So you’ve learned all the basic of stitching, taken online sewing classes and hand embroidery lessons and you now know how to embroider - but don’t know where to start?
You want to make some hand made home decor to brighten the place up? Or maybe you want to revamp some of your old clothes but you just need a little help to get you on the right track. This is why embroidery projects can be a good guide to help you get started. Here are some good sources for embroidery projects and patterns.
Do you have all of the supplies you need to embroider with in your sewing kit?
Why Learn With Embroidery Patterns and Projects?
When you’re just learning to embroider, you might want to go for ready-made embroidery kits. They have everything you need to complete a project, usually up to and including an embroidery hoop and needle. The pattern is usually already printed on the fabric, so you don’t have to experiment with transfer methods. It’s also a good way to learn how much thread you need for what sort of project, so that once you venture out on your own, you will buy what you need and not come short (or find yourself with a drawer-full of embroidery thread left over.)
Once you do, you can move on to embroidery charts and patterns and let your imagination roam free in choosing your own colours and projects - whether table runners or bell-pulls, or why not embellish your clothing with some colourful embroidery? Adding Floral applique to your cushions? Jacobean crewelwork would look smashing on jeans and corduroy trousers; tiny cross-stitch creatures marching up the front of a child’s blouse will set them apart from their friends, and blackwork patterns look stunning along the hem of a skirt.
Your projects might be easier if you know how to do basic embroidery stitches...
Buying Cross-Stitch Kits and Charts
Cross-stitch is by far the most common type of embroidery practised in Britain today. When learning to embroider, this is often the first stitch you learn; most children’s beginner embroidery kits are cross-stitch.
Don’t hesitate to browse embroidery magazines for nice patterns, but of course you will be slave to what the editors want to print. But you can pick and choose the colour yarn you want to work with. Fortunately, you can also order embroidery kits and charts online and find just what you want to suit your style and your sewing skills:
- Cross-Stitch UK has a great selection in a variety of styles, from naive to painting, from charts to kits, from a large selection of designers. They even have some tapestry and needlepoint offers.
- Cross-stitch Cottage doesn’t have many project kits, but a mind-boggling selection of charts and design kits (you only have a design, and have to complete the project - cushion or napkin or footstool cover. They also have long stitch and free embroidery patterns.
- MouseLoft has adorable little miniature cross-stitch kits. They also sell miniature embroidery hoops sized to fit their patterns. Perfect for ornaments and gifts.
- Bobo Stitch has contemporary cross-stitch designs and craft patterns, some of which you can download directly.
For those who like the special elegance of French design, SoCreaStitch offers French cross-stitch patterns in a wide range of styles with cheap delivery to the UK.
If you love samplers, needle-books and huswifs (and are willing to wait for overseas shipping), With My Needle has a charming selection of kits and patterns, some based on vintage examples, some simply designed in a vintage style.
General Embroidery Kits at Your Haberdasher's
Next to cross-stitch, the easiest patterns to find are tapestry and needlepoint - most online haberdasheries will stock some kits for making pillows or handbags. If you want to venture into the more eclectic embroidery styles but still want an embroidery kit to try them out, here are some shops where you can find kits and patterns for things other than cross-stitch:
- Marie’s Cross Stitch despite its name, Marie’s Cross Stitch also offers embroidery kits in a variety of embroidery styles including blackwork, satin stitch and even some Jacobean designs. They are mostly panels that you can sew into whatever project you want, whether it be as upholstery for a footstool or a greeting card.
- Past Impressions has a series of embroidery kits in freestyle and crewel embroidery, including cushions and clutch bags.
- Rowandean Embroidery has ribbon embroidery patterns and kits for those who love the feel of silk ribbons and the way ribbon embroidery just jumps out of the frame.
And of course, the RSN also offers embroidery kits for blackwork, metalwork and crewel (and even one whitework kit).
Lorna Bateman Embroidery has lovely surface work kits with three-dimensional stitches.
Threads and Patches stocks hardanger embroidery kits for cushions and biscornu pincushions; as well as blackwork kits and patterns. If you are up to doing whitework with nothing but charts, try out Col's Creations for hardanger projects.
Berlin Embroidery designs is one of only a few places you can find shadow embroidery kits. They also have Jacobean crewel, mountmellick, whitework, needle painting… A go-to site for the less usual embroidery styles. With this site, your bags and totes will never look the same again.
