How to start embroidering

1. Get your tools as you learn

You might find very explicit articles out there on which tools you need for hand embroidery. The list is usually quite long and you might find out that fabric + needle + thread are not the only things you need. Surprise!

However, I think you don't need to pressure yourself too much about these things. Invest in your materials and tools according to the stage you're at, taking your skills, style and goals into account.

Like, if you are just making your first steps in hand embroidery, the only things you need are: fabric, needle, thread, scissors (to cut fabric and thread) and a hoop. That's pretty much it. It will be enough for you for quite a while.

I will tell you more – I didn't even have a hoop when I started. I used a photo frame, stretched the fabric over it and secured with office clips. I still use it sometimes, for example, after ironing – you can catch a glimpse of how it looks like in the end of the post.

And only then you can consider the secondary tools. Thimble if you hurt your fingers (I don't hurt mine, so I never bought one). A mat and fabric cutter – if you want even, nice looking squares of ground fabric (if you use linen you can cut without scissors or fabric knife, by the way). Threadener if you have difficulties with threading your needle without wetting it with your saliva. Thread conditioner - I still do without it, to be honest, so I will leave it up to you to look for advantages and see if you need it. Fabric glue – well, I can think of a few instances where you might use it (including making a brooch) but I personally still didn't buy one because there is no need yet.

I mean, if you want to buy all of these to feel better prepared then you do you. All of us crafty folk are like little hamsters, haha. I just prefer to invest in threads and fabrics so I think twice whether I need this or that instrument or not :) And at the beginning of your hand embroidery journey, you won't need much.

2. Take your project out of the hoop

I have spoiled one of my needleworks because I didn't come across such a tip in my time. So, when I started stitching a pattern, I hooped it and left it there in the hoop until I finished it. Which took a few weeks.

As a result, there were very visible wrinkles – traces from the hoop – which didn't disappear even after I washed and ironed multiple times. That's how much the ground fabric “remembered” this position.

So, always, always take your needlework out of the hoop when you stop stitching for the day. When you want to take it up again, you hoop it up again. In between the stitching sessions, your fabric needs to have some rest.

Also, bind your hoop! If you follow the link, I explain there all the advantages of hoop binding and also, there is a tutorial on how to that without any glue.

3. Health matters

Health issues are something that we don't talk about enough in hand embroidery world. Which is a pity. I actually think it is an important topic that deserves a separate post. But to put it briefly, think of hand embroidery as a desk job.

You sit in your chair/couch for a few hours, moving only your arms and hands, your head is in the same position most of the time and your eyes are straining.

That's why, like with any desk job, it is important to be careful with your health. Make sure to stand up once in a while and move your body, stretch your muscles a little, including neck, maybe jump and do some sit-ups? No need for a full work out, just move a little so that your blood keeps circulating as it should.

Kep your posture upright! I've struggled with my posture for a long time, even before embroidery, but I noticed that after I picked up this craft, it actually became worse. So now I watch myself and have family members watch after me, I also do push-ups, planks and other exercises that help my back “memorize” the right position. Thank God, it got better and right now I'm sitting perfectly upright and it actually feels wrong and uncomfortable when I slouch.

You should also take care of your eyes! I experienced something bad with them that you can read here. When I say be careful, I really mean it. There are real consequences to our mindlessness, don't repeat others' mistakes and don't be careless just because “nothing bad happened yet”. Consult with your ophthalmologist about glasses, you might need ones for hand embroidery and others for daily routine/reading. Also, you might consider using a magnifying lens if your sight requires it. There are special ones for hand embroidery and other crafts. And make sure to embroider under good lighting, whether from a window or from a daylight lamp. Never embroidery under bad lighting!

4. Do what you like

Now, about pressure from your family and friends. Unfortunately, not always people from our circle support us in our craft, our dreams, and ambitions. The only thing I can tell you is that if you are really passionate about it, you need to persevere.

Uh... to be honest, I had experienced this kind of thing and still receive some kind of side-eyeing. Not only in relation to my hand embroidery ambitions per se, but I also received comments saying if I do this, then at least I should do ribbon embroidery instead, that I'm better at it and it looks prettier.

Well, I don't really want to talk about it in detail. But I will just say that I held my ground quietly: shrugging my shoulders and saying with a smile that “this is what I like and want to do”.

You know better what makes YOU happy, so do what YOU like. You can't please everyone.

Arguing and fighting your close ones will definitely bring the mood down for both sides, and it is possible that, whatever you have to say, they will still not change their mind unless you show them some kind of “success” or achievement.

Deal with this with love and/or patience. Demonstrate that this is what makes you happy. Show your smiles and joy. Maybe they will understand you and accept your interest as it is, without any “proof of success”. If not, at least, they will hopefully see that you're stubborn enough to keep at it despite negative remarks.

It happens with many of us, so if that is any consolation, you're definitely not alone.

Keep moving and be proud of yourself. And I'm proud of you too :)

5. Pat yourself on the back

Whether metaphorically or literally, but pat yourself on the back. Give yourself the credit, approval, praise you deserve. You're doing great! And you will do even greater!

Being your own support system is not anything to be shamed for. If there's no one beside you to tell how awesome your embroidery is, then spoil yourself so much until you have cavities. And even if there is someone that praises you, then why can't you add something from yourself?

Look at that stitch! How neat! And this one, look how perfectly it is lying on the fabric! Wow! The precision. The excellence. Top class! Can anyone else do it like that? No, you're the best in the world. Period.