How to start embroidery? We receive this question almost everyday, which we find incredibly inspiring! Because it shows that the interest for modern hand embroidery continues to grow. In our time of endless technological advancement and stress-filled days with constant connectivity, embroidery is the perfect go-to medium to rewind.
However, after years of experience we know that to just start isn’t quite as easy. There are immediately a ton of questions that come to mind… Which materials do I need? Which stitch techniques do I have to learn? How to transfer an embroidery design? Where to find cool and unique embroidery patterns? Or even how to make my own embroidery design?!
To help you to kickstart your embroidery journey, we’ve created a series of free tools.
For example, our Embroidery Library “Going Knots“, gives you close-up videos of the most used stitch techniques, material and transfer recommendations. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to access one of our Architectural embroidery patterns for FREE.
Hand embroidery is an easy to learn craft, where you only need a very limited number of stitches to be able to create magic needlework. For instance, Charles and I only use a handful of stitches to create endless unique embroidery designs.
Thus, it’s not knowledge of the greatest number of techniques or most complex stitchery that will make you an embroiderer. Rather, it’s the way you are creative with few stitches and colour combinations that can make or break it. But let’s not get too carried away before you get a chance to begin.
The 3 key steps to learn how to do embroidery
As with any art or craft, you need certain materials to be able to start stitching. Below is a list of the materials that we preferably use for all our stitchery.
- Cotton canvas. You can find this in any fabric store. Just be sure to check so that it’s non-transparent and non-stretch.
- Sewing needle. We like to use the 1-5 size. However, the labels of the needles can vary between countries. Thus, for reference it’s a thinner and longer needle, which is very good for precise needlework with thinner threads.
- Embroidery floss. There are several brands to consider, but we usually use dmc or anchor threads.
- Embroidery hoop. We prefer to use wooden embroidery hoops in the size that correspond to our respective designs. By having the suitable size you can get an easy overview of your embroidery in progress.
- Carbon paper. This is our most commonly used transfer method as it allows for
“on-top” transfer onto thicker fabrics. However, there are numerous other ways you can transfer embroidery patterns, such as printing the design on a water soluble transfer paper (e.g. solvy), water soluble transfer pen or an iron-on pen.
Additional tips in case of Carbon paper transfer:
- Coloured Bic pen. If you choose to go with the carbon paper method, we’d also recommend to have a coloured Bic pen. With a coloured pencil you can easier see which lines you’ve transferred and which remains.
- Scotch. This is highly recommended regardless of experience. It’s easy to move the pattern as you transfer (or you may just need a paus for your hand), which can potentially alter the transferred lines. Hence, always attach the pattern and carbon paper with a little piece of scotch to the fabric.
- Small ruler. Depending on which kind of design you wish to do, you may consider to take aid from a ruler. We always encourage crooked lines for authenticity and a personal touch. However, if you’ve never stitched straight lines before, to use a ruler when transferring can be the extra support you need to feel like you’ve got this.
If you’re unsure of where you can find all of these materials in your country, we’ve partnered with our favourite material supplier CloudCraft. Nicole ships all over the world from the UK.
2. Inspiring hand embroidery patterns
If you’re completely new to modern hand embroidery, we strongly recommend to begin with designs from embroidery artists you love. For example, you can find a series of our beginner Architectural patterns here on Le Kadre.
In case you’re not sure if you’re ready to spend too much on your emerging embroidery hobby yet, we’ve also got a free Architectural embroidery pattern (click here).
Architectural hand embroidery may look frightening with its thin fine lines. However, as aforementioned, there are only a very limited number of stitches used to sew them. It’s purely a matter of daring to believe in yourself and your capabilities, as well as having the courage to experiment.
Begin with the contours, and add the thread-filled surfaces or mini floral French knots later. Ones you have the contour work in place, it’s easier to see where you’re missing some detail. Furthermore, it will allow you to practise the backstitch thoroughly before taking on any other techniques. If you’re curious for some inspiring backstitch patterns, we’ve put together a list of our top 7 most loved backstitch designs.
3. Top 5 stitches
In the previous section we mentioned the backstitch technique for contours. The backstitch is probably one of the most used stitches, which makes it a perfect place for you who want to learn how to start embroidery. The other important stitches are the satin-stitch, straight-stitch, split-stitch and French knot. That’s it! You can read a more complete description of these stitches in our article on “Less is more – Embroidery stitches”.
If reading the list of five stitches to learn seems overwhelming, don’t worry! In our Embroidery Library we show you close-up videos of all the techniques. We’ve also added close-up videos of how to efficiently thread your needle, how to start embroidery with a knotted thread, how to attached you threads and more.
We hope this gave you a good and easily digestable overview of what you need to start embroidery! If you’re looking to learn more, we have several Online Masterclasses on modern hand embroidery over on Charles and Elin Academy.
Creative learning should be fun, easy and accessible! Thus don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns regarding your embroidery practise. In addition, you’re always able to follow us over on Instagram, where we share daily tips and tricks on our embroidered process. You find us on: @petronella.art and @_charleshenry_