Wednesday, 29 April 2015

How to Start Your Embroidery Project - a tutorial

Hello! Welcome to my first embroidery tutorial on "Daydreams of Quilts."

First, let me say that quilting is my greatest love and I will never leave that craft medium so if you are worried there will be no more quilts here rest assured that quilt patterns are on my list of goals for this year too. Diversity keeps life interesting.

Okay, so here's how this tutorial came to be: It never occurred to me before, until one of my blog readers pointed it out, that some people don't know where to begin with an embroidery project. How to transfer a pattern and get it into a hoop is a barrier for them. So let's break down that barrier right now! It's so easy you'll wonder why you never tried it.

The great thing about embroidery is that it's an inexpensive past time. All you need is some fabric. White quilting cotton works great and is the most economical. For an heirloom piece linen is lovely but it's pricier. Then you need a hoop that's the right size for your project. I got a multi-pack at Micheal's for less than $10.00. Embroidery floss can get expensive if you need 30 or 40 colours but if it's under 10 colours then that will be under $10.00 too. An embroidery needle is necessary of course and a water soluble fabric marking pen is very helpful. You can use regular pencil but you need to make sure you cover your lines with stitches as it doesn't completely wash out.

Let's Get Started:
 1. Find a light source. If you're lucky enough to have a light table then use that. If not, use a window. Here I have taped my Kawaii Cacti pattern to the window of my back door.

 2. Tape your fabric over your pattern. Here I am using a smaller piece of fabric for just the middle and the right cactus. If you are stitching all three then make sure your fabric covers all three with room to spare around the edges. Give yourself more than you think you need so you can trim down later.

 3. Trace your pattern with a water erasable fabric marking pen. (Or see below for an alternate method). As you can see by the photo, with the pattern on the window I can clearly see the lines through the fabric for tracing.

 4. Use a hoop that is large enough that your whole design will fit inside. On a large pattern this may not be possible. That is not a problem. Just stitch as much as you can within the hoop and then undo the hoop and move it to a new area on your embroidery.

 5.  The hoop has two parts. Unscrew the screw that is holding the outer ring closed. Take the inner ring and put it behind your fabric centering the design in the ring.

 6. Take the outer ring and place it over the inner ring on the top side of the fabric. Tug the fabric so it is taught within the ring but not overly stretched. When you are happy with the placement of the hoop tighten down the screw to hold it in place.

Note: Some people wrap their hoops with linen or fabric strips. Sometimes this is done when the embroidery will be left in the hoop and this makes a decorative frame. Sometimes muslin is used to wrap the hoops if a delicate fabric is being used in order to protect the fabric from damage. Most of the time this is not necessary. (I have never done this.)

Iron transfer method:

 If you want to use an iron-on transfer pencil be aware that if you just trace over the lines on the front side of your pattern when you place it face down on your fabric and iron it your pattern will be in reverse. If you want to have the pattern exactly as it is designed then simply flip it over so the front side faces the glass of your window (or light table) and trace over the lines on the back side of the paper. It's also a good idea to put a piece of paper over top and trace onto that as sometimes toner ink can release from the paper onto your fabric with the heat of an iron.

This way, when you flip your paper to iron it the design will be as it originally was an not a mirror image. Be sure to read and follow the instructions that come with the Iron-On Transfer pencil.

Now you know how to get started with an embroidery project.


  1. One of the nice things about embroidery is that it's probably the cheapest craft out there. As with all crafts, it's nice to work your way into the nicer stuff (quality linen, silk threads, gold threads...) but all you really need is a decent needle, some fabric, and some thread and it's not going to look bad if you do use cotton floss and regular quilting cotton fabric.

    Anyway, what I really came to say is that adding the cloth around your hoop can also help keep the fabric more taut in the hoop - the fabric doesn't slip around quite so easily with that extra friction.

    1. Hi! Oh, I didn't even think of that! Good point! Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. This is an excellent tutorial!! I love your pictures, they are so clear and precise and your descriptions are spot on. I can't wait to start my first project!!
    Ps, it is now your fault that my other WIPs have to be put on hold ;0

  3. Hi Anita, did you send and email this morning with an update of this pattern with a large attachement? Just checking it's safe before I open it.

    1. Hi Anita, thanks for the quick reply.(yes, she did send the attachment) I look forward to using this pattern with the help of your useful hints. Thanks so much.


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