The only things you need to get started with embroidery
You really need so little to actually get started with embroidery – and that is a huge plus, no? (I didn’t realise that when I started, but that’s another story.) Many of the embroidery supplies you need are likely around your house, but even if not, the minimal list of supplies that a beginner – or anybody – really needs is not much of an investment.
Embroidery Supplies for Beginners
Bare minimum then, a piece of fabric, some thread, scissors. Oh yeah, a needle. And maybe a hoop. (Look here though)
What fabric to use
My preference is a natural cotton or linen. Natural fibers are generally softer and can be easier to stitch through than some synthetics. But I’ve certainly used older, vintage poly-cotton blends that are perfectly fine to stitch. I have also struggled with a tightly woven pure cotton that was beautiful but frankly a nightmare. So my advice is to try running a needle through whatever fabric you are considering to see if it is easy or difficult to poke through. You’ll know soon enough. Old sheets, pillowcases etc. that have outlived their usefulness can be perfect, so I always keep those if they’re not weakened by being too worn. You wouldn’t want your piece to rip while stretching it in a frame.
A couple of 10-12” squares will be plenty to begin practicing with.
Not much different to look at in this photo, but on the left is a length of sewing thread, in the middle, a single strand of embroidery floss and on the right three strands of floss.
Sometimes known as ‘embroidery silk’, floss is indeed cotton and not silk but if good quality has a beautiful, subtle sheen to it, and comes in an extraordinary range of colours. Commonly used floss typically consists of multiple strands, which gives you the option of using anywhere from a single strand to all six, and any number in between. It all depends on the effect you are after.
The two most known brands are DMC and Anchor, although there are plenty more. I like DMC and tend to stick with that, mainly to keep sane. I have their colour card and with more than 500 colours, I happily have plenty to choose from.
Pick a few colours to start with, say a black, a white and 2 or 3 shades of a colour you like that will play nicely together. Just about any craft or sewing supply store will stock some floss. You can also source online from general suppliers like Amazon, as well as specialists.
Look for six-strand skeins of embroidery floss – you certainly can use other types of cotton thread but this will give you the most flexibility as a starting place.
My preference is a type of needle called a Chenille needle and I use a couple of different sizes. Chenilles are a good length, nice and sharp and have a longer, narrow eye. My rule of thumb is to use the largest needle I can get away with because it will have the largest eye and be easier to thread. But too large a needle can make a hole in the fabric that is too obvious and you don’t want that.
If you look for a package of needles with a selection you can try a few types out and see which you prefer. But for a good all-rounder, go for a number 22 Chenille.
You don’t need anything fancy here and if you have a small pair of scissors around, they will be fine as long as they are good and sharp. Anything from manicure scissors to these little herb clippers are fine. But really, embroidery scissors are just so cute…
Optional bits to try
If you want to start out using a hoop, try a 6” hoop like the one above. It’s a pretty good all rounder and cheap enough. I like to use a backing fabric –something very lightweight will give more body to the piece you are stitching on but it isn’t totally necessary. And while there are some very cool tools to draw on fabric, making a line to follow that will later disappear like one of these, again this is not essential. You can easily use a pencil. You will be stitching over the pencil line, so as long as you are fairly accurate, it works fine.
I’ve put together a list of the basic embroidery supplies for beginners – all you need to get started and where to find them. Download it for free below.
Without a big investment or a lot of faffing about, you can get started very easily. Have a go!
The Magpie Collective blog will serve to inspire readers to engage with their own creativity, support their interest in design and stitchery and provide a framework of tips, simple techniques and encouragement.
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