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How Are Greek Stitch Letters Really Made?

How Are Greek Stitch Letters Really Made?

Every major university is overflowing with custom Greek apparel - from Greek letter shirts and sweatshirts to Greek bags, there is no shortage of sorority letters and fraternity letters. Sewn-on Greek letters (aka appliqué, tackle-twill, blocks, stitches) are by far the most popular form of lettered apparel. With so many options for fraternity apparel and sorority apparel, it is helpful to know how the product is made and what to look for when purchasing your own set of sewn-on letters.

Stitch greek letters come in various sizes, with the most popular being 2", 3", and 4". Often times the type of greek gear selected will determine the size of letters used. A tighter fitting sorority t-shirt will not have the horizontal space that a unisex t-shirt has, so in turn smaller letters will be used. Or for example, a tote bag that is less than 18" wide will need smaller letters such as 2" or 3". In addition to the gear type, the placement of the Greek letters on the clothing will also influence the size. A location like left chest will need much smaller lettering than a center chest design.

Sewn-on letters come in one and two layer designs. One layer lacks the dimension a two-layer design has, but does keep the Greek apparel looking simple, which appeals to some. Most often the design is done with two layers of fabric. The background layer (back color) is usually a solid color or metallic, but a pattern can be used. The foreground layer (front color) is mostly seen and is available in all sorts of colors and patterns. Most popular these days are animal prints, stripes, plaids, florals, dots, and designer prints like Vera Bradley or Coach.

The stitch greek letters are cut from a multiple of fabrics including poly pro twill, metallic, cotton, and cotton/polyester. The letters are cut using either a laser, blade, or water. Laser cutting is superior, as it reduces fraying, and creates a very clean cut.

Greek letters can be sewn down using a zig-zag stitch or satin stitch (double satin). Zig-zag stitching looks just as it sounds and leaves some of the fabric edge exposed. Satin stitching, on the other hand, creates a thick border of thread around the letter. For this reason, satin stitching is more expensive as the time and stitch count increases. Thread colors are typically selected to match the letter color being sewn down, but contrasting colors can be used, especially with satin stitching. These additional colors create dimension and detail on the greek sweatshirt or greek t-shirt.

The whole Greek apparel production process goes as follows:
1) the sewn-on Greek letters are cut from the fabric of your choice
2) the Greek sweatshirt, t-shirt, jacket, or bag is hooped with backing and put on the embroidery machine
3) the machine sews an outline stitch so that the background letter can be placed down
4) the letter is precisely placed and then sewn down with the stitch type selected - zig-zag or satin
5) the foreground outline stitch is then sewed down for placement on top of the background letter
6) the foreground letter is precisely placed and then sewn down with the stitch type selected - zig-zag or satin
7) the gear is removed from the machine, unhooped, and trimmed
8) the sewn-on Greek letters are heat pressed to the gear and packaged
9) the final product is delivered to the customer!

Sorority letters and fraternity letters will always be a staple in the Greek community. To find high quality custom Greek apparel, it is beneficial to know how it's made. There are many steps and details that go into creating sewn-on Greek letters - educate yourself and shop wisely!

Stefany Bernard invites you to design greek apparel at Designer Greek specializes in sewn-on greek letters, including sorority t-shirts, greek sweatshirts, greek jackets, greek bags, and embroidery designs. They offer hundreds of greek clothing and fabric options, resulting in beautifully sewn sorority gear. Their intricate Design Shop allows you to design and preview your greek apparel, which is helpful and fun when designing your sorority letters. To begin the design process today, visit


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