6 Essential Hand Embroidery Supplies

6 Essential Hand Embroidery Supplies

A few essential hand embroidery supplies are all you need to get started stitching and creating works of art.

Fabric

6 Essential Hand Embroidery Supplies

In general, you can embroider on any fabric. Cotton, wool, linen, felt, or even denim and leather, can be used as a canvas for creating beautiful embroidery. However, keep in mind that thicker fabrics require sturdier needles, and thinner fabrics have a tendency to pucker when stitching bold embroidery letters or filled in shapes. When in doubt, stick with cotton or linen-cotton blend fabrics with a medium weave.

6 Essential Hand Embroidery Supplies

Colored fabrics are great for embroidery. Don’t be afraid to experiment by stitching dark fabrics with light or bright colored floss. I love this fern pattern on white fabric, but I love it even more stitched on dark grey linen!

Embroidery Floss

6 Essential Hand Embroidery Supplies

Stranded Cotton
By far the most common embroidery thread is stranded cotton floss made by DMC. It comes in skeins with 6 strands that you can use either all together as a thicker floss or split into a smaller number of strands for varying embroidery effects. DMC floss comes in a multitude of colors — each with their own unique assigned number. All of the hand embroidery patterns here on Wandering Threads Embroidery include a list of recommended DMC cotton floss colors. DMC floss is sold at most sewing and craft stores.

Pearl Cotton
Another popular option is two-stranded pearl cotton floss. Consisting of two threads twisted together, this floss is intended to be used as one piece and produces a result that is thicker and shinier than stranded cotton. The most common brands of pearl cotton are DMC and Anchor.

Wool, Silk, Sewing Thread & More
In theory, you can use any kind of thread for embroidery. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Wool embroidery thread is commonly used in Crewelwork while silk thread can be found in Japanese Embroidery.

Needles

6 Essential Hand Embroidery Supplies

Embroidery or Crewel Needles
This type of needle has a medium-sized eye slightly larger than the shaft of the needle. They come in sizes 1-12 with 12 being the smallest. The idea is to choose a needle large enough for your thread choice to fit through the eye, but not so large that it leaves an unsightly hole in the fabric. I tend to choose a size 3 or 4 when using all 6 strands of DMC floss (or pearl cotton) and a size 8 or 9 needle for almost everything else. Embroidery needles often come in packages containing multiple sizes which makes it easy to try out different needles.

Needle Storage
Since no one wants loose needles floating around, using some type of needle storage is key.
Magnetic Needle Box:
These boxes are made of metal or plastic and contain a magnet inside to hold the needles. I like this option for storing all the needles I am using for my current project.
Needle Storage Tubes:
Another small and simple storage solution. These tubes are great for long term needle storage. Each plastic tube has a magnet at the bottom that holds the needles in place. Simply flip the tube upside down and the needles slide out in a fan shape while staying attached to the magnet. I have labels on my storage tubes so I know what size needles are in each one.
Needle Minder:
Since I am constantly finding my needles on the floor, on the couch, and in even in my clothing(!), using a needle minder is a must. This super simple product is basically just two strong magnets stuck together on either side of your project, creating the perfect spot to hold your needle. No more needles on the couch!

Embroidery Hoops

6 Essential Hand Embroidery Supplies

Embroidery hoops stretch the fabric tight so it’s easier to embroider while preventing wrinkles or puckering. While, technically, you can embroidery without them, I consider hoops to be essential on any list of hand embroidery supplies.

They come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and materials with the most common being round hoops made from wood. You can purchase them at nearly any craft store, or on Amazon in quantities or sets of sizes. Wooden hoops are also perfect for framing inside the hoop or making cute little wooden framed ornaments.
How to Finish an Embroidery Hoop

Scissors

6 Essential Hand Embroidery Supplies

The truth is that you don’t need embroidery scissors for embroidery. But you do need scissors to cut your thread ends, trim the fabric around your hoop, and occasionally, snip out a mistake stitch or two. For these purposes, it’s handy to have a pair of scissors with small blades and wide comfortable handles. Look for those with narrow blades between 1-2 inches long. It can also be useful to keep a pair of larger dressmaker scissors for cutting fabric on hand.

Fabric Marking Pens

6 Essential Hand Embroidery Supplies

Fabric marking pens and pencils are available in an array of options. There are air-erasable pens and pencils that disappear over time, water-erasable pens and pencils that disappear with a dab of water, and even a special pencil used for iron-on transfer.

In general, I prefer pens over pencils for marking fabric. They tend to make sharper lines and are far easier to erase than pencils. In terms of air-erasable vs. water-erasable, because I sometimes spend up to a week working on one project, I have found that the air-erasable options disappear too fast for my needs. My very favorite marking pens are the Leonis Water Erasable Pens. They have a nice sharp tip, each pen lasts for a long time, and the ink is easy to wash away with just a bit of water.

