If you’ve struggled to get your embroidery to look neat and you feel like you’ve tried everything, this post will help you almost instantly improve your results!
We all know that practice will improve any skill, and that is true for embroidery. But these tips focus more on supplies and simple techniques that you can implement today and should almost immediately make a difference!
I have been embroidering since 2009, and it’s taken me a long time to figure out how to make my work look neater and more how I want it to look.
For years, I yearned for my embroidery to look neat, minimal, flawless, and smooth like other amazing artists I would see on social media. My art style is naturally a bit “messier”, and I’ve mostly come to accept that. (That’s a whole other story haha)
However, I wanted to improve the quality of my embroidery when I started noticing how messy the edges of certain shapes were. I wanted to figure out a better and more intentional way to outline, fill in shapes, and blend colors. I’ll be sharing some of what I have learned and what has helped me over the years in this post and I really hope that it helps you too.
Note: Some people want their work to look a bit more gritty and rough around the edges. This post is not intended to make anyone feel bad about their art style! There really is no “wrong” or “right” way to embroider…you can choose to embroider however you like! This post is intended to educate you on choosing the right supplies and how to properly execute certain stitches and techniques if you are having trouble getting your work to look the way you want it to.
Choosing The Right Embroidery Supplies
The easiest thing you can do to improve your embroidery is to start off with the right supplies before you even make the first stitch. Using the most suitable and high quality supplies truly makes a difference!
Choose Good Fabric
The fabric is your “canvas”, the backbone of your embroidery. It can either hinder or help you.
The fabric you use should be sturdy and preferably natural and evenly woven. Cotton and linen fabrics are a good place to start! If you’re interested in learning more about all of the different types to choose from, check out this post about embroidery fabric.
Choose The Right Size Embroidery Needle
Using the wrong size embroidery needle is an easy mistake to make. I used to think that if I could thread it through the needle, it was good to use! However, this is not entirely true.
Embroidery needles come in different sizes, which means they have different widths and eye sizes.
If you choose a needle that is too small, you’ll have a hard time pulling your needle and thread through the fabric. Choosing a needle that is too large can leave large holes in the fabric and the stitches won’t lay as neatly.
Choose an embroidery needle size based on how many strands and what type of thread you’re using. The easiest way to find the right size needle is by referencing this post that also has a needle size chart.
When you choose the correct needle size, you will instantly feel the difference. You’ll find that it is easy to pull through the fabric and it doesn’t leave excessive amounts of holes in the fabric. It pierces the fabric and makes a hole that’s only large enough for the particular amount of thread you’re using: the perfect size!
Follow or Plan A Design
Everything is easier when you have a plan! It’s fun to embroider without a pattern sometimes, but your work will turn out more intentional and polished looking when you have planned it out and refined your design or drawing.
Start with a sketch and tweak your design until you’re happy with it!
Transfer The Design To The Fabric Before Starting
You’ll want to transfer your finished embroidery design to the fabric before you get started. Choose a transfer method that is easy to see on the fabric. Here are 8 different transfer methods.
Tips For Neat Edges
Padded Satin Stitch
The padded satin stitch is a really fun stitch to add a bit more dimension to your work, and it also helps you fill in shapes more neatly. The stitches underneath can serve as somewhat of a guide when you make the satin stitches on top.
Outline Stitch Along The Edge
I used to fill in shapes with just satin stitches, but I have found that outlining the shape with a split stitch before I start allows me to achieve a cleaner edge. If you’d like to learn how, check out this tutorial for satin stitch flower petals.
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!
Tips For Neat Stitches
Consistent Stitch Length
For outline stitches like back stitch, chain stitch, split stitch, stem stitch, your embroidery will look neater if your stitch length is even and somewhat short.
Slowing down and really paying attention to each stitch will help you keep a consistent length.
Shorten Your Stitches
If you’ve ever noticed your outlines looking kind of jagged, it may be that you’re making your stitches too long! Keeping your stitches shorter will help keep the curves of your outlines and letters smoother.
If you want even more tips for embroidering letters, check out this post.
Consistent Stitch Tension
Embroidering with a consistent stitch tension will help keep your stitches laying neat and will also prevent puckering of the fabric. It’s easiest to achieve a consistent stitch tension by selecting fabric that is sturdy and doesn’t contain elastic.
If you feel like you’re having problems with your fabric puckering, you can also double up your fabric. Adding a second layer of fabric before you get started stitching will support the front piece of fabric more, which will help keep your fabric nice and smooth!
Try Out Different Amounts Of Thread
For more intricate areas, you’ll most likely want to use less strands of thread so you can fit those tiny details in.
If you’re wanting to fill in a larger area faster or you’re wanting to add more depth and dimension to it, you can choose to use more strands of thread.
Test out different quantities of thread to see what you like best!
Focus On Stitch Direction
Paying close attention to how you are making your stitches and how they lay in relation to one another will help make your embroidery neater. If you’re trying to smoothly fill in a shape, or blend colors together, you’ll want to make sure your stitches lay neatly beside one another without and gaps in between them. Check out this post to learn more about blending colors together.
I hope these tips help you! With some practice, intentionality, and mindfulness, you will see improvement in your skills and overall embroidery quality!