Welcome to my hand embroidery starter guide, where I attempt to introduce you to everything you need to know to start learning how to stitch. I'll take you through essential and optional supplies, guides and sources of inspiration, taking photos of your work, and more! Should you have any questions or suggestions for future edits to this page, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via my contact page!
P.S. None of the links on this page are affiliate links. If I link to a supplier that isn't me, I'm linking to them because I've used and love their products.
I'll be starting by describing a few essential supplies, including embroidery hoops, needles, fabric, floss, and scissors. This is where you'll want to start if you are totally new because I'll be covering the absolute essentials - you don't need to worry about the optional supplies just yet, trust me! Each section will describe a few decisions you'll need to make along the way, along with suggestions on where to find everything.
The most common types of embroidery hoops you'll be able to find these days are made of wood, bamboo, or plastic. Metal hoops are also a thing, but harder to come by - if you see a vintage metal embroidery hoop at a garage sale, grab it!
Every stitcher has their own preference on what type of hoop they like to use. My first hoop was plastic and I was not a fan, but many of my friends absolutely love stitching in them. If you're brand new and able to try all three types of hoops, I definitely recommend doing so! This way, you can make a decision for yourself regarding what works best for you!
What size should you start out with? If you're working with a particular pattern and the pattern maker recommends a certain size, you can certainly start there! If you're not working with a particular pattern and you're not sure where to start, I recommend starting small (3 and 4 inch hoops are great to start with!). I wrote about the magic of starting small on my blog.
To find embroidery hoops, you'll want to Google for "(the type of hoop you're looking for, i.e., 'wooden,' 'bamboo,' or 'plastic') + (the size you're looking for, e.g., 3 or 4 inch) + embroidery hoop." Here's a tip: if you're purchasing wooden or bamboo hoops, you'll save a lot of money if you go ahead and admit to yourself that you're going to end up making more than one project. Adding search terms such as "bulk" or "wholesale," versus searching for just one hoop, will typically save you some money.
*For many craft sites, just 6-12 hoops is considered "bulk" or "wholesale."
Determining which type of needle you should use is confusing and, I think, holds up a lot of potentially amazing stitchers. It absolutely held me up, at first! Are there needle guides on other websites for which size and type you should use for a particular stitch? Yes. Do I find those guides to be incredibly confusing, even though this is literally my job now? Also, yes.
This is why I hold onto an incredibly unpopular opinion that, in general, it really doesn't matter what type of embroidery needle you use! The key thing to remember about this work is that you're going to develop your own preferences over time.
Because every stitcher I know has a different preference, I recommend that you look for an embroidery needle multi-pack. These come with needles in a variety of sizes, and you'll get a good feel for what type of needle you like best. If you're unable to go to your local craft store, click here for a nice assortment in one handy pack.