Start here if you’re just getting started on your hand embroidery journey! This guide will walk you through each step of how to start embroidery.

First, you’ll learn about the materials needed to get started. Then, you’ll learn a few techniques to hoop the fabric and thread a needle so that you can get started learning some basic embroidery stitches. The next step: transfer a design onto the fabric so you can make your very first embroidery design. Once you’re finished, you’ll learn how to finish an embroidery hoop.

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!

Learn How To Embroider

Embroidery is a fun and relatively easy craft to start learning. You only need to know a few simple stitches and basic techniques to make your first embroidery.

Hand Embroidery Supplies

hand embroidery supplies - a hoop, scissors, transfer pen, floss, and fabric

You don’t need very much to get started. Embroidery supplies are easy to find in most craft stores and are widely available online.

All supplies are very affordable, but the one thing I generally recommend you spend a little bit more money on is a high quality embroidery hoop and thread. Both of these things will make your life a whole lot easier!

Here’s what you’ll need:

How To Use An Embroidery Hoop

how to use an embroidery hoop
  1. Loosen the screw on the top of the embroidery hoop
  2. Separate the inner and outer rings.
  3. Place the fabric over top of the inner ring.
  4. Place the outer ring over the inner ring and the fabric.
  5. Pull the fabric tight like a drum, but not so tight that it warps the weave of the fabric.
  6. Tighten the screw.

Transferring Patterns to Fabric

You’ll want to have a reliable way to transfer a design onto the fabric before you stitch it. The simplest way to do this is by using a sunny window or light box.

Grab that embroidery pattern you’ve been eyeing or make your own design and let’s get tracing.

transferring an embroidery pattern to fabric by tracing

How To Trace An Embroidery Pattern

  1. Place the design on the window or on top of a lightbox.
  2. Place the fabric in the hoop – this will help prevent the fabric from moving while you’re tracing.
  3. Place the hoop face down on the surface of the window or light box
  4. Trace the design onto the fabric using a pen or marker.

Depending on the level of detail in the design and the color of the fabric you are using, you may want to try a different method for transferring your pattern. Learn about several other ways to transfer embroidery patterns.

how to thread an embroidery needle

Thread The Needle

  1. Cut a forearms length piece of embroidery floss
  2. Moisten the end of the thread
  3. Pinch the very end of the thread in between your thumb and forefinger.
  4. Place the thread through the eye of the needle.
  5. Pull the thread through, leaving a few inches of a tail.

If you’re having trouble, check out these 5 tips for threading an embroidery needle.

Starting And Ending Stitches

starting embroidery stitches with a knot

There are several ways to start and end embroidery stitches but when I was first learning, I found it easiest to tie a knot in the thread before I got started. This way, the thread won’t accidentally slip through the fabric when you’re making the first stitch.

To end a stitch, you can tie the tails of 2 pieces of thread together or you can tuck the tail of thread underneath the stitches a few times on the back of your work.

Embroidery Stitches

Next, let’s get to the exciting part…actually learning some stitches!

A few basic embroidery stitches can really go a long way. In fact, you only need to know a few to make an entire project. The rest are just icing on the cake.

What are the basic embroidery stitches?

Try focusing on a few of these fundamental stitches. Once you’ve got the hang of them, you can check out this page to learn even more embroidery stitches

Fixing Mistakes

fixing mistakes - how to remove embroidery stitches

Everyone makes mistakes! Whether you don’t like the look of a stitch you just made or you accidentally created a knot, sometimes you need to remove a few embroidery stitches.

The best way to do this is by placing the eye of your needle underneath of the stitch to undo it. If it’s beyond repair and feels like it’s tangled, try removing it with a seam ripper.

Avoid using a scissors to do this because you could accidentally create a hole in the fabric!

Free Intro to Embroidery Course + Pattern

Sign up to the email list to get exclusive access to my intro to embroidery mini-course / resource! You’ll receive a free teacup embroidery design along with some helpful information about embroidery.

You’ll also get occasional emails delivered straight to your inbox that are tailored for people just like you that are learning how to embroider.

intro to embroidery mini course
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Beginner Embroidery Patterns

A great way to learn is by taking action. Embroidery patterns that are geared towards beginners will help you in your learning process. Sampler patterns are also helpful to learn specific stitches. The best part about these projects is that you’ll have a piece of art when you’re finished which will make you feel even more confident in your abilities.

Patterns are usually pretty straight forward to follow, but this post will show you what to expect when you read an embroidery pattern.

Finishing The Hoop

Once you’re done embroidering a design, you’ll want to secure the excess fabric. You can do this by leaving it in the hoop or in a variety of other ways. Here’s how you can secure the fabric when you’re keeping it in the hoop.

how to finish an embroidery hoop
  1. Make sure the design is centered properly in the hoop.
  2. Cut the excess fabric around the hoop, leaving about 1-1.5 inches.
  3. Tie a knot in the end of a long piece of embroidery floss and make a running stitch around the fabric.
  4. Pull tight and secure with a knot.

If you don’t like leaving the back of your stitches exposed, check out this post that shows you how to cover it with felt or fabric!


You’ve probably still got a few questions about everything, which is totally normal. Answered below are some of the most commonly asked questions.

What Size Needle Do I Need For Embroidery?

This depends on how many strands of thread you are using. Embroidery needles usually come in sizes 3-10. The larger the number is, the smaller the needle is. The smaller the number, the larger the needle.

As a general rule of thumb, use a size 3 needle when using 6 strands. If you are using less than 6 strands of thread, check out this needle size guide.

Can You Use Any Fabric For Hand Embroidery?

Technically, yes. However, some fabrics are more difficult to stitch on.

The easiest fabrics to use are natural fabrics such as cotton and linen. They are sturdy fabrics that have a tight and even weave, making them really nice to embroider with.

Thin fabrics, synthetic fabrics, and ones that contain elastic can be much more challenging to work with. While it is possible to use these, it’s much easier to stick with the natural ones mentioned above when you are learning!

Can I Embroider Without a Hoop?

You can embroider without a hoop, but it is a lot more difficult.

Embroidery hoops make it a lot easier to embroider because they keep the fabric tight, preventing the fabric from puckering under the tension of your stitches. This makes it easier to create even, nice looking stitches.

Furthermore, holding an embroidery hoop is a lot easier on your hands. It can be hard to hold loose fabric for long periods of time while you are stitching.

What’s Next? – Additional Resources

Congratulations, you’ve officially learned the basics of embroidery! Here are a few additional resources so you can continue on your embroidery journey.

Check out the best books and embroidery kits for beginners.

Browse all of the different types of embroidery you can learn.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel for even more free embroidery tutorials!