Additional Craft Information:
Handmade embroidery stitches used to be taught to most every young lady as a homemaking skill she would use throughout her life. Today, hand embroidery is not thought of as a life skill, but is highly regarded as an artistic touch on fiber art, clothing, accessories, and linens – and I can say it is a professional skill for fiber folk artists like me!
DIY Craft Essential #1: Washi tape
DIY Craft Essential #2: Needle nose pliers
If you did not learn embroidery stitches as a youngster, it is never too late to try this colorful needle art. Classrooms and living rooms around the world are filled with eager students of all ages who would like to decorate their home, their fiber art and their clothing with embroidery. Many fiber artists are learning hand embroidery as an artistic medium which adds texture and fine details to all kinds of fiber. In my Nestle and Soar studio in Colorado, I use hand embroidery to create intricate images of trees, birds, flowers and landscapes, and I do this in conjunction with needle felting, my primary needle art. You can see my fiber art at nestleandsoar.com.
If you are ready to try hand embroidery, here are a few tips you need to know.
Quality craftsmanship matters: Learn how to tie a great knot! Embroidery stitches should not be too loose or work their way out of the fabric or fiber you are sewing them into. Tying-off the stitches when you are finished is as important as starting with a strong knot that is large enough to stay on the back of your work.
DIY Craft Essential #3: X-acto knife
DIY Craft Essential #4: Spray paint
Learn Basic Embroidery Stitches: The five embroidery stitches I most often use at Nestle and Soar are split stitch, stem stitch, back stitch, running stitch, and blanket stitch. A combination of these basic stitches can fill large areas on my needle felt tree and bird art with great detail and texture. There are basic embroidery instructions in many books and online resources. If you'd like to see some of the embroidery tips I offer at Nestle and Soar, see my Embroidery Basics at Nestle and Soar, nestleandsoar.com/Fiber-Art-Information.html
Use an embroidery hoop if you can. A thin wood embroidery hoop keeps your foundational fabric taut as you sew, which means your finished work will look a lot better. If you are embroidering stitches onto a shirt collar which cannot fit into an embroidery hoop, make sure you stop several times during the stitching to lightly iron the collar to keep the work flat.
The threads and needles you use for embroidery are important. The eye of the needle needs to be large enough to handle the wool crewel yarn I stitch without being so large it creates holes in my work. My tip to you is to buy a package of assorted-size embroidery needles. Most embroidery stitches are made with embroidery floss or pearl cotton. When you use wool yarn it is often called crewel embroidery.
Look for a group of other students who would like to learn hand embroidery because DIY doesn't mean you have to do it ALONE! We can join in with our ancestors who often learned in a small group in someone's living room – create a sewing circle that is fun, inspirational, and friendly. Those are important life skills, too!