I never did a post about basic embroidery tools but I’ve had several people ask me questions in comments and in emails – and so now I’m fixing that.
You don’t need much to start embroidering. Not much at all. Needles, thread, and a hoop 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. 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. Don’t be afraid to pick out your stitches and start over if you need to. I do it all the time. You can get thread in my favorite colors here.
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 – but these are my favorites. Some people use square “hoops” made of PVC pipe but I find that they don’t hold the fabric as tight as I like.
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 what I call The Magical Embroidery Stuff. 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.
Any other burning questions? Put them in the comments or email me directly and I’ll do my best to answer them!