Embroidery adds beautiful color and detail to any cloth or piece of clothing. Learning some basic embroidery stitches can open up a world of different possibilities for you to pursue, from making clothes to sculptures.
What Is Embroidery?
Embroidery is the art of decorating fabric with a needle and some thread or yarn. It may also involve stitching other decorative elements to the cloth, such as seed pearls or sequins. There are many different embroidery stitches, which can help give different texture and appearance to your finished piece. If you’re planning on learning how to sew and decorate children’s clothes, get acquainted with a few different embroidery stitches as well.
Why Learn Embroidery Stitches
When many people think of embroidery they may picture an older woman like their grandmother stitching away on a piece of cloth stretched tight within a hoop making a “sampler”. And if that’s the image that pops into your head, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that there are a lot more modern and relevant reasons to learn some embroidery stitches. Embroidery adds a lot of color, detail and interest to just about any fabric. Therefore, learning a few different stitches can allow you to:
- Make and decorate Halloween costumes
- Make and decorate costumes representing several different cultures
- Put some finishing touches onto a quilt you’re learning to make
- Add some mixed media and texture to various art pieces, such as the art of painting silk
- Decorating clothing with a variety of different images, such as stitching flowers onto a pair of child’s overalls, or flowering vines onto the collar of a woman’s coat
Once you get familiar with some very basic embroidery stitches, you’ll begin to see the many different ways you can use this art in the world around you.
Supplies for Embroidering
While it’s entirely possible to embroider on just about any fabric, it’s a good idea to begin your practice with a few basic supplies. Once you get used to the way the needle and thread behave, and you learn the basics of the stitches, you can begin to branch out and start stitching on other materials.
To get started, take the time to invest in some of the following supplies:
- Linen or Aida fabric – these fabrics are great to practice in because the squares they are made of are so visible they’ll help you keep track of where you are in your pattern or design.
- Embroidery floss – just like yarn, you’ll find that embroidery floss comes in a variety of weights, colors, and materials. Just like when you learned how to knit, you’ll want to try a few different varieties out to see how they work and learn which you like best.
- Needles – embroidery needles are much larger than traditional sewing needles, and also typically have a larger eye to accommodate various counts of the floss.
- Hoop – as you get started, you may want to consider using a hoop to pull your fabric taut. This will help give you the most even stitches and allow you to see larger sections of your work at a time.
- Graph paper – once you’ve learned the basic stitches, you’ll also probably want to play around with creating a pattern. Graph paper can help you sketch it out evenly so you can transfer it to your fabric without getting it lopsided.
Basic Embroidery Stitches
There are essentially four categories of embroidery stitches – outline, border, detached, and filling. Within these categories there are multiple stitches that you can use to create a variety of different looks. Learning one from each category will give you a good foundation to begin building your skill on.
The running stitch is a basic outlining stitch used to go around the perimeter of an image.
- Thread your needle and knot off the end. Start your stitch on the underside of the fabric.
- Run the needle up through the fabric and pull the thread taut.
- Move the needle over about 1/8 of an inch and pull it back down into the fabric to make your first stitch, but do not pull the thread through.
- Poke the needle back up through the fabric 1/16 of an inch away from your first stitch, then pull the thread through.
- Repeat to form the rest of the stitches.
The blanket stitch gets its name for its ability to finish the raw edge of a blanket. This border stitch can be used to put together two pieces of fabric, or to create a decorative border in a straight or curved line.
- Start at the left edge of the fabric.
- Bring the needle down at the bottom of where you want the stitch made, and up again at the top.
- Before you pull the thread taut, run the needle back through the loop you made, then repeat the stitch.
Lazy Daisy Stitch
This is a detached stitch that can be used to form leaves or flowers. To make a flower, make several of these stitches in a circle; leaves are made by using one stitch.
- Pull the needle from the back of the fabric up until taut.
- Push the needle back down right next to the place where you pulled it up, but do not pull taut.
- Gently pull the thread until you get a small loop.
- Come up at the top of the loop, and stitch down over it to shape and hold it in place.
The satin stitch is a filling stitch used to cover fairly large areas at a time.
- Pull the needle up from below the fabric at the far side of where you want to cover.
- Pull the needle across the fabric to the other side and down.
- Bring the needle back up right next to where you started the first stitch and down where it went in the last time. Repeat.
Learning some embroidery stitches can open the door to a whole world of different crafts and creations. Get started today with these basic stitches and see where the possibilities take you.