On Point

My Embroidery Obsession

Hand embroidery may seem like an anachronism in our day and age, a chore belonging to housewives of the past. But that is because we are looking at it as a practicality, not an art.

Just as the painter uses a brush to apply paint to the canvas, the embroiderer uses a needle and thread to bring life to the fabric.

And the results are as diverse as they are breathtaking.

As one can see, embroidery styles range from the abstract and the unconventional, to the classical and the hyper-realistic; and, the materials are just as varied. Although the traditional medium for embroidery is thread, the types of thread and amount of strings you use from the thread determine the look of the stitch. Beyond that, stitchers can add any assortment of embellishments to the thread, such as pearls and beads. One can even "upgrade" to silk strands for an entirely different aesthetic.

The art of embroidery has evolved over the years, but it has not strayed from it's roots. Embroidery still demands the knowledge of few basic wishes. I'll teach you three of them, that you are likely to need in any project, below: The Backstitch, The Running Stitch, and The Satin Stitch.

1. Back Stitch:

The easiest way to learn any stitch is by doing. The backstitch is no exception.  As you can see from this diagram that I drew, the thread loops behind and underneath the fabric:

In actual practice, it will look a little something like the top stitch on the right, depending on how many strings you use and their corresponding thickness.

The three stitches on my hoop.

The three stitches on my hoop.

2. Running Stitch:

Believe it or not, the running stitch is even simpler than the backstitch. The embroiderer quite literally "runs" the thread through the fabric, like so:

This creates a "dotted line", that is often used to outline a project. 

3. Satin Stitch:

The satin stitch is the main filler stitch. It's used in almost every embroidery project to "color in between the lines". I only filled in half of the triangle in the sample above, to show how it works. If I had kept going, I would have a completely black triangle.

This link perfectly explains how to effectively use satin stitch. I strongly suggest "coloring" your projects using the satin stitch before moving to more complicated fillers, like the french knot. 


Ready to get started? I highly recommend getting one of these fairly simple kits (or another that you have sourced) before getting into any original pieces. This will not only teach you the basics, but will also supply the materials necessary for the project. (These particular kits cost $12-$20. Remember hoops are included. Once you get the hang of things, you can buy patterns for approximately $5, or create your own designs!)

(**Please also note: the hedgehog "stuffed animal" does not come with a hoop and is slightly more complicated than the others. I recommend it as a second project.)

Fancy yourself crafty and want to go for it on your own? You'll need a hoop ($5), thread ($15), needles ($5), and fabric ($7). The cost is more than a kit, and a kit also comes with instructions and pattern on fabric! That's the downside. However,the upside is that you'll have enough materials to create a multitude of projects.

What do you think of embroidery? Fad? Or classic practice here to stay? Do you plan on giving it a shot?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy Stitching xx