What is embroidery?

If you’re interested in starting a crafting hobby for the first time, it’s a good idea to do your research: look at pieces that inspire you and learn how they were made, find out what equipment you need, and what exactly each different craft is.

Today MakeBox is helping you take your first steps with a short primer on embroidery, so you can make an informed decision about whether this is the right craft for you.

The Basics

Embroidery is a decorative craft. Rather than making a whole item or garment, it’s a way of decorating a piece of fabric. Basic embroidery uses only thread or yarn to make patterns, but you could create more ambitious projects by using silks, sequins, pearls and other elements.

There are several different types of embroidery, which are classified based on how they interact with the base fabric:

  • Free – or surface embroidery is simply stitched into a piece of fabric without regard for its weave.
  • Counted thread embroidery involves working to a pattern, and stitching into a specially woven foundation fabric where the threads cross in a regular grid.
  • Canvas work or needlepoint is similar to counted thread pattern embroidery, but you’ll be creating a dense pattern which completely covers the foundation fabric.

Key Equipment

The only thing you need to start with embroidery is a sewing needle! As long as you have a needle, you can start the most basic kind of embroidery: stitching thread into a pattern on another piece of material.

You’ll be more comfortable and be able to create more ambitious projects if you add some equipment to your crafting armoury. You shouldn’t begin without an embroidery hoop: this a wooden or plastic circle that can hold your fabric taught while you work, making it easier to stitch into, and allowing you to measure more accurately.

Materials, Fabrics and Extras

For surface embroidery, you can use almost any fabric! As long as you can sew into securely, you can embroider onto it. Surface embroidery can be used to decorate clothing, accessories and furniture, giving new life to items you might think are past their best.

Needlepoint and counted thread pattern embroidery need specially woven foundations materials, with a regular weave so you can follow the pattern – these are available online, from craft stores, and of course, from MakeBox+Co.

There are specially manufactured embroidery threads you can use for crafting, so you can pick out the colours you want for a project and know they will be a uniform weight and texture. Embroidery can also be a chance to get creative though and you shouldn’t limit yourself to pre-made threads. You can weave in beads, sequins, even feathers. Keep a box of extras and add to them whenever you find something inspiring – it could find a place in your next project!

If you’re feeling inspired to start your first embroidery project, MakeBox+Co is the perfect place to begin. Browse our store and pick the perfect project for you!

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