First Date with Embroidery
These are the must-have tools to begin Your First Project. If you are feeling overwhelmed at the shopping list, the kdornbier embroidery kits come with absolutely everything needed to complete the pattern.
Each kdornbier embroidery kit comes with a piece of 100% cotton fabric, pre-printed with the kit design. For digital patterns, or re-stitching the design from a kit, you will need to pick up your own fabric.
What type of fabric should you buy? When picking out fabric for hand embroidery, I recommend plain-weave materials like cotton, twill, linen, muslin, canvas, or duck cloth. Avoid polyester and aida fabric (an open-weave used in cross-stitching). Fabric from an old pillowcase or bed sheet works nicely as well. If your fabric is very thin, consider using two layers for added support and opacity. Stitching on knit clothing? Apply a stabilizer to the back of the fabric.
How much fabric do you need? You don't need a lot of fabric for one project. For a 6" (15 cm) embroidery hoop, you will need a piece of fabric about 8" x 8" (20 cm x 20 cm). Wherever you shop, you will likely be buying fabric "by the yard" (or in the clearance scraps!). If you are in-store, you should be able to get just 1 ft (20 cm) of fabric. Online orders will likely offer a minimum of 1/2 yard (1/2 meter).
Even if you are embroidering on a piece of clothing or bag, you will need a hoop to hold the fabric taut. When choosing a hoop, check that the inner and outer hoop fit snuggly as gaps in the hoop will cause the fabric to pull away and pucker. Some crafters will stitch a design using a plastic or plain 'working hoop' and then transfer the finished piece to a pretty 'display hoop' for hanging.
What size of hoop do you need? A pattern should note the recommended size(s) for the embroidery hoop. If you are a beginner, stick with the listed hoop size. You can adjust the hoop size when you're more comfortable with stitch techniques and thread thickness.
Should you spring for a more expensive hoop? Unlike some craft tools, you can absolutely tell the difference between a cheap embroidery hoop and a well-made embroidery hoop. However, for beginners, all that really matters is that there are no gaps between the inner and outer hoops. When you buy an expensive hoop, you are almost garaunteed a flawless, snug fit. You can find that same snug fit with a cheaper hoop, but you may have to do a little digging. If it's your first time buying a hoop, pop in to your local craft store (Michaels, Joanns, etc) to examine them in person.
Embroidery needles, also called ‘crewel’ needles, have sharp tips and long eyes to accommodate multiple strands of embroidery floss. The needles come in ten sizes; a smaller needle number means a bigger eye, and more floss strands will thread comfortably. For example, a Size 9 needle is appropriate for using one or two strands, while a Size 3 needle can take on the full six strands of floss. Embroidery should be smooth and easy; if you are experiencing too much resistance while stitching, switch to a lower-number needle.
What size of needle do you need? The size of needle required depends on the thickness of each stitch. If the pattern does not list a recommended needle size, check the stitch guide for how many strands of floss are used in each stitch. When all else fails, a multi-pack of needles will cover your bases.
Embroidery floss is made up of six twisted strands that can be separated and used individually or together. DMC is the reigning king of floss manufacturing; their floss is 100% cotton, colorfast, resistant to fraying, available in most local craft stores, and comes in over 500 colors. The thread colors listed in all kdornbier embroidery patterns refer to the DMC color chart.
How many skeins of each color do I need? For most patterns, one skein of each color should suffice. If a pattern will need more than one skein of a particular color, it should be noted in the supplies list.
Where should I buy DMC floss? DMC floss is available online but is almost always cheaper in-store. If you are in the United States, check the Michael's or Joann's websites for sneaky in-store coupons.
While any scissors will work, small embroidery scissors have long, thin blades with pointy tips that cut with delicate precision. Plus, they’re adorable. If you fall in love with embroidery as a hobby, it would be worth it to invest in a pair of embroidery scissors. As a tip, only use embroidery scissors to cut thread. Cutting fabric, paper, or other materials will dull the delicate blades quickly.
6. Transfer Method
To stitch the pattern, you must first transfer the design onto your fabric. Tracing with a pen or pencil is the most readily available option (especially for beginners), but Magic Paper is the easiest and most precise method. Also called ‘Water-Soluble Fabric’ or ‘Fabric Solvy’, magic paper is a printable, fabric-like paper with a sticky back that dissolves in water. Magic paper works on light or dark fabric and, because it stabilizes the area during stitching, it is ideal for embroidering on knit fabrics and clothing.
7. Pinking Shears
Pinking shears look like scissors with tiny alligator teeth. They cut fabric with a zig-zag edge to prevent the fabric from fraying. If you find that your fabric is falling apart at your fingertips, it may be time to pick up a set.
Absolutely In Love with Embroidery
If you fall head-over-heels for needlepoint, you may be on the hunt for some accessories to make your life easier and your craft corner more organized.
1. Plastic Bobbins
Half-used skeins are piling up around you. Thread is tangling left and right. Police sirens wail in the background. It's time to start loading your floss onto plastic bobbins. Use a thin sharpie to mark each bobbin with the color code before you toss the paper tube.
2. Storage Box
I love a good storage box (don't we all?), and the plastic bobbins fit perfectly in these two options. The smaller box fits about 100 bobbins. I've now collected almost every available DMC color and they all fit comfortably between the two. For some added inspiration, check out how Sonova Stitch keeps his thread organized.
3. Hoop Stand
I underestimated how much I would love having a hoop stand. It is so much more comfortable to work on than simply holding the hoop. I have used it on the couch, at the table, in the car, and on a plane, and I will never go back. I like a stand with a flat base so that I can tuck it under my leg or set it on a table without having to 'clip' it to something.
4. Magnifying Eye Glasses
My eyes are in a losing battle against my computer screen and my detail-oriented hobbies. I wish I had picked up magnifying glasses sooner. They look ridiculous, but my peepers are protected and they make my husband laugh. Check out the reviews section for some truly wholesome humans.