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Embroidery Stitching Techniques: A Guide For Beginners


Embroidery is a traditional form of art that has been dated back to 30,000 BC, and is believed to have originally come into light in China and other Eastern countries. People began customizing their clothing and using embroidery to repair them during the early stages of clothing development.

However, it was originally used as a way to finish clothes, make them more functional and durable for tough weather conditions. It was also used in other cultures as a symbol of class, sophistication, and even wealth within society. Being able to showcase the skill that you could afford was often something to brag about.

Nowadays, there are a lot of modern spins on embroidery where people are enjoying adding a personal touch to their clothes. The fast-fashion industry is responsible for a lot of excessive waste. Water and other natural resources are being drained from the environment to create synthetic fibers to be used in the production of clothes.

The excessive amount of pollution and unethical treatment of factory workers are a part of the reason why people are choosing more sustainable and environmentally friendly style options. Customizing old pieces with embroidery can add a new lease of life to an item and make you feel like you have a brand-new addition to your closet.

This has meant that there is a new use for embroidery that isn’t just repairing holes in damaged clothes. Adding tiny designs or patterns can be something that is appealing to more people who are wanting to take up a new hobby as well as add their own spin onto their clothes.

Embroidery Stitching Techniques A Guide For Beginners

Being able to sew symbols, shapes, or designs onto shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, and pants is exciting because it is a form of creating one-of-a-kind pieces. Giving forgotten items a new lease of life and making them feel brand new is something that the twenty-first century has adopted recently.

More people are buying secondhand clothes and trying to avoid spending money on the fast-fashion industry, which is why being able to do your own small repairs, and even make a piece feel like your own with embellishments and patterns is still relevant today.

Embroidery can be functional as well as stylish, and it is no wonder that more people are using it as a form of self-expression. Using intricate methods of sewing with needle and thread is simple but can be highly effective in customizing an item of clothing.

It can also make the piece last longer, as embroidery is often used to patch up torn clothes, or to reinforce areas that are more exposed to make them stronger and more hard wearing.

There are many benefits to taking up embroidery as a new hobby or interest, and you can create custom gifts for loved ones that can be decorative or functional. Additionally, it can be a great way to meet like-minded people, as well as test your patience and force you to slow down.

This is the only real way to ensure that you can fully focus on the embroidery, and it makes the mind switch off a little more. It takes time to build up the level of skill needed to use embroidery as a form of self-expression and art, because it is more complex than a lot of people think. That is why this guide covers some of the variations that exist within the world of embroidery, and how you can learn a new skill.

If you have a steady hand and want to find a new hobby, then you might want to try embroidery. It can also be good for those wanting to work on their patience and dexterity because you will need to put in the practice. Embroidery can be a highly rewarding way to de-stress and express your personality.

This is a beginners’ guide into the world of embroidery, with some suggestions for how to start. This is a great way to begin your journey into intricate designs, and could even introduce you to other crafts like punch needlework, felting, or even rug making. Embroidery is great for young and older people who want to find a new form of crafting.

Embroidery For Beginners

Embroidery For Beginners

If you are new to the world of embroidery, it can be hard to know how to begin. That is why there are a lot of useful guides available online that you can look through when planning your first moves. Something to keep in mind before starting is that your first piece might not turn out how you expect it to, and like any new hobby or skill, it takes time to master.

Try not to let this discourage you from persevering, and remember that the best way to work on your embroidery skills is to keep practicing. These are some tips for those who are just starting out on their embroidery journey.

Get Your Supplies

Regardless of what type of embroidery you are interested in trying, you should try to find some good quality materials and supplies so that you can practice easier. Something that is essential in learning any new hobby is the planning and preparation stage. Make sure that you are starting off on the right foot by getting the appropriate supplies.

If you want to use a blank canvas, then you could use a hoop lined with fabric so that excessive material or fabric from a piece of clothing is less of an obstacle. Hoops are a great way to use embroidery as a form of expression, and even be used to create layered art pieces.

Hoops are very versatile, and can be found in many sizes. Another advantage of using hoops is that they are easier to trace onto.

Additional supplies that are essential for getting you started are several types of thread and a few strong, high quality needles. You can begin to play with different textures over time as your skill progresses, and the thread can be found in most colors and shades.

