So, you're thinking about trying embroidery! Yay! Proud. Of. YOU. 👏
There are so many benefits to taking up embroidery as both a hobby and a new skill. Not only is it helpful for brain function and a way to express yourself creatively, it's also super calming and cathartic (although that won't usually stretch to being able to not swear through gritted teeth any time you manage to prick your finger with your needle).
But the question remains, where do you start? 🤔
All the gear, all the ideas
I'm always getting asked what basic bits and bobs someone might need to try embroidery without committing to going full out. There are a grand total of five wee essentials that you need (things that I usually pack if I'm off on my travels and want to get a bit of broderie done on the road). Lovecrafts is currently my favourite stockist of all the tools I need on the regular – not only are they constantly updating their stock, but they are always running fab offers, their delivery is speedy and my products turn up beautifully wrapped in a handy organza bag.
Here are the five items you're going to need to get started...
Just when you thought "oh, no worries, I've got some needles somewhere in the back of my Grandma's old sewing tin" you realise that there are tons of different sizes and types of needles out there. So where the heck are you supposed to start? Well... a good place is with these DMC embroidery needles in a variety of sizes ranging from 5 to 10. I normally use a size 7 needle because they're a great go-between when I'm working on a design with varying detail. Sizes lower down on the scale will help you with those teeny, tiny details that require a lot of precision and slow stitching to get just right without messing with the weave of your fabric too much. Bigger sizes will be easier to thread if you're going IN on a broader piece of your design that might be easier to stitch with more strands of thread. (DMC are the bees knees for this, hence why I love this pack!)
Real talk. When I started embroidery, I just used any old thread I could find. Sometimes that was off brand, cheaper, or some that had been discontinued. Now, I'm a certified thread snob and stick to just a few brands that I really like. Trust me when I say that you'll thank yourself in the long run for treating yourself to some really nice thread. The two brands I find easiest to source are DMC – absolute god-tier embroidery thread makers – and Anchor. When you use a more premium brand of thread, you'll have much less wastage because they're very durable, you'll also find that they're smoother to sew with, almost like they're conditioned.
My all time favourite hoops are Elbesee hoops because they are super sturdy and have a proper screw fastener so you can tighten it as far as it can actually go with a flathead screwdriver (or whatever you can find will fit... usually from the cutlery drawer) without breaking so your fabric is guaranteed to stay taut and not loosen as you work (Most embroiderers' ultimate pet peeve)!
This is a tricky one, because it's very much down to preference. My favourite fabrics to use though are Kona 100% solid cottons and Rose and Hubble Rainbow Craft cottons. It's a good idea to always go for either 100% cotton or a cotton drill because they're both safe options that come in every single colour under the sun, plus, they usually have a nice non-stretchy, tight weave.
You're going to need something to help you transfer your pattern or design onto your fabric before you stitch it. Remember in school that one kid that had these magic pens because they had an ink eraser at the end? Turns out they're still around and they're also heat erasable! I'm not a huge fan of the usual blue or purple heat erasable pens you normally find in your local haberdashery shop because I worry about the colour staining and the nibs on them are usually quite thick. You'll also find the option of using water soluble pens that come off under the tap when you're done but... shudder... let's just say I've lost one too many projects to that method. Frixion pens, however, are almost like a fine liner, meaning you can follow your design much more accurately as you stitch, and they disappear with a quick blast of a hairdryer! Hey presto!
Now all you need to do is find a pattern you love and learn your stitches! For tutorials, Youtube is a brilliant resource – it's pretty much how I learned to embroider. You can check out my own embroidery tutorial series, 60 Second Stitches, for easy how-to video guides on some of the most popular stitches. You can also find free patterns right here on my website, or fancy patterns on my Etsy shop that come with comprehensive tutorials on how to do each stitch within that design!
Ps... Affiliate Links: Some links used in this post may be affiliate links. All this means is that if you decide to purchase through them, I might earn a wee commission at no extra cost to yourself. Thanks a million! ❤️