Embroidery Tips : Before you Begin ( How-To , Why , Basics )

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Prewash if Needed

If your cloth has a bright colour, pre-washing it to remove any extra dye is highly recommended. This is especially critical if the finished item will be washed because the fabric colour may transfer to the threads. If you wash your cloth before stitching, it will shrink before you add your embroidery stitches if it is going to shrink.

Fabric Preparation

You can utilise the quick and easy approach of folding masking tape over the edges of the fabric to prevent fraying or thread catching on the cloth edges as you sew. This is great for quick projects that don't take long to complete. If you're working on a larger project, it's worth spending a few minutes completing the cloth edge with a machine zig zag or rolling over the edges and hemming with tacking stitches by hand. Pinking Shears can be used to quickly trim the edges of your cloth. These will create a zig zag edge that will prevent fraying while you stitch.

Use Interfacing ( Stabilizer )

Press medium weight fusible interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric before embroidering if your fabric is lightweight. This stabilises the fabric and prevents it from expanding out of shape. It also stops the rear stitches from dragging on the front, resulting in a nicer finished product.

Pressing your Fabric

You'll obtain a smoother finish and won't thread any creases into your work if you press your cloth before you start stitching.

Choosing Materials and Tools

Print On Fabric

Instead of selecting a plain cloth, try using one with a pattern or print. Embroidery on flowery fabrics is particularly useful since it allows you to enhance or emphasise specific sections to create a three-dimensional effect. These fabrics can also be used to create a handy grid for your embroidery. Gingham fabric contains uniform checks that are great for cross stitch, but spotted cloth is great for smocking or any embroidery technique that uses dotted guidelines. The printed lines on ticking or other stiped fabric can be used horizontally or vertically to keep your stitching even.


Try stitching on linen, which has a somewhat uneven surface due to natural slubs that emerge randomly over the cloth — part of the fabric's intrinsic appeal. Linen is made from the flax plant's inner skin and is usually more expensive than cotton since it is more difficult to create. There are a range of weaves, weights, thread counts, and colours to choose from. It's robust and absorbent, but it creases readily, so press it while it's still damp. Linen grows softer and more fluid as you stitch on it, but after it's cleaned and pressed, it regains its crispness.


Make sure you're using the correct scissors for the job. For snipping off the ends of threads near to the fabric, embroidery scissors should be small and sharp. If necessary, they can also be used to unpick or remove stitches. Dressmakers scissors are medium-sized scissors that are used to size needlework fabric. Make sure they're razor-sharp and that they're exclusively used on fabric.

Transferring Your Designs

Test Pens

Always try any transfer procedure on a small scrap of fabric first to ensure that it can be easily removed.

Iron-on Transfer

You can use iron-on transfer pens to create your own transfer pattern from any piece of artwork. Trace the pattern backwards onto standard paper or thick tracing paper to use. Place the design right side down on the fabric's face and press until the lines have transferred. Because these pens and pencils have the potential to be permanent, make sure you try them first.

Add Text

If you want to add words or lettering to your needlework, use a pencil or a heat erasable pen to write on the fabric in your own handwriting. After that, all you have to do is stitch over it. You can print out the text you want and trace over it if you want a certain typeface.

Start an Embroidering

Fabric Protection from Hoop

Wrap cotton tape over the inner ring to protect your embroidery fabric from being marked by the hoop, which is especially important with exquisite materials. As you wrap the tape around the ring, make sure it overlaps so that the entire ring is covered, and then fix it at the end by stitching it in place. This not only prevents ring marks on the fabric, but also provides it a tighter fit and keeps it taut.

Good Light

Make sure you stitch in a well-lit area. If you don't stitch during the day, get a daylight lamp so you can see your stitching better and avoid straining your eyes.

Displaying Work

Hang your finished stitching away from direct sunshine to avoid fading the fabric and threads. If necessary, UV-protective glasses can be used to assist reduce this.


Folding Thread

Try folding one end of the thread over and pushing the fold through the eye of the needle when you are threading your needle. This works especially well when using wool or any thicker threads.

Use the right side of the eye

Because of the way the needle's hole has been stamped, some needles are easier to thread from one side than the other. Because the eye of the needle might be rather small, it's not always evident which side to thread through. Turn your needle over and thread it from the other side if you're having trouble threading it.

Thread length

Aim for a thread length of no more than 50cm, as larger lengths can knot or split. If you're using metallic thread, don't make it longer than 30cm because it will separate more readily and become difficult to work with.

Separating Threads

Some threads must be split into the desired number of strands. Cutting a length of thread and gently holding it between your thumb and forefinger around 5cm from one end is the ideal method to do this. Take one strand and slowly pull it upwards. It will simply split from the rest of the threads.

Combining Strands

If you want to stitch with more than one strand, separate the strands and then recombine them separately. When you stitch, the strands will lie flatter together.

Try different numbers of strands

Experiment with varying numbers of strands in your needle for different effects. One strand of Backstitch creates a fine delicate line that creates smoother curves, whereas four strands of Satin Stitch swiftly fill an area and provide a raised impression. To acquire the desired effect, practice on scrap fabric.

Using Thread Conditioning & Beeswax

Thread conditioner, sometimes known as beeswax, is used to run a cut length of thread through before stitching to keep it smooth, prevent tangles, and make it easier to slip through the fabric. This is especially important when working with metallic threads.

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