Teach Yourself to Embroider: My Best Tips and Resources

July 25, 2017

Teach Yourself to Embroider: My Best Tips and Resources

One of the questions I'm asked the most on Instagram is, "How do I learn to embroider?" I've posted tips on this blog before, but I wanted to compile a go-to guide I can point people to. 

Also, a note: people often ask if I provide my own tutorials, videos, or patterns. This is not something I offer, as my focus is on creating my own original designs. Please remember that my original embroidery designs are my own, protected by copyright, and should not be recreated. 

For someone just beginning, you usually have two options: purchase a kit (where materials are often provided) or pick out everything yourself. I myself did not use kits or patterns, but they are great as teaching guides. Here are a few good ones I've come across:

Sublime Stitching patterns

Purl Soho embroidery sampler kit

Penguin and Fish patterns and kits

Sarah K. Benning's pattern program

A Basic Materials Checklist 

Hoop - When I was starting, I tried out both wooden hoops and plastic ones. Either are fine when you are learning; it really depends on personal preference. Get a few different sizes to experiment with.

Needles - The easiest way to go is to get a pack of embroidery needles (sizes 3 - 9). Clover is my preferred brand. 

Needle case - There's a wide variety of types out there, just pick one that you like!

Needle threader - I use this Clover one, but there are many different types out there. Again, it's up to your personal preference.

Embroidery scissors - These small snippers are for cutting threads. There are a lot of cute ones out there, but I really love these basic Fiskars ones.

Thread (aka embroidery floss) - Start with 6-strand cotton embroidery floss. DMC is the best out there. Many other brands are of inferior quality, which makes creating nice stitches tough! Pick colors you like or buy a set. I buy my thread in large quantities from 123stitch.com.

Thread accessories - You can buy plastic bobbins and a divided thread storage box to store your thread. These are obviously optional, but keep your threads sorted neatly. 

Water soluble fabric pen - This pen is great for transferring a pattern onto your fabric or drawing out what you want to stitch. The pen marks disappear with water. My favorite is the DMC Embroidery Transfer Pen. Learn more about how I use it here

Fabric - When I was starting out, I practiced on muslin (a lightweight cotton cloth). You want something that isn't too thin and isn't too thick. I recommend visiting a local fabric shop or craft store and finding something inexpensive, but decent to practice on. You can also scoop up fabric from sale/remnant bins or get some basic cotton tea towels. 

How to Learn 

There are so many options these days for learning, both online and in-person, that it's really up to you! Here's some different ideas:

- See if your local craft or fabric store offers in-house embroidery 101 classes. 

- Use a kit (see above). These will usually offer basic instruction, but may be more limited in detail. 

- Purchase books. Here are my favorites that offer descriptions and images of how to create stitches:

The Stitch Bible: A Comprehensive Guide to 225 Embroidery Stitches and Techniques by Kate Haxell
Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches by Mary Thomas
Embroidery: A Step-By-Step Guide to More than 200 Stitches by Lucinda Ganderton
Embroidery Pocket Guide by Leisure Arts (this isn't a book, but a handy little laminated guide)
Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops: A Bend-the-Rules Primer by Rebecca Ringquist

- Watch videos. I loved watching short YouTube videos to see how a stitch was created. For example, it was much easier for me to visually see how to do a French knot via a video than a book description. 

- Take an online class. I feel like there are new online class sites popping up daily. There are many out there to choose from at various prices. Skillshare and Craftsy are good starting points. 

Hope this is helpful! You can read earlier posts I've written with my embroidery tips and tricks here

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1 Response


February 15, 2018

This is so helpful. Thank you for sharing :)

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