Embroidered items make great gifts for family and friends, and you can even create keepsakes for your kids or grandkids. If you’re new to the embroidery scene, things may seem a little complicated to you at first.
There are so many different patterns to choose from, where would you even begin? Stop right there. Don’t get ahead of yourself. There are a few essential things that you’ll need before you begin picking out a design.
The first thing you should know is that you can embroider by hand, and thanks to technology, by machine as well. And yes, you could also embroider on wood, but we won’t we be getting into that here. This is just the basics.
Machine embroidery provides an easy setup to start with embroidery for the first time. You won’t need to learn how to create any stitches or patterns yourself as the machine does it for you. You simply need to download your pattern, input it into the machine and thread your needle.
This is not to say you won’t require some patience. You can’t simply sit back and enjoy the process. You need to be an active participant.
● Embroidery machine
● Embroidery needles
● Embroidery thread (various colours)
● Design or pattern of choice
● Temporary spray adhesive
The very first thing that you will need to do is, of course, go out and buy your embroidery
machine. Already have one? Great! Then let’s get started.
Pick your fabric (this could be anything from linen to a towel, the choice is yours), next pick your design or pattern, being careful to ensure that it matches the type of fabric you’re using. Basically, delicate designs work best on delicate fabrics.
This next part is incredibly important: you will need to stabilize your fabric to ensure that it does not ruffle or wrinkle while you’re working. Cut a piece of stabilizer, making sure that it’s a little bigger that your hoop, then spray on the temporary adhesive and stick the stabilizer to your fabric quickly. Ensure that it is smoothed out and there are no bumps or wrinkles.
Input your design onto your embroidery machine. If you don’t know how to do this, please check your manual, as different machines may have different input methods. Also, be sure to download or print the thread list from the site that you got the design from, or once you’ve bought the design – it could come in handy.
Now, for the fun part.
Hoop your fabric-stabilizer combo and attach the hoop to your machine. Make sure that you tighten the hoop appropriately, because if it’s too loose, your design will not turn out the way that it should. The fabric should be tightened firmly, but not stretched.
Thread your machine with your first chosen color and begin stitching. Don’t stress about remembering to change colors as the machine will let you know when it’s time.
Once your embroidery is completed, remove the hoop from the machine and un-hoop your fabric. You can now remove the excess stabilizer.
How you remove the stabilizer depends entirely upon the type that you used – for example, a cutaway stabilizer can simply be cut off. You can do this pretty close to the embroidery; but be careful, as you don’t want to damage the stitching or the fabric.
Getting the hang of your machine may take some practice, but once you’ve gotten used to it, the entire process should become incredibly easy.
Now, go give it a try.
Hand embroidery requires much more focus and attention than machine embroidery. You will need to master the stitches, which requires tons of practice. If you’re committed to try this method of embroidery, you will need quite a few hours of spare time and a steady hand.
● Sewing needles
● Embroidery thread (various colours)
● Hand embroidery scissors
● Water-soluble marker
10 basic stitches you’ll need to master:
● Running stitch
● Split stitch
● French knot
● Stem stitch
● Satin stitch
● Seed stitch
● Chain stitch
● Lazy daisy
● Feather stitch
As with machine embroidery, choose your fabric and thread. Hoop your chosen fabric, being
sure to tighten the hoop appropriately without stretching the fabric.
Next, you will need to draw your design or pattern onto the fabric. This is where the water- soluble marker comes in, as it will be a simple thing to wash your completed embroidery to
remove the marker.
When threading your needle, don’t double the thread as you would do when sewing broken clothing. Simply knot one end only, leaving about a ½ inch of space behind the knot to avoid tangling.
Now, begin carefully stitching along your design or pattern. You will need to do practice stitches with small shapes first, before attempting any bigger design.
The best stitches to begin with are:
● this is basically just normal sewing, where you can create long or short stitches,
depending on your preference.
● Bring the needle through on the marked line of your design (stitch line) and make a
small backward stitch through the fabric on the same line.
● Next, bring the needle through the fabric again, but this time make it a little in front of
the first stitch.
● Now, take another stitch, bringing the needle through at the point where it first came
● Repeat this until your pattern is complete.
● Remember to always try to use the hole at the end of one stitch to begin your next
● Works like the backstitch.
● Pull the thread up and make a small stitch. Come back through the middle of that stitch and take it back down through the fabric a short distance away in the direction you’re going in.
● Best to keep stitches short (1/8 – 1/4 of an inch). If you make them any longer, your
stitches will look messy and won’t confirm to curves very well.
● Pull the thread through the fabric at your desired point on the stitch line, hold the thread down with your thumb (left thumb if right-handed and vice versa) and then encircle the thread with the needle. Encircle once for a small knot, twice for medium and thrice for large.
● Hold the thread firmly around the needle and then insert the needle very close to
where the thread originally emerged.
● Pull the thread-encircled needle all the way through to create your French knot.
Practice is essential for mastering anything, including embroidery. Whether you’re using a machine or have decided to embroider by hand, practicing is the best way to get the best results.
As you can see from above though, hand embroidery takes a lot more practice, patience and time. For those like me, who have neither the time nor the patience, an embroidery machine is the best option.
Pick your design, thread that needle, and create something wonderful.