Embroidery is a very meditative hobby. The sewing supplies needed for embroidery such as embroidery thread, needles and special embroidery patterns are fairly cheap (the embroidery hoop can be the most expensive, unless you want to try goldwork) and if you like you can create charmingly naive miniatures with only backstitch or running stitch. But if you want to progress in the craft, learn new stitches or simply find inspiration for embroidery patterns, here are some of the ways to can take learning how to sew to a whole new level.
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Learn Hand Embroidery With These Books For Beginner
The Embroidery technique is a visual craft, so make sure any books you buy have lots of illustrations in the tutorial parts. Make sure the colours in the pictures are contrasting in your embroidery design - I have come across at least one book with good explanations and nice projects, but where the stitches were photographed with blue thread on a blue background. Some good books to get your started are:
- Ganderton, Lucinda, Embroidery Stitches Step by Step, Doris Kindesley, 2015, ISBN 024120139X. This is more of an encyclopedia than Karen Hemingway’s Encylcopedia of Stitches. The stitches are presented with little fanfare but very clearly. It includes a number of interesting stitches and an overview according to stitch type so you can find what you are looking for at glance.
- Hemingway, Karen, The Encyclopedia of Stitches, New Holland Publishers, 2005, ISBN 1845372034. Despite its name, this book gives not only a variety of stitches from many different embroidery techniques (including crewel and shadow embroidery), it also offers little projects for you to practice on.
- Johns, Susie, Embroidery for the Absolute Beginner, Search Press Ltd., 2016, ISBN 1782212655 Along with the essential embroidery supplies and a few tips for starting out that you will find in the previous books, this one goes one step further and tells you how to transfer patterns, finish your embroidery projects and care for them.
If you are interested in learning more about specific embroidery techniques such as the herringbone stitch the Royal School of Needlework has several Essential Stitch Guides (for Goldwork, Stumpwork, Canvas Work, Blackwork, Silk Shading, Whitework and Crewelwork) as well as “A-Z of…” titles.
Discover how you can improve your sewing skills by following embroidery patterns.
Books on learning to embroider often have a few beginner projects to get you started. But once you are finished with those, you might want to try out:
- Cargill, Katrin, Traditional Needle Arts: Cross-Stitch. More than 30 Classic Projects, Mitchell Beazly, 1994, ISBN 1857323327. For those who like the more tradition-style embroidery.
- Pearson, Anna, Traditional Needle Arts: Needlepoint. More than 30 Classic Projects, Mitchell Beazly, 1997, ISBN 185732790X From the same series - traditional-style needlepoint projects such as pillows.
- Ray, Aimée, Doodle Stitching: Fresh and Fun Embroidery for Beginners, Sterling, 2007, ISBN 1600590616. Doodle stitching is a fun, naive stitching style that combines different techniques for cute, often fairly quick projects.
- Ray, Aimée, Doodle Stitching: Embroidery and Beyond, Lark 2013, ISBN 1454703636
- Vogelsinger, Nichole, Boho Embroidery: Modern Projects from Traditional Stitches, Lucky Spool Media, 2017, ISBN 194065520X Fresh, modern-style embroidery projects.
- Smitke, Adrienne, Lunch-Hour Embroidery, 130 Playful Motifs from A-Z, Martingal and Company, 2017, ISBN 160468898X Quick embroidery projects for those who don’t have much time for crafts.
Finally, the Interior design schools website has a great glossary with interior design and architectural terms for those interested in learning more about design.
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Embroidery Tutorials Online
If books are too abstract and you need a closer look into the personality of the person teaching you, but don’t have the time or the inclination to take needlework courses, why not check out some embroidery blogs? See the blanket stitch in action, learn how to embellish your designs or the delicate needlework to create the satin stitch.
- The Spruce is a commercial blog but with an amazing amount of different crafts tutorials. Their embroidery blog is chock-full of fun little projects, different traditional and ethnic stitches, and tips and tricks. Definitely worth a look.
- Needle ‘n Thread is a must-follow blog for embroidery enthusiasts. It covers basic stitches and advanced techniques - including things such as how to start and finish your embroidery - different styles of stitching and some of the blogger’s current projects.
- Nordic Needle has a nice collection of stitches and tutorials.
- Anna Scott Embroidery is by a woman of mad talent. As she stitches her projects, she gives interesting tips such as how to blend shading when using stem stitch or how to turn a corner.
