Embroidery for beginners: TOOLS
Tools are one of the most important things in any craft. Embroidery is no exception! Using the right tools for the project is key and so is quality. You don’t have to use the top notch stuff. Still, a certain quality level helps you avoid frustrating moments.
Regarding tools, embroidery is a very minimalistic craft. All you really need is a needle and something to cut your thread. Using an embroidery hoop or frame is optional, but I highly recommend using one when you are just starting out.
Pointy vs blunt
Embroidery needles vary largely in shape depending on what you want to use them for.
Pointy tips are useful when you have to pierce the fabric. For regular surface embroidery, pointy needles are commonly used.
Blunt tips are useful when you want to slide between the threads of the fabric or other stitches without splitting them. Blunt needles are commonly used for counted embroidery like cross stitch or for weaving techniques.
First of all, ditch the old rusty sewing needles you have found in the attic. It took me years of cursing before I bought a new set of needles and I never looked back to my old ones after that.
Do yourself a favor and get a set of embroidery needles in various sizes. There are quite a couple of sets out there. One for pointy and one for blunt tips got you covered for many years and projects to come. They don’t cost the world and you can test out which ones you like to work with best.
Here are couple of needle sets, suitable for embroidery
Needle set by Hemline at Hobbycraft UK (UK-based, ships worldwide)
DMC Embroidery needle set at Joann (US-based, no worldwide shipping)
John James Pebbles needle set with a pretty case (UK-based, ships worldwide)
There are a lot of different embroidery hoops out there. The most common ones are wooden hoops. I find them very easy to use as a beginner and you can get them at a huge range of sizes.
Quality, quality, quality
Don’t get the cheap stuff that cost below a dollar. Especially for a beginner, it’s frustrating and more difficult to work with a low-quality embroidery hoop.
You can identify a good hoop if it’s meeting these criteria:
• the closure looks sturdy and closes tightly
• hardwood like beech indicates a better quality hoop than birch or bamboo
• no gaps between the inner and outer ring
• no splintering
Embroidery hoops by DMC, Anchor and Hardwicke Manor are very good quality and I personally use them.
Which size is best?
A size between 6 and 8 inches in diameter is the most comfortable to use. If you can’t decide, take a 6-inch hoop.
If you want to do smaller embroidery or embroider clothes get a 4inch/10cm hoop, too.
Bonus: Do you need more information on embroidery hoops? Make sure to look into the Embroidery Hoop Talk blog series, too.
If you have tried cutting fabric with normal craft or household scissors you might have noticed that it’s not a pleasant experience. Fabric scissors are specifically made for fabric and you should use them for fabric only or they will become blunt quickly.
A pair of very sharp and pointy scissors are a huge help when it comes to rip out stitches and cut threads close to the fabric. They are available in a huge variety of shapes.
The following tools help with certain problems coming up in embroidery. However, they are not necessarily a must-have. Here is a list of great embroidery tools.
Thread conditioner is a wax that you pull your thread through before stitching. It prevents excessive fraying, makes it easier to thread the needle and helps to get the stitches laying nicely.
Needle minders and pin cushions are helpful to park needles that are currently not in use. Helps to not accidentally sit on your needle on the sofa.
Thimbles come in a variety of shapes and materials. If you are not stitching many hours each day or want to embroider very thick and stiff materials a thimble is not necessary. There are less stiff versions than the conventional thimble like leather thimbles or sticky leather patches to put on your fingertips.
The Beginner Route – learn the basics
Step 1 // Tools (you are here) – Step 2 // Materials – Step 3 // Pattern transfer – Step 4 // Dressing the hoop – Step 5 // Start & end threads – Step 6 // first stitches – Step 7 // Framing in the hoop
Don’t know what this ‘route’ thingy means? Start here.
Would you like to get everything in a nicely arranged PDF file to print out?
I have prepared the rookie’s guide to embroidery for you!