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Embroidery essentials

Everything you need to dive into embroidery for the first time—this list includes just the essentials, allowing you to start stitching ASAP.

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  • Round Embroidery Hoop | Pick the size that’s right for your project, click here for my go-to hoop recommendations.

  • Fabric | Wondering which fabric is best for embroidery? Check out this handy fabric guide.

  • Embroidery thread | There are lots of brands of thread out there, here’s why I like DMC brand.

  • Needle | Choosing the right needle can make your stitching so much smoother—these are the ones I recommend.

  • Small Scissors | Make sure your snips are sharp and cute—here are some of my favorites.

  • Fabric Shears | How to choose ‘em and keep ‘em sharp!

  • Erasable Fabric Pen | If you’re using a traceable pattern, you’ll need one of these.

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embroidery extras

So, you’ve started stitching and are HOOKED, obviously. The following list includes some extra supplies that I find handy to have around since I’m stitching on the daily. If, like me, you want to incorporate embroidery into your life on a regular basis, I recommend checking out the following tools.

  • Light table | The thing I recommend above all else is some sort of light table/light box/tracing tablet. If you’re transferring printed patterns (or your own designs) from paper to fabric, this will make it SO. MUCH. EASIER. I’ve had this one for a couple of years and couldn’t be happier with it.

  • Thread Storage | You’ll find out quickly that embroidery thread can tangle easily and get absolutely everywhere. It’s helpful to find a way to keep things organized, you’ll know what thread you have, where to find it, be able to keep it in good condition, and Marie Kondo would be proud. Many folks love winding their thread on bobbins like these and keeping it in a box like this, or on a ring like this. If you don’t fancy wrapping thread onto bobbins, you can find more ideas for how to store your thread here.

  • DMC Thread Color Card | Another one of my favorite tools is this fold out color guide for DMC threads. It includes an actual swatch of thread in every color so you can peruse them all and choose the exact colors to best complete your project. It’s also really helpful for when the label falls off of your skein of thread, as you can compare the thread you have to the swatches in the guide to find the match.

  • Embroidery Hoop Stand | Embroidery requires a lot of repetitive hand motions, if you find your hands or wrists are growing tired of holding your hoop steady while you stitch, I highly recommend investing in a little stand to hold your hoop. I have one similar to this—the clamp at the top holds your hoop with an adjustable height and angle, and the base sits under your thigh to hold it in place.

  • Travel Pouch | One of my favorite things about embroidery is how easy it is to take it with you. Whether you’re stitching on a plane or at your kid’s soccer practice, you’ll need a way to transport your project and supplies. You can use any small container for your supplies, but my favorites are slim, fabric zipper pouches—especially handmade varieties like these.

  • Backing Supplies | If you’ve completed an embroidery project or two and plan to display them in the hoop, it’s great to attach a back panel of fabric. This addition helps to keep things nice and taught in the hoop, preserving your beautiful stitches over time. Hoops can be backed with an additional swatch of fabric, matching the size of your hoop. Any fabric will work for this, however felt or flannel can be nice additions. You’ll also need 3 straight pins, in addition to a piece of thread and a needle from your embroidery kit.

How it’s made

Every artist and designer has their own individual process for their craft, they’ve tried and tested their tool sets, adapted to new technologies, etc. I would never describe myself as tech-savvy, but I’ve done my fair share of investing (in both time spent learning and $$) in tools and software to help me create beautiful designs, photograph them, and package them into PDFs. I’m always happy to help a fellow maker on their way, so I’ve put together a list of the tools I’ve found to be most helpful in my design/production process.

  • iPad Pro (12.9”) and Apple Pencil | I love to sketch out ideas with paper and pencil, but having the ability to draw digitally, or to transfer paper drawings to a digital medium, has been nearly priceless for my process. It is so much easier to perfect, resize, and share designs that will be pattern templates, to create diagrams, etc. with this tool.

  • Procreate | I use the Procreate app for illustrating on the iPad, finding it very easy to learn and use.

  • Macbook Pro | I promise I’m not trying to advertise for apple or anything, but I love this computer and I love the ease of having my computer, ipad, and iphone all be able to communicate with one another via airdrop, etc.

  • Scanner/Printer | I won’t tell you what kind of ancient scanner/printer combo I’m still using, but I use them all the time. Since I love sketching on paper, I find it so helpful to be able to scan my drawings and then draw over them in the Procreate app.

  • Adobe Software | I use Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and InDesign to edit photos and create patterns. If, like me, you’re not the most tech-savvy individual, there are loads of helpful tutorials for these programs on Youtube.

  • DSLR Camera | You can get by with a nice camera phone these days—in fact, many of the photos I use for social media are taken with my iphone. However, if you’re looking to level up in the photo world and create really detailed images, I highly recommend using a DSLR camera. I’m using the Canon T3 that we bought sometime around 2013 and have been really happy with it, but if I was buying one now I might go for this or this.

  • Photo Studio | This was a complete game changer for me. Our house has lots of natural light, but as a working mum, I do a lot of my work at night while the kids are in bed. In case you were wondering, night time is a really bad time for trying to take beautiful photos. Insert the photo studio—it’s essentially a big black box that is completely white inside with built-in, even lighting. You place whatever you want to take a photo of in the box and snap a picture from viewpoints at the top or through the front. Mind you, I still recommend adjusting the photo afterward to make it look just the way you want, but it allows you to create consistently good photos, regardless of the time or day or the amount of clutter on your desk. Plus it’s collapsable, so you can easily fold it up and slide it under your bed or into a closet when not in use.

  • Memory Card Reader | If you have a Macbook (or USB-C port) and a DSLR camera, you’ll need a way to get the photos on the memory card onto your computer. I love this card reader—it does the job, is rose gold (my fav), and gives me a couple of extra USB ports as well.

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