The beauty of Hand Embroidery is that you don’t need to spend a fortune on supplies before you can get started and all of what you need is accessible and easy to find.
I am about to give you a list of your “must have” items and how to choose them but keep in mind that there are no real wrong or right way to go. Comtemporary Embroidery is an art in which you can evolve and strecth the rules, so have fun!
I do understand however that if you are a complete novice you can get overwhelmed and you may struggle to identify what you should have in order to get started, so here are some suggestions:
You will obviously need some type of fabric and I would suggest that before you go and buy some, you check your linen cupboards! You may find in there some old and decent cotton sheets that you could recycle as fabric to be embroidered. This is a perfect way to practice basic stitches.
The choice of color is entirely yours, however keep in mind that your transfer method may differ depending on it. Please refer to tutorials on how to transfer a pattern on light fabric here or dark fabric (coming soon).
When you begin you want to stay away from fabric with a high stretch index. It will be frustrating. Aim for a piece of fabric with a thread count that is not high and a weave not too tight it will be easier to work with your needle. Cotton, linen, muslin are great fabric to work with.
This is optional, but depending on the type of fabric you use it will help give a better finish. On light weight fabric, it will help with strength and opacity. On stretchy fabric, it will stabilize it while stitching. On fabric with a low thread count it will strengthen the grip.
Again this is not absolutely necessary but it is worth considering if you face any of the issues listed above.
Although as a young embroiderer I never used a hoop, when returning to it later on in life I started using them. I have never looked back since but you can try with or without and see what suits you best.
However you need to know that the hoop is your friend for many reasons, the main one being that it maintains the right tension in your fabric and therefore helps prevent puckering and creases. In a word it makes the work a lot easier and much more satisfying.
Furthermore as a beginner it can sometimes be hard to maintain the fabric tension with just your hands and the hoop helps you focus on the stitches rather than both at the same time.
Hoops comes in different sizes, material and shapes. The choice depends on your pattern and on whether you wish to use it as a frame for your work or not.
Embroidery needles come in different sizes and your choice will depend on the fabric you choose and the size of the thread you are working with.
For example, I work mainly with cotton and at most 1 to 3 strands of thread and use embroidery needles size 5 to 10. If I decided to work with a fabric with a lower thread count and 6 strands of thread I would use bigger needle.
Purchase a selection of sizes but make sure they are Embroidery needles which means mainly the eye is bigger.
You can find lots of different Embroidery threads but buying a well known and reputable brand will ensure that you purchase great quality threads.
One of the most popular brand is DMC and it is the one I use for all my projects. Not only it comes in all the colors you can dream of but it is sturdy and great to work with.
As a general rule the embroidery skein is made of 6 strands and you can work with all or some of it. The amount of strands you use will affect the finished artwork so it depends on what you want or what the pattern you follow requires.
Embroidery scissors are small scissors with a long, very sharp and pointy tip. They are designed to clean cut in small areas.
Are you looking for some free Embroidery Patterns?
Don’t forget to check the selection of free patterns that I offer on this site. You might want to start with the 4 Seasonal Stitch Along that come with 15 videos each taking you through each mini patterns from beginner level! And for more patterns click here.