If you have ever wanted to learn how to do embroidery, you may think that it is an intricate craft that requires extensive skill. You may think that it will take some time to learn embroidery, and it’ll probably be a few weeks before you can finish a project.
So, is embroidery hard? Learning a new skill is always challenging, but embroidery isn’t that difficult. With the right supplies and some basic knowledge of how to use it, there’s nothing that can stop you from stitching an awesome piece within a few hours, even if you are a complete novice.
Nowadays, there are a ton of beginner-friendly toolkits and guides that you can get to learn embroidery. This guide will tell you exactly how to get started with learning embroidery.
How Difficult Is Embroidery?
Like any skill, you will need to invest time and effort to master the art of embroidery. You’ll probably need to have a few projects under your belt before you can feel confident in your skill.
But, the good news is that it doesn’t take long to learn the very basic stitches. Basic embroidery stitches like the straight stitch, the backstitch, and the running stitch are quick to learn.
There are also a ton of beginner-friendly embroidery patterns that you can follow to practice these basic stitches, and you can have a finished embroidery project in no more than an hour.
Once you are confident with your stitching skills, you can branch out to learn more complicated stitches, like the bullion knot or the coral stitch. You can also find advanced techniques and tips that make your stitches neater and your work more polished.
So, to answer the question ‘How difficult is embroidery?’ it’s no different than first learning any other textile art, like knitting or crocheting. You just need to start with the basic stitches and grow your skills from there.
What You’ll Need To Get Started
If you are interested in learning to embroider, let’s take a look at some basic supplies you will need to get started on your first project.
For your first project, you can start with light-colored cotton or even weave fabric. If you’re just practicing, there’s really no need to invest in expensive fabric.
You will need a woven fabric with a low to medium thread count, where you can easily see the weave pattern (the threads that make up the fabric). You should avoid using Aida cloth, which has a very prominent crisscrossing texture; this is mainly beneficial for cross-stitching.
You can buy fabrics by the yard to make multiple projects or small fabric pieces that are pre-cut to the size that you want.
2. Embroidery Floss
Embroidery floss is similar to sewing thread, but they are a little bit thicker, which allows the details to look more prominent and makes the threads easy to work with. Ideally, the floss should not be too thick as it can be difficult when you guide the thread through the fabric.
Cotton embroidery floss is a safe way to go, although you can also get synthetic embroidery floss that is more durable.
3. Embroidery Hoops and Stand
Embroidery hoops are designed to hold your fabric taut, which will make it easy to create your stitches and see your design.
Embroidery hoops can be wooden or plastic, and they also come in various sizes, from 4-12 inches. Most beginners start with the 6-inch hoop, which is suitable for most patterns and projects.
If you are serious about starting this hobby, you can also get an embroidery stand, which will hold your hoop in place while you create your design. The stand can significantly reduce hand fatigue since you don’t have to hold the hoop for hours when you embroider.
Not every basic sewing needle is suitable for embroidery. You should get needles with eyelets that are big enough for the embroidery floss you are using, like this 5-size set from Amazon.
The needles should also be very sharp, which will make puncturing through the fabric easier.
5. Thread Cutters
A pair of thread cutters or small scissors will allow you to easily and quickly change threads, which is highly convenient when you are working on a colorful pattern.
There are a lot of free and paid embroidery patterns that are beginner-friendly, and you can find them just by searching ‘free embroidery pattern’ on Google or finding a nice design on Etsy, like this gorgeous sunflower tutorial.
Using a pattern is a great way to learn your stitches and advance your skills, and the result is always a nice design that you can proudly wear or display in your home.
7. Fabric Markers or Fabric Chalk
Even if you are not using a pattern, having a washable fabric marker on hand is still great to sketch and plan out your design before embroidering.
When you wash your work after it’s finished, the pattern marks will be gone, and you’re left with a nice embroidered design on your fabric.
8. Embroidery Kit
If all of these things seem like a lot of things to get, you’ll be glad to know that there are a ton of beginner-friendly embroidery kits available (like this amazing one from Amazon with several patterns to choose from), which include all of the tools required and a nice beginner-friendly pattern that you can use to start this new hobby.
