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I've decided to start a mini series for those of you that have a hankering to learn embroidery and would like to know more about resources, materials, and techniques when you’re first starting out. Hand embroidery is so fun, and there are so many different kinds of stitches, materials, and techniques. I started using the most basic of stitches and branched out over time, learning new stitches and techniques. I still to this day go back to my library of embroidery resources (physical books and online websites) to refresh or learn new techniques! Today I wanted to go over the basic materials I use day to day and what has made my life easier.
I am self taught, and none of this information is the only way to do things. This is just the way I have found has worked for me!
For fabric, you want something that is not too heavy, but also is sturdy enough that it wont buckle or wrinkle when you stitch on it. I recommend lightweight canvas or this linen. Most of my embroideries are made on these two fabrics. I try to purchase fabric with a higher thread count and an even weave so that your stitches look more crisp and tight.
These Circular hoops I find are easiest to use, as they grip the fabric evenly and its easier to pull it tight so you have a smooth working surface. Look for hoops that seat tightly together and are not cracked or missing the inner ring. ( sometimes hoops come apart and are useless without both rings! ) I prefer to use wood or bamboo hoops as opposed to plastic hoops. I feel like they grip the fabric better!
Because I make a large variety of embroidery pieces, I prefer to have a large assortment of different sized needles. Most of my needles are these chenille needles. This pack is great as it comes in varying sizes. I like to make sure I have different sized eyes on the needles as well. Depending on how many strands of embroidery thread you are using, you may need a larger eye on the needle.
I like to have fabric scissors that are more heavy duty dressmaker scissors such as this pair. I also keep a pair of small sharp scissors that I use to cut the thread. Seam rippers are also extremely handy when you make a terrible mistake and have to removed stitches! Using this is way faster than undoing each stitch.
99% of the time, I use DMC 6 strand cotton floss. This floss has 6 strands that can be used all together or pulled apart to create a finer line or for more detailed work such as my custom pet portraits. If you want a somewhat different look to your embroidery stitches and don't want to divide the strands, or find it hard to work with the 6 strand cotton thread, there is also the non-divisible Perle Cotton thread.
There are so many ways to get started these days. The internet has a vast array of resources, and there are numerous embroidery books that have stitches and patterns in them. If you're more of an online learner, I would recommend checking out www.needlenthread.com. She has so many resources and how-tos ranging from beginner to advanced! I also sell kits and patterns over in my etsy shop and here on the website! I have found the majority of my needlecraft books at thrift stores, but there are plenty you can buy online by contemporary embroidery artists and authors.
My go to books are: