Embroidery sounds intimidating, but I promise, it doesn’t have to be scary! After learning a few easy stitches, you’ll be able to add some flare to your clothes in a cinch and pop them back into rotation looking better than ever.
For this tutorial, I chose to do a floral design, but this is just one idea — the cool thing about embroidery is that the options are literally endless. If you’re short on ideas, you can check out embroidery books from your local library, watch embroidery videos on Youtube, or just thread a needle and see where it takes you on your own project. Embroidery can spruce up a plain shirt or dress you haven’t been wearing much, add a little je ne sais quoi to your favorite denim pieces, or cover up a hole or stain that keeps an otherwise perfect shirt from getting worn.
So let’s get started!
What You’ll Need
- Item to embroider (non-stretchy items work best)
- Embroidery hoop (optional but encouraged!)
- Assorted embroidery thread [For flower centers (2 colors), filling (2 colors), leaves, and daisy flower petals]
- Embroidery needle
First thing’s first, I have very little embroidery experience. These flowers may look impressive, but I promise you that they’re very basic and shouldn’t take more than an afternoon or two to complete, even for the newest of newbies. They use five simple stitches: the French knot, the long stitch, the encroaching satin stitch, the stem stitch, and the leaf stitch. Let’s talk about these stitches first.
- French Knot: Insert the needle from the back of the fabric through to the front. Now, insert it back into the fabric but don’t push it all the way through; instead, angle the needle and bring it back out of the fabric close to where you had originally inserted it. Think of it like you’re attaching a pin to a shirt or jacket, just make sure the stitch is quite short. Keeping your needle in the fabric, wrap your thread around the tip of the needle two or three times. Try and hold that thread gently as you pull your needle through, making a knot. To bring your needle back to the wrong side of the fabric, insert it as close as possible to the knot. (Need a visual? Check out this step-by-step guide!)
- Long Stitch: If you’ve ever sewn with a needle and thread before, you should have no problem getting this stitch fast. Start with your needle coming out on the right side, where you want your stitch to start. Then, insert it where you want your stitch to end. Bring your needle back up to where you want your new stitch to start. Ta-da!
- Encroaching Satin Stitch: This stitch is used to fill up shapes and give them some texture. Alternate between long stitches and short stitches and overlap to cover your shape. Think of how you would commonly lay brick or tile, but with the vertical stitches. Embroider from left to right and then right to left.
- Stem Stitch: This stitch is embroidered from top to bottom. The stitch will look like “/” over and over again going down. Bring the needle out below the embroidery line, reinsert the needle a little higher and bring it back out in the middle of the stitch, setting the floss to the right of the needle while following the outline.
- Leaf Stitch: Starting from the top point of the leaf, bring your needle through to the front and down on the centerline. Then bring it back up on the outline on the right and back in on the centerline, followed by back out on the outline on the left. Keep bringing the needle back through the center line and up along the outer edges. Keep your stitches tight to fill the leaves.
Now that you’ve got an introduction to embroidery stitches, let’s get ready to start embroidering! It’s time to freehand some flowers!
Mine are simple five-petal flowers with some leaves and then some super simple daisy-style flowers. I drew mine with a pen since I’m in the middle of a move and couldn’t find a pencil, but a fabric pen or pencil would be best in this case!
The Flower: Start with your flower centers. Using six strands of embroidery floss (how they usually come), fill your flower center with a few French knots.
Working your way out, next we have a small circle around our center. I chose to contrast my inner cream-colored French knots with a dark gray border. Use the long stitch to work your way around the French knots in the center.
This center circle is followed by the bulk of the flower petals, which I chose to make a deep violet and used the encroaching satin stitch for.
Use the same stitch for the outer petal color, which I did in a lighter lavender. You have a flower!
Leaves & Stems: Next, our leaves and stems. Using the leaf stitch, fill in your leaves. Then, stitching from leaf to flower, embroider your stems.
Daisies: Use French knots to make the daisy centers and then simply stitch the petals using the long stitch. Add as many daisies as you’d like!
I used a blue ombre thread which gave my flowers a bit of dimension as the color shifted petal by petal.
Steam your embroidery to finish the project and you’re all set! Now it’s time for you to rock your new look!