Stitch School: Lesson 1
I've been meaning to do a blog post on basic embroidery techniques for awhile and now that I finally got my butt in gear, I'm realizing that this is something that is going to take more than one post. I'm going to start off with a post on the basic tools you'll need to begin. So, here we go. Welcome to Stitch School, Lesson 1!
First off, you are going to need an embroidery hoop. You can usually find the wooden ones at thrift stores and sometimes you can find a vintage metal hoop, like the one pictured bottom, left. The remaining hoops pictured can be purchased at your local craft store. The wooden ones are pretty inexpensive ($1-2) so if you are on a budget or aren't sure if embroidery is right for you, go this route. The plastic hoops are great because they are nice and sturdy and you won't get splinters. If you are going to be doing a lot of embroidery, you might want to invest in a plastic hoop. In addition, hoops come in a variety of sizes. I find the smaller hoops are not as easy to work with. However, if you wish to embroidery on small scraps of fabric, this might be the hoop for you. If you aren't sure, choose a medium-sized hoop. You can always buy a larger or smaller hoop as needed.
needle book (optional)
floss cards (optional)
floss winder (optional, not pictured)
floss organizer (optional, my adorable owl organizer came from Girl on the rocks)
embroidery needle — You can find embroidery needles at your local craft store and they are labeled as such. You can use pretty much any hand-sewing needle but embroidery needles have a longer eye to accommodate multiple strands of embroidery floss.
embroidery floss — Embroidery floss can also be found at your local craft store. The most common brand of floss is DMC. Each color has it's own unique number, which you can find on the label of the floss. This number will help you find the exact color of floss you need, especially if you are working on a large project where you may need more than one skein of floss in a particular color.
Embroidery floss is thicker than thread and typically includes 6 strands that are twisted together. You can embroider using all 6 strands, if you wish, or you may choose to separate the strands. You can embroider with anywhere from 1-6 strands depending on your preference. Fewer strands are preferable if you are trying to embroider a small or detailed picture. There will be more about how to separate strands in a future lesson!
fabric — Osnaburg is a great fabric to use when you are first learning embroidery. Osnaburg is a coarsely woven cotton that usually comes in a natural, light tan color. When choosing a fabric, think about how the thickness of your stitches and how your colors will look on that fabric. One of my favorite fabrics to embroider on is canvas because it is a sturdy fabric, with little stretch, and comes in a variety of colors. You really don't even need to use an embroidery hoop with canvas if you don't want to. You will need the hoop when using stretchier fabric. If you wish to embroider on stretchy t-shirt material, you will definitely need to use an embroidery hoop. I would also recommend using some iron-on stabilizer on the backside of the (stretchy) fabric for added stability. Otherwise, your fabric will stretch but your stitches will not and they may come out looking distorted. Check out this tutorial for more tips on how to embroider a t-shirt.
Some ideas for items you might want to embroider are:
* your sewing projects
* a quilt square
* pre-sewn aprons, tote bags, or tea towels
* cards or stationary
* embroidery on paper for use in scrapbooking
needle book — This one is optional but it's very useful, especially if you have a lot of lone needles lying around. I keep all of my needles in this portable little felt book. You can make your own needle book using this tutorial.
floss cards — Once you open your brand-new skein of floss, it can get tangled. You'll usually have leftovers after finishing a project. You could throw all of the loose threads into a box but you are sure to end up with a mess. The solution? Floss cards! When you finish with your floss, wind it around a floss card for safe keeping. The cards usually have a hole in the top so that you can group colors on a binder ring. You may also choose to organize these in a floss box or just keep them on display in a pretty bowl.
floss (bobbin) winder — I owned a floss winder at one time but I didn't find it very useful. You place a floss card on the winder and then turn a crank so that the card spins and the floss winds around the card. To me, it's just as fast and easy to wind the floss around each card by hand!
floss organizer — A floss organizer can help keep your strands of floss from getting tangled while you are working on a project. My cute owl organizer from Girl on the rocks (pictured above) even comes adorned with a tiny magnet to hold my needle. You might also check out more thread organization products from DMC.
That's it for now. Stay tuned for lesson 2 - embroidery transfer techniques!