If you want to give embroidery a try, but have been intimidated by the different supplies and the vast number of tutorials, this quick-start stitching guide is for you. This easy overview is also helpful if you're introducing a friend to stitching and want to make sure you cover the basics.
Learning embroidery doesn't have to be difficult, and it definitely shouldn't feel like a huge investment of time and money. It's actually an easy and inexpensive hobby to jump into!
Once you get your feet wet (or perhaps more appropriately, once you get your needle threaded), you can gain a more in-depth knowledge of embroidery. You can also pick up special tips, tools, and techniques that will improve or enhance your stitching.
To get started, you only need a basic pattern for beginners and a few supplies.
What You'll Need
- Fabric: For your first project, choose a light-colored quilting cotton or evenweave fabric, such as linen. If buying by the yard, 1/4 yard will be enough for several projects. Avoid using Aida cloth, even though it's sold alongside embroidery floss—it's best for cross stitch patterns.
- Embroidery floss: Select a few colors of cotton embroidery floss. DMC brand is easy to find, inexpensive and good quality. Avoid floss designed for craft projects (such as friendship bracelets), as it will be frustrating to work with.
- Embroidery hoop: There are many styles of embroidery hoops available, but all you need to get started is a basic wooden or plastic hoop. A 6-inch hoop will serve you well for a variety of projects.
- Needles: Like hoops, there are many kinds of embroidery needles out there. Any sharp needle with an eye large enough to thread embroidery floss through will work. However, the easiest option is to choose a pack of different sizes of sharp needles labeled for embroidery.
- Water-soluble pen: Depending on your project, there are a few ways to transfer a pattern to your fabric, but tracing is the simplest. A regular pencil will work, but to ensure that you don't leave any stray markings, use a water-soluble pen.
- Scissors: There are scissors made for different tasks in embroidery, but before you buy anything fancy, it's OK to use any scissors you have around. Just be sure that they will cut the floss cleanly, so its end isn't frayed.
- Straight stitch: This simple stitch is so basic you probably already know how to do it without even learning it. Making short straight lines is something you'll do a lot as you embroider.
- Back stitch: For doing any kind of outlining, back stitch works and it's so easy. Focus on making each stitch the same length and you'll have something that looks really great!
- Starting/stopping: If you want to learn the best way to start and stop, there are some special techniques to follow. But it's also OK to start and end with a knot.
When you're done stitching, your embroidery may need to be rinsed or soaked to remove markings. This also helps remove wrinkles. When it comes out of the water, gently press away excess water with a towel. Then place the embroidery on a folded towel and press from the back with an iron.
You're now ready to get stitching! With just a bit of practice, you'll be feeling confident and ready to move from simple patterns to a more complex project. Once you've mastered a few stitches, you can learn a couple more, such as french knots and detached chain stitch.