Are you looking for a budget-friendly hobby? That’s what I was looking for when I took up knitting (whoever told me that it’s a budget-friendly hobby is a liar).
I wanted something that would be easy to pick up, put down, and wouldn’t require a ton of tools. With knitting, you’ll need the same tool in so many different sizes. It can be overwhelming.
With embroidery, though, it is a truly budget-friendly hobby. It’s easy to pick up and put down. And it’s easy to learn. Unlike knitting. And if doesn’t require a ton of tools, which also makes it great for traveling, depending on what you want to make.Embroidery is a budget-friendly hobby that's easy to learn. Click To Tweet
But what do you absolutely need for embroidery? Simple! (FYI, cross stitch is a form of embroidery, so this list will apply to you, as well.)
Learn to Embroider: What Tools Do I Need?
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The type of needles you use will depend on you. If you have sewing needles lying around–as most of us do–you could really use those. I like to keep a set of needles with my embroidery, though. For that, I use Clover No. 3-9 Gold Eye Embroidery Needles. For $5, you get a pack of multiple sized needles and they are great quality. They’re easy to thread and they have sharp points, which means you’re not trying to force blunt needles through tightly woven fabrics.
This is one of the many things I love about embroidery. Unless you want to hang a bunch of embroidery hoops all over the house, the only thing you would have to continue buying is thread and maybe a bit of fabric. And thread is cheap (unlike yarn. Even the cheap ones aren’t cheap). I grabbed a pack of DMC Prism Six-Strand Floss, 105-pack for less than $10. It’s been used a lot and I’m not even close to running low. Of course, I’m not doing a bunch of huge projects. The biggest thing I’ve made so far is my giraffe embroidery.
If you’re interesting in learning embroidery, but you’re worried you won’t like it, you can just get a couple hanks to start out with. Something from Wal-Mart or your local craft stores would work and it would cost you less than $1. That way, you’re not stuck with a ton of thread if you hate it.
3. Embroidery Hoop
Actually, embroidery hoops aren’t necessary. You can certainly get by without one and some people even prefer not to use them. I love them, though. They make it much easier to see my work so I can keep my lines straight. They also make adorable frames if you choose to hang your work on the wall. …Which is where it can get expensive.
Actually, embroidery hoops aren’t that expensive, but the price will quickly add up if you’re buying a bunch of them.
For the hoops I hang, I use wood. They’re much prettier than plastic. But I also keep some plastic ones like the Hoop-La hoops around for general projects or just to practice with. They’re more expensive, but they last forever and they’re comfortable to hold.
If you’re more interested in embroidering pillows, blankets, clothes, etc. and less interested in decorating with hoops, I would absolutely recommend these. I’d say get a few sizes (if it were me, I’d go 6-inch and 12-inch and maybe one other).
Again, if you’re just learning, grab something cheap. And it doesn’t really matter what size if it’s not for a project. You can get a 6-inch wooden hoop at Joann’s for less than $3.00
The type of fabric you use will depend on the project you’re interested in. If you go to the embroidery section of any craft store, you’ll find large, cotton fabrics. Often they’re meant for practice or to make hand towels. I find them too expensive for practice, though, so I often go to the fabric section at Joann’s or Wal-mart and I buy those little squares they have sitting out. They’re really cheap (usually about $1.00 each?) and great for practice.Cheap fabric quarters are perfect for embroidery practice. Click To Tweet
I get some patterned ones and I practice by embroidering around the pattern. But I also grab a bunch of solid colored pieces so I can draw or iron patterns onto them.
However, if you’re learning the stitches, some hardanger fabric is great. Get a 6-inch hoop and one piece of that fabric will be enough for you to practice your little heart out.
The great thing about hardanger fabric is that it’s much easier to see where to insert the needle and get your stitches even. It’s more expensive, but if you’re a beginner and you have some wiggle room in your budget, I would definitely make this my splurge item. (Still cheaper than anything you use for knitting, ugh.)
Most likely, you’re going to be using the scissors to cut thread. In which case, it doesn’t matter what kind you get. Traditionally, embroidery scissors look like a bird, like these Gingher 3.5 inch Stork Embroidery Scissors. But I just use a pair that came with my sewing kit. I like them because they also work great for cutting fabric when I need them to. The important thing is to keep them sharp.
6. Needle Threader
OK, now we’re getting into, “Unnecessary but useful” territory. However, I don’t use a needle threader. I tried once and I broke it immediately. (Not the one linked to, but those tiny ones that come with sewing kits. Broke all of them.) Which is why there’s no photo. 😛
If you don’t want to slobber all over your thread, though, these are a great way to prevent that.
7. Floss Bobbins
I love bobbins! They make my life so much easier. Basically you use these to hold your remaining thread once you’ve used some of it. It keeps them from getting tangled once the hank has been undone. I haven’t needed to buy any because that thread pack that I linked to earlier came with a bunch of them. And they are wonderful. With a little bit of card stock, you could probably get by making your own. Seriously, that’s basically what these things are made out of.