These kits can really take the guesswork out of the equation, so you don’t have to worry about if you’ve got the right fabric, the right floss, the right needle for your project.
This is a stress-free way to start, and when you advance your skills, you can develop preferences for what kind of tools and materials you’ll need to get.
Beginner-Friendly Embroidery Stitches
After you have gathered all the necessary tools and materials, it’s time to start practicing. As we’ve mentioned, you can do a lot with just a few basic stitches, and with practice, you’ll be able to confidently complete projects that require more intricate stitches.
Here are a few basic stitches that almost every project will require:
1. Straight Stitch
The straight stitch is as simple as putting the needle through the fabric, and the result is a series of parallel lines that is useful for various purposes, like filling in areas, creating textures, etc. You can vary the stitch length to suit different projects.
One of the easiest stitches to learn is the backstitch, as it’s likely to be the stitch that you’ll use most. It’s a great choice for outlining shapes, and you can vary this technique to create other advanced stitches, so it’s a must-learn when you first get started.
3. Running Stitch
The running stitch is also a great choice for adding dashed outlines to your design. This stitch is very simple, but you can vary the stitch length and spacing between the dashes to create different designs. This stitch is also used in Japanese sashiko embroidery.
4. French Knot
French knots are another type of knotted stitch that can be used to highlight various parts of an embroidery design. French knots are tricky when you first learn to embroider, but it’s a great stitch to learn because it’s very often used to create textures and other highlights in a design.
5. Stem Stitch
The stem stitch is a great choice for creating smooth outlines. It can work for both straight lines and curve lines, and it can be used for fill or outline projects. To achieve a beautiful result, keep the stitch length consistent.
6. Chain Stitch
The chain stitch is a great choice for creating bold lines of embroidery. It can be worked in several ways, so it is a good idea to start with learning how to work it forward and in reverse before you experiment with different techniques to create this stitch.
7. Satin Stitch
The satin stitch is a great choice for filling areas in an embroidery design. There are various variations for how to work this stitch, but basically, it’s a series of straight stitches that are worked together.
By practicing varying the stitch length and proximity to each other, you can see different results with the filled-in shape.
To see these stitches and more in action, take a look at the video below from LoveCrafts on YouTube.
Tips And Tricks For Learning Embroidery
When you first learn any kind of craft, mistakes can happen. If you easily get frustrated, here are some of our top tips to make the learning process pain-free.
1. Use Thread Gloss
Thread gloss is a beeswax balm that basically coats your thread with a very thin layer of beeswax before you embroider.
For those who struggle with tangled or fraying threads, using thread gloss is a huge game-changer because it will make your thread sturdier and prevent tangles when you embroider.
Thread gloss also comes in various scents, or you can get the unscented kind. If you get a pleasant scent, it can even make your embroidering experience more pleasant, like aromatherapy!
To use thread gloss, just thread your needle, place the needle on top of the gloss, and hold your thumb lightly on the thread and the gloss. Then, you can gently pull the needle through, and the remaining thread should be coated with a thin layer of gloss.
2. Use Shorter Threads
If you still struggle with tangling threads, your thread length may be too long. While it’s tempting to keep a longer thread, so you don’t have to rethread your needle very often, this is not always beneficial.
Pulling out a yard of thread every time you create a stitch is not only time-consuming, but you’ll also risk the thread getting twisted and tangled. It’s always best to work with a comfortable length, from 15 to 30 inches, so that the thread is less prone to tangles when you stitch.
3. Keep Fabric Taut
When putting your fabric in the hoop, good enough isn’t good enough! If the fabric is distorted, your stitches will be distorted, and when you remove the hoop, it may turn out uneven.
The fabric should be taut from all sides, and you can do this by readjusting the fabric when the screw of the hoop is loose and securing the screw when the fabric is drum-tight. This way, your stitches will always show up correctly.
For more tips and tricks, take a look at this video below from Crewel Ghoul Embroidery on YouTube.