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Why Does My Embroidery Look Bad?

You’ve finished an embroidery or you’re close to being finished and you’re disappointed with the way it’s turned out. You don’t like the way it looks but you can’t quite put your finger on why.

We’ve all been there before! Embroidery, and frankly any art form can be a process to learn and get good at.

This post will go over why you’re embroidery may not look the way you’re wanting it to and provide a few tips for improving the quality and appearance of it!

thread painted butterfly

Why Does My Embroidery Look Bad?

There may be a variety of reasons your embroidery isn’t turning out the way you had hoped it to. Here are a few common reasons.

  • Your stitches look messy or inconsistent.
  • You didn’t transfer your design to the fabric before you got started.
  • You transferred an embroidery design, but the stitches and amount of thread you used didn’t complement that particular design
  • Your color palette is not cohesive

If any of these resonate with you, don’t be disappointed: these are all common struggles everyone deals with that can be fixed and improved!

Tips For Improving Your Embroidery Art

How To Improve The Quality Of Your Stitches

A great way to improve your stitches is by simply slowing down and also practicing stitches that you struggle with. Additionally, here are a few quick fixes you can implement today to see a big difference.

Use an embroidery hoop when you embroider

Using a hoop will keep the fabric tight in the hoop and help stabilize it while you’re embroidering, which will increase your chances of having beautiful, even stitches. It will also prevent your fabric from puckering under the tension of the stitches.

Use high quality fabric

Using a natural, evenly woven, medium weight fabric that doesn’t contain elastic in it will make the stitching process way easier. Linen and cotton fabrics are some of the best types of fabric to work with.

Focus on making your stitches even

Keeping the length of your stitches equal and even will make a huge difference in the way your embroidery looks. Making even stitches is way easier when you use evenly woven fabric such as the two types mentioned above. Having your design marked out on the fabric helps as well.

For even more tips, check out this article about how to embroidery neatly.

Embroidery design on fabric

Improving Your Embroidery Designs

Practice drawing more

Are you struggling to create a design that looks the way you’ve imagined it in your head?

Maybe you don’t feel confident in your drawing abilities, or maybe you don’t normally plan out your design before you get started.

Even drawing for 15 minutes a day will make a huge difference. With practice, you’ll start to see improvement in your designing abilities.

Design and use a pattern

It can be fun to embroider without a pattern, but your embroidery will turn out much better if you have a plan in place and a design to follow. Come up with a design that you can transfer over to the fabric using a water soluble marker or pen before you get started stitching. That way you have a guide you can follow that will easily wash away when you’re finished!

embroidery color palette

Choose A Color Palette

Sometimes, using too many colors can actually make your embroidery look too busy and less cohesive.

Limiting the amount of colors you use in your embroidery will allow you to be more conscious with your color choices and stick to a theme. is a great site to find beautiful embroidery color palettes to work with and each palette contains 5-6 colors in it, which is a perfect number to start with.

Invest In A Course

A great way to improve your skills more quickly is to take a course. Courses can be valuable because they contain lots of information that is presented to you in a way that is easy to understand and will maximize your learning.

My flagship course, Stitch With Confidence, walks you through how to improve your embroidery art. Learn the best way to plan, design, and stitch embroideries you’ll be truly proud of! If you’re interested in learning more about it, check out the course details.

pet portrait progression: 2013 vs 2021
Pet portrait progression – top photo: 2013 bottom photo: 2021

Keep Going

Like any skill, it will take time to develop your process and improve your abilities. Here are some things that have helped me show up and keep going even when things feel really hard.

  • It can be hard to see small progress day to day, but one of the best ways to keep track of your progress is to take photos of your work that you can look back on. You’ll be surprised at how far you have come!
  • While learning can come with bumps in the road and frustrations, try to enjoy the process as best you can. Maybe try a new fun project that will allow you to practice a particular technique or embroidery stitch.
  • Don’t be afraid of trying different approaches and taking breaks when things don’t work out as planned.
  • Try not to compare yourself to others. This can be challenging in the age of social media, but it can really discourage you if you start comparing your journey to someone else’s. Social media is a highlight reel. You’ll never truly know what someone’s journey has been like or how long it has taken them! By focusing on your own personal progression and achievements, you’ll be able to make the process more fun and feel much more fulfilled.
why does my embroidery look bad? Approachable and easy ways to improve your embroidery