How to Read an Embroidery Pattern

Every embroidery pattern you buy may be slightly different, but I wanted to make a little reference for you to understand the basics of what comes in one! I hope you enjoy, and it helps to simplify reading an embroidery pattern.

How To Use PDF Embroidery Patterns

Most embroidery patterns will come as a downloadable PDF. This makes them super easy to download and read on a computer or phone, and makes it convenient to print the pattern out. Most modern internet browsers have the capability to read PDF files. You can also download a free PDF reader from adobe here.

This post is a part of a series about how to embroider for beginners.

how to read an embroidery pattern

Pattern Design

Every pattern comes with a design you can print out. Normally, if the pattern is in PDF format, the pattern will print on A4 or letter size paper. If a particular print setting is included in the instructions, make sure to print the pattern out using the specified setting so that the stencil is the right size.

The stencil should also specify what size embroidery hoop you should use.

Once you’ve printed out the pattern and stencil, you’ll want to transfer the pattern to fabric.

Resizing The Pattern

If you would like to make the design a different size than what is included in the PDF pattern, you can reduce or enlarge the page in your printer settings. This may require a bit of trial and error to get it right. Make sure you have the particular embroidery hoop size on hand so you can quickly check sizing before you transfer the design to fabric.

Embroidery Thread

The pattern will also come with color suggestions for what embroidery thread to use. Take note of whatever brand the pattern calls for, because different brands have different corresponding numbers for colors. If you don’t have the right brand of embroidery floss, you can try to match the colors up as close as possible, or take a look at a conversion chart.

Most embroidery patterns use 6 strand DMC embroidery thread, which is generally available at most craft stores.


There will normally be diagrams or step by step photos for the different types of stitches required for the pattern. If there is not, you can find tutorials for embroidery stitches online.

Each embroidery pattern may vary, but most will come with pictures, illustrations, or color coded diagrams of how to stitch each part of the embroidery. If there are step by step instructions, be sure to follow along closely with them, as this will most likely be the easiest and most efficient way to complete the embroidery!

Everything You Need To Learn Embroidery In One Place

Any new skill can leave you feeling overwhelmed with where to start and let’s face it: your time is limited.

I created this guide with you in mind!

It has everything in it that you need to know to get started stitching. Comes with tips, material recommendations, and 6 fun projects that will build your confidence and allow you to not just learn the art of embroidery but have something to show for it!

Shop even more embroidery patterns here.

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