Hand Embroidery is an art form that has been around since forever. While the word embroidery may seem like something that is not easy, hand embroidery is easy for everyone to learn and do.
Hand embroidery is a simple form of embroidery that you can do on a variety of fabrics. All you need is a needle and some colorful thread. The options you have with the different embellishments you can use are countless and can provide hours of fun.
Whether you’re new to hand embroidery or have dabbled in it before, starting with something simple is your best bet. You can always work your way up to more intricate designs but simple hand embroidery designs have something about them that can’t be matched.
In this guide, we’ll talk you through the tools you need to start your pillow cover project. We’ll cover the basic instructions that will work on all designs and finally end on a few hand embroidery designs that will be great on pillow covers.
Tools You Will Need
Getting started on hand embroidery can seem like a difficult task. Especially when you see the array of needles, hoops, and cutters that are available in the market.
Fret not, though. Below we’ll list the 5 tools that you will need to get started:
There is a right type of needle for every job you may have when doing hand embroidery. Making sure you have all the needles needed will not only make your project less frustrating but will also bring out better end results.
A crewel needle is the most basic needle you will need for hand embroidery. It comes in a variety of sizes and owning a fair chunk of the sizes will ensure you have one for every stitch you want to make.
A tapestry needle has a shorter shaft than a crewel needle and is commonly used in counted cross stitch and some needlepoint techniques. The blunt tip of these needles also can help in surface embroidery. They are available in petite and standard lengths as well as in a variety of different sizes.
If you want to try out bullion knots, French knots, or cast-on stitches, you should have a milliner needle in your arsenal. The eye and the shaft are the same sizes so will work great with wrapped stitches. It is also called a straw needle.
Hoops and Frames
An embroidery hoop or frame will help you keep your fabric taut when you start stitching on your design. The tautness helps in making sure that the stitch you’re making lies flat and does not warp with the fabric.
When starting out, you can opt for plastic or inexpensive wooden hoops as those will work just as well as the expensive ones. As you start becoming more experienced, you can buy the more expensive ones that have metal hardware that can be tightened with a screwdriver.
You may think using normal scissors when cutting embroidery thread is good enough, but that’s far from the truth. While you can use them to cut thread, you will not get a clean grounding.
Embroidery scissors are smaller and have thinner blades that are extremely sharp. They have a pinpoint that helps you properly cut the thread close to the ground fabric. These scissors are a must-have for people trying hand embroidery.
Light and Magnification
Good lighting is essential for anyone doing detailed work. It can help you transfer designs effectively onto your fabric. There are many options available in craft stores but if you have a sunny window, you’re good!
A magnifier is handy to help you see details without straining your eyes, especially if you already have trouble seeing fine details. Hand embroidery is at times very detailed oriented and having a magnifier can help you focus on those parts easily. You can buy some easily at craft stores.
This is not really a tool but it is extremely important. Having all your supplies organized can help you finish your projects faster. Use labeled containers to have all your supplies at arm’s reach.
8 Simple Hand Embroidery Designs for Pillow Covers
We’re listing 8 easy and simple hand embroidery designs that would look great on your pillow covers. Whether you want to update your bedding or are making a gift, these designs are sure to elevate your pillow covers.
1. Leafy Border Monogram by Needle ‘n Thread
This leafy border design is an easy way to add some color to your pillow covers. The leaf design is extremely easy to transfer to your fabric and does not require a lot of detailed work on your part.
The recommended stitching that you can do for this design is a stem stitch along with a chain stitch. You can use white thread if you want a more subtle look but a light green thread will look amazing as well.
2. Lazy Daisy Stitch Tutorial by Wandering Thread
If you’re looking for a sweet, simple, and classic country look for your pillowcases, this is the one for you. It features open and cheery “lazy” daisies which will look great in a cluster, line, or added to other designs.
This design is very customizable, as it is really a tutorial for an easy to make (“lazy”) daisy design rather than a full pattern. Although Wandering Thread does use these lazy daisies in other patterns you can purchase. But the daisy tutorial is free for you to learn and customize.
The chain is made from a detached chain stitch which is a very easy, beginner stitch to learn. You can use long and short stitches to add texture to your daisies while filling them in.
