Advice for Becoming a Better Embroiderer

As a self-taught embroiderer, I’ve learned a lot over the past few years, mostly through trial and error. With that, I’ve compiled a list of advice that I wish someone had shared with me back in 2019 when I picked up my first needle and thread.

1. YouTube is a great source for learning new stitches.

This is my absolutely biggest piece of advice, don’t forget about YouTube. There are so many creators making short clips showing off how to do every embroidery stitch under the sun. I really don’t learn well from just reading instructions on how to stitch, it just doesn’t work for me. So take to YouTube and search “How to backstitch” or even “How to make a french knot”. You’ll be met with so many helpful videos.

2. Try not to compare yourself to others.

Social media is a blessing and a curse. You may have learned about embroidery through Instagram, but there are so many amazing artists that sometimes you may find it difficult not to compare yourself to them. But hey, we all learn at our own pace. Personally, I would love to be able to be an expert in thread painting, but I need a bit a lot more practice until I’m there.

3. Give it time.

I remember when I first started to embroider, I just could not get french knots right. The beginner kit that I started with had a section filled with roughly a million french knots, so I had the time and space to practice. Somewhere, probably around the 80th french knot, it clicked.

If you don’t get something right on the first, tenth, or even 50th try, don’t be disheartened sometimes it just takes time and a bit of practice.

4. Start with an embroidery kit.

Embroidery can be a daunting hobby to start if you don’t own any of the supplies like fabric, embroidery hoops, thread, needles, etc. So if you’re just looking to dip your toes into the hobby, I really recommend looking through Etsy for beginner embroidery kits made my independent artists. They’ll do the legwork of sourcing all of the materials for you and you get to end up with a nice little starter kit. I even sell a few kits in my Etsy.

5. Start an ort jar.

An ort jar is a place to store leftover useable threads. Who knows, maybe you’ll find some way to incorporate these into a future project? Maybe even an embroidery journal?

6. Splurge on decent quality floss.

Avoid using cheap floss, and by cheap I mean a bundle of 200 for £10. I promise you, it’s not worth the savings when you’re left with ruined embroidery pieces. Reputable brands like DMC and Anchor are known for being colour fast, meaning that their their floss won’t bleed when wet.

7. While on the topic of floss, don’t forget to split your floss.

Most embroidery floss is comprised of 6 strands that you are able to split. You’ll find in most patterns that they will require you to use, 2, 3, or even just 1 strand of thread. If you use the entire 6 strands when not required to, you’ll be left with quite a chunky look – if you’re able to thread your needle that is.

The easiest way that I’ve found to split thread is to first cut off a length of thread (usually I aim for about 12 inches). Then divide out the amount you need from the top of the bunch. From there, pinch the remaining threads and slide them down the length of the rest. This should separate your threads.

8. Untangle your thread.

You may find, especially with a long strand of thread, that it may begin to tangle and knot. So how do you do untangle it? Well, simply put, I tend to push the needle to the base of the embroidery piece and lift up the piece. From there, I pinch the thread between my fingers and run my fingers along the entire length of the thread. This should allow you to resume your normal stitching with less tangles.

9. Invest in a soluble fabric marker.

The most popular types of fabric markers are water and heat soluble pens. You can find these pens in most craft stores. You’ll use these for transferring over patterns to your fabric. It’s also best to test your new pen on the corner of your fabric or even a piece of scrap fabric. I learned the hard way that one pen advertised as being water soluble, was in fact not.

Just please don’t use pencil. It will be quite difficult, if not impossible, to remove from your fabric.

10. Have fun learning a new craft.

Feel proud of yourself for attempting a new craft. If your skills aren’t quite where you want them to be right away, that’s perfectly okay. Developing your skills will take time when it comes to a new craft. With time, you’ll see your skills begin to improve. For now though, just take it day by day and enjoy the process.

With these words of advice, this is where I leave you. I sincerely hope that you’ve found some of these tips & tricks helpful in starting to pick up this new craft. Best of luck!

Enjoyed this post? Then check out some of my other blog posts or purchase the in-depth embroidery journal guide. You can also join the free Embroidery Journaling Facebook group to chat with others working on Embroidery Journals. Follow me on any of the following social media websites:

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