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Hand Embroidery For Beginners

Hand embroidery for beginners is a creative, leisurely hobby that is portable and convenient to work on in short sessions. Hand embroidery stitches are valuable, utilitarian skills that can be learned by anyone. Hobbyists can create amazing works of art and charming decorative accents by learning a few simple techniques and embroidery stitches.

Cross-stitch needlepoint and hand embroidery for beginners are easy to learn. New hobbyists can enjoy the products of their work almost immediately. In most cases, one trip to the craft store is all it takes to collect the supplies needed for several small embroidery projects.

The History Of Embroidery

Hand Embroidery For BeginnersHistoric examples of Oriental silk embroidery date back more than 2,500 years. In 2010, artisan embroiderers in China reclaimed the world record by completing a 25-meter classical landscape tapestry comprised of more than 3 million stitches. Throughout history, embroidery has been a functional and decorative technique used to embellish clothing, textiles and non-functional items for all members of society.

Virtually all countries and cultures have developed their own embroidery techniques, and new styles are still being invented. Famous embroiderers include Marie Antoinette, Queen Elizabeth, and the former pro-football player Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier, who was known for his needlepoint hobby in the 1970’s.

Hand Embroidery For Beginners Fun Facts

  • According to the Bible, Moses covered the Holy of Holys with a veil of fine linen embroidered with cherubim of blue, purple and scarlet. The temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem was adorned with an embroidered curtain.
  • Some computers actually have the ability to complete embroidery designs for you.
  • Asia is known for some of the most intricate embroidery designs in the world.

Hand Embroidery For Beginners

Equipment and supplies needed to complete simple hand embroidery for beginners include:

  • embroidery needles, also known as sharps, which can pierce canvas and other fabrics.
  • blunt-tipped tapestry needles that have a large eye are ideal for beginners, cross stitching and tapestry work.
  • embroidery floss, pearl cotton or wool yarn in an assortment of colors.
  • a base material consisting of any of the following: aida cloth, plastic canvas, muslin, tea towels, pillow cases, etc.
  • compact embroidery scissors or thread snips.
  • a leather thimble.
  • iron-on transfers or embroidery patterns.
  • embroidery hoops.

Key terms used in hand embroidery for beginners include:

  • needlepoint, a form of embroidery worked on a stiff open-weave fabric without an embroidery hoop.
  • crewel work, a free-form embroidery technique that uses wool yarn to create patterns within an outline.
  • aida cloth, which is an open-weave fabric with pre-formed openings designed to accommodate yarn.
  • cross stitch, a common stitch comprised of tiny X’s that is used in counted patterns, which rely on a pattern showing each stitch.

A new hobbyist can purchase all of the equipment, materials and supplies needed for $20 to $50. As you advance the hobby and begin new projects, plan on investing in new materials and supplies. Many items, such as embroidery hoops are not needed if you plan on working with aida cloth or other open-wave canvases. Many counted cross-stitch kits include a thread palette, pattern and instructions making them suitable for hand embroidery for beginners.

Getting Started With Embroidery

Step One

Gather supplies. Depending on whether you want to do machine or hand embroidery, you will need different supplies. Regardless of which type of project you are going to try, you will need yarn or thread and some kind of backing. This is also a great time to get organized. Tubs or drawers with small dividers work very well for this because they help keep things from becoming tangled.

Step Two

Plan your project. Figure out what project you want to do, such as your initials, a scene, or maybe even a pattern requiring a certain amount of preparation. If nothing comes immediately to mind, consider looking online for a pattern that catches your eye. You can also look for books on the topic at your local library or bookstore.

Step Three

Practice and prepare. Before beginning a project, practice embroidery stitches on a piece of canvas or muslin. Stitching your initials or name in chain stitch is a great way to learn hand embroidery. A small, embroidered aida cloth pincushion is one of the best ways to start hand embroidery for beginners while creating a cute sewing accessory to store your embroidery needles.

Step Four

Complete your goal. Common embroidery stitches include up and down stitches like cross stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch and running stitch as well as knotted stitches that involve wrapped or looping thread around the needle. Common knotted stitches include the buttonhole stitch, chain stitch, French knot, petal stitch, bullion stitch and many others. Take the directions and execute based on the instructions supplied.

Tips and Tricks

The following tips can help you get the most out of hand embroidery for beginners…

  • Start small and work up to larger projects.
  • Whether you make small stitches or large stitches, focus on making stitches even; size is less important than the consistent look of even stitches.
  • All work is started with a piece of yarn or floss that is no longer than the tip of your finger to your heart.
  • Leave a four-inch tail before your first stitch. To avoid knots, loose ends are woven through the stitches once the project is complete.
  • Store the needle by sticking it through the canvas when you are finished. If necessary, coil your embroidery floss or yarn and secure in place with the needle.
  • To ensure threads don’t become tangled, store embroidery floss on paper bobbins and place accessories in plastic storage containers or a sewing basket.

Ways To Grow The Embroidery Hobby

As you learn more about hand embroidery for beginners and gain more experience, consider the following ways to take your craft hobby to the next level…

  • With time and practice, advanced artists can embroider almost anything with almost any material. Silk ribbons can even be used to create embroidered flowers and bouquets.
  • Advanced artists can also create designs for meaningful gifts and personalized works of art.
  • Try to sell your work at a local gift or farmer’s market.
  • Learn new patterns and skills. Try your hand at computerized embroidery if so desired.
  • Try to make something as it is found in real life, such as an egg or a doll.

Related Resources

Check out the following online resources for more information on hand embroidery for beginners…

Embroidery Library – a great online resource for embroidery designs and patterns.

Embroidery.com – an incredibly large selection of both free and sale embroidery designs, supplies and accessories.

DesignsBySick.com – filterable patterns to make sure you find your desired pattern; also includes useful articles and a great, active embroidery forum.

Related YouTube Videos

Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.