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This instructable will teach you the very basics of hand embroidery. Learning to embroider is not as tough as you might think! With a bit of practice, you'll get it down in no time. Plus, embroidery is a nice relaxing thing to do after a long day if you're a lover of crafting while watching TV or listening to podcasts - most of my nights are spent embroidering! :D

In this instructable, I'll cover running stitch, back stitch, split stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch, french knots and seed and fill stitches. These stitches are the backbone of embroidery - there are loads more advanced stitches out there, too. Once you've mastered the embroidery stitches in this instructable, I really recommend googling or going to the library to learn more stitches. They're addictive.

I've been embroidering for years, and professionally for the last five or so. I design my own embroideries and also do custom embroideries for customers through my online shop, making jiggy! If you'd like to see my work or request a custom order, please contact me through making jiggy on Etsy or Handmade @ Amazon.

I also have a couple embroidery tutorials up on my site, makingjiggy.com!

Here are some other embroidery tutorials to get you started. Head to the last step for even more!


If you like this instructable, please check out my Hand Embroidery Class!

I'll teach you everything I know about embroidery, making patterns and more. :D

Step 1: What you'll need to start embroidering

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. These come in plastic and wood - I prefer plastic for doing the embroidering and wood for displaying the embroideries.
  • small, sharp scissors. You can find these under many names - though a google search for "embroidery scissors" will get you what you need. :D
  • your fabric of choice! Linen, quilting cotton, canvas and osnaburg are all great choices! It should not be too loosely woven or too tight.
  • embroidery floss. This is cheap and comes in TONS of colors. I prefer DMC floss and use it exclusively.
  • embroidery needles. These have bigger eyes than normal needles to accommodate the size of the floss.
  • a water soluble marker or other marking tool. This way you can draw designs onto your fabric! It's best it you use a water soluble pen so you can rinse the markings out with cold water at the end.
  • whatever fabric you like! Muslin, quilting cotton, canvas and linen all work well. I typically embroidery on a linen blend.
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!
<p>Holy bajeebus, those are GORGEOUS. I love the metallic thread too! Now I want to go make noren...</p>
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
<p>Nice post! Many thanks for sharing. Besides, if you want to invest at home and you love embroidery, you can visit my blog: http://marshablog.com to learn more about embroidery machine,.vv...</p>
I did this one morning to practice for embroidering a quilt block on a quilt for my aunt and uncle. It worked out very well!!!! Thanks so much for teaching me those extra stitches!
<p>Oh, I love the way that looks! I've always wanted to embellish printed fabric. :D</p>
<p>I am taking on my first project, but with a challenge. I purchased blue and cream colored embroidery canvases and after cutting 2 rectangles 12x6 sewed them together, then set up the hoop to show 2/3 blue and 1/3 cream. I am planning a scene with embroidered grass below and clouds in the blue area above. It's going well but I am having trouble withe the split stitch grass at the seam. It's coming out very bulky even though I trimmed the seam as far as I could. Any ideas? Thanks</p>
<p>You know, I have never tried to embroider over a seam! I did some googling, and it looks like you may be able to smush the seam flatter by using a mallet to smack it. </p><p>The only thing I can think of to help will be a next time sort of thing, because it involves the way you sew the canvas. If you sewed it together and left a 1/4 inch seam allowance and pressed the seam open, that may be you best bet since you've only got two layers of canvas on each side and it's nice and flat. <br><br>Here are some photos of what I'm talking about: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-sew-a-quilt-Quilting-101/#step11</p>
<p>this seem hard but is not. </p>
<p>Hi. How many strands should you use if no number is specified? This is where I really get confused.</p>
<p>That is really personal preference! I tend to do 6, 3, and 2 strands for everything. </p><p>6 strands is great for outlining, satin stitching large areas, or big text since it's the thickest. I use 3 strands for smaller text or coloring in tiny areas. 2 is for complex outline or teeny details. </p><p>Sometimes if I'm unsure, I'll hold the thickness of floss I'm thinking about using up to the pattern, that can help you decide. :)</p>
<p>first embroidery project! Half way through , thanks for the tutorial. I'm not good at drawing or sketching or painting, it's super frustrating finding different mediums to work with ! I know it's kinda crappy cause I did it free hand. Il show you how it looks when it's finished !</p>
<p>That looks so great! I think that's really impressive for free hand. I can't wait to see what it looks like when you're done :D</p>
<p>here are the jeans ! I found this pair at a thrift shop for 7$ . They are Apple bottom jeans that had a super wide leg that I made skinny fit. I love how they are turning out!now I got the song ! Apple bottom jeans - em-broid-erred - the whole club was looking at her!</p>
<p>Hip ! Hip! Hooray !?Finally done the flower thanks again for the tutorial I'm gonna be decking out these jeans !!! </p>
<p>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?</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>I don't understand how the back looks the way the author's does. When you're going down at the arrow, up through the green dot, and back down to the left, shouldn't the back have long overlapping stitches instead of gaps every other stitch?</p>
<p>I just did a bit of backstitch to see...yes, the back stitches should overlap (unless I'm doing it wrong). I think 1) @jessyratfink changed the pictures from what they were, and 2) maybe those are the wrong back photos? </p>
<p>Sorry about that - I updated the photos without updating the text! I changed it all out now so it should be easier to understand. Have a look and let me know if it makes sense. :)</p><p><br>I've slightly modified the backstitch I was using so it is neater now!</p>
<p>Yes, that makes more sense now, and I liked the neater look, so thanks!</p>
<p>Sorry about that - I updated the photos without updating the text! I changed it all out now so it should be easier to understand. Have a look and let me know if it makes sense. :)<br><br>I've slightly modified the backstitch I was using so it is neater now!</p>
<p>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!</p>
<p>Here's how I do it! <br><br>http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-transfer-embroideries/</p>
<p>If you have a laser printer (not an inject printer):</p><p>* Scan you drawing in</p><p>* Print a mirror copy of your picture</p><p>* Put the paper on your fabric and iron it on</p><p>The reason why it works is because the printer work by essentially melting toner on the paper. So heating it up again will release some of the ink back onto the fabric. Most copiers and high end color printers work the same way.</p><p>An alternative method is to make the mirror image with computer and trace the picture with a washable crayon.</p>
I'm BRAND NEW to embroidery, like, I know NOTHING. When you buy floss to you separate the threads for embroidering?
<p>You can, yes! For example, on these embroideries, the outlines are made of the full six strands of the embroidery floss. The text is made of three strands of the embroidery floss. <br><br>Just cut a length of floss and then use your fingers to pull it apart. :)</p>
<p>Great idea to remind folks you don't need some high priced embroidery machine.</p>
<p>I just wanted to comment to say something nice about your choice of particular police box as subject matter. Thank you for beautifying the world!</p>
<p>Ha, thank you! I love Doctor Who but had never tried embroidering anything from it. Thankfully a customer set me down the right path :D</p>
This is so helpful! Thanks!
<p>Thanks for your sharing, I love all of them.</p>
<p>What a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing this infor!</p>
<p>How do you get the floss to stop falling out of the needle when you make a stitch?</p>
<p>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.</p><p>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. :)</p>
<p>please check it out my site</p><p>http://embroidery.ir</p>
<p>Thank you for doing this. It looks like you put a lot of work into it, and it is fantastic.</p>
<p>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)</p>
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?
<p>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!</p>
pretty one lolz
This was wonderful. Thank you for being so informative, and your photos were terrific. Thank you.
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.
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....