- Pumora has a series of truly basic tutorials to get started on embroidery.
- Sublime Stitching has a series of tutorials for all the basic embroidery stitches.
Or Why Not Take a Sewing Class and Learn to Emboider?
Sewing courses in Britain
Embroidery is often done in the evenings, in the comfort of your own home. But there is no reason embroidery can’t be a social hobby; and what better way to go out and meet like-minded embroidery enthusiasts than to participate in a beginner embroidery course. You also have the added benefit of getting to use more types of equipment such as an embroidery machine and any other types of equipment you may be missing in your embroidery kit.
- The Royal School of Needlework in Surrey offers courses in many embroidery styles and on many different skill levels. They are a reknowned school that has trained many of the UK’s top embroiderers.
- Lady Anne’s Needlework Retreats offer not only embroidery classes, but also embroidery-themed tours throughout Britain. Their seat is in Appleby-in-Westmoreland, Cumbria.
- The London Embroidery School offers classes in monogramming, goldwork, tambour beadwork, Jacobean crewelwork and several other techniques.
- Hand & Lock, hand embroiderers since 1790, offer a series of courses in the UK and US on monogramming, beading, silk shading and goldwork.
- Sarah Homfray tours England with embroidery lessons in a variety of techniques. Check her schedule regularly to see if she offers embroidery classes near you.
- The National Needlework Archive offers a series of workshops and sewing courses at various skill levels. They don’t always offer embroidery, but look in regularly and you might get lucky.
- The Victoria and Albert Museum frequently offers embroidery workshops for various age groups.
Don't forget to look into your local craft stores and haberdasheries to see if they offer embroidery events in your area.
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Make embroidery your profession
In addition to embroidery schools and various textile and needlework centres, you can study embroidery as a university course:
- The University for the Creative Arts offers a three-year course on hand-stitching and embroidery working in tandem with the Royal School of Needlework.
- The London College of Fashion offers a three-year honours course (BA) on Fashion Textiles: Embroidery.
- The Manchester School of Art lets you get a postgraduate degree in Design: Embroidery. An MA will last 1 year full-time (2 part-time), an MFA 2 years full-time (4 part-time).
Discover how you can learn to embroider with these resources...
Sewing courses online for learning embroidery
But as nice as it is to connect with the embroidering community, you might not live near anyplace that offers courses, or all the available classes clash with your scheduling. In that case, you might want to consider online emboirdery courses. Some will be at fixed times, but most operate on a module basis and let you work your modules at your own pace, turn in the work (by skype or e-mail attachment) and move on to the next.
- The Embroiderer’s Guild has different modular online embroidery courses for you to choose from. If you choose to join the Guild, you can get a discount.
- Thread Therapy by Martha Lundt offers some free online courses if you sign up for her newsletter.
- Thistle Threads has courses in historical embroidery stitches.
- Open Learning offers some embroidery courses, including one on ribbon embroidery .
Learn With A Private Embroidery Tutor
But what is often missing in online embroidery courses in the one-on-one with the instructor, the ability to have someone look at your embroidered dress hem, pincushion or clutch bag and immediately recognise where you have gone wrong. So why not try and find a private tutor instead?
If you live near one of the institutes of higher learning that offer sewing courses, try putting up an ad on their corkboard indicating that you are looking for an embroidery teacher. Students are often eager to pass on their knowledge, and since they are still learning themselves, they are very much aware of how to present and demonstrate the various embroidery techniques and stitches.
You can also talk to people in your brick-and-mortar arts and crafts store to see if anyone embroiders and is willing to teach you; look at their flyers to see if someone is advertising embroidery courses near you.
Or why not try a skills exchange? Maybe your Facebook embroidery group or your circle of friends includes someone who would be willing to teach you embroidery if you teach them German - or Pakistani or French or cooking or singing…
Learn all of our tips and tricks for learning embroidery...
And of course here on Superprof you can find a private tutor who will give sewing courses online and off for a variety of sewing techniques, from hand- to machine embroidery. You don’t need to pay to contact a professor, though there will be a small fee if you decide to take him or her. After that, any money you pay goes directly to the teacher you choose. With modern technology, you can choose to look for an embroidery teacher near you or take online classes over Skype.
There are many ways to enter the wonderful world of coloured thread and meditative stitching, so pick a method and join in making beautiful crewelwork, cross-stitch or blackwork embroidery.
Find out what you need to completely outfit your embroidery kit...