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Embroidery Tools

embroidery supplies

One of the great things about embroidery is that you don’t need many tools at all to get started..

Needles, thread, and some fabric and you’re good to go. Here’s a bit more info on each tool.

Sewing needles are called sharps. Quilting needles are called betweens. Tricky, no?

But embroidery needles are easy. They’re just called embroidery needles and you can find them in any fabric or craft store. They’re sharp and they have a slightly larger eye than a sewing needle – to hold the thicker thread you use for embroidery.

Start off with a pack of assorted sizes and use the smallest needle you can easily thread. You’ll probably find that you gravitate toward mostly stitching with a certain number of strands and so always use the same size needle. That’s the size you’ll end up buying more of later on.

To give you a bit of a guideline about sizes, I use a size 5 needle for four strands of floss, a size 8 needle for 2 strands of floss or Sulky Petites 12-wt. thread.

Read this post for even more info about needles.

I mostly use your basic 6-strand embroidery thread. There are a few different brands, but they all reference the DMC color numbers and DMC is the brand I usually buy. It’s easy to split strands off to make the thread just the right thickness for the effect you want.

All of my patterns include a complete color and stitch guide – where I also tell you how many strands I used. If you’re doing your own designs just do a little experimenting. I’ll often stitch an inch or so of a design and then decide that my thread is a touch too thick or too thin.

There’s a post here with more info about deciding how many strands of thread to use.

Don’t be afraid to pick out your stitches and start over if you need to. I do it all the time.

For most fabrics you’ll want to use a hoop to hold it stretched tight while you stitch. I have several hoops in all different sizes – some are plastic and some are wood – all are fine.

Some people use square “hoops” made of PVC pipe but I find that they don’t hold the fabric as tight as I like. These are called Q-snap frames and I use them for hand quilting.

If the fabric is heavyweight and fairly stiff – like denim or thickish felt – you can probably stitch it without a hoop.

That’s it! You can set yourself up with plenty of embroidery supplies for less than ten bucks.

One thing that’s not necessary but that I won’t stitch without is Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy (also sometimes called Stick & Stitch). It’s a fabulous product that’s a rinse away pattern transfer and stabilizer all in one. I love it! It’s great for transferring patterns to difficult fabrics (like dark colors and napped surfaces) and it also does a super job of stabilizing stretchy fabrics – but I use it for everything I stitch. Everything.

If you use Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy in a hot or humid climate, you’ll also want to get in inexpensive little tub of Thread Magic. It’s a thread conditioner that completely eliminates the “sticky needle” you can get when you leave your embroidery in a hot car.

Here are links to all my posts about embroidery tools and supplies.

For Beginners

Specialty Fabrics


Stabilizers and Pattern Transfer Tools

Return to the Learn to Embroider main Table of Contents.

Move on to the posts about working with patterns.


  1. First off, I love your website. But my question is, are there certain types of fabrics you would or wouldn’t want to use? I have a few projects in mind, but I’m not sure what fabric to get. I just know that the rolls they sell at the craft store are NOT what I want to use… They just look a little too matronly.

  2. Hi Wendy,
    I have a terrible time threading my needles. I have tried several things: purchased a threader with three different tools, the fold & pinch and the pinch & saw and lastly licking the floss! The larger the eye, the larger the hole in the fabric so I have chosen to use smaller needles. It takes me FOREVER to thread it. I’m so frustrated. Any suggestions? Thank you!

    • Have you tried using embroidery needles? They have a larger eye, but don’t leave a large hole in the fabric. I find that a size 5 embroidery needle is pretty easy to thread with 4 strands of thread. I can get 6 strands through – but it’s hard and it would really be better to move up to a slightly bigger size for it.

      I do lick the end of the thread, then I squeeze it flat and turn it sideways so the flattened end slides right through the flat eye of the needle. I haven’t had any problems with the eye leaving visible holes in my fabric – the four strands fill the hole nicely.

      Good luck!

    • Hi Wendi! Yes I am using embroidery needles. I will try size 5 and see how I do. I also never know how many strands to use. Do you have a certain way of doing things? Ex: back stitch=4 strands

      I sure appreciate you always replying to our questions. I’m learning a lot and you are a great teacher. THanks

    • I recently read that if you actually lick the eye end of the NEEDLE, the capillary action will make it easier to thread a needle. It works! I do sometimes like the thread(s) as well, and thread like you said… pinching the thread and putting the needle ONTO the thread.

      I love this post! My sweet mother taught me to embroider when I was about 7 years old, and I’ve always loved it. Oh, my… how she would have enjoyed the internet!

  3. Hi Wendy,
    I have been purchasing several J & P Coats embroidery floss. I cannot for the life of me figure out the conversion floss numbers. My J & P Coats floss numbers are not on the conversion charts for DMC. I’m trying to organize my floss and I can’t figure this out. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you so much!

  4. Hi Wendi!
    I’m stumped. I’m working on a cardinal on a pine tree branch and I can’t seem to get the right stitch for the pine needles. Do you have a stitch that you use? Thanks so much!

    • It kind of depends on the size of the piece, but my first thought would be long straight stitches. If the needles are too long for that, I’d probably just backstitch them.

    • Okay, great. Thanks always for your help. Happy Holidays!

  5. Marion SAYS...

    Thanks so much for getting back with me so quickly. I enjoy your site very much. I can’t wait to start leaning how to embroidery.

  6. rommel SAYS...

    thank you