How to Get Started in Embroidery Hoop Art #1
I’m so excited to be sharing my love of embroidery with you! Throughout this series of embroidery hoop tutorials, you’ll learn lots of different stitches by making your very own embroidered designs. For our first lesson we’re starting simple, mastering the split stitch — perfect for outlines and writing — and the French knot, used everywhere you need a dot.
This article was written by embroidery extraordinaire, Charlotte Newland.
What Embroidery Supplies Do You Need?
One of the best things about embroidery is that you need very few materials to create something spectacular. First of all, you’ll need embroidery threads, or ‘floss’. I used Create and Craft’s bumper value pack of Embroidery Floss Skeins, giving me 100 skeins in a great range of colours. That’ll be more than enough to cover all of these tutorials and beyond!
Top Tip #1: Use good quality, colour-fast embroidery threads.
Top Tip #2: Your thread should be no longer than the length of your forearm — this will minimise tangling.
Next, you’ll need embroidery needles. I get on really well with Hemline Embroidery Crewel Needles; this pack contains 16 needles in sizes 3 – 9, so you have plenty of options. Test out stitching with different needle sizes until you find the right fit for you.
Top Tip #3: Use embroidery needles (as opposed to sewing or dressmaking needles) -– they have a larger eye to make threading multiple strands easier.
Then, of course, you’ll need a wooden embroidery hoop and fabric to stitch on to. Six inches in diameter is a great size for beginners to figure out embroidery art. I recommend an Elbesee 6″ Embroidery Hoop — it helped me to achieve the correct tension and keep my fabric taut. In terms of fabric, you should look to purchase some plain cotton fabric.
Finally, a water-erasable fine tip marker will enable you to transfer your design onto your fabric, then wipe it off with a damp cloth once you’ve finished. For this, I used a Hemline Wipe Off Fabric Marker. When you finish stitching your design, you can remove visible marks by spraying with water or dabbing with a damp sponge. It disappears like magic!
We’re keeping it simple in this first tutorial. My ‘Looking Sharp’ Cactus Embroidery Hoop project will teach you how to complete the split stitch and the French knot. The cactus, flower pot and writing use the split stitch, while the little dots on design use the French knot.
Top Tip #4: If you’re using a new type of stitch, practise first on a piece of spare fabric.
The project includes a downloadable template of the design — you should print it out at 100%. Afterwards, you simply tape this paper copy of the cactus onto a window and then transfer the design onto your fabric using the water-erasable pen. Simples!
To prepare the embroidery hoop, first loosen the screw on the side. Remove the outer ring, then place your fabric over the inner ring. Replace the outer ring and tighten the screw. You want your fabric to be drum tight in the hoop, so gently pull on the edges all the way around before the screw is fully tightened. You now have your blank canvas to work on.
Next, prepare the embroidery threads. Choose any colours you like to complete your design — that’s the fun of embroidery! I used black for my writing, but you can use anything you want. Embroidery threads are made up of six strands, but we want to use three strands when sewing. Cut a length of thread and carefully split it into two pieces of three strands each.
Top Tip #5: If you like to stitch in the evening, consider buying a daylight lamp. They make such a difference!
The outlines and writing in the cactus design are all sewn using split stitch, which makes a nice solid line and is easy to work. This is where we’ll begin in the project.