Embroidery lovers are lucky enough to have a cheap and easy time of shopping for embroidery supplies—on line or off line. And besides being a justifiable craft embroidery is as delightful to do as it is to buy supply for.
Following are a few bits of information and advice should you just be starting out with an embroidery pattern or embroidery kit you want to modify.
Embroidery fabric comes in many colours, sizes, and counts. The colours are for aesthetic preferences, but the sizes and counts are more important to your exact project: the count is indicated on the package of Aida, for example, to indicate the number of the threads per inch in that piece of blank material.
The larger the number, the more stitches you will be putting into that square inch and vice versa. Of the Aida counts, 11, 14, 16, 18, and 22, most commonly used are the 14. It does matter! Whatever the pattern calls for has been taken into account for every stitch, shape, and final project size; so if you wing it with a different count fabric, you will find some major setbacks as you go!The embroidery pattern you will use will (or should) indicate what count material to use.
As for how much Aida or fabric to purchase, if you are doing a design not pre-worked for you in a pattern or instructions chart, be sure to
- measure the planned design
- account for the material needed to cover an embroidery hoop.
For example, if you are planning to embroider a coaster, the diameter may be 8 inches, but your hoop is 10. Plan to use at least 12, so you have enough fabric to stretch over the hoop. And don’t cut the fabric before hoping, or you will have no fabric tension!
Embroidery Hoops or Frames
Most of us begin with a small hoop: the size is manageable, and the surface space has enough of the image you are working. Wooden hoops are the best to go for as they have a natural feel and are more comfortable. Today, however, many crafts stores seem to be phasing out wood in favour of plastic.
What you can keep in mind, though, is making sure you have a hoop that
- will take the weight of a work in progress,
- will have enough give that it can be closed around already embroidered sections without crushing the design, and
- is large enough to have ample surface workplace but not so large as to be cumbersome.
In the latter case, you may want to graduate to a needlepoint frame (also known as a scroll bar), one that you can buy with or without a handy work stand.
Embroidery floss is either wool, linen, or cotton—cotton being the most typical choice for embroidery. Whichever you choose
- go with the same brand
- buy the number of skeins you need at the same time (so the dye lot is consistent)
- consult the paper band on the skein to make sure the colour number corresponds with the pattern’s number.
If you cannot locate embroidery/tapestry needles, be sure to get some that have a large enough eye that you can thread several strands through at once but not so big a needle that you leave gaping holes in your fabric. One trick is to look at the package for the size number: The higher the number the smaller or finer the needle.
Another way to get the right size is to match your floss to the needle: the best size will be in a needle that has an eye only a tad bigger than the thread’s thickness.
This is for the end of your project: when you wash the finished piece (if it is not a dry clean only piece), add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to the wash. This will set the colours so they don’t run. [Though most flosses are colourfast to begin with, it’s better to be absolutely sure.]
For more information and advice on embroidery supplies, see our Cross Stitch Supplies article.