This instructable will teach you the very basics of hand embroidery. In no time, you'll know how to embroider as well as a pro! It's a relaxing pastime and it doesn't require much preparation. Plus, it's fun and satisfying to be able to craft with your hands. :)
In this instructable, I'll show you how to do running stitch, back stitch, split stitch, satin stitch and more. These stitches are the backbone of any embroidery - they're just the beginning. Once you've mastered these stitches, I really recommend googling or going to the library to look up more advanced embroidery stitches. They're addictive!
Head to the last step for even more embroidery tutorials!
Step 1: What You'll Need to Get Started with Embroidery
Here's what you'll need to start embroidering:
This is a ring consisting of two circular pieces. You place the fabric in between them to keep it taut and make embroidery easier. These come in plastic and wood - I prefer plastic for working on the project and wood for displaying the finished product.
Google is a good start for some of the most popular names of embroidery scissors - but be careful not to confuse these with sewing scissors or fabric shears.
for your fabric! Linen, quilting cotton, canvas and osnaburg are all great choices. It should not be too loosely-woven or too tight.
thread floss. This is an inexpensive option, and it comes in a variety of colors and sizes. I prefer DMC thread, and I use it exclusively.
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Mabel's Market has the work-horse embroidery needles with bigger eyes to accommodate the size of materials.
Draw water-soluble designs on your fabric using a water soluble marker or other marking tool. Once you're finished, just rinse the mark out with cold water and the design will be gone!
The fabric you choose is completely up to you! Muslin, quilting cotton, canvas, and linen all work well. I like to embroider on a linen blend.
There are many options for embroidery hoops, with the most common being circular and wooden or plastic. They can be found at craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby.
Cut a square of fabric slightly larger than your hoop.
To get started, loosen the screw on the top of the hoop. Then you'll separate the hoops, then place the outer hoop to the side - we'll worry about it in a second!
(If you're using a plastic hoop, the inside hoop will have a lip. Your choice as to which edge of the hoop you'll want that lip to come over or hang under. See the last photo for an example of how I assemble plastic hoops.)
Place the piece of fabric over the plain hoop.
Put the fabric inside the hoop and then cover it with the other one. Tighten the screws and make it tight so there is no way to see through it. When double embroidering, this will prevent any gaps that might make your stitching much more complicated.
After you have the fabric as tight as possible, tighten the screw until it feels secure. Do not over-tighten! You might regret this if your fingers get too sore from embroidering for hours.
Step 3: Threading the Needl
It can be difficult to thread a needle. One way you can do it is to wet the very last bit of string with saliva, then squash it between your thumb and forefinger to flatten it out. Doing so will allow you to pass the thread through the eye of the needle - with less effort.
You never double the floss when you're knotting - you'll be pulling it through the eye and letting a few inches of thread hang loose. You'll tie the other end as usual. And don't forget to cut off any excess cloth after you've knotted your work - this will ensure that your work is neat by the time it's finished! Never leave more than 1/2 inch of cloth behind the knot, or it will get tangled while you stitch.
Most people use floss that is six strands. You can divide the floss to separate it, but it's usually more effective if you use your fingers to do the separation. Once you have a strand with no knots, just pull it carefully.
Step 4: How to Sew with a Running Stitch
Done like a regular sewing stitch. You can make the stitches long or short, and place them randomly, depending on your project.
I find this stitch to be perfect for framing text and borders, or anything that needs to look open and airy. I don't usually recommend it for text-based designs because it can make them a little too spaced out.
When sewing a piece together, you can either go back and forth or make several stitches at once. If you're embroidering for the first time, I recommend going back and forth until you get the hang of spacing your stitches.
In this step, I'm going to be teaching you how to do the backstitch.
I like to use this stitch for text, as it preserves the quality of the text and makes it read more smoothly. I also use it for any outlines on drawings, as it helps make them look cleaner and more crisp.
One alternative to the backstitch is called an owl stitch, which leaves much less of a dark line on the back and is more discreet.
The best way to backstitch embroidery is to...
Bring the needle and yarn to the front of your fabric and take a stitch, going to the right.
Bring the needle back to the front of the fabric a stitch length from where it was last pinned. Pass through to the back of the fabric using the hole in your first stitch. (As shown in photo 2)
Pull the needle along the wrong side of your fabric, coming up at B (from under the A on the front).
It's easy to backstitch - all you need to do is sew backwards with small stitches in the wrong direction. Which way you want to go is up to you, but we recommend starting with a stitch that goes to the right first so you can learn how it works before trying a stich that goes to the left. As long as you keep your stitches even lengths, they should end up looking great.