3. DMC Good Things Ahead Pattern
Sometimes you need a bit of a pick-me-up on your pillow covers. It can be in the form of an inspirational quote or a cute diagram. This design combines stunning colors with a quote that promises a great future is coming at you.
The ‘Good Things Ahead’ design is very simple and can be hand-drawn onto your fabric. You can choose the font you want to go with and add any widgets of your choice around it. Use a chain stitch to add texture while filing in the words. Use whichever colors spark joy in you and you have your motivational pillow cover ready.
4. Kawaii Cute Cacti (“Stuck on You”) by Wild Olive
This is something that will put you right on-trend. Cactus art is making waves nowadays and with this embroidery design, you can have cacti on your pillow covers. This design is kawaii-themed which makes it perfect for a children’s pillowcase as well.
Use as many colors as you want in this design. You can utilize a variety of stitches but a simple chain stitch will work very well. The pattern is easy to transfer on your pillow cover and can even be hand-drawn for an added personal touch.
5. Little House Embroidery Patterns by Laura Howard
If you’re looking for a design that you can use at home but also can be gifted, this is the one for you. This cute and minimal house outline design on a pillow cover will be a great housewarming gift. It will look even better in your room, on your pillow.
You can add details in the outline per your choice. You can add color or fill in the outline if you please. The minimal look of this house is very customizable which makes this a great design for beginners. Use a chain stitch to keep the minimal outline intact and enjoy your new house pillow cover.
Plus, there are 4 other variations on the little house theme. You can choose your favorite, mix and match, and of course, add your own flair to any of these sweet designs.
6. Stitch Floral Rose Embroidery Pattern
Floral designs are evergreen when it comes to embroidery. Pillow covers and throw pillows are some of the best places to stitch on a floral design as they can add to the look of your room while bringing in a sense of freshness as well.
This design is easy to transfer to your pillow cover and requires just a few stitch types to complete. You will need to use long and short stitches, back split stitches, and French knots to create this breathtaking design.
Use as many colors as you want or stick with this gorgeous monochrome look. Either way, your decorative pillows will look designer-inspired.
7. Floral Meadow Pattern by Hodge Podge Craft
This simple floral emblem is great to add color to your pillow covers. While you can easily transfer this design onto your fabric, it’s actually so simple that you can even hand draw it. The end result looks more detailed than the work required to do it.
The artist combined different stitches – back stitch, whipped back stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch, seed stitch, french knots and fishbone stitch when making this “meadow”. Depending on how you picture the end result, you can always use just one stitch or a mixture of different ones.
You can also combine the flowers in a different order or trace the same ones on different spots on your pillow. With the colors, again, use as many as you want. It’s easy to customize. The design will look pretty nonetheless.
8. DMC Red Geometry Design
Last but not the least, we have a traditional and simple design for you. This red geometry design is a fun and easy to make cross stitch pattern and is a treat to look at.
Simple lines and geometry are ever popular in hand embroidery. This design done in full or in bands along the open edge of your pillowcase, will elevate the look of your pillow covers, for sure.
For this design, all you need to know is basic cross stitch, which is just about the simplest form of embroidery you can do. You can use colors as you please or stick to one color in different shades, variating from top to bottom or left to right for a more dynamic look.
Match the thread color to your bedsheets and you’ve updated plain bedding in no time!
What’s the Best Fabric For Pillow Covers?
Woven fabrics are generally the best for pillow covers. Cotton, silk, velvet, and linen can withstand repeated washing and will stay soft for longer.
What Kind of Fabric Do I Use For Embroidery?
Tightly woven, plain (a.k.a even or tabby) weave fabrics work best for surface and hand embroidery. If you are doing drawn or pulled thread techniques, a looser fabric will be ideal. For cross stitch, aida or monk’s cloth are classic choices.
How Do You Wash Hand Embroidery?
After you have finished stitching, you should hand wash your pillow covers or fabrics in lukewarm water with a mild liquid soap. Rinse in cold water and let dry flat.
Hand embroidery is a great way to spend your afternoon. It is an easy skill to learn and once you start making things for your house, you may never stop. Pillow covers are a great way to add some color to your bedroom and hand embroidery can help you do just that.
We hope this guide gives you some inspiration for your next hand embroidery project and pushes you to update a few bits around your home. Select a fun design, get your tools ready, and start stitching!
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