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.
Step 1: Tools or hardware, if you prefer.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
Step 9: Satin stitch.
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.
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.
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://www.sublimestitching.com/ - They have great beginners kits!