“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” - Leo Burnett
There are hundreds of thousands of blogs dedicated to DIY and arts and crafts. They’re very popular amongst 30-somethings looking to make their houses a home with handicrafts and embroidery. These blogs can help you learn the basics of sewing and embroidery.
Aside from blogs, how else can you learn to embroider?
In this article, we'll be looking at what you need to get started with embroidery, how cross-stitch is a great place to start, some resources for learning how to embroider, and how you can learn more about embroidery.
What Do You Need to Start Embroidery?
To get started with embroidery, it’s important to have the right equipment. Don’t get started with a toothpick and sewing thread. Embroidery is a creative pursuit that requires specific materials but (fortunately for you) doesn’t cost very much to get started.
All you need is embroidery thread, needles, hoops, markers, and fabric.
When it comes to fabric, you’ll have a few choices. You can use embroidery to customise dresses, t-shirts, jackets, cushions, etc. But before you start, I recommend you opt for some linen, which is great for beginners to work on. The fabrics used on most garments are often quite elastic, making them difficult to embroider so linen will make things a little easier when you’re first starting.
You also need to choose your thread. You should know that a pack of threads will include several types of thread and you can choose the one with the right thickness. You can also buy packs of different colours and thicknesses. DMC thread is one of the most popular brands for embroidery.
Next, you’ll need to buy some needles. Needles can be often bought in packs and come in plenty of different sizes. Make sure that the end of the needle is pointed (or hooked in the case of cross-stitch where the end can be rounded). In some cases, you’ll need to pass several threads through the fabric at once.
To learn how to correctly embroider, you'll need to invest in an embroidery hoop (or tambour frame). This allows you to stretch the fabric, making it easier to embroider and is essential for beginners.
Finally, a water-erasable fabric marker will allow you to clean the markings off the fabric once you’ve finished. This is useful to help you embroider.
You can also invest in other materials if you’re serious about embroidery. You can, for example, buy a box to keep all your thread in or a stand for the hoop so you can free up both your hands as you embroider.
You can get all of this equipment from an arts and crafts shop or a haberdashery. Specialist shops are full of stuff for sewing and embroidery and you can even get everyone you need together in a sewing or embroidery kits with needles, thread, etc.
Getting Started with Embroidery through Cross-stitch
To get started with embroidery, the easiest thing to do is learn how to cross-stitch. Cross-stitch, as the name indicates, is when you make a stitch in the shape of a cross. The final pattern will be made up of a series of little crosses.
Cross-stitch is also an activity in its own right but it’s also one of the stitches used in embroidery. This stitch is also good for beginners but some continue using it to create some impressive embroidered patterns with only cross-stitches.
There are two techniques for making a cross-stitch:
- The English Method
- The Danish Method
The English method involves making small crosses one after the other. This is often used for isolated stitches.
The second technique is far more common. The Danish technique consists of making a line of diagonal lines with the thread before coming back across the line with perpendicular diagonal lines to create the second diagonal line of each unfinished cross. By the end, you’ll have an entire line of crosses. This technique allows you to cross-stitch much more quickly. It’s often used when you have lines of the same colour to do.
Cross-stitches can be done on various fabrics. If you’re just starting, you should opt for Aida fabric or cloth. This is a type of cross-stitch fabric perforated with little holes in it so that the stitches are uniform. It’s even easier to start with Aida cloth than with linen. The latter tends to move more easily, making cross-stitching more complicated.
If you want to embroider onto clothes, there’s a special fabric for doing the perfect cross-stitch. The cross-stitch canvas.
Finally, if you need more help, you can opt for a pattern. You can get it printed onto the fabric and follow the instructions to make the perfect cross-stitch. These patterns are often sold with embroidery or cross-stitch kits or on their own in arts and crafts shops and haberdasheries. You can also find patterns online.
Once you’ve mastered how to do cross-stitch, you can move onto the other stitches.
Resources for Getting Started with Embroidery
Embroidery isn’t just cross-stitch. There are several different types of stitches in traditional embroidery.
Stem stitch, backstitch, etc., you need to take the time to learn each technique to become an expert embroiderer. Before all that, however, you should get started by following a few basic tutorials to build your confidence. Here are a few sites with some great tutorials for you to follow:
- Mary Corbet's Needle 'N Thread
- Sublime Stitching
- Feeling Stitchy
With great sites and YouTube tutorials, you can easily get started with your first embroidery project. From getting all the materials (thread, needles, etc.) to making your first stem stitch, it’s quite easy to progress with all the resources available to you. Of course, video tutorials aren’t the only way to get better at embroidery. You can also check out blogs, embroidery manuals, and books.
You can refer to the latter whenever you want. Furthermore, it’s much easier to pick a project from a book that it is to scour the whole internet for them. That said, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to video tutorials and blogs.
Similarly, you can also find cross-stitch patterns online. A cross-stitch pattern is effectively instructions on how to make certain images and patterns through cross-stitch. Luckily for budding embroiderers, there are plenty of free cross-stitch patterns online and you'll probably get a few in a beginner's cross-stitch kit.
How Can You Learn to Embroider?
You can learn to embroider on your own or in a class. Whatever your reasons for wanting to learn, you can find a way of learning that works for you, ensuring that embroidery remains enjoyable first and foremost.
Embroidery lessons might be the first thing you think of when you want to get started. Lessons can help you learn about the different stitches like the cross-stitch, chain stitch, etc. while getting advice from your embroidery teacher or tutor.
Whether it’s weekly lessons, group classes, private tutorials, etc., there are plenty of ways to learn how to embroider.
Firstly, you have to make sure that the classes are available when you’re free and cover what you want to learn. The advantage of getting embroidery lessons from an experienced embroiderer is that they’ll stop you from picking up any bad habits. It’s a good idea to help right from the start. You’ll find that you learn how to embroider quickly and easily.
You can also learn how to embroider by teaching yourself with online tutorials and guides, much like with other creative arts. The advantage of this approach is that you can do it whenever you fancy. This is the main advantage of not having a teacher.
To advance, you might want to get tips and advice from others. Their feedback can help you improve both in terms of technique and style.
Finally, don’t forget to work methodically. Get all the material that you’ll need (scissors, thread, Aida cloth, etc.), learn the basic stitches, and practise with basic patterns at first. The more you practise, the more you’ll progress!
If you'd like to be a needlework master and embark on making an incredible tapestry, you might want to get help with embroidery and cross-stitch projects from a private tutor on Superprof. They'll also be able to advise you on which cross-stitch supplies to get.