Tips from Guild Members


DMCAidaFabric4colors.jpgFabrics used for embroidery are usually classified as either even weave or plain weave.

Evenweave fabrics have a regular number of threads in both directions and are used for counted thread techniques such as cross stitch and blackwork. Linen, aida and canvas are all included in this category.

Plain weave fabrics include cotton, silk, linen twill or even synthetic fabrics. They are used for freestyle embroidery, crewelwork or any non-counted technique.

Threads required

Cotton Floss 3.jpgThe shade numbers given beside a thread colour refer to the threads of the stated manufacturer. A conversion chart will give corresponding shade numbers for the major thread companies (usually Anchor, DMC and Madeira). Remember that the shades are not necessarily an exact match -- just the nearest. In some projects, threads are not specified as this allows you to choose your own.

Using stranded threads

CF_SixStrands.jpgStranded cottons are made up of 6 strands twisted together. Cut a length of yarn about 50 cm long and separate the strands, recombining the number of strands specified in the project. This makes certain that the strands are not twisted together and gives smoother, more even coverage on the fabric. When stitching, allow the needle and thread to hang freely from time to time as this enables the thread to untwist and helps to avoid knotting.

To start stitching

Weave the needle through the back of previously worked stitches or start with a couple of tiny stitches, placing the stitches in an area that will be covered by subsequent stitching. Alternatively, start with a ‘Waste Knot’ (see below).

Waste knot

Make a knot in the end of the thread. Take the needle through from the right side of the fabric about 5 cm from where you want to begin stitching. Bring the needle back through to the surface at the point where you want to start stitching. Once you’ve worked three or four stitches, you can snip off the knot and darn the end into the stitches on the back of the work. Snip off the excess thread close to the work.

To finish stitching

endingthreadembroidery.jpgWeave the needle through the back of the last few stitches, and snip off the thread close to the work.

Trace a design onto fabric

  1. Place your fabric over the design and, using a hard pencil, trace the outline onto your fabric. (It’s a good idea to hold your fabric in place with masking tape to prevent it from wrinkling.) If you can’t see the image through the fabric, try going over the design outline with a black felt pen to make. This will make the outline stronger so that it can be seen through the fabric.


  1. Trace the design using tracing paper and tape this onto a lightbox (or a bright window). Tape your fabric over the top so that the light shines through and you can trace the design onto your fabric.

Using an embroidery hoop

  1. To prevent your fabric from slipping, bind the inner hoop with strips of fabric. To do this, wrap the strip or strips of fabric around the hoop and secure the end of the binding with a couple of stitches. If you’re using a fine or delicate fabric, the outer hoop should also be bound in this way. When using a firm fabric such as linen twill, it is not necessary to bind the hoops.

  2. Place your fabric over the inner hoop. Using the screw on the outer ring, adjust so that the ring fits snugly over the inner hoop and fabric.

  3. With the tension screw at the top, ease the outer ring down over the inner ring, pulling the fabric taut as you go. When the fabric is taut and wrinkle-free, use a screwdriver to tighten the screw.

Footer Break Line