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This instructable will teach you the very basics of embroidery. Learning to embroider is not as tough as you might think!

Plus, embroidery is a nice relaxing thing to do after a long day. :D

Below are some of my embroideries - I sell them on etsy in my shop, making jiggy.
 
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Step 1: Tools or hardware, if you prefer.

Picture of Tools or hardware, if you prefer.
To start embroidering, you'll need the following items:
  • embroidery hoop - this is a ring consisting of two parts. You put the fabric in between the hoops - this helps keep it taut, making the embroidering easier.
  • small, sharp scissors. You can find these under many names.
  • your fabric of choice! In most cases, this shouldn't be loosely woven or too stretchy. Simple quilting cotton will work fine.
  • embroidery floss. This is cheap and comes in TONS of colors.
  • embroidery needles. These have bigger eyes than normal needles to accommodate the size of the floss.

Step 2: Using the embroidery hoop.

Picture of Using the embroidery hoop.
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Embroidery hoops come in many flavors, though the basic circular wood and plastic ones are the most common. You can find them at most craft stores. :)

Cut a square of fabric slightly larger than your hoop.

To start, loosen the nut at the top of the hoop. You'll then separate the hoops. Put the one that has the nut and bolt to the side, you don't have to worry about it just yet.

The other part of the hoop will have a lip, so place it lip side up, and drape the fabric you're using over it.

After you have the fabric over the bottom hoop, push the top hoop down over the bottom one. The lip of the bottom hoop will rest on the top hoop. This will sandwich the fabric between them. Now you'll want to tighten the nut a bit and begin pulling the fabric taut. The fabric floating between the hoops should not give very much - this will make the embroidering much more complicated than it should be.

After the fabric is taut, keep tightening the nut until it feels secure to you.

Step 3: Threading the needle and all about floss.

Needle threading can be a little complicated at times. I've found the easiest way to do it is to wet the floss (yes, put it in your mouth.) and squish it between your thumb and forefinger. This will flatten it out and allow it to pass through the eye of the needle with less fuss.

Also: keep in mind that you do not double the floss as you sometimes do with thread. You're simply going to pull the thread through the eye and let a few inches hang loose. You'll knot the other end as usual. (And make sure to cut off the loose stuff after the knot - it'll make your work neater! Never leave more than 1/2 inch behind the knot, or it'll get tangled while you stitch.)

Most floss is multi strand. The most common is six strands. You can divide the floss for more detailed work. The best way to do this it to use your fingernails to separate the strands and then pull is apart slowly. :)

Step 4: The running stitch.


Done just as it is in regular sewing. You can make the stitches long or short or randomly placed depending on your design.

I use this stitch for framing and embroidery design, or for things that I want to seem open and airy. I don't recommend this as much for text, because it can be a little too spacey.

You can either do the standard up and down, or push the needle through and make several stitches at once. Both types are pictured below. :)

Step 5: Backstitch.

I use this stitch all the time for text. It makes the text easier to read and it's more uniform.

You basically just pull the thread up through the fabric, and make a stitch to the left or right, depending on which way you'll be going. (Left if you'll be going right, right if you'll be going left.) You'll then bring the thread up again a stitch length from the original. You'll then take the thread back down right next to the original stitch.

The pictures will probably help make more sense of this! ;)

Step 6: Split stitch.

Picture of Split stitch.
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This is a great raised decorative stitch. It can be used much like a backstitch and works much like one.

I use this when I want things to have a little bit of texture. For example: the frosting on a cupcake, tree tops.

For this stitch you'll pull the thread up and make a small stitch. You'll then come back up through the middle of that stitch and take it back down through the fabric a short distance away in the direction you're going in. It's best to keep your stitches pretty short (1/8 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch.) when doing this - otherwise your stitches look messy and they won't conform to curves as much as you'd like.

See the pictures for extra help! :D

Step 7: French knots!

These are considered to be a nightmare for most embroiders, but I love them. They're very delicate and cute and they never look the same.

Their size can also vary greatly, so you can use them in a ton of ways. You can use them for the center of flowers, as eyes, for polka dots, and even as lines if you're feeling patient. :D I use them more often while dotting i's in text.

To pull off a french knot successfully, you'll need to follow these steps:
  • pull the floss through to the front of the fabric.
  • wrap the floss that's between the fabric and the needle around the needle 1, 2, or 3 times. (One time is a small knot, 2 is medium, 3 is large.)
  • hold the floss tightly so that it is wrapped around the needle.
  • with your other hand, push the needle through to the back of the fabric very close to where the floss emerged.
  • keep holding the floss taut and pull the needle all the way through.
  • practice this a few hundred times until it becomes second nature. :D

You'll knot these on the back as normal. For the cleanest work, tie off between each french knot. Otherwise, the back of your work will look like that last photo, which is a bad thing if you're using light colored fabric!

