabilizer.

hooping stabilizer

Step 2: Load your first colored bobbin, and place your hoop in your machine.

bobbin in machinehooping in machine

Step 3: Run your heart placement stitch.

run placement stitch

Step 4: Fold your fabric in half; and make sure the shiny side is faces up on both sides.

fold fabric in halffabric shiny side up

Step 5: Run your tack down stitch over the fabric.

tack down stitch

Step 6: Remove your hoop from the machine. Cut any excess material using your dual-edge curve scissors.
Be careful not to cut the stabilizer.

cut excess materialheart applique

Step 7: Fold a piece of ribbon and place it at the top of the heart. Put a piece of tape near the middle of the ribbon to keep it in place.

tape ribbon

Step 8: Put your hoop back in your machine and tack down your ribbon.

tack down ribbon

Step 9: Cut away any excess ribbon. Clean and trim the ribbon tails on the back of the design.

clean ribbon trim

Step 10: Place your hoop back on the machine and embroider the bride and groom lace design.

machine lace

Step 11: Switch your bobbin color with the same thread color you want to use for the heart’s outline.

switch bobbin

Step 12: Place your 3D foam on top of the design and run the tack down and satin stitch. Remove the outside foam.

foam on embroideryembroidery foam placementheart foam embroideryremoving outside foam

Step 13: Remove your hoop from the machine and remove the foam.

remove foam from embroidery

Step 14: Cut the excess stabilizer.

cutting excess stabilizerfoam embroidery design

Step 15: Remove the wet and gone stabilizer by placing it in warm water. Let it lay to dry.

soaking stabilizer in waterrinsing stabilizer designdrying embroidery designdrying with towel

Step 16: Finished! You’ve created your own beautiful 3D foam embroidery wedding tag.

3d foam wedding embroidery

Digitizing 3D Puff Foam Embroidery Designs

Digitizing 3d puff foam embroidery designs is quite a bit different than digitizing regular embroidery designs as you’re adding another physical medium to the mix (foam), instead of just fabric and thread.

If you are looking for a resource on the theory and digitizing rules need to create 3D foam designs, I did a full segment on 3d puff foam within my “Creative Digitizing Educational Bundle”. This bundle is no longer available for sale individually, however, all 8 hours of viewing are now included as a bonus in our classroom when you purchase level 1 of our fan-favorite Digitizer’s Dream Course in any software brand! Not bad since we used to charge $379 online for those same lessons alone. All the theory is just a relevant today as it was 15 years ago, the only thing that is different is my hair has gone from brown to gray!

Conclusion: Creating Your Own 3D Foam Embroidery Designs Is Easier Than You Think

Hopefully this tutorial has helped you better understand a bit more about embroidering with foam. Although the process looks complicated, it’s easier than you think.

Remember to have fun learning this new embroidery technique. If you haven’t already, go try stitching out your foam-design! Let me know if this tutorial helped or if you have any questions below!

P.S. Want to try stitching 4 Embroidery Legacy embroidery designs for free? Click here to download our Free Embroidery Legacy Design Kit today! Experience the difference quality digitizing makes with these smooth, stunning designs.