Today I want to start with a completely new topic: embroidery for beginners. To me, embroidery is the most relaxing and meditative fiber craft (along with spinning) and I don’t do it nearly as often as I would like to. When I set up this website a year ago I created an embroidery category which has been almost empty until now. I shared one Christmas card tutorial last December where I showed you how to embroider a simple star on a card. You can find the post here.
I am currently working on embroidering a self-drafted floral pattern onto two shirts for my daughters. When I am done with this project, I definitely plan on sharing it with you. But today I would like to start off with a basic overview on what you will need to get started with embroidery, if you have never done it before.
If you are thinking to yourself now: I am already knitting/crocheting/sewing, I don’t need another fiber craft hobby – hear me out. Embroidery is a very versatile craft and requires very little materials. It can be beautifully added onto knitted/sewn items. You don’t need to learn a whole lot upfront and can easily get by with knowing only a few different stitches. It allows you to get as creative as you would like. You can either embroider a specific pattern (see sources below) or create your own as you go. And what I love most about it: it is a slow, calming process. And the end result is oh so worth it.
Embroidery for Beginners: List of Materials
Like I mentioned before, you only need a few materials to get started. You can get by with only owning an
- embroidery hoop
- embroidery floss
- embroidery needles
- embroidery scissors
Of course, you also need something to embroider on. This completely depends on the project you have planned. So far, I have embroidered on a piece of fabric (which I used later on to sew a project bag with), hand knitted cardigans and store-bought t-shirts.
If you plan to embroider on a stretchy fabric like jersey, you can add a stabilizer sheet. It provides support for the stretchy fabric which allows you to create even stitches. But, as you can see in the pictures of the two shirts below, it is totally possible to embroider on a stretchy fabric without a stabilizer sheet. You just have to be careful about your tension.
If you are working off of a pattern it can be helpful to trace the pattern onto the fabric with a marker. I use this one which disappears on its own after a couple of days. But there are also different kinds of markers that disappear when you gently wet the fabric.
Another possibility is to embroider on a canvas. I have never done this before but would love to try it out. Here are some beautiful examples of art by Carolina Torres you can create with this technique.
Embroidery for Beginners – Basic Instructions
- To get started, loosen the screw at your embroidery hoop so that you have two separate hoops. Place your fabric over the smaller, inner hoop. Now place the larger, outer hoop on top and push it down. Then you start slightly tightening the screw and pull the fabric so that it lays flat. Tighten the screw until it feels secure and the fabric is taut.
- Now you have to thread the needle. Embroidery floss usually comes in multiple strands, often six. You can use as many strands at a time as you prefer. I usually work with three. Make sure to not use a piece of floss that is too long. Otherwise, it can get tangled up very quickly. As a rule of thumb, you should cut a piece that is roughly as long as your forearm. Make a knot in one end.
- Start embroidering.
And that is all there really is to it. If you are a visual learner and would like to see some tutorials on different stiches and patterns, you can check out HandiWorks on Youtube. She has a huge number of videos covering lots of different embroidery topics.
Embroidery for Beginners – My Recommendations
Here are some of the products that I use and can recommend.
If you would like to get some floral inspiration and patterns, I can highly recommend this book by Kazuko Aoki. It contains absolutely beautiful photographs and lots of ideas for embroidered flowers. She has published several more books on embroidery, inspired by her garden, wildflowers and even vegetables.
I also own one basic stitch guide book which is this one by Lucinda Ganderton.
If you are interested in floral embroidery patterns, you should have a look at and other adventures Embroidery Co.. You can find lots of digital embroidery patterns and even kits on their website. The Wildflowers pattern was the first embroidery pattern I ever stitched.
With embroidery, I feel like it is so easy to get creative yourself and make up your own pattern as you go. To do so, I like to go on Pinterest and look for some inspirational pictures. Then I make a quick sketch and figure out the details along the way. I have created a Pinterest board on embroidery patterns as well as one about embroidery on clothes.
I was very unsure which kind of embroidery needles to get when I started. Therefore I ordered two sets of different size needles. I own a set 1-5 and 5-10. From my experience, you don’t need that many needles. Personally, I generally chose one needle from the 5-10 set because they are finer.
Have you done some embroidery yet? What are your recommendations? Come share in the comments!