Embroidery for Beginners

Learning to embroider and create beautiful designs on fabric can be a fun challenge. Embroidery, also called needlework or needlepoint, is the art of creating designs and pictures on fabric using various stitches, such as the satin, chain, outline or back stitches. There are many more stitches you can learn as well.

Choose your design transfer, iron it onto the fabric, select the required threads, then put your fabric into an embroidery hoop. Position the fabric on the bottom (inner) ring and place the outer ring so it catches the fabric tight. Tighten the screw on the outer ring until the fabric is taut. Your fabric should be a heavy material–preferably linen.

Follow the outline of your design on the fabric with an outline stitch. Poke your needle up through the fabric at the starting point of your design. Hold the thread closer to you with one finger and take a short, slanting stitch back along the line of your design. Your stitches will be made from left to right; bring the needle out on the left at the end of the previous stitch. Take care that your stitches are uniform in size and small. Continue stitching along the design line until you have outlined the entire picture.

If indicated by your embroidery instructions, make a threaded running stitch. To do so, carry the needle in and out of the material along the line of your design using small, even stitches. Make several stitches with your needle before pulling the thread through the fabric. Next, using a thread of a different color, weave the thread in and out of the running stitches previously made.

To make a chain stitch as indicated by your design instructions, bring your thread and needle up on the line of the design on the right side of the material–the side facing you–then hold the thread toward you with your thumb, forming a small loop. Do not pull the thread tight into the fabric; bring your needle out on the design a short distance ahead of your previous stitch and over your stitch/loop. Make a second loop overlapping the first loop. Make sure you put your needle in very close to the point where you brought it up from the wrong side of the fabric.

Bring your thread up from the wrong side of your fabric for the satin stitch, then put it back down inside the design border. Move your needle over and bring it up immediately to the side of the previous stitch and put it back down right next to your previous stitch. You will be covering the fabric with successive long stitches, each becoming longer or shorter as the design dictates, in effect “coloring” your fabric with the thread.

Things You'll Need

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Cotton thread
  • Embroidery needle
  • Scissors
  • Fabric
  • Iron-on transfers


  • Make sure your needle is the right size to accommodate your embroidery thread. Some threads are thicker than others.


  • Do not make a knot on the back of your fabric to secure your thread. It will make an unsightly lump on the design side of your work. Instead, hold the end of the thread with your fingers and catch the end with successive stitches. Clip the excess.