I've included two sets of photos for maximum learnin' - the first set is a small french knot, and the second is a medium sized french knot.

Step 8: Blanket stitch!

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This can be used for borders and thicker lines. You can also vary the spacing of these quite a bit. :D

This is often used to "edge" materials - things like blankets, towels, hems on clothing, etc.

How to do the blanketstitch:
  • insert the needle where you'll want the bottom of the blanketstitch to be and pull it up through the fabric.
  • reinsert the needle up and right of your current position. Where you insert it will depend on how tall and far apart you want the stitches to be.
  • have the needle reemerge so that it lines up with where you put the needle through the last time.
  • make sure the floss between the fabric and thread is under the needle.
  • pull the floss through!
  • to end, simply take the needle down right next to the curve of the last stitch. This will secure the stitch.
  • Make sure to knot on the backside. You can separate the floss into equal parts and knot it normally, if you like!
See the pictures for extra help. :)

Step 9: Satin stitch.

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Satin stitch is great for adding big splashes of color to your embroideries... filling in letters and shapes and all kinds of things!

It can be done in many ways, but I'll show you my favorite - it certainly helps with coloring within the lines. :)

To practice satin stitch, first draw a simple shape on your fabric. Then use a backstitch to outline it. The you'll simply go back and forth across the shape (I always like to start in the middle, but it's personal preference.) until it's filled in.

The two most important things about satin stitch are:
  • getting as close as possible to the outlines so that your satin stitch looks nice and full - you can always go back and fill in those bald spots with seed and straight stitches, but it's easier to get it right the first time!
  • don't continue your satin stitch on the back of your work. It'll waste your embroidery thread and make your work bulky! To avoid this, bring you thread to the front for the first time right next to the outline on the left. Then, bring it across, and down next to the right outline. Instead of crossing over to the left side of the outline on the back of the fabric, just bring the needle right back up next to where you just pushed it through. That way you're saving thread and time. :)

Step 10: Straight and seed stitches.

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These are similar to running stitch - you're just not following a line! The placement is very random.

Straight stitches can vary in length. Seed stitches are very tiny - you'll be catching just a few threads with these! Seed stitches are most often used to fill areas in. Straight stitches can be used for a ton of different things - filling things in, adding detail, shading, etc.

See the pictures for a quick example.

Step 11: Additional information and recommendations.

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The stitches in this instructable are just the beginning!

I've also published an instructable over how to transfer embroidery patterns, which should be useful if you're just starting out!

To create a pattern, you can draw on the fabric (there are water soluble markers!), or use iron on transfers or carbon paper to copy a design onto the fabric. (There are two examples of iron on transfer patterns below - they're from Sublime Stitching. :D)

You can get many free patterns online - I use http://blog.craftzine.com/ because they link to a lot of them!

As far as shopping for supplies and patterns, you can check your local craft/sewing retailer or try these websites:
http://pimpstitch.com/
http://www.sublimestitching.com/ - They have great beginners kits!
http://www.etsy.com/
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fkflores made it!5 years ago
I've been meaning to show you the Japanese curtains I made for my boyfriend after reading your Instructable! I have never done anything artsy before and this was my first attempt at embroidery. It was a lot of hard work but I pulled it off... Thanks again!
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jessyratfink (author)  fkflores5 years ago
Those are amazing! You did a beautiful job. Did you like doing it? Because I think you should keep on with it if you did - you seem to have a knack for it! :D
aurorathewise2 months ago

How do you get the floss to stop falling out of the needle when you make a stitch?

jessyratfink (author)  aurorathewise2 months ago

Keep a tail of about 2-3 inches long through the eye of the needle and try to hold your needle very close to the eye. The long tail and the pressure from your fingers will help keep it in place.

Once you've done it for a while, you can embroider with hardly any tail - it'll become second nature to constantly check to make sure you won't pull the thread out. :)

ahmadt25 months ago

please check it out my site

http://embroidery.ir

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dixon.martin8 months ago

Thank you for doing this. It looks like you put a lot of work into it, and it is fantastic.

tlouisa1 year ago

Hi there! I am really new to this so I have really enjoyed reading your instructions but I am a little confused with this.. So, on the 4th picture (or the 1st one in the row of three) would you then put the needle back left and go through the fabric right next to the first stitch that is there? Then after this would you need to make a double long stitch on the back so it stretches out far enough for you to do the same thing again?

Hi tlouisa, from what I understand you to be saying, I think you are right. Just to make sure, in the photo below the black arrow shows where the needle goes back in, and the green dot shows roughly where the needle should come back up. Then the need would go back in where you see the thread coming up in this picture.

