Everything You Need to Start Stitching Your Own Embroidery

Hand Embroidery

Sarah K. Benning
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, My Modern Met may earn an affiliate commission. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Embroidery has been around forever—and that’s hardly an exaggeration. Its roots are ancient, with every culture having some form it in their textile art history. Although the activity started with practical beginnings to mend clothing, it has grown into a creative endeavor that remains popular today. Hand embroidery has seen a major resurgence over the past several years—particularly among contemporary artists who incorporate thread into their work, or use the embroidery hoop as a frame for fabric art.

Beginning Hand Embroidery

Embroidery has humble roots, which is great news for beginners; it’s an easily accessible craft to start. Supplies are inexpensive and the techniques range from basic to advanced. You might even know some of the embroidery stitches—many of us learn to sew from a parent or grandparent, as the skills of embroidery are traditionally passed on from generation to generation.


Here’s a supplies list to get you started:

  • Embroidery hoops. Hoops come in all sizes, from just a few inches in diameter to over a foot.
  • Thread (aka floss). The DMC brand is industry standard (it’s been around since 1746), and they have a very loyal following. It’s easy to see why—a skein is less than a dollar and they have a ton of colors available.
  • Scissors. Embroidery scissors are small (palm-sized) and just sharp enough to trim thread.
  • Needles. Needles often come in packs with a range of sizes. Depending on the type of fabric you’re sewing on, some needles will work better than others.
  • Fabric. The possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to sewing. If you’re looking for a place to start, try a fabric that’s pure cotton. Make sure that it doesn’t have stretch (like you might find in cotton blends) and that its weave isn’t too loose.

These supplies aren’t necessary to begin embroidery, but will help you stay organized.

  • Plastic bobbins. These are a lifesaver, especially if you have a lot of thread. Before you begin stitching with a thread, write the color on one of these bobbins and then wind it around the plastic piece. That way, when you run out of thread, you’ll know what type of skein to buy!
  • Thread organizer. Store your thread, embellishments, and other supplies in one of these handy bins.

Learning Embroidery Stitches

Embroidery stitches have an incredible range of skills. Some are so basic that you probably know them, even if you haven’t sewn before. Others are more advanced and require instruction and a lot of practice. Luckily, with embroidery resurgence, there is no shortage of places to learn embroidery stitches.

Embroidery Books to Read

While there are many books dedicated to learning embroidery stitches, here are a few best sellers.

Learn Hand Embroidery

Embroidered Typography

Instructional Videos & Online Classes

If you’re looking for video instructions that explain the basics of embroidery, online classes are a great place to start. Here are a few you can try today!

Get started stitching with embroidery kits and embroidery patterns

In addition to buying your own supplies and starting embroidery on your own, there are also embroidery kits and embroidery patterns that make it simple to get started. Embroidery kits are the easiest—they often include everything you will need, from the pattern to the thread. Embroidery patterns offer more freedom, but are still a good base from which to start. While you’re stitching, you can change colors to customize the image as truly your own.

Embroidery Kits for Sale

Modern embroidery patterns

Page 1/2

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content