Head to your local craft supply store and check out the enormous range of embroidery products available. Some will even offer stencils to make the learning process a little more straightforward. If you are lucky, you might even find that you have a local craft club that you can attend and ask for advice.

Try to make friends along the way and encourage everyone to share their knowledge. It is easy to feel isolated when doing a craft like an embroidery, so you should challenge yourself to meet like-minded people if you can.

Something else that you might want to consider is how to follow a pattern. Some of the crafts need specific levels of skill and basic stitch knowledge, so it could be worth practicing each type of stitch required beforehand. This can help you know what to expect from your first embroidery project, and be more aware of what is needed.

In addition, you will be able to practice your stitches with a goal in mind. This can be a great motivator for some people who need to be able to picture an end product when they are working towards something.

Getting Started

Once you have the appropriate supplies and a rough idea for a design, then you are ready to begin the process of learning to embroider. Make sure that you know how to thread a needle, and have a fabric that you can easily push your needle into the other side of.

Try to practice each of the following key skills before moving on to the next. Rome wasn’t built in a day, which is why you cannot expect yourself to immediately be an expert at embroidery. Especially if you have little experience with the process, you should start at the beginning and work your way from the basics.

If you don’t have as much experience with sewing in the past, then something worth figuring out is how to secure a thread. This is usually done by going back on one of the first stitches made so that it won’t fall out of the fabric and will actually stay in place.

It’s usually easier for beginners to tie a small knot in the thread at the start and end of the process. Something that might help is remembering that everyone has to start somewhere, and that you will get better with regular practice. Try to be kind to yourself and keep persevering.

It is recommended that you use an embroidery hoop that is an inch or larger in diameter than your chosen design. While that is not as relevant for someone who is just starting out, it’s still important to select a hoop that can be comfortably held in one hand but is also large enough to practice on.

Embroidery floss refers to a specialist type of thread that consists of six smaller strands to make up the thread. Most designs say how many of these threads you will need beforehand, but it is worth getting to grips with the idea of embroidery floss.

Traveling thread is the name given to thread that serves the purpose of moving from one area on the fabric to another. Try to practice covering the thread that goes along the back by one on the front side of the fabric.

This is a little fiddly and can be one of the harder things to understand how to do, which is why it’s worth spending more time on this stage to ensure that you’ve got it right. There are a lot of videos online demonstrating how to do it, which are one of the most useful resources that can provide a valuable visual to the process.

Top 15 Stitching Techniques

Top 15 Stitching Techniques

These are some of the most popular techniques used in embroidery that you should spend time practicing. Something that most people do not know is that there are a lot of different types of stitches to master, and they each have different levels of impact, design, and purpose. The majority of these stitches are suitable for beginners, however, there are some exceptions, so it is worth reading into how difficult each one is and how to practice them.

Back Stitch

This is one of the most widely used stitches because it is considered to be a beginner or basic level stitch. It is one of the most commonly used stitches because it can be used for outlining shapes within a design, and is easy to integrate additional material in once you have mastered it. Feathers and other textures can be woven within back stitches or even used to add embellishments.

Running Stitch

A running stitch is another popular type of stitch seen within many embroidery projects for dashed lines, weaving, or adding more detail to a design. Running stitches are also one of the foundations used within Japanese Sashiko Embroidery.

Straight Stitch

Another extremely popular stitch is a straight stitch that can be used for layering, creating bolder outlines, or adding definition. It is also one of the most simple types of stitch because it involves bringing the needle from the back of the fabric to the front, and pushing the needle into the fabric once the thread is in the right place to create the desired effect. Try using a straight stitch to create layered flowers, stars, and other shapes on your first few attempts.

French Knot

A French knot is one of the more complex stitches, and some more experienced embroiderers have difficulty achieving these correctly. That is why it’s worth practicing this stitch a little more, as it can be highly effective once you have mastered it.

The French knot stitch involves wrapping the thread around the needle several times before pushing it from the front of the fabric to the back. This is used to add depth and texture, but is most widely recognized for looking like a rose or small, delicate flower.

Stem Stitch

This type of stitch gets its name from its stem-like appearance. It has a naturalistic look that pairs well with beginners who might not be as experienced with adding finer details. The stem stitch looks good on long, straight lines as well as curved ones, and is another highly effective stitch that can be used to add depth and impact to a design.

