Hand embroidery is a time consuming and sometimes meticulous process. It has taken me years of trial and error to find systems that work best for me…over the past 10 plus years I have been embroidering, I have tried many different techniques, materials, and products.
Today I wanted to share with you 9 hand embroidery tricks that are sure to save you time as well as help you avoid frustration. An added bonus: all of these tricks are simple, inexpensive, and some are even free!
Disclaimer: This post has some affiliate links in it. I receive a small commission from purchases at no additional cost to the buyer. I only recommend products I would use and love and that are of good quality. All opinions are my own!
Print Your Design Directly Onto Water Soluble Stabilizer
Transferring designs to fabric can be tricky, especially when the design is intricate or if the fabric you are using is dark. A quick and easy way to transfer the design is by using Stick and Wash Away Stabilizer. This stabilizer comes in printable sheets of paper so you can print the design directly on the stabilizer. Then, all you have to do is cut it out and stick it onto the fabric!
Stick and Wash Away Stabilizer (available on Amazon)
Use An Iron On Pen To Transfer Designs
This is another option if can’t or don’t like using the water soluble stabilizer to transfer embroidery designs. Iron on Frixion pens are another great option. You won’t have to wash your embroidery when you’re done and the marks will stay in place until you’re ready to iron them away. These pens have a fine tip on them making them very easy to use for more intricate designs.
Frixion pens (available on Etsy)
Tangle Free Method To Separate Floss
Everybody who has ever embroidered before has experienced a knotted mess while trying to separate the floss strands. There is a surprisingly easy embroidery trick to avoid this!
Pinch the floss between your fingers and grab the desired strands you want to separate with your other hand. Pull the strand(s) out and allow the remaining strands to bunch up as you pull.
Choosing A Color Palette
At a loss for what colors to use for your next project?
Stitch Palettes has a great variety of cohesive and interesting color palettes to choose from. In the explore section, they post photos and generate DMC color suggestions based off of them.
You can also visit coolors.co, a color palettes generator, where you can generate random color palettes or choose from trending color palettes.
If you’re trying to color match from a photo and you’re having trouble finding the right color, upload the photo to coolors.co image picker. The image picker will show you the closest colors to the photo, and then you can match those colors to a DMC color chart.
A Fast Track To Improve Your Embroidery Art
- You’re ready to design and stitch beautiful embroidery art that you’re proud of.
- You’ve got some experience under your belt, but you feel like your embroidery could use some work.
- You want your work to look the way you envision it in your head. But it can be a challenge to get your vision down on fabric.
Introducing Stitch With Confidence, a self paced, fast-track-to-success created with you in mind!
Finding Fonts To Use For Embroidery Designs
Programs such as Canva provide a large variety of fonts that you can use for free. If drawing lettering isn’t your strength, this is a great option to use. You can design whatever phrase and font you would like to use directly in Canva and download it as an A4 document. This makes it easy to print your design directly onto wash away stabilizer or trace it onto the fabric.
Bind Your Embroidery Hoop To Prevent Slippage
If you’ve ever struggled with the fabric in your embroidery hoop slipping, binding your embroidery hoop will help tremendously! Binding a hoop involves wrapping fabric around the inner ring in order to provide more tension between the two rings.
This embroidery trick will make your stitching experience easier and it can even positively effect the quality of your finished embroidery. No more puckered fabric!
You can check out a full tutorial on how to do this here.
Organize Embroidery Floss With A Color Chart
It may take awhile to organize your floss initially, but having your thread organized will make it so much easier to find and choose the colors you’re looking for.
DMC colors aren’t completely in order by their numbers. The DMC color chart arranges them in a way so that shades of similar colors are grouped together.
I highly recommend purchasing this chart so that you can organize the colors accordingly and reference it to pick out colors!
Keep a Pin Sharpener On Hand
After long hours of embroidering, you may notice that your needle isn’t piercing the fabric quite as nicely. Don’t throw away that needle quite yet! It’s super helpful to keep a pin sharpener nearby so that you can pass your needle through it a couple of times to sharpen it. There are lots of pin cushions that come with a pin sharpener attached.
Pin cushion + sharpener (Available on Amazon)
How To Keep The Edge Of Stitches Neat
The edge of satin stitches can be challenging to get right. Sometimes it helps to make a back stitch or split stitch along the outline of the shape you are wanting to fill in and then go back over the area with satin stitches. (aka a padded satin stitch) The split stitches can serve as a guide to line up your stitches neatly and also give the satin stitch a little extra dimension as well.
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Amanda is a hand embroidery artist and teacher. With over 15 years of experience in the craft industry and embroidery, she owns and runs Crewel Ghoul, sharing tutorials and patterns to help inspire fellow crafters to get inspired and creative. In addition to running this website, she teaches on Skillshare and Youtube.