How to Get Started with Embroidery the Easy Way

Quick-Start Embroidery Supplies
Mollie Johanson

If you want to give embroidery a try, but have been intimidated by the different supplies and the vast number of stitches and tutorials, this quick-start stitching guide is for you.

This easy overview is also helpful for if you're introducing a friend to stitching and want to make sure you cover the basics.

Learning embroidery doesn't have to be difficult, and it definitely shouldn't feel like a huge investment of time and money.

It's actually an easy and inexpensive hobby to jump into!

Once you get your feet wet (or perhaps more appropriately, once you get your needle threaded!), you can get a more in-depth knowledge of embroidery. You can also pick up special tips, tools, and techniques that will improve or enhance your stitching. ​

But to get started, you only need ​​a basic pattern for beginners and a few things.

Materials

  • fabric
  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery hoop
  • water-soluble pen
  • scissors

Stitches/Techniques

These ten items and techniques will get you started! Here's a bit more information on each:

Fabric

For your first project, choose a light colored quilting cotton or evenweave fabric, such as linen. If buying by the yard, 1/4 yard will be enough for several projects. Don't use Aida cloth, even though it's sold alongside embroidery floss. (It's best for cross stitch patterns.)

Embroidery Floss

Select a few colors of cotton embroidery floss. DMC brand is easy to find, inexpensive and good quality. Avoid floss designed for craft projects (such as friendship bracelets), as it will be frustrating to work with.

Embroidery Hoop

There are many styles of embroidery hoops available, but all you need to get started is a basic wooden or plastic hoop.

A 6-inch hoop will serve you well for a variety of projects.

Needles

Like hoops, there are many kinds of embroidery needles out there. Any sharp needle with an eye large enough to thread embroidery floss through will work. However, the easiest thing is to choose a pack of different sizes of sharp needles labeled for embroidery. 

Water-Soluble Pen​

Depending on your project, there are a few ways to transfer a pattern to your fabric, but tracing is the simplest. A regular pencil will work, but to ensure that you don't leave any stray markings, use a water-soluble pen. 

Scissors

There are scissors made for different tasks in embroidery, but before you buy anything fancy, it's okay to use any scissors you have around. Just be sure that they will cut the floss easily so the ends aren't frayed.

Straight Stitch

This simple stitch is so basic you probably already know how to do it without even learning it. Making short straight lines is something you'll do a lot as you embroider.

Back Stitch

For doing any kind of outlining, back stitch works and it's so easy. Focus on making each stitch the same length and you'll have something that looks really great!

Starting/Stopping

If you want to learn the best way to start and stop, there are some special techniques to follow.

But it's also okay to start and end with a knot. 

Finishing Tips

When you're done stitching, your embroidery may need to be rinsed or soaked to remove markings. This also helps remove wrinkles. When it comes out of the water, gently press away excess water with a towel. Then place the embroidery on a folded towel and press from the back with an iron

Start Stitching

You're now ready to get stitching! With just a bit of practice, you'll be feeling confident and ready to move from simple patterns to more complex. And once you've mastered a couple stitches, you can learn a few more, such as french knots and detached chain stitch