Chain Stitch

One type of stitch that has a lot of its own variants is a chain stitch. It is often used to create thick, bold lines and can be done in reverse or forwards. A chain stitch is a great way of demonstrating your newfound skill within the embroidery world.

Satin Stitch

The satin stitch is most commonly used for filling shapes, and can also be used in patching small holes in clothing. Figure out how to include a lot of straight stitches so that they line up close to each other and one begins almost immediately where another ends. The name comes from the impact that a lot of close stitches have on a design because it can look very smooth and satin-like when done correctly.

Feather Stitch

The name of this stitch comes from the way that the linked chain of stitches gives off the illusion of moving lines. It is an impressive stitch that can be used in outlines, embellishments, or even within naturalistic scenes.

Split Stitch

A split stitch is basically the opposite of a back stitch, because it involves making a stitch and then “splitting” it by going back and adding another stitch. This gives off the appearance of a bold line that can be used in a multitude of ways.

Detached Chain Stitch

This follows the same precipice as the chain stitch but involves only making one link rather than many. It is most commonly seen in flower designs, as it can be an effective way to create daisy petals.

Fly Stitch

A fly stitch is often seen in a ‘U’ or ‘V’ shape rather than petals and is highly versatile. You can practice a fly stitch in a long row, in singular form, or within a radius on your embroidery hoop. Try to experiment with it and see which form comes the most natural for you.

Woven Wheel Stitch

Another stitch that is popular within floral embroidery is the woven wheel stitch. It often looks like a rose from above and is made by making a star shape using a straight stitch. Then, slowly begin to weave your thread in and out of the points of the star. Over time, you will be able to perfect this and create beautiful flowers that look highly complicated when they are actually relatively simple to create.

Couching Stitch

This is a way to add textures and can even be used to integrate other materials including ribbon, yarn, or other strips of thread. Lay the material that you want to use in a line on your fabric, and then use your thread to tack it in place. While the actual stitching is simplistic, it can make for a highly impactful final product when done correctly.

Blanket Stitch

The blanket stitch is a way of adding a decorative edge to a project, or can be added to embroidery pieces to create elaborate lines. Blanket stitches are some of the most traditional forms of embroidery out there.

Bullion Knot

Essentially, this is one of the more expert forms of a French knot that can be a great demonstration of skill when creating a floral pattern. Elaborate roses are often used with this stitching method, and they can easily be built up to be as large or small as you prefer.

Embroidery Patterns

Embroidery Patterns

The possibilities are endless when it comes to embroidery patterns, and there are a lot of designs to choose from that are available online. Some of the options have been listed below, and it is worth comparing designs and patterns to see what you want to achieve.

Beginners might find it easy to dive straight into an expert level pattern, which can make you feel disheartened or less motivated to continue on your embroidery efforts. Try to remember to start off small and work your way towards something more challenging. Check out some of the different designs and enjoy playing with different textures and stitches below.

Written Designs

If you have a particularly steady hand or want to challenge yourself even more, then you could try following a written design. Written words are often seen in elaborate fonts in the style of calligraphy writing.

You could try to use light pencil markings on the fabric to write your words or message and stitch over them in your preferred method, or follow a pattern online. Working on written designs can be a great way to work on your writing skills within embroidery, which will make great customized gifts when needed.

Floral Designs

We’ve briefly covered how some of the stitches can be used to create the appearance of flowers using thread, and there are some great designs to choose from that create detailed scenes or even feature patterns of simplistic flowers.

These can be highly effective once you have gotten the hang of each stitching method because you might even find yourself creating your own floral scenes. Floral patterns and designs are some of the most commonly seen forms of embroidery, and are a unique display of skill, stitching knowledge, and nature’s delicate beauty.

You can have a little fun with floral designs, and create an intricate scene, or even work on custom patterns. Try to play with different threads and see what kinds of flowers you like to create.

Personalized Designs

Once you have mastered the basics, you might find yourself feeling more creative and realizing that the possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to embroidery stitching designs. This can open up new doors for handmade gifts, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t think about embroidering different items.

These can be anything from socks and sweaters to a canvas or embroidery hoop. Personalized gifts are highly popular, and more people enjoy receiving something that is custom to them and has a bit of their personality, name, or even zodiac sign included.

