Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Start Stitching!

Are there still some of you out there who haven't picked up embroidery yet? Guess what? it's one of the easiest, cheapest, low commitment crafts you can learn. Really! I'm going to start posting more embroidery tutorials, and I thought it would be helpful to have a really easy 'get started' one, if you've never tried it before. Here is a step by step guide to learning three variations of one very basic embroidery stitch.

Step 1. Gather your supplies. You'll need a needle (I buy packs of different sizes and pick my favorite), floss (pick your favorite colors!), hoop (a 6 inch plastic one is a good one to start with) and fabric. You can embroider on almost any fabric, try embellishing your clothes, dish towels, pillowcases, anything! You can find all of these things at your local craft store, or maybe even in your closet.
Step 2. Stretch your fabric onto the hoop. Cut a length of floss about 12 inches long, thread the needle and then tie a knot in one end. Pull the needle and floss through the fabric from the back until the knot catches. Now push the needle back down through a little ways away and pull the floss tightly to the fabric. You've made a Straight Stitch!
Step 3. Keep making Straight Stitches in a row. You can make them all the same length, short or long, far apart, or very close together to get the effect you want. Straight Stitches in a row like this are called the Running Stitch. When you're done with your line, tie a knot on the back and start with another color.
Step 4. Now make a few Straight Stitches side by side, going back and forth. This is a Satin Stitch and it's great for solid shapes.
Step 5. Use a third color to make a few more Straight Stitches in flower and leaf shapes.
Step 6. You're done! It's really easy to embroidery pretty designs freehand with just a couple easy stitches. Play around and see what you can come up with!

Interested in learning more about embroidery? Have a look at my book, Doodle Stitching! It's full of many different embroidery stitches, patterns and fun projects!

Any questions? Post your comments or suggestions! I hope you find this helpful. :)


  1. I found you through flickr, your stuff is adorable! I'm actually hoping to contact you about using the photo of the cuckoo clock you took for a blog banner I'm making for someone. I tried to find your email, but no luck. You can email me back at @ gmail dot com

    Even if that's not possible, I'm adding you to my blog reader, there's just so much here that is adorable!!


  2. thank you for starting this! I've been stitching for a little bit now but still feel like an amateur. Do you have any tips on getting the fabric taut on the hoop? It seems like such a basic thing but I'm always fumbling with that!

  3. Thanks so much! :) Basically just take it slow hooping your fabric, put it on loosely and alternate between tightening the hoop and pulling out the edges of the fabric until it's tight. :)

  4. hi ive just found this tutorial, its really helpful, but i have a question about the floss, is it the same as the stranded embroidery thread or is it completley different.


  5. Rachael, yep stranded embroidery thread is what you need. :)

  6. My question is about the floss, too. How many strands are you supposed to use? Is it dependent on what you are stitching? I know...basic question, but I don't know! I've just been "winging it" in my first few projects.

  7. Angela,
    I usually wing it too. :) Depending on the size of your pattern, you can use all 6 or 3, or a mix of both for different types of lines.

  8. Thank you, this is great info :)

  9. i found you on the net i havent stopped doddling since i found you it is very exciting.

  10. I am working on "Olaf the Owl" right now and have a question about whipstitching the wing to the body. Do you "butt" the wing edge up to the body (so its perpendicular) or do you lay the wing edge flat against the body fabric?

    Thanks, Judy

    1. Hi Judy, if you butt it up perpendicular the wings will wave back and forth, if you sew them on more flatly, they will hold more still. It works either way. :)

  11. Hi Aimee!

    I just wanted to thank you for your second book, "Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection". It is the book that brought the fun and joy of embroidery back into my life! I learned some embroidery stitches before but a combination of perfectionism and not knowing what to embroider that I could use stymied me. Your book inspired me! Right now I am working on a tea themed handkerchief using motifs from your book.

    Which is actually something I wanted to ask you about. Your stitches all seem so perfect! I am sure part of it is just plain practice, but do you ever rip your stitches out because they are uneven, or because your stem stitch won't curve the way you want it to? I want my handkerchief to look good, but I get sick of ripping out my stitches over and over again. At the same time, I don't want it to look sloppy. Did your first pieces have uneven stitches? Or did you rip out your floss and stitch them over and over again until they were perfect? Do you think anyone would notice??

    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comments! I'm so glad you're enjoying my book. :)
      I rarely rip out any stitches, and I am far from a perfect stitcher! I really just don't worry about it too much. I think that little imperfections add to the uniqueness of your project, and no, I don't think most people will notice. I think they'll just be thrilled and impressed that you did something like that by hand!


Thanks for your comments! I love hearing from you! :)