A Guide To Hand Embroidery For Beginners

Ever seen how utterly relaxed and happy our mothers and grandmother looked with embroidery in their hands?

That is because sewing can be one of the most beautiful things you can do to spend some quality time by yourself, or in an intimate group.

People don’t just embroider because they want to make something handy, but because the act makes them tranquil. It’s the sense of creation, teamed up with making something beautiful with your own hands, that makes embroidering such a beautiful craft.

The Art of Embroidering

Embroidery doesn’t merely mean sewing something. When you are doing embroidery, you are not just repairing your clothes, or even making clothes or household items. Rather, you are sewing beautiful patterns and designs on fabric, which is not very easy to learn.

For the perfect embroidery, you need to learn a few decorative stitches that go well with complicated designs, but as a beginner, you need to only learn some of the basic ones. When used correctly, the simplest of stitches together can make a beautiful design.

For embroidery, however, you need to gather the proper instruments and tools first, as they are the most important factors.

Important Tools for Embroidering

These are the items that you are going to need before you start embroidery.

1.      Embroidery Hoops

These are actually a set of rings that will hold your fabric tight and taut. Each embroidery hoop comes with two rings, one slightly smaller than the other one. You keep your fabric between them, and screw the hoops tight so that your fabric doesn’t move when you are sewing. Hoops come in both plastic and wood, and in a number of sizes.

As a beginner, you are going to need at least two set of hoops: a big one and a relatively smaller one. The material isn’t important, as long as you are comfortable holding the hoop in your hands for a long time while working. 

2.     Cotton Fabric

You can use a number of fabric types for embroidery, from Muslin to canvas, linen to silk, as well as quilting fabric. However, it is the easiest to start embroidering with cotton since this fabric doesn’t shrink, expand or crinkle when embroidering.

3.     Embroidery Floss

Embroidery Floss is the special kind of thread used in decorative embroidery. They are usually hand-spun from polyester or rayon, and available in a lot of different colors.

Embroidery floss is also shinier, thicker and stronger than regular thread, which makes them sturdy enough for extensive embroidery.

4.     Embroidery Needles

Embroidery needles tend to have bigger eyes than ordinary sewing needles to accommodate the special embroidery floss. They are also usually longer and more slender for detailed designs.

5.     Water Soluble Marker

These markers are used to draw on the designs on your fabric for you to follow while embroidering. The marks usually go away with time or after the first wash.

6.     A Pair of Scissors

Since embroidery floss is sturdier than sewing thread, you are going to need a sharp pair of scissors to cut them through.

7.     A Simple Design

Another important item would be to settle on a simple design for you to embroider. If you are good with art, you can draw something of your own on a piece of fabric; or, you can download an easy embroidery design from the Internet to practice on.

You can copy the design from the Internet on your fabric by hand, or print it out on a piece of paper and trace it on the fabric with your water soluble marker.

Easy Stitches for Embroidery

As a beginner, you won’t have to learn more than a few simple stitches that are easy to do but looks beautiful. Just the running stitch, the backstitch, the split stitch, the French Knot, the stem stitch, and the Satin Stitch are enough for most designs.

  • The running stitch is the one we use for ordinary sewing. This is the first stitch everyone learns, both for sewing and embroidering. Although it’s not very decorative, the running stitch is sometimes to mark the borders of your design and can be taken out easily again.

  • The backstitch is similar to the running stitch but it doesn’t leave behind any empty spaces. It is a continuous stitch that is quite helpful for texts, alphabets or for borders.

  • The split stitch is also a little like the backstitch, but raised. This is one of the easiest stitches that look quite good inside a design. It also gives your design a little texture.

  • The French Knot isn’t one of the easiest stitches, until you can master it. When finished, this stitch looks like a row of little knots, perfect for making polka dots, eyes, flower enters, etc.

  • The Stem stitch, once finished, looks like the stem of a plant. They are done like a backstitch, leaving no spaces in between, but instead of two ends meeting, one stitch is made alongside the previous stitch, starting from the middle of it.

  • The Satin Stitch is one of the most important embroidery stitches for decoration. They are done to completely fill up a small or large area by multiple stitches, one beside another, to create a splash of color. The border of the design needs to be done with a backstitch first, and then the Satin Stitch can fill it up.

Step-by-Step Guide for Embroidering

Here is a step-by-step guide to creating your very first embroidery, something very simple, such as a monogram on a handkerchief or a small flowery design on a pillow cover.

  1. The first step would be to decide on the design or the text. Choose something simple and elegant for your first embroidery, i.e. your initials, or a single rose.

  1. After you’ve chosen the design, you need to decide on the colors. You’ll need this to decide on the color of embroidery floss you are going to need.

  1. Now is the time to gather all the items you need for your embroidery: embroidery hoops, needles and the right colored floss, the right fabric, water soluble marker and a pair of scissors.   

  1. Next, you have to transfer the design to your fabric. You can simply draw it yourself on the fabric of your choice with a water soluble marker, or download a suitable design from the Internet to copy. If the design is complicated, you can print it out on a piece of paper, then trace it on the fabric. You need to only draw the borders of the design on your fabric.

  1. Then, the piece of fabric needs to be attached to the embroidery hoop so that it stays tight and taut. The design needs to be in the middle of the hoop so that you can reach every part of it. If the design is too big to fit into your hoop, the part you want to work on needs to be at the middle of the hoop.

  1. The next step is to decide on the stitch you are going to try. If this is a monogram or a text, it is better to use the back stitch, the stem stitch or the split stitch. For a smaller and more detailed design, like a bunch of flowers, it is preferable to use a combination of the Satin Stitch and the backstitch.

  2. If you are completely new to this, you should practice a few rows of your chosen stitch in another extra piece of fabric, just for practice. Then, when you are feeling confident enough, you should start on the final product.

  1. Don’t worry if some of your stitches come out haphazard or bad. They are very easy to undo within a few seconds and you can start the whole thing again.

As a beginner, it is always recommended that you start small, and go on experimenting as you get more and more practice. When it comes to embroidering, there’s no better way to learn but to keep on practicing.

Pretty soon, you will be able to learn the more decorative and complicated stitches, and start embroidering beautiful designs for your home. 

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