The hoop alone with a simple design is a great gift, and a lot of people use them for decoration around the house. For an extra thoughtful gift idea, try to think about something that the person often uses and how you can give them something that will make their life a little easier.

For example, if they love their morning coffee run, you could try to embroider a cuff that will protect their hands from burning against the hot cup.

People love to receive gifts that have had a lot of thought put into them, and you can practice your newfound skills by creating personalized gifts. Monogrammed items with their initials are a great stocking stuffer, or can be a great gift for someone who is difficult to buy.

Try to have a little fun with it, and play around with shapes, colors, designs, and textures to see what combinations work well together and what doesn’t work as well.

Use Your Stitching Techniques To Create Embroidery Patterns

If you are someone who prefers to see how you do and then go from there, then you might want to create an embroidery pattern based on which stitching techniques you want to demonstrate. There is no point in attempting to create something that is too difficult, and if you aren't in the right headspace, then a challenging pattern can be enough to put you off embroidering.

Try to find inspiration online and either combine a few patterns that you like, or use them to create your own unique patterns. Depending on what you want to achieve, there are several options on how you can create a pattern online.


Finishing the stitches

Depending on your baseline set of skills and background knowledge of the subject, there are endless possibilities for embroidery, and your next crafting journey could unlock a new sense of creativity and passion within yourself. There are a lot of skills that can be learned from taking up embroidery as a new hobby.

Of course, the most obvious one is fine motor skills, patience, and keeping a steady hand, but there are additional skills that you will learn along the way. These include an improved eye for detail, accuracy, and the ability to switch off.

There are additional benefits to these, such as improved outlook on life, self-confidence, and general improvements to your mental health.

Meet people who share a similar interest along the way, whether that means striking up a conversation with the sales assistant in the craft store, or attending your local community’s craft club. Other options include speaking with a loved one or family member who might have some useful pieces of advice for you.

Interact with others about how you can enter the world of embroidery and what you are hoping to achieve from it. They might even have some additional advice that cannot be found in this guide. Social support and encouragement can be a huge advantage to meeting a group of like-minded individuals regularly.

Take the time to work on your skill before attempting a complex pattern, because embroidery is not something that you can jump straight into the deep end of. It is worth putting in the practice and understanding how each stitch works before moving on to something more complex.

That is why most people choose to start their embroidery journey using a hoop rather than jumping straight in, and adding custom stitches to a piece of clothing. While this is something that comes over time, it is worth working on a hoop lined with plain fabric first because it is much easier to unpick a design if it doesn’t go according to plan on a hoop.

That is why a lot of people embroider sweaters, pants, T-shirts, and hats when they are a little more experienced. This will come over time, and you will find yourself working on a complex pattern in no time.

Something that is exciting is the idea of creating something that is completely custom and adds a personal touch to any look. That is why most people aspire towards this and begin their embroidery journey with this in mind.

Additionally, it is exciting and rewarding to gift people items that you have spent a lot of time working on. Create their own custom design or even monogram one of their favorite sweatshirts so that they have a one-of-a-kind piece. Who knows, this could even be your next business venture if interest begins to grow.

Embroidery can be something that you can become completely immersed in, which is what makes it so beneficial for your mental health. There is the potential to integrate written designs into any pattern, which can offer the space for you to draw your own designs ahead of time.

Whether you want to work on a complex pattern that can be traced onto your hoop, or if you prefer to create mood boards for inspiration, there are some great resources online that can make the whole process much smoother. It is rewarding to make something, add a personal touch, and be able to share that newfound skill with others around you.

There are a lot of different types of stitches, and some of them have been listed above. If you are interested in exploring your skill even further or challenging yourself, then you could research some of the more complex stitches and try to get the hang of those.

However, as with most hobbies, it is important to remember that it’s completely up to you how seriously you take it.

This means that you don’t have to put in the hours, and can keep doing small beginner-level stitches if that is what makes you happy. Try to focus on how embroidery makes you feel, and what you can do to keep it as a positive outlet for you.

Lillian Crafts is a blog providing information on all kinds of hand crafts, from embroidery to sewing. Lillian's goal is to provide readers with inspiration and ideas for their next project.

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