This was part of a series I wrote earlier this year for the Crafty Bird blog. Some small adjustments have been made. Hope it's helpful for all embroidery newbies and aspiring embroiderers who are reading this blog!
I started to embroider a couple of years ago but I still feel very much like an embroidery newbie. There are many different types of embroidery (blackwork, redwork, crewel to name a few) and many stitches to learn. So much so that it may all seem a bit overwhelming for the aspiring embroiderer. So let me take you by the hand and get you started on this wonderful craft! I will just explain it to you as if you were sitting next to me on the couch. It will be by no means extensive or complete, just enough friendly advice to help you on your way!
Before you start on your new favourite craft you will need a couple of basic embroidery supplies: a hoop, some embroidery needles, fabric, floss and embroidery scissors are handy to have as well.
I would recommend you buy a hoop. You can start with a rather in expensive wooden or plastic hoop. A 5 or 6 inch hoop will work fine for most embroidery designs.
Secondly you will need fabric. Cotton or linen are both good choices to start with. I often use old sheets or quilters cotton for my embroideries. And recently I have been using a lot of linen. A lightly patterned fabric (like the pink woodgrain in the photo) can be really fun to embroider on as well. Denim or t-shirt like fabrics (onesies) can be quite difficult to embroider on so it's probably better to wait until you are a little more experienced!
Then there is the needle. You will need a needle that is quite sharp, not too large but with a big enough eye so you can thread it easily. A needle that is too blunt or big will leave holes in you fabric. An eye that is too small for the number of strands you use will damage your floss. Buy a pack with various sizes embroidery needles and try and see what works best for you. I'm quite fond of this Needle Pebble! Check out this article if your want to know more about embroidery needles.
Of course you will need embroidery floss. Dmc and Anchor are two well known quality floss brands and widely available. But which type of floss to choose? In the craft store you will probably find different flosses:linen, metallic, rayon or mouline (which is the same as 6 stranded cotton) I would recommend starting with mouline as it's one of the easier flosses to work with and it's available in a wide variety of colours. The effect of metallic floss is without a doubt very desirable but it's hard to work with (I have it in my stash but avoid working with it!) so I would certainly not start with that on one of your first projects. Besides craft stores it can be worth while to look for floss on Ebay for example or maybe if you are lucky you can pick up some in yard sales or in thrift stores.
Embroidery scissors are every pleasant to have on hand too. They also come in a nice colours (pink!) and shapes (bird!)
Next time I'll discus some of the most common types of pattern (iron on and pdf) and how to transfer them to your fabric.