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How to Embroider: Stitching 101

When did schools discard sewing basics? I wish schools wouldn’t disregard creative courses and life skill classes so much. When I was in high school (was it that long ago already that I’m using that phrase?), the administration constantly emphasized math and sciences—which is great; we need people to be genetic engineers, doctors, and mathematicians. However, not everyone is cut out for it. I was SO good at math, but I hated the subject because there was no creativity to it. I loved English and literature, art, music, and FACS (Family And Consumer Science aka Home Economics), but of course, I like the things that aren’t funded as much. When I was 12, I joined a cross-stitching club, and I had an absolute blast. I wish I had continued with that, but those classes were few and far between. In the basic sewing classes that I got, I learned how to work a sewing machine, hand stitch, and cross stitch, but I didn’t get to learn the basics of embroidery.

How to Embroider: Stitching 101

I’ve picked up and few tips and tricks for embroidery over the years, mostly from my mom and her learning how to sew, like just a basic loop stitch (which I practically use for everything). This Old Soul, though, really wants to do the elaborate embroidery designs that women used to do in the early 20th century. They would use so many different shades of thread and do beautiful bouquets of flowers or scenes from nature. As a whole, they’re beautiful to look at; up close, they’re absolutely incredible with the amount of detail put into it.

These are the basics of embroidery for some common stitches. Now, these are all done by hand; however, with technology being constantly updated all the time, you can do machine embroider now. For those of you who are just starting to sew, these are some simple stitches and basic tutorials to get you started. There are a ton of free printables where you can print out and use that as a guide for some embroidery projects. If you need help transferring an embroidery pattern, try this easy tutorial on how to get it from paper to your fabric.

These turned out to be so much easier than I had ever expected. To think of all the DIY monogramming embroidery I could have been doing all along is almost a sin! Thanks to Wendy on Patchwork Posse for giving up step-by-step tutorials on the different stitches.

Basic Embroidery Stitches

from Wendy on patchworkposse.com

Backstitching

Backstitching

from patchworkposse.com

  1. Bring your needle up through the fabric, following the printed design, approximately 1/8-inch in front of your last stitch.
  2. Pull the thread through without pulling it too taut.
  3. “Stab” the needle back into the last hole you made from your previous stitch.

**Note: Be prepared to “reverse stitch” aka remove your needle and take a stitch or two our and do them again if you’re not happy with them. Even the most practiced make mistakes!

Chain Stitch

Chain Stitch

from patchworkposse.com

  1. Take a stitch through the fabric, coming up about 1/8-inch in front of where the needle went in. Wrap your thread around the front of the needle. (You’ll notice the picture is from the right side to the left…that is because Wendy is left-handed. So if you’re a righty, you would go from left and wrap it around the front of the needle to the right. It doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent.)
  2. Pull your thread through, taut, but not tight, holding your thread so that it doesn’t tangle and knot.
  3. Poke your needle back through the middle of your last stitch and then up again about 1/8-inch in front.
  4. Pull your thread through again. Repeat these steps until you’re finished. Once you’re finished with your pattern, secure it by stitching through the last stitch and making a figure 8 with the thread around the needle and pulling taut to form a knot.

Cross Stitch

Cross Stitch

from patchworkposse.com

  1. Make a cross and then back up through the nearest end of the other line of the cross. Pull your thread taut but not tight.
  2. Poke the needle back down through the opposite end of that line and travel across to the next stitch (or if you prefer, you can end your stitch there if you don’t like your thread traveling along the back).

Here are some fun embroidery projects to get you started:

How to Make A Monogram

Inverted Image—Name Embroidery Pattern

How to Transfer an Embroidery Pattern

500 Simply Charming Designs for Embroidery Book Review

Do you have any embroidery tips for someone new to this art? Let us know in the comments below!

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