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I should really start this off by fully disclosing that I DID NOT start embroidering with any of the equipment I'm about to share! I simply began with a sewing needle and some thin cotton thread which I'd 'borrowed' from my mum's sewing basket. Granted the finished item I embroidered was far from perfect....but this simply highlights my firmly held belief that it's ALL about the creativity and fun you have and NOT about using the 'right' equipment.
That being said let's talk "Embroidery Equiment!"...here are some basic things to get you started
Embroidery hoops come in all different sizes... you can get wooden ones, plastic ones, oval shaped ones...the idea being that you place the fabric you wish to embroider between the 2 rings of the hoop and tighten the screw to keep the fabric nice and taut. This ensures neat embroidery sitches which don't pull and pucker your fabric. You can take the fabric out and reposition the hoop to work on different areas if you are working on a large piece.
(I began embroidering many years ago WITHOUT using a hoop, so always found hoops awkward to hold and a hinderance to my stitching rather than helpful. However I introduced one into my practise 2 years ago when I began to sell embroidery kits and now would not be without them. I get better results especially when sewing satin stitch.)
There are a wide variety of threads you can use for embroidery in an array of colours...just visit your local craft/haberdashery shop to see. A selection is shown below....
Essentially you can use any threadable material to embroider with, and mixing up what you stitch with can create lovely textured effects.
The stranded embroidery thread/floss is what I use the most, and as described is made up of 6 strands of thread. Its the perfect thread to begin and experiment with.
You can decide how many strands of thread you will use by how thick you want your embroidery stitch to be.The less strands you use,the thinner the stitch will be. Generally, I use 3 strands of thread at a time and reduce this to 1 strand if I want to create some really fine details.
You can see above the difference between normal sewing needles and embroidery and crewel needles. The sewing needle has a smaller eye than the embroidery/crewel needles, which makes sense as the thread used for embroidering is thicker than sewing thread.
You will find when using the larger/thicker needles that you need to consider the fabric you are embroidering onto. A thick needle will leave holes if you are not using a fabric with a more open weave.
Here are 3 different 'transfer tools'that are available (there are more!)
1) water soluble pen - the drawn line can be removed with a sprinkle of water
2) disappearing ink pen - the drawn line disappears over time
3) transfer pencil - this creates a permanent line and requires being ironed
The transfer tools you are going to have in your stash are going to depend on which transfer technique you want to use.You can find out about transfer techniques here.
*Hopefully you are not feeling too overwhelmed...If you are starting to tremble, go back to keeping things simple ...a needle, embroidery thread and some fabric is all you need to practise and get comfortable with.
The biggest part of my stitching adventure has been to MAKE MISTAKES and EXPERIMENT to find out what works best for me. You will undoubtedly find out what you prefer to play with over time.
If you can remind yourself there really is no right or wrong here, and that HAVING FUN is the most important part of stitching, then you are setting yourself up for a lifetime love affair with the gentle art of embroidery :)x
>> Play with the size you find most comfortable to hold and work with. You may find the smaller sized hoops are easier to use to begin with (5" or 6" hoop)
>>Whatever thread you use, you want to cut a length of thread which is not too short that you have to keep starting a new thread piece, but also not too long that you end up in tangles. My preferred length is about 50 -70 cms. Play around and find out what length works best for you.
*Tip: >>My go to embroidery needle size is No.7. it works well on thinner plain cotton fabric but has a large enough eye to thread through 6 strands of thread if I want create thicker stitches.
At the beginning of your embroidery adventure the key is to use something that can be removed if a mistake is made or an alteration required.
I never used any of these transfer tools for years and simply used a pencil or chalk...mostly this worked but on occasion the drawn line could still be seen on my finished piece, which is ok for just a practise piece but annoying if not! As I have progressed and moved to stitching more detailed pieces the tools I share above have proved helpful.