Shisha embroidery kits can be found at Kathleen Laurel Sage for that special Indian flair.
Japan Crafts has Shashiko embroidery patterns to spruce up your patching. You will soon be buying pre-torn trousers just to patch them up with these decorative Japanese darning stitches.
Crewelwork delivers what its name suggests: crewelwork kits for various levels, to make cushions and throw pillows and totes, screens and bedspreads.
And yes, there are goldwork patterns and kits out there: Carolyn Gayton has a range for various skill levels, with raised work and gilded leather, too.
Discover our tips for learning how to embroider...
Find Free Embroidery Patterns Online
Of course, you may not want to spend money on an embroidery kit. Either you feel confident enough in your sewing skills and creativity that you want to transfer a motif yourself and just go for it, combining designs with your own colour scheme, or you simply do not have the money. That’s all right! The Web is chock-full of resources ready to download, either as jpgs or pdfs. Some offer only the design, others a tutorial on a specific project with all the graphics available for free. This is only the tip of the iceberg in free embroidery patterns.
Free Cross-Stitch Patterns Online
When looking for free cross-stitch patterns, remember that DCM, the embroidery thread manufacturer, regularly offers free patterns on their website.
Don’t forget to check with your favourite online haberdasher’s either, as many of them offer free goodies on a regular basis. With embroidery these are usually cross-stitch charts, often seasonal. So if you are looking for a nice motif to sew your Christmas stocking or Easter tablecloth, don’t forget to check out The Village Haberdashery, Sewandso and their competitors.
- Cross-Stitching.com has a huge selection of cross-stitch charts for every imaginable occasion.
- Subversive Cross-Stitch has sampler charts with rather unusual texts. No “Home Sweet Home” here; instead, decorate your home with sayings such as “Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves” and “Hell is Other People.”
- If you’re willing to brave Google-translate, the French site Les Chroniques de Frimousse has a variety of absolutely adorable cross-stitch charts for little gnomes, animals and other single images to combine into your own inimitable designs. If you want to brave her blog, she also has tutorials on making biscornus, little pouches and bags and cross-stitch ornaments.
Learn all of our best tips for the beginner embroiderer...
Other Free Embroidery Patterns
The Web is kinder than the shops for unusual embroidery styles. Bloggers and embroidery enthusiasts are eager to share designs and patterns they have come across or let you sew along with their current project, whether it be redwork, stumpwork or smocking. Here is a short list of some interesting websites offering free patterns and projects:
- The Spruce offers a wide selection of downloadable patterns for free embroidery and for certain specific styles such as Shashiko and Hungarian redwork.
- Needlework Tips and Techniques has a section with free patterns for stumpwork, blackwork, hardanger and needlepoint.
- Vintage Transfer Finds has a large collection of vintage transfer designs for free embroidery, organised by motif (dogs, mexicana…)
- Needle ‘n Thread, that inimitable embroidery blog, also has a series of downloadable patterns for different kinds of embroidery - blackwork, cross-stitch, Jacobean and Hungarian redwork, among others - and monograms for handkerchiefs, bedspreads, and napkins.
- Needlecrafter has a nice pattern library, mostly fairly traditional, but with some modern patterns as well.
And then there is Embroidery Pattern Central, the Holy Grail of free patterns. It collects links to free embroidery patterns at various blogs and categorises them for you. There are a lot of mediocre patterns among them, but a lot of true gems as well to beautify your dress hems, trouser legs and shirt collars.
If you like antique patterns, the Antique Pattern Library has pdf scans of old pattern books - mostly embroidery, but if you like crochet you will also find some old crochet patterns, as well as paper dolls to dress up little paper ladies in skirts and stockings.
Do you want actual Elizabethan blackwork patterns? Look to Sidney Eileen, all patterns transcribed from period paintings and surviving smocks, coifs and other apparel.
Wild Olive not only has embroidery patterns free to download, but also various projects with their sewing patterns. If you like short, crafty projects that are fairly quick to sew and embroider, her blog and archive are perfect for you.
Hopefully you will have found just the right project or design for your beginner sewing project or first embroidery sampler. Still unsure of how to get started? Why not try a private tutor from Superprof to help you out when your stitches get tangled?
Discover also the history of embroidery... here or ask an expert. If searching for sewing classes come directly to Superprof and find your sewing classes Edinburgh, to sewing classes Glasgow, to sewing classes London.
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