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How To Make Your Own Embroidery Patterns

If you’ve ever wondered how to make your own embroidery patterns, you’re in the right place! This tutorial will show you how to do just that. Designing and stitching your own patterns is very creatively fulfilling, and you’ll be so proud of yourself once you’ve completed your own original design. This post will share some tips to help you design your patterns in a clear, intentional way. I’ll also share with you the different types of stitches used in embroidery so that you can keep this in mind when choosing which stitches to use for specific parts of your design.

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!

How to make your own embroidery patterns - embroidered landscape

Types of Embroidery Stitches

The first thing we’ll go over is the different types of embroidery stitches and their common uses. I decided to review these first because it is helpful to keep in mind different ones you’d like to use when you are drawing and developing your embroidery pattern.

I have divided these stitches into 4 different types, which is just one of many ways you could group them. But I find this is the easiest way to think about all of the different types and how you can use them. (If you’d like to check out how to embroider a specific stitch mentioned in this post, I’ll make sure to link all available tutorials.)

Outline Stitches

back stitch embroidery
back stitch

These stitches are ideal for embroidering letters and words as well as outlining shapes. They make thinner lines which can be useful for fine details as well.

Fill Stitches

basket weave
basket weave

These stitches are used most commonly for filling in a shape or area. Some have a smooth appearance and others appear more textured.

Knots

french knots
french knots

Knots come in different shapes and sizes. They have various uses including filling in areas and shapes (french knots / colonial knots). Some can be grouped together to form what appear to be flowers.

Decorative

woven wheel roses
woven wheel roses

These are commonly used for decorative accents. Some of these stitches resemble flowers and leaves. Others are chained together and are great for decorative borders.

These are just a handful of the most common embroidery stitches. However, there are many more stitches / variations these stitches that you can use.

To learn even more stitches, I highly recommend purchasing an embroidery reference book such as Stitch Step By Step or The Embroiderers Handbook.

Creating the Embroidery Design

The first thing you’ll want to keep in mind when you are beginning to sketch out your design is the size you’d like the finished embroidery to be. If you are wanting to stitch something that requires a lot of detail to be added into it, it’s always smart to embroider the design slightly bigger.

You’ll also want to choose an embroidery hoop size that your design will fit into. There is no “right” hoop size to use when you are stitching, but a general rule of thumb would be to choose an embroidery hoop that will allow at least a one inch margin around the design. This way the embroidery hoop won’t get in your way while you’re stitching. Some of the most common sizes of hoops to design and stitch in are 5-7 inch hoops. You can easily add in lots of detail in a 5-7 inch embroidery. You should be able to finish a project this size in a reasonable amount of time.

Sketching

embroidery pattern of a mountain landscape
finished embroidery design made in procreate

When you’re getting started, trace the inside of whatever size hoop you’d like the design to fit in and make a rough sketch. I am not an expert in illustration, but I find it’s easiest to use an iPad or a pencil and tracing paper to do this. If you’re using an iPad, you’ll want to purchase procreate, which is a program that you can draw / illustrate with.

Check out this tutorial to learn the basics of how you can create an embroidery design in Procreate.

Start creating your design with rough shapes. Roughly lay out the composition of the design before you begin to add in details. Once you’re happy with the rough sketch, you can go back in and redraw / add in even more fine details, but try to keep your design a bit simpler at the start. Sometimes adding in too many details can make the design confusing to follow, so I always like to start simple and add detail in as needed. 

Choosing Stitches

I like to keep in mind the stitches I will be using for each part of the design. Will you be making a simple, minimal design, or do you see yourself adding in tons of detail and filling in each part of the design entirely? Refer back to the different types of stitches and how you can implement them as you are brainstorming and sketching out your design.

Picking a color palette

color palette

This step is one that many people (including me) tend to skip, but it really is very important to plan out what colors you want to use first before you start stitching! It will save you time, and it will make your embroidery come together and look a lot better in the end! Using an iPad or drawing tablet makes it very easy to experiment with different color choices. You can also use whatever art medium of your choice if you’re doing everything on paper.

If you’re having a hard time choosing colors that go together nicely, color generator sites like coolors.co and stitchpalettes.com are great resources to use.

Creating a Stitch and Color Key

how to make your own embroidery patterns - color key

You may find it easiest to make a key for the colors and stitches you want to use. You can make note of all of these in the design you created before you start stitching.

Start Stitching

embroidering your own pattern

Once you’ve planned everything out, you’re ready to transfer your design and start stitching! I hope these tips for how to make your own embroidery patterns were helpful!