Buy a download. If that seems too intimidating and you’re a total novice at embroidery with no idea what you want, there are a lot of great sites to teach you the fundamentals. I suggest either the DMC website or Needle ‘n Thread embroidery. They’ll walk you through the basics of what stitches look like and give you an idea of what’s possible with embroidery. I also make a point of breaking down every pattern so no matter how complex or large, someone who’s never embroidered before can do it.
I feel pretty strongly that I want my patterns to encourage people to be creative, and telling people how to be creative isn’t encouraging of creativity at all. I will almost never suggest colors, for example, because color choices are very personal and a matter of taste.
Yes. Most embroidery designers will send out kits with hoops, pre-cut cloth, and pre-cut thread. I won’t, and it’s only in part because dealing with shipping stresses me out. I want anyone who uses my patterns to experiment. If you don’t like how I did a flower, do a different flower. Want to try with silk thread instead of the cotton thread I do? Go for it. Totally different colors? Be my guest. Use as much thread as you want to get it right, don’t let me decide how much it takes. Embroidery is a skill like learning to cook is a skill. I’m selling you the recipe in this analogy, but it’s my hope that eventually, you’ll be able to cook without it.
Yeah, probably, but there are over six billion people in the world, so I’m not too worried about exhausting my market. Also, just because you can do things on your own doesn’t mean you don’t want to look through other people’s ideas. I do that all the time myself on Pinterest and Instagram. All great artists steal ideas from other great artists. The game is the game.
Two reasons: one, Etsy takes a portion of my sales and has a lot of rules about how much they own of my work and how much I own of my work, and that’s annoying. Two, because Etsy is split into normal Etsy (for completed crafts) and Etsy Marketplace (for buying craft supplies). Embroidery patterns don’t really go in either category, which means I’d have to list them twice, which costs me double, and all around it seemed like a bad fit for me.
Embroidery isn’t my main job. Or my secondary job. Or my tertiary job. I’m a college student, and I do volunteer work, and I do work-work, and I’m often working on a custom design. Every time I make a design, I have to stitch it myself to make sure it works and figure out any advice I have to give for common pitfalls, and then I have to scan my pencil scribble, clean it up, and write it out. That takes a while.
If you want me to do custom work, go to that section and shoot me an e-mail to get that started, and in that case, I stitch you what you ask for. I do not stitch patterns I already have up for sale. I also don’t design patterns for the public to do by request, even though I’d love to, because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
I use the good old classic DMC six-strand cotton embroidery floss, which you can buy at pretty much any craft store like Michael’s, but can also order direct from their website. I organize my thread in a plastic container like this Darice one and re-wind every skein onto a plastic bobbin like this plastic one (bobbins keep your thread from getting tangled, and I use plastic because my gerbils/artist’s assistants think the cardboard ones are nesting material) and then label it with the DMC number so I know what to buy more of when I get low. Needles are a matter of preference, I just use whatever ones are sold close to the thread that look like they have big enough eyes – the eyes being what everyone has different preferences on. depending on their threading ability. I’m pretty sure the ones I go for are standard embroidery needles. I mostly stitch on Kona Cotton fabrics, which are available a million places online in every color of the rainbow and cut to any size. I happen to either go through my mom’s Amazon Prime and get the stacks of pre-cut ten inch squares intended for quilting (thanks Mom!) or go to my local fabric store and get a half yard or so.
Transferring patterns depends on the color fabric. For light-colored fabrics, you can simply trace by taping your printed out pattern to a sunny window, then taping the fabric on top of it, and then using a pencil. If you want to embroider on a darker piece of fabric like black or navy, you’ll need to buy white transfer paper. When you’ve finished any embroidery, always wash it in warm water and Woolite to make it clean and pretty and get rid of all your pencil marks. Let it air dry, and if it’s too wrinkly for you, iron it, but – and this is extremely important – use a thick towel between the embroidery and your iron or the iron will leave scorch marks. I learned that one the hard way. To mount embroidery in a hoop, I use the simplest method of tacky glue on the inner circle of the embroidery hoop.
Hoops are hard to find because they just don’t make them like they used to. I strongly advise against both plastic ones because they never hold the fabric tight enough, and metal ones with spring tension because they rust and the rust stains your fabric. Michael’s sells bamboo hoops which are about as good as you’re going to get from a store, but your real best bet is to poke your head in local antique shops, leave your info, and let the owner know you’re in the market. They’ll often come across boxes of good, old-fashioned embroidery hoops (sometimes with embroidery in them, which you don’t have to keep) and they’ll sell them to you for extremely cheap. It’s a crap shoot, but when you get the good stuff, it’s worth it. To stain any hoops to be different shades of brown, I use shoe polish and a toothbrush, which is a lot more controllable and capable of layering color than actual stain, and also way cheaper.
For the record, I make zero money from my suggestions or you clicking those links.