Get started with embroidery with this beginner-friendly tutorial

Intrigued by embroidery? You can get started making your own embroidered design with minimal equipment using this beginner-friendly tutorial.

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When the lockdown was first announced back in March 2020, many people took to various different arts and crafts-based hobbies – from at-home pottery to candle-making to marbling coasters. But it felt like nearly everyone was trying their hand at one thing in particular: embroidery. 

You’ve probably seen embroidery hoops on your Instagram page – the #embroidery tag now has 18.4m posts – with intricate designs that look expertly made. But embroidery is actually a hobby that is very much suitable for beginners, hence why so many people have picked it up over the last year. It’s also a calming activity that can be done nearly anywhere, in the park, in front of the TV or, of course, at a desk.

Jenni Davis, the founder of the embroidery kit brand, Hope and Hart, has been sharing her designs with Instagram, including floral bouquets, slogans and even baby scans, since 2018. 

Her designs prove just how much you can do so much with embroidery and that even the simple designs to get started with result in beautiful creations to display around your home. Here, Jenni shares a beginner-friendly embroidery design with The Curiosity Academy, as well as her top tips for improving your embroidery skills.

What you will need for Jenni’s flower embroidery design:

  • 10cm embroidery hoop
  • Sewing needle
  • Fabric
  • Pins
  • Embroidery skein in Green, Dark green, Yellow, Orange, DMC shade 90
  • Scissors
  • Heat erasable pen (you can get these from places like Amazon and Paperchase) 
  • Sheet of felt to fit the size of your hoop (Optional)
  • Cotton Reel
  • 1. Cut your fabric.

    Cut your fabric to around 15x15cm and separate your embroidery hoop into two pieces. Before you start if you would like to back your finished piece take your felt, placing the smaller hoop on top. Draw around the outside of your hoop onto the felt. This will create your backing. Cut out and place to one side for when you have finished.

  • 2. Prepare hoop for sewing.

    Place the smaller of the two hoops on a flat surface. Place your fabric over the hoop, making sure it’s placed in the middle. With an even amount of fabric all around the edge, secure the second hoop over the top and push down firmly.

  • 3. Slightly tighten the screw at the top of the hoop.

    Firmly start to pull the fabric backwards to create some tension on the fabric. Tighten the screw again and go round once more, firmly pulling the fabric backwards. Tap the fabric with your fingers, if it sounds like a drum it’s tight enough if not repeat until it is. Once the fabric is taught in the hoop turn the screw fully so it will not loosen.

  • 4. Transfer your template onto your fabric.

    Take your embroidery template and secure it to the back to the fabric with pins.

    Using a light source, transfer your template onto your fabric with your heat erasable pen.

  • 5. Start to sow the leaves using a fishbone stitch.

    Once you have threaded your needle with floss, start with the leaves. These are sewn using fishbone stitch.

    Bring the needle up at the top of your shape, and down again at the bottom of the shape so it splits it in half down the centre. Bring the needle back up just next to your first stitch, bringing the needle back down overlapping the centre stitch and bring the needle back up the top on the opposite side of your shape. Repeat until your shape is filled in.

  • 6. Sow the roses using woven wheels.

    When all the leaves are finished move on to the roses, these are sewn in woven wheels.

    For the smaller rose, stitch 5 straight lines around the circle starting in the centre to create your base it should look like a star. Now you have your base, bring the needle up in the centre of the star. Start weaving under and over the stitches you have just made. Continue this until you have finished your rose. Bring the needle down at the end and tie off.

    For the larger rose follow the same steps but start your base layer with a gap in the enter this will allow room for the next step.

  • 7. Move onto French knots for the centre of your large rose.

    Fill the centre of your large rose with as many French knots as you need to fill the space. 

    Start by pulling the needle and thread up through the fabric, near the base of the thread you have just pulled through. Wrap the thread around the needle. holding the thread firmly push the needle through the fabric just next to where the thread came up through the fabric. (Do not put the needle in the exact same hole or it will not work). Still firmly holding onto the thread, with your other hand pull the needle through the fabric to create the knot.

  • 8. Back your project.

    Trim off any excess fabric to back your project.

  • 9. Secure your thread in place.

    Secure your thread in place with a knot and stitch a simple running stitch around the fabric using the thread from your cotton reel.

    To sew running stitch all you need to do is weave the needle up and down the fabric it will look like a dashed line. Once you have sewn all the way around pull the thread you have just sewn so it gathers up the fabric at the back of the hoop. Don’t pull too hard or you could snap the thread. Secure with a knot.

  • 10. Back your hoop with felt.

    Taking your felt backing from the start of the project. Bring your needle threaded with the cotton up through the back on the fabric you have just gathered. Place felt backing onto the back of the hoop. Now you’re ready to start stitching the felt to the back of the fabric using blanket stitch.

    With the needle and thread you have just pulled through the fabric, imagine a diagonal line on your fabric and bring the needle down at the end of the point (This will be how long and wide your stitch is).

    Bring the needle back up in a line with your last stitch and level with your first stitch. Wrap the thread underneath the needle and pull it through, trapping the thread under the stitch. Repeat all the way round the hoop and tie off.

    Don’t forget to remove your template by running a warm hairdryer over the top of your embroidery.

  • You should now have a complete embroidery hoop backed with felt!

    You can display it in your house or gift it to a friend.

Jenni’s top tips for getting good at embroidery:

Take your time

This is a mindful craft so taking your time is essential, going slowly will ensure you place all your stitches in the correct place making them all uniform.

Keep your floss short

When you’re starting out use a shorter length of floss, around 30cm. This will prevent the floss from getting too tangled and knotting when you are working on your stitches. When you become more confident you can make your floss longer. If you’re still struggling coat your floss in beeswax this will help prevent knots forming.

Invest in quality if you can

Invest in good quality embroidery floss – DMC and Anchor are great. They are less prone to knotting as a result you get a better finish to your project and far less frustrated.

Opt for a crewel embroidery needle

Use a crewel embroidery needle ideally one with a larger eye (the hole in the needle) so you can get your floss through easily. I like to use John James crewel needles in size 4 it’s perfect for all six strands of floss or one depending on your project

Don’t pull too firmly

To get your roses looking perfect don’t pull too firmly on the floss.

Rather use the blunt needle to help guide it into place as you pull the floss through with your fingers.

Stick with light fabrics

If you’re using a heat erasable pen, working on light fabrics is best. This will prevent a ghost line appearing from where your template was initially drawn on.

You can sign up to Hope & Hart’s newsletter for more free, beginner-friendly embroidery designs and you can also follow Hope & Hart on Instagram for more embroidery inspiration.

  • Jenni Davis, founder of Hope & Hart

    Jenni founded Hope & Hart in 2018 after studying Textiles design (specialising in Mixed Media Textiles) at De Montfort University in Leicester.

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