If no rewritting option appears, try deleting words from text or adding spaces
The most important thing about backstitching is to always anchor the next stitch in the hole left by the last stitch. Take a look at how I've held the floss for my back stitches - can you see that it's all neat and tidy? This is what you want to do in your own work, too - less thread = more organization!
Just check out the pictures!
This stitch is a type of backstitch, and it works much like one too.
I love using this tool when I want to add texture to things like cupcakes, tree tops, floral arrangements, or any animal that's furry.
For this stitch, you'll wind the thread around your needle and make a tiny stitch (no bigger than a grain of rice). Then, you'll come up through the middle of the little stitch and come back down through the fabric a short distance away in the direction you're going. It's best to keep your stitches pretty short - otherwise they'll look messy and they won't conform to curves as well as you would like.
see the pictures for extra help
How to make a French Knot?
French knots are considered to be a nightmare for most practitioners, but I love them. They're very delicate and cute, and nobody can replicate them.
They come in a variety of sizes so you can use them for a variety of purposes (see the photo to the left? - the first row has six strands wrapped once, and the second row has six strands wrapped twice!). You can use them for flowers, as eyes, polka dots, or even lines! I use them most often for dotting i's in text.
French knots are difficult to make and can take practice. Here's how to accomplish it:
Pass the floss from behind to the front of the fabric before making a stitch.
To make a small knot, wrap the floss that's directly between your fabric and needles around the needle 1 time, making sure that the knot is on the inside when you have finished. To create a medium-large knot, wrap the floss 2 or 3 times around the needle.
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Hold the floss tightly so that it is wrapped around the needle.
Put one hand on top of the fabric to keep it taut. With your other hand, push the needle through the back, looping the floss behind it as you go.
Hold the floss taut and pull the needle all the way through.
Practice this a few hundred times until it becomes second nature. ;)
To make a french knot properly, tie the thread in a regular overhand knot on the back of your work. The knots should be even and not far apart. (Tip: if you're making a lot of them, it might be easier to tie off between each knot).
Some people use a sewing machine to create the stem stitch, but it's easy to learn how to do this embroidery stitch by hand.
The stem stitch is fantastic for vines, branches, flowers, and outlines. It also looks great for text, but you have to watch out for sharp corners on your words.
Stem stitching is a sewing technique that can be used for straight stitching, applique, and embroidery. It's similar to a backstitch, but instead of making the stitch at the end of the line, you're going to attach it to the last stitch.
To start sewing, make a small stitch (the size of a rice grain) and bring the needle out on the opposite side of where it went in. Keep one hand holding the layer that you're sewing with and use your other hand to guide the fabric. Now go back down through the fabric on the opposite side of your previous stitch, close to where it exited. The next stitch should be started on the same edge as was made before.
This stitching technique is easier to learn on a grid where the stitches are visible. Without a grid, it can be difficult to do the right stitch length.
Step 5: How to Fold and Stitch A Doll Clothes
Satin stitch is wonderful for adding large splashes of color to embroideries - it can be used for filling in letters and shapes, and it's great with all sorts of embellishments.
There are many ways to do satin stitch. One of the most common methods is to outline a shape and then fill it in. However, you can also do satin stitch on its own with no outline at all. You can backstitch an outline and then cover it in satin stitch for a slight but noticeable raised-area effect.
Learn how to do satin stitch! First, draw a simple shape on your fabric. Next, use backstitches to outline it. Once you've done that, go back and forth across the shape until it's filled in. Usually I like starting in the middle, but you can try different combinations.
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The two most important things about satin stitch are:
1. It has both an ingrained elegance and a more casual look.
2. The two sides of the fabric should be matched as closely as possible, without any puckering or light fraying around the edges.
it's important to get as close to the outline as possible so your satin stitch looks nice and full. You can always go back and add extra details, of course, but it's much easier if you pay attention to detail from the beginning.
When you bring your needle down next to the outline on the back of the fabric, stay there instead of coming up and over to the left side. That way, you won't need to do as much sewing and you'll save some thread. :)
This tutorial will show you step-by-step how to do straight and sewing stitches.
These are similar to running stitch, which means the placement is just very random.
Straight stitches are the most common type of stitch, and they vary in length. They're perfect for adding texture to fabric or embroidery, and you can use them to fill in areas with a lot of detail. Seed stitches are very small -- you'll be catching just a few threads. Seed stitching is typically used to fill areas in, but you can use it for other things like filling spaces with texture and more.
Here are a few pictures for an example.
Step 11: Additional information and recommendations - and some amazing embroidery photos!
You'll love this instructable, it starts with a simple backstitch! Have a look at the other embroideries I've created as well. You'll see that my backstitch is my crutch. I'm still trying to get better with it. :D