Hand Embroidery For Beginners – How To Embroider

how to embroider - hand embroidering a flower onto fabric in an embroidery hoop

Learn Embroidery

When I was first learning how to embroider, I felt like there weren’t many resources out there to help. My time consisted of a lot of trial and error, reading old embroidery books, ripping out stitches, and, let’s be honest: sometimes feeling like ripping out my hair. 😛

This guide is meant to give you the resources to start learning how to embroider with as little frustration and confusion as possible!

A little about me: I am self taught; I actually picked up embroidery in nursing school as a creative outlet! That being said, none of this information is the only way to do things, but these tips and tricks are from over ten years of experience, and they’re things that have worked for me!

I started using the most basic of stitches (and materials!) and branched out over time, learning new stitches and techniques. Still, to this day, I go back to my library of embroidery resources (physical books and online websites) to refresh or learn new techniques! I’m so excited for you to begin learning this needlecraft; let’s get started! I’ve created a video with a run down of all the basics that you can watch first, and then I go more into depth on other helpful resources further down in this post.

Below is a video I put together that goes over embroidery for beginners. We talk all about hand embroidery supplies you’ll need, basic embroidery stitches, and some general tips and tricks!

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 are of good quality.

hand embroidery supplies

Where to Buy Embroidery Supplies

Embroidery supplies are extremely accessible these days. On top of that, hand embroidery is a relatively inexpensive hobby! The bare minimum you’ll need to get started is some scissors, fabric, embroidery thread, and a needle.

Keep reading for more embroidery tools and supplies recommendations below!

fabric to use for embroidery

Fabric To Use For Embroidery

The kind of embroidery fabric you choose can really affect the way that your work turns out. You’ll want something that is not too heavy but also is sturdy enough that it won’t buckle or wrinkle when you stitch on it. It took me SO LONG to figure out what fabric worked best.  I started out using cotton quilting fabric scraps because of the variety of colors you can find at any craft store. The weave is super tight and it’s not a very sturdy fabric to embroider on, so I wouldn’t recommend it when you’re first starting out.

The embroidery fabric that I do recommend is a light to medium weight canvas, cotton or linen. Most of my embroideries are made on these two fabrics. A good rule of thumb is to purchase fabric with a higher thread count and an even weave so that your stitches look more crisp and tight.

If you’d like to know more about finding the best embroidery fabric, I go in depth about what I look for in this post, How to Find the Best Embroidery Fabric!

Here are some of my favorites that you can buy online or in store:

Embroidery Hoops

wood and bamboo embroidery hoops

These Circular embroidery hoops I find are easiest to use, as they grip the fabric evenly and it’s easier to pull it tight so you have a smooth working surface. Look for hoops that seat tightly together and are not cracked or missing the inner ring. ( sometimes hoops come apart and are useless without both rings! ) I normally use wood hoops, but there are also plastic hoops that have a no-slip lip on them.

What Types of Needles Are Used For Hand Embroidery?

hand embroidery needles

Because I make a large variety of embroidery pieces, I prefer to have a large assortment of different sized needles. Most of my needles are these chenille needles. This pack is great as it comes in varying sizes.  I like to make sure I have different sized eyes on the needles as well. You may need a larger or smaller eye on the needle depending on how many strands of embroidery thread you are using.

There are many different types of needles you can use for different stitches/styles of embroidery. Read about different types of hand sewing and embroidery needles here.

If you’re like me and lose needles easily, I also recommend getting a little needle tin or a pin cushion.

Embroidery Transfer Pens

Water soluble markers to trace and transfer your design onto fabric are essential for me! If I don’t have a good design to go off of, it’s hard to not get lost in an embroidery and end up not being satisfied with the way it turns out. Simply rinse the blue marker off when you’re done and all your marks disappear!

What Type of Thread is Used for Hand Embroidery?

embroidery thread for hand embroidery

6 strand cotton DMC Embroidery Floss

99% of the time, I use DMC 6 strand cotton floss. This floss has 6 strands that can be used all together or pulled apart to create a finer line or for more detailed work such as my custom pet portraits. If you want a somewhat different look to your embroidery stitches and don’t want to divide the strands, or find it hard to work with the 6 strand cotton thread, there is also the non-divisible Perle Cotton thread.

Further reading about thread is in this post, The Best Embroidery Thread

Extra Embroidery Supplies to Have On Hand

I like to have fabric scissors that are more heavy duty dressmaker scissors such as this pair. I also keep a pair of small sharp scissors that I use to cut the thread. Seam rippers are also extremely handy when you make a big mistake and have to remove stitches! Using this is way faster than undoing each stitch. I’m impatient, and sometimes it’s really hard to take out a whole bunch of stitches!

How to Embroider Basic Embroidery Stitches

Now lets get to the exciting part: actually stitching! A few basic embroidery stitches can really go a long way. If you watched the video at the beginning of this article, I went over a back stitch, chain stitch, and satin stitch. I have a little secret: You can make an awesome looking embroidery with just these three stitches! So start here, work on a few basics, and then challenge yourself once you’ve mastered these.

If you’d like to get a free PDF of some basic embroidery stitches along with a free pattern and get exclusive access to my Intro to Embroidery resource to help guide you, you can sign up below!

Embroidery Stitch Sampler

embroidery stitch sampler pattern

I have a video / embroidery stencil that goes over 10 embroidery stitches. These are all beginner friendly and in my opinion the most fundamental to learn. This sample is fun to make but it’s practice, so it’s ok if you mess up!

Get the stencil / stitch along for free.

Hand Embroidery Books

My go to embroidery books I regularly use are:

The Embroiderers Handbook by Margie Bauer

Mastering the Art of Embroidery

Good Housekeeping New Complete Book of Needlecraft

Complete Guide to Needlework

For more book recommendations, click here.

I recently created a beginner embroidery ebook that has projects perfect for the beginner!

Beginner Embroidery Patterns

I would highly suggest getting some sort of pattern you can follow to practice the new embroidery stitches you’re learning! Listed below are some free tutorials and patterns that are perfect for beginners.

Beginner Embroidery Kits

Embroidery kits are a great way to start learning how to hand embroider because they contain all of the supplies you’ll need along with a pattern and a stitch guide in them. If you’re unsure if you’d like to fully invest in this hobby, you don’t have to worry! All of the supplies are good for one embroidery project. You won’t have to invest in a bunch of stuff that you’ll end up not using or throwing away if you find that embroidery isn’t your thing.

The kits that I sell include:

  • embroidery needle
  • embroidery hoop
  • embroidery thread
  • fabric and embroidery stencil printed on it
  • color codes and a photographic stitch guide

Beginner Embroidery Classes Online

The internet is jam packed full of helpful resources you can use to learn techniques and stitches for different types of embroidery! My blog here is focused around DIY crafts and all things embroidery, so keep reading for more helpful tips and tricks!

online embroidery classes on skillshare

I also teach embroidery classes (beginner and intermediate) on Skillshare that are free if you sign up and take the class through my link! When you sign up, you’ll get two free months of premium skillshare, which means you can take unlimited amounts of classes from makers and creatives all over the place!

I personally use this platform to learn new skills on a regular basis (I used Skillshare for over a year before I ever even decided to teach on it!) I’ve learned things about web design, interior design, social media, and photography. You name it, they have it! If you’d like to learn more about Skillshare, I wrote a review here.

More Embroidery Tutorials:

How To Start An Embroidery Project

How To Transfer Embroidery Patterns To Fabric

The Best Embroidery Thread

6 of the Best Embroidery Kits for Beginners

How to Find the Best Fabric for Embroidery

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learn how to hand embroider, the ultimate guide to hand embroidery