For a more in-depth discussion of marking pens and their uses for tracing patterns onto fabric, see my post: How to Transfer Embroidery: 3 Simple Methods

Optional Hand Embroidery Supplies

You can successfully embroider almost anything with the supplies listed above, but here are a few more optional items:

Floss Organizer:
As your collection of embroidery floss grows you may find that an organizer box is a handy tool. You can buy a set of floss bobbins and use any type of box (a fishing tackle box works great). Or, you can purchase a special floss organizer that comes with bobbins and stickers to mark the floss numbers.
Floss Rings:
These are actually bookbinder rings, but they work well in tandem with floss bobbins for organizing floss. Since I am often embroidering more than one project at a time, I use these rings to keep my chosen floss for each project in one place.
Project Notebook or Spreadsheet:
I like to have a designated place to record notes regarding all my embroidery projects. I make notes on floss colors, stitch choices, and any changes I would make if I were to repeat the project.
Good Lighting:
Proper lighting is key for all embroidery projects. While a nice sunny window or an outside spot under a shade tree is ideal for embroidery, it’s not always possible to use natural light. If you find yourself straining to see your stitches you may want to consider a small sewing light to illuminate your space. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a small sewing light. I like this small clampable desk lamp with a bendy gooseneck and an anti-glare LED bulb.

***Some of the items on this page are part of our Amazon affiliate store. Wandering Threads Embroidery is paid a small percentage if you click through and purchase an item. The prices are the same as buying directly from Amazon and the funds help cover the cost of running this site. Thanks for your support!

FREE Embroidery Pattern: Botanical Ferns

posted in: Free Patterns | 1

This free embroidery pattern is perfect for practicing some of the more advanced hand embroidery stitches. Sharpen your skills while creating a botanical masterpiece. Frame this piece in the hoop, in a wooden frame, or turn it into a pillow, tea towel, market bag, or anything else you desire!

FREE Embroidery Pattern: Botanical Ferns

Three Stitches, Three Colors

This simple pattern uses only three stitches and three colors of embroidery floss.

Fern #1: Satin Stitch & DMC floss 3348
Fern #2: Fern Stitch & DMC floss 987
Fern #3: Fishbone Stitch & DMC floss 3363
You can find the full line of embroidery stitch tutorials in my library of step-by-step embroidery tutorials.

Botanical Ferns Embroidery Pattern Download

The free embroidery pattern is available to download as a PDF by clicking HERE, or on the title above. The PDF includes:

  • Full-color photo of the finished embroidery piece
  • One pattern sized to fit a 7 or 8″ hoop
  • Reverse image of the pattern for iron-on transfer
  • Printable stitch and color guide to provide guidance or inspiration
  • Material list
  • Instructions for transferring the pattern using three simple methods

Happy Stitching!

Fern Stitch Embroidery Tutorial + Free Pattern

posted in: Stitch Tutorial | 1

Fern Stitch is a simple, delicate stitch that is easy to learn and quick to execute. It combines three small stitches worked in a group along a vertical or curved line to create an open lacy pattern. Fern stitch is perfect for creating leaves, branches, floral sprays, and all kinds of foliage. It can also be stitched in multiple rows to create a geometric pattern. Fern stitch is useful for all types of embroidery projects and is a snap to learn!

fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial

Straight Line Fern Stitch

Being by drawing three parallel lines on your fabric roughly a half-inch apart. Bring the needle up at the top of the middle line (point A) and back down one sitch length below (point B). Instead of pulling the thread all the way through, set up the next stitch by angling the needle in a diagonal fashion and bringing it out at the top of the far right line (point C).

fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial
Pull the thread through and then take the needle back down in the same hole where you ended the first stitch (point B). Create the final stitch in the grouping by angling the needle and bringing it out at the top of the left line (point D)

fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial

Pull the thread through and you have just created your first grouping of fern stitch.

fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial
Start the next stitch by coming back up in the middle (Point B), down at one stitch length below (Point E), and angling the needle up to Point F.

fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial

Continue making this three-stitch grouping with one straight middle stitch and two diagonal side stitches until you reach the end of the line.

fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial

Fern Stitch Tips & Variations

Once you learn the basic steps of fern stitch, the variations and possibilities are endless! For a more organic and natural look, try stitching without the outer guidelines and varying the diagonal stitch lengths and angles. Create realistic foliage and underwater seaweed by branching several lines off each other. Add small french knots on the end and you have a simple floral spray.

Fern stitch also looks beautiful worked along a curved line or made into a circular shape. You can even outline your fern stitch shapes with back stitch to create unique geometric filled shapes. One of my favorite way to embroider leaves is with a single row of fern stitch outlined with small back stitches.

fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial
fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial

Free Fern Pattern!

You know what else fern stitch is good for? Making ferns! Fill in the branches of this simple fern pattern with varying lengths of fern stitch to create a and whimsical embroidered fern. Click HERE to view and download the free pattern.

