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Top 3 Things Every Beginner Should Know About Embroidery

Welcome to one of the oldest, multi-cultural, and international handicrafts: embroidery. What you may perceive to be a nice pastime and hobby began as a means of patching fabrics. The basics are strong and fundamental to this day. Embroidery is a beautiful art which has the potential to be highly expressive.

Bonus: embroidery today is chic and the repetitive motions reduce stress.  

Speaking of basics, don’t get overwhelmed. If Adam Sandler, as Billy Madison, could learn enough embroidery technique to pass Home Ec, you can do it too!

Here are the Top 3 Things Every Beginner Should Know:

1. Put the Hands-On in Handicraft

Getting practice in is your first goal! Treat yourself to a beginner’s hand embroidery kit from stores online. Sampler kits are so popular that magazines like Country Living have a feature sampler in each edition. The kits come with embroidery supplies and instructions, including the all-important template pattern upon which to embroider. But you can actually save money if you make your own kit! We’ve provided a list below of the supplies you need and then all you have to do is find easy patterns and templates online that you can download!

Remember learning how to trace and color in the lines, back in grade school? Here you are again, with needle, thread, fabric, and (hopefully) more patience. We also have a Handy Accessories Kit that includes a few tools to assist with hand embroidery, but will also help with machine as well!

Why start by hand? Learning the basic stitches lays the foundation for your understanding of the craft and your ultimate success. Find a beginner’s template online, these are a great first project and a perfect refresher for those of you getting back on the old bicycle after a long while.

Embroidery Supply list:

  • Sewing needles: Crewel, Tapestry, and Milliner
  • Embroidery hoops and frames
  • Scissors for hand embroidery
  • Good lighting and a magnifier
  • A container for housing supplies

You can also learn more about these on our 5 Beginner Embroidery Tools post.

The 10 basic stitch techniques to learn and have in your arsenal of technical wherewithal are:

  • the Running Stitch
  • the Backstitch
  • the Split Stitch
  • the Stem Stitch
  • the Satin Stitch
  • the French Knots
  • the Chain Stitch
  • the Lazy Daisy
  • the Feather Stitch
  • the Seed Stitch

Some of these embroidery stitches are described in detail here: Top 6 Hand Embroidery Stitches You Should Master!

2. Go Get Your Tech-Savvy Brother

The Computer Age got to your brother, your sewing machine Brother. Automation has deeply impacted textile design and manufacturing, in bringing it into the Digital Age. Fortunately for you, sewing and embroidery machines can help you make gorgeous embroidery on a variety of materials. Needle, thread, fabric, and patience are all still required.  

Using technology can be at times frustrating and stressful. Remember that this your cool new hobby! Keep these basics in mind while mastering machine embroidery:

  • Relax and go with the process
  • Dedicate the experience to learning, not perfecting
  • Make time every day
  • Start small
  • Take copious notes (make your own recipes)
  • Quality always trumps quantity
  • Get organized, from hot mess to success
  • Test a design before beginning the real project
  • Live a little by trying something fun and different
  • Enjoy yourself
beginner embroidery

Some digital patterns can be downloaded for free, as we mentioned. Some you may have to pay for, but they’re typically worth it! You can find a slew of patterns (free and paid) at Craftsy for simple designs and even more complex and contemporary patterns. They also have online classes you can take to learn more about your new hobby! You would be amazed by what you can make using a machine to embroider.

3. Get Visual Aids

Sit with a mentor, observe a class, and watch tutorials. There is nothing like combining visuals with hands-on learning. Find some local handicraft groups and/or classes and sit in on multiple occasions. You’ll make some new friends and gain support!

Go to craft fairs and watch demonstrations.

You can find plenty of resources online to guide you through the embroidery process, you can even find some videos we have created to help you.

Watch other embroidery tutorials. Some wise crafts folk, from  artisans to seamstresses, not only have a YouTube queue with helpful videos; they have a following!

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