“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” - Maya Angelou

Are you creative or would you like to be?

More and more people are looking for creative hobbies and pastimes.

Have you considered embroidery?

There’s something for everyone when it comes to embroidery. To get started, here’s what you need to know about embroidering patterns.

Learning the Essential Stitches

To start with embroidery, you need to familiarise yourself with the different stitches and embroidery techniques. These embroidery stitches will be used to create your first patterns onto linen or an Aida cloth. So get your needles out and start by learning these stitches.

Which are the easiest embroidery stitches?
Cross-stitch is great for beginners. (Source: severyanka)

The Cross-stitch

The cross-stitch is one of the easiest stitches to do and is often taught to beginners. It’s a good idea to learn how to do this stitch on an Aida cloth; a fabric with a grid of holes ready for you to work on. With your Aida cloth, needle, and thread, you can learn how to do cross-stitch in a matter of minutes.

The cross-stitch involves creating a cross with the thread. Start by bringing the needle up and then bringing it down diagonally from the first point. Next, bring it up in one of the adjacent corners and back down diagonally across the original line to make a cross. You’ve just done your first cross-stitch! You can create entire embroideries with just a cross-stitch. There are plenty of patterns for butterflies, windmills, houses, etc. just using cross-stitches.

The Stem Stitch

The stem stitch is also a very simple stitch that you can learn how to do. You can use it to make fine lines such as the stem of a flower, for example. Start by bringing your needle up and then back down about a centimetre away in the direction you want to go, then bring the needle back up through the first point. You can do this for several stitches, always coming up through the end of the last stitch.

With just these two stitches, you can make a lot of embroideries. After you've learnt these hand embroidery stitches, you can move onto the satin stitch, chain stitch, back stitch, French knot, running stitch, blanket stitch, etc.

Using Embroidery Patterns

Budding embroiderers don’t often know where to begin, what to embroider, or how to embroider it. Fortunately, this is what patterns are for.

Patterns are essentially a how-to guide that shows embroiderers what stitches to make and which colours to use to create embroidery. The different stitches are indicated. You can find patterns in embroidery books and embroidery kits. You can also find them online!

There are two main types of pattern.

Traditionally, patterns are found printed out. The embroiderer can refer to it and know which stitches they should be making and where they should make them. This is more complicated than having the pattern printed directly onto the fabric.

In this case, the embroiderer can just follow the markings on the pattern with the right coloured thread. They won’t need to count stitches as they’re already marked out on the fabric they’re embroidering on.

These types of patterns are particularly useful for beginners. However, you won’t be able to let your imagination run wild with them. You’ll need to reproduce the patterns as they appear on the fabric.

Think of them as training.

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Creating Your Embroidery Patterns

In the past, it was uncommon for everyone to have access to patterns. After all, when it comes to creative pursuits, the goal is to be creative and let your imagination do the talking.

How can you create your own embroidery patterns?
Patterns are used as instruction manuals for embroidery. (Source: 5xy)

Bit by bit, try to make your patterns, even if they are simple. This might be a flower, a house, whatever. Of course, don’t just dive in and start embroidering directly onto the fabric.

It’s a good idea to use a water erasable marker so that you can sketch out what you plan to embroider and remove these markings once you’ve finished embroidering. Sketch out your ideas first. Once you’ve done this, you can start following these lines with cross-stitches, stem stitches, chain stitches, etc. Once you’re comfortable with this, you can start embroidering your patterns onto clothing or furnishings.

There are plenty of places you can get inspiration for your projects. For example, the social network Pinterest is home to many inspiration embroiders who regularly share their creations and their ideas. Similarly, there’s loads of inspiration for knitting, sewing, patchwork, crochet, embroidery and a whole plethora of textile arts.

Made a mistake?

Learn about removing embroidery.

Full Patterns or Basic Outlines?

You can create almost anything with embroidery. You can make animals, letters, a face, anything that pops into your head. Of course, the style will differ by embroiderer.

You can embroider a face just by using lines. You can also create a face leaving no empty spaces. The entire pattern is embroidered with cross-stitches or satin stitches, etc. These patterns are easier to see from a distance but they also require a lot more thread and a lot more time.

If you don’t want to spend too much time on your embroidery and are looking for a more delicate result, you may want to work just with lines and using stem stitches, for example.

You can also use cross-stitches for the contours but these won’t give very good results for curves and the result will look pixelated.

Choose the style that works for you.

Finished?

Consider framing your embroidery.

Advice for Creating Embroidery

Before you start your first project, we recommend you get everything that you’re going to need. Set aside a space you can work in so that you won’t constantly be getting up and looking for stuff. Make sure your needles, threads, scissors, and everything else you need are within reach.

How can you work from embroidery patterns?
Patterns can range from the very simple to the very complex. (Source: stux)

Take particular care when choosing the fabric. You don’t want to use fabric that stretches a lot as it can be really difficult to work on. If you’re starting with cross-stitch, consider getting an Aida cloth or linen.

Start small; you don’t want to be overambitious with your first project. The goal of your first project is to learn the basics of embroidery. Of course, don’t choose a tiny project with lots of small fiddly parts.

Once you’ve finished your first project, ask for some feedback from somebody in the know. For example, the staff in arts and crafts shops or haberdasheries are often avid embroiderers.

Finally, keep in mind that embroidery isn’t just done with thread. You can use ribbon, wool, pearls, etc. All of these things are great for jazzing up outfits and furnishings.

Discover how to embroider eyes.

How Can You Learn to Embroider?

If you want to get some help with your embroidery, there are plenty of resources and people who can help.

Where can you find the best embroidery patterns?
You can embroider with more than just thread. (Source: tookapic)

You can learn how to embroider with YouTube tutorials. There are videos explaining almost every technique and they're great for practising.

If you’re not a huge fan of the internet, you can always find guides and books to help you learn. Additionally, you can keep these books within reach while you’re working. An embroidery kit for beginners is also a great idea as they come with everything you need to get started as well as a beginner’s guide to embroidery.

Haberdasheries and arts and crafts shops also have workshops for those wanting to learn how to embroider. You can get advice from professionals on your projects and what materials you should use.

It's up to you now.

You could look for private embroidery tutors on Superprof to guide you through the process and teach you how to do it. If you need help with embroidery designs, needlepoint, Blackwork, or Hardanger, consider getting in touch with one. There are three main types of tutorial available and, like with tutors, each comes with its pros and cons.

Face-to-face tutorials are great for getting bespoke and tailored tuition as you're the only student in the class. Furthermore, your tutor will be spending a lot of time outside of the lessons preparing lessons for you. While these are usually the most costly, they're also the most cost-effective as every minute of a session is spent helping you learn.

Online tutorials are similar but your tutor won't be there in the room with you. While these are usually better for academic subjects, if you've got a good webcam, microphone, and internet connection, there's no reason a talented embroider couldn't help you learn remotely. Online private tutors tend to cheaper than face-to-face tutorials.

Finally, group tutorials are good for those on a budget as the cost of the tutor's time and experience will be shared amongst all the students in attendance. While you won't get as much one-on-one time with your tutor, you will pay less per student per hour. 

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Joseph

Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.