8. A Reference Book
When I wanted to learn embroidery, I looked all over the Internet trying to figure out what to do. Usually, that doesn’t fail me. YouTube videos are basically how I learned to knit.
The thing with embroidery is that it isn’t very linear. Meaning you don’t NEED to know certain stitches in order to learn others, like you do with knitting. So figuring out where to start was difficult.
And then Zach gave me a book called Embroider Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp. It is awesome. It is supposed to be one of the best books out there for embroidery and I see why. It’s huge. She goes into so much detail. It gets to the point where you think maybe she goes into too much detail, but better too much than too little. She talks about all the different materials you can use, the different types of stitches, and she covers cross-stitching. So if you’re interested in both, two birds one stone.
It also comes with two things that I would buy it for even if the rest of the book had been useless. First, it comes with a ton of iron-on patterns (which is where I got my giraffe embroidery pattern). But then it has this awesome little card insert with the stitches on them. So you can practice as you read. It’s like paint-by-numbers except with stitches. It is AMAZING. I don’t know how long it would have taken me to figure these stitches out without it, but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.
OK, I’m running low on ideas now. 😛 I’m sure there are TONS of things that would make your embroidering life easier, but I think eight things is good enough. This list will at least get you through the basics and help you figure out if you like it.
Do you embroider? What tools have made your life easier?
Note: Simple State Embroidery will take you to a guest post I wrote for Live Randomly Simple.
My grandma use to embroider & It was so fascinating to me when I was little. I’ve looked at the things in the craft store to get started but I don’t have a lot of free time yet. This is super helpful though. Happy Friday!
Embroidery is INCREDIBLY time consuming. It amazes me how long even tiny projects can take. So I completely understand your reasoning. Glad you liked my post, though!! Have a great weekend, Leslie! 🙂
embroidery is my favorite kind of craft! right now I’m working on a table runner. I’ve never had much luck with needle threaders, either.
I LOVE embroidered table runners, they’re gorgeous! The reason I got into embroidery, in fact, is because of a constellation table runner I saw. LOVE! Glad I’m not the only one who has issues with needle threaders. 😛
I’m a cross stitcher and a knitter and cross stitching is definitely WAY cheaper than knitting. I always buy those big kits for projects that come with fabric, floss, a needle, and a guide and they’re still less than $25. For a project that ends up being like 12×18″!! I do love me some knitting though and have plenty of knitting accessories and yarn lol
Exactly! Knitting is one of my favorite things, but the price kills me sometimes. (Though I love Lily’s Sugar and Cream–it feels so nice, it’s great to work with, and it’s only $1.99 a skein!) Looking forward to getting into more embroidery, though. For the price, a single project keeps me occupied for quite a while. 😛
I have been wanting to try my hand at embroidering for a while now so this is perfect for me to learn. Im pinnging this for when I have some free time!
I loved to cross stitch when I was in high school, and it was so popular. Embroidery is such a fun way to create art. Thanks for these tips. I’m pinning this post for reference.
I started embroidery but have not picked up a needle and thread in quite a while. I actually enjoy it and was inspired by Sublime Stitching 🙂 It definitely is not your grannie’s embroidery! Happy that it could be very cool
Chelsey, what a cute guide with great pics!! I’ve been hand sewing and embroidering for years but only recently started making hoop art, and it’s one of my favorite things ever! I love that it’s a small enough project that I can just cozy up on the couch and work on it while watching a movie. So many people thing of it as a “grandma” past time, but it’s really coming back! (If it ever went away..) Thanks for sharing!
Sarah, you just hit it on the head for me! Curling up on the couch with a TV show is my FAVORITE part about embroidery. I say the people who view it as only for grandmas are sorely missing out. 😉 Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m glad you liked my pictures! 🙂
Hi Chelsey, I haven’t embroidered in a while. I did get a small project to do as a baby gift. Thanks for sharing your post at the party! It’s not a gma craft. Although I’ve done it since I was younger there are so many trendy and retro patterns. Can’t wait to see a finished project from you 😉
Great article, I must make time to pick this up again! Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness link party 🙂
This is so great! Your photographs are gorgeous. Pinning! Thanks for sharing this at Totally Terrific Tuesday last week! Can’t wait to see what you have lined up for this week.
Her Organized Chaos
I really like your ideas of embroidery designing. The digitizing idea you have shared is unique and awesome. thank you for sharing this !!!!
I didn’t realize that there were so many tools that went into embroidery! I can definitely see the quality transfer over into its aesthetic appeal, though. Personally, I would much rather have a Tshirt with embroidery on it than an iron-on or even screen printed logo. I’ll have to remember this in the future, and I’ll probably end up going to a professional custom embroidery shop.