Top 5 Embroidery Tips for Beginners


Wanna start embroidering but not sure where to start? We've got you covered with these top 5 easy tips!

1. Start simple. 

  • Try a sampler (like Dropcloth - these are fabric-only) or embroidery kit (like Hook, Line and Tinker - these are printed fabric, plus threads, hoop and needle) with the design printed directly on the fabric for you.
  • This way you don't have to think about drawing or tracing a pattern onto fabric and can just enjoy learning to stitch.

2. Use a good hoop. 

  • You don't need to break the bank for this, but a good embroidery hoop should have smooth sides (no splinters, if it's wood!) and an easily twistable screw to loosen and tighten the hoop.
  • Higher quality hoops may be a couple extra dollars, but will be worth it, and can frame your work when you are done.

3. Think about your threads.

  • Most embroidery patterns assume a 2- or 3-strand embroidery floss. Traditional thread brands like DMC are sold as 6-strands, and you carefully cut a length at a time (from fingertip to elbow), separate the strands you need, and thread them through your needle.
  • Two strands gives a more delicate look and allows for fine details, whereas 3 strands is easier to fill in satin stitching and provides a thicker line (for example, when stitching on linen tea towels).
  • Our Rustic Wool Threads are the equivalent of a 3-strand thread, and also look great stitched double on linen.
  • Keep your thread a reasonable length while you work - too long, and it will easily knot up. Fingertip to elbow is a good length.
  • Be sure to tie off the beginning and end of your work; there are multiple ways to do this (Youtube!), but you don't want to leave loose ends, as they can cause loose stitches or tangles in your work. Snip the ends once you've tied them off.

4. Think about your fabric

  • Embroidery does not require a specific fabric (like "Aida," often used in counted cross stitch).
  • Cotton, linen, and cotton/linen blends can all work well. So can wool!
  • Select a fabric whose weave is loose enough to easily thread an embroidery needle through, but tight enough that the thread doesn't sag or droop through the gaps in the fabric weave. Keep in mind that fabrics with an open weave, like linen, are harder for beginners; cottons are easier to start!
  • Keep your fabric tight in the hoop. When you first place your fabric in the hoop, stretch it fairly tightly and tighten the hoop screw as much as you can; however, as you work your project, the fabric can loosen; tighten periodically to be sure you are always stitching on a stretched fabric.
  • You can keep the fabric from slipping in the hoop by wrapping your inside hoop in ribbon or bias tape (found at most sewing or craft supply stores), which gives an extra layer of padding in the hoop to keep it tight.
  • You can place a second piece of fabric (simple cotton, or muslin) behind your embroidery fabric, called "backing." Both can be held in the hoop - this also helps with slipping - and you can embroider through both as well, for added stability, if you wish. This also reduces the chance of darker colors showing through to the front of white fabrics.

5. Enjoy it! 

  • Embroidery offers many fun stitches to learn - but also, it can be accomplished with just a few simple ones!
  • Google the terms "running stitch," "back stitch," and "chain stitch," and you will find instructional videos on these foundational stitches you can use for any pattern.
  • Stitching on a preprinted pattern is very much like coloring within the lines. Don't worry about perfection; just pick a stitch and go! Enjoy the colors and shapes, practice, and have a good time!

Bonus: displaying your work

  • Run a pretty ribbon through your hoop's screw and hang it - voila! 
  • If you want to be fancier, you can trim your fabric to about 1/2" around the perimeter of your hoop (depending on its size). Thread a thicker thread through this trim piece using a running stitch (fingering weight yarn works well), and use it to "pull in" the edges of your fabric inside the back of your hoop, then tie off. This makes a pretty finished detail for the hoop that hides your fabric ends.
  • Or, purchase an easy frame, like these from Modern Hoopla, that lets you rest your hoop inside the frame!

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