Edited 4th Backstitch pic.jpg

Hello! I just began embroidering, and I have a question about transferring patterns. Is there a way to transfer your own, hand drawn patterns onto fabric? I searched the internet and all I could find were pre-made iron on designs. Thanks!

PennyB110 months ago

Thank you for taking the time to create this great easy-to-understand instruction page. I've been wanting to start an embrodery project for a while now and now I feel like I can do it! I'm so excited to get started on a pillow cover. I'm heading over to Michael's right now to get my supplies. :o)

neetz3 years ago
i am making a purse and i want to embroid it but it is way too small to use an embroidery loop. can i do it without it?

I know this is old but I thought answering might help someone later one...embroidery hoops come in MANY different sizes. The smallest I have personally are 2 inches in diameter (across the middle of the circle) and the biggest is 14 inches in diameter. I think the sizes are available in 2 inch increments, but I could be wrong and there are likely larger/smaller hoops than what I have. Hope that helps!

pretty one lolz
This was wonderful. Thank you for being so informative, and your photos were terrific. Thank you.
pjds782 years ago
Thank you for sharing this tutorial. I need to have reminders on stitches occasionally now that I get forgetful. It will be nice to have this handy , you did a beautiful job on showing the different stitches.
destiny1952 made it!3 years ago
i just wanted to share a quilt that i just finished. the pegasus is hand embroidered with yarn. I wanted to do something with my art besides doing on paper. anyways, thanks for letting me share....
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GlenCoco3 years ago
Thank you, very well done! <3
kjoberk3 years ago
Cannot wait to do this! I'm planning on making my daughters monster lovies for Christmas and need to embroider the happy, happy monster smiles!! I'll be going to get some embroidery thread this week! Thank you so, so much!
Can not get the hang of this! Ahhh It looks as tho it is going to work then when I pull it through it unwraps and comes through as a stitch : (
Any advice?
jessyratfink (author)  frannylaurie3 years ago
It could be that your needle is coming out and going into the fabric very close together. Sometimes, when I try to bring the needle down really close to where I started, it can form a larger hole and I'll just end up pulling the knot right through! I've done it tons of times when I've been in a rush.

If that's not what's happening, I'd make sure to wrap it at least two times, and hold the thread taut until the thread loop forms and starts to goes through the knot. Sometimes it can be tempting to let go too early. I've done that too and had it unravel. :)

This is a good video, too, if you think watching it being done might help:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul8XT72oA68
Thanks so much, great tutorial!!!
jessyratfink (author)  luckystar19853 years ago
Yay! You're welcome. :)
jessyratfink (author) 5 years ago
I think I'm going to re-do all the pictures soon and add satin stitch. :D
jessyratfink (author)  jessyratfink4 years ago
Pictures dooooooooone!
Vair neat, this is an awesome Instructable :D
jessyratfink (author)  Kryptonite3 years ago
Thank you! I'm very happy with the updates. :)
Love them!
jensenr304 years ago
AWESOME!
bumpus7 years ago
I am still in the dark about this FSM/Flying Spaghetti Monster thing... Otherwise, awesome instructable!
Wow!
charchar24 years ago
Those are wonderful pictures! Very detailed and explanatory. :)
charchar25 years ago
I really want to know how to do the blanket stitch, but I don't understand your instructions. Do you think you could put on a video? If you do, let me know. other than that, this is a great instructable! I'm rating it 4 stars.
There are all sorts of how -to embroider videos on you tube
Thanks a lot! I think I understand it now! :)
This is so wonderful I love embroidery. I also love to do ribbon embroidery. If you know how to embroider with embroidery floss, using the ribbons are a sinch. the stitches just pop! lately i've been felting fleece, making baby slippers and putting a blanket stitch all around. some how I'm going to make an Instructable, because It's an easy and fun little project.
0jack made it!5 years ago
Thank you so much for this awesome refresher. I haven't embroidered anything in about ... well, polyester was cool back then. And, I never could get french knots right. I found Pimp Stitch and am doing the little Lovebugs pattern with some floss I had left over from my cross-stitch phase. I just did 10 french knots in a row, no troubles, thanks to your i'ble. Below is a not-very-good photo of the half-way point taken with my Mac's camera.
Lovebug #1
Awesome, can't wait to try this out =)
lilgirl6 years ago
Thank you for the great pictures! I just started and could not get the hang of the french knot until your directions and pictures! Thanks!!
iBunnyPop6 years ago
it looks so easy but the only thing i cant do is the french knot! Oh well, try try again. Your tutorial help me learn alot! thanx!
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