Fern Tutorial Free Pattern
Start by stitching the center of the fern with stem stitch.

fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial

Next, fill in the branches with fern stitch. Starting at the far end of each branch, create a grouping of small stitches. Continue down the branch, increasing the size of the stitches as you go. Don’t worry about making the stitches uniform in shape or perfectly tapering them along the branch. Your fern will be more realistic if the stitches are imperfect, just like a fern frond found in nature.

fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial
fern-stitch-embroidery-tutorial

Fern Stitch Patterns

Want to use your new found stitching skills to create a fun and festive pattern? The Christmas Wreath Pattern (which includes both of the patterns shown below) uses fern stitch to create delicate leaves inside the holly wreath.

Christmas Wreath Hand Embroidery Pattern

How to Transfer Embroidery: 3 Simple Methods

I don’t know about you, but the first time I bought a digital embroidery pattern and tried to transfer it to my fabric I was stumped! How was I supposed to get the pretty pattern from my screen to a piece of fabric? Luckily I figured out pretty fast that learning how to transfer embroidery is actually really easy. Follow along as we learn three simple methods for transferring embroidery from screen to paper to fabric.

How to Transfer Embroidery

Trace It!

This method uses a water-erasable pen or pencil along with a bright window or light box to trace the pattern from paper to fabric. I have tried a LOT of different transfer pen and pencils with varying results. In general, I prefer a pen over a pencil. The pen allows for thinner lines that work well for patterns with fine details. I have also learned to avoid the air-erasable pens because the lines disappear way faster than I can possibly embroider!

My all-time favorite water-erasable pen is the Leonis Water Erasable Marking Pen. The tip stays sharp, the ink lasts for a long time, and it washes out with only a quick rinse of water. You can find these pens in many craft stores or on Amazon where you can get a 10-pack for only $15.

How to Transfer Embroidery

Once you’ve sourced a good tracing pen, print the pattern and place it on a light table or tape it to a bright window. Position the fabric on top and secure it well. Trace the pattern onto the fabric using the transfer pen. *Pro tip: A computer or tablet screen makes a great lightbox! Simply open the embroidery pattern on your computer, tape the fabric over the pattern on the screen, and trace it using the pen. No printer needed!

How to Transfer Embroidery

Iron It!

For this method, you will need an iron-on transfer pen or pencil which can be bought at most fabric/sewing stores. I prefer to use a Clover Iron-On Transfer Pencil. The thing to remember when using the Iron-on method is that the marks will rarely if ever wash out completely. Only after repeated washing and scrubbing have I had any luck removing iron on marks. As a result, this transfer method should be considered permanent and will need to be completely covered by the embroidery.

How to Transfer Embroidery

Start by printing the reverse image of the pattern. This is crucial because if you use a regular pattern it will transfer backward onto your fabric. (Reverse patterns for iron-on transfer are included with all the Wandering Threads Patterns). Using the iron-on pen or pencil, you can trace directly over the printed pattern, or cover it with a piece of tracing paper and trace over top. I prefer the tracing paper because I consistently get better results when using it. Be sure to press firmly and use even strokes.

How to Transfer Embroidery

Place the traced pattern onto an iron-safe surface. Put the fabric on top and secure with tape. Press a hot iron on top of the fabric for at least 10 seconds without moving the iron around. Gently lift one edge of the fabric to check that the design has transferred before removing the fabric.

How to Transfer Embroidery

Transfer It!

Finally, we have the transfer paper method. In my opinion, this is the very best way to transfer a pattern to dark fabric. You can buy transfer paper at most fabric or craft stores. It is available in different colors and is sometimes called Dressmaker’s Carbon Paper. This special paper is coated on one side with a powdery ink that transfers to the fabric.

It will wash out eventually but takes a little work. For this reason, I only use it on dark fabric as I’ve had a hard time completely removing the marks from white or light colored fabrics. Transfer paper is often sold in a package containing several different colors. The light colors show up really well on dark fabrics. Because I love embroidering on dark fabrics (like these fun embroidery bags) I went ahead and bought a roll of Yellow Saral Transfer Paper. It works great and I like that I can simply cut off a piece the exact size that I need.

How to Transfer Embroidery

To use, secure your fabric to a flat, hard surface, cover with a piece of transfer paper (powder side down) and place the printed pattern on top. Trace the pattern using a pencil, fine-tipped pen, or stylus. Press very firmly and make sure the paper does not move. Keep in mind that the transfer lines from this paper fade fast. After 24 hours you will only see faint lines. If you are transferring a large pattern, or one that you don’t plan to finish embroidering in less than a single day, only transfer a small portion of the pattern, stitch, then repeat the transfer process for the remaining portion of the pattern.

How to Transfer Embroidery

Now that you know how to transfer embroidery, get out there and start stitching!

**Some of the items on this page are part of our Amazon affiliate store. Wandering Threads Embroidery is paid a small percentage if you click through and purchase an item. The prices are the same as buying directly from Amazon and the funds help cover the cost of running this site. Thanks so much for your support!

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