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embroidery basics

Want to learn the basics of embroidery? Check out these posts!

Transferring a Pattern
Choosing Colors
Strands, Sewing, Stabbing and Starting
Running and Back Stitches
Stem and Split Stitches
Chain and Detached Chain
Making Faces (French Knots and More Detached Chain)
Fill Stitches Part 1
Fill Stitches Part 2

All of the lessons on the blog are for right-handed stitchers, because that's what I know! But, if you're left-handed, I've created a set of PDFs that have the images flipped. It's not ideal, but it should help get you started!

Running and Back Stitches for Lefties
Stem and Split Stitches for Lefties
Chain and Detached Chain for Lefties
Making Faces (French Knots and More Detached Chain) for Lefties
Fill Stitches Part 1 for Lefties
Fill Stitches Part 2 for Lefties

All of these lessons were translated into Italian by Vale! Find her translations on her blog. Thanks, Vale!

And if you're interested in keeping the back of your embroidery as tidy as the front, these posts should prove helpful!

Begin and End Well
Watch Your Back
Choose Your Stitches Wisely


  1. i am SO checking these out -- currently on vacation in NY for 3 weeks and will be coming back to this page to figure out your embroidery basics!!

  2. Thank you for the basic embroidery posts. And I really love the hymn. I appreciate your selection of embroidery phrases.

  3. Anonymous6:43 AM

    Thank you for this series! I used to embroider as a little girl and this has helped me relearn some of the stitches I have forgotten (French knots, detached chains,etc). Thank you :)

  4. I stalk your blog often even though I haven't tried much yet. All your photographs are so beautiful and make me want to dive in!! Your designs are precious, too. I'm hoping to hop aboard this embroidery train soon-I want to make embroidered table numbers for my wedding! Thanks for sharing - I just wanted to say hi!!

  5. Thank you ever so much for these lessons. Even though I know most of them, it doesn't hurt to have proper instructions in front of you. The best part was the fill in ones, and the stem stitch which I have sort of avoided as I can't always get it to even look like stem stitch. The string of chain stitches was really good, as I usually only do detached chain or daisy stitch. Could you include some instructions for stitching on felt?

  6. Lilly5:57 PM

    Hi, Mollie. Do you have a post that talks about how to store/organize all of your embroidery materials? I'm just starting out - how do you keep track of all your different colors of floss? Do you only split the strands when you're ready to use the floss or do you go ahead and split the entire package? How do you keep track of all of your needles? I'd love a bit of advice, if you already have a post written up about it. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lilly! I'm really not very organized. At all. And if I were to try and write a post, I fear it would be depressing. Or comical? I'll think about that.

      But...my floss stays in skeins until I use it, or until I manage to tangle it really good. Recently I started placing the split strands onto some printable cards: http://wildolive.blogspot.com/2013/05/printable-floss-bobbin-thread-organizer.html If you visit that post, you'll also find a link to some bobbins I've made, which I use when I have large amounts of floss not in skeins.

      As for needles, I try to have only a couple going at a time, and they're usually stuck through fabric that I'm working with. To help combat lost needles (it happens all the time!), I try to leave thread in the eye so I can see them better. The rest stay in the package!

  7. Hi Mollie, these are really lovely tutorials for stitching, my daughter is 11 and really wants to stitch but it's difficult as she's a leftie and I'm a rightie and it all gets a bit confused muddled and frustrating for both of us, we will work through the stitches using your guide, as it's visual I think it will help a lot.
    Thank you for taking the time out to share these instructions...it's hard showing someone something you just do (well I think it is any way)
    Emma x

  8. Do you use any kind of stabilizer or interfacing when you embroider? Thank you for putting together this post about the basics. It is super helpful!

    1. I don't usually use any stabilizer because the fabrics I choose usually have enough stability on their own. If you're working on something like a t-shirt, I would suggest adding a thin interfacing, or even a tear-away stabilizer.

  9. Thanks so much for posting these basic lesson and for making them into pdfs. SO helpful!

  10. Okay Mollie, I'm taking the plunge! I'm so excited to be starting embroidery...you make it look a lot easier than I thought it was...hopefully I'll find it as easy as you've made it seem anyway! LOL! I can't wait to get started and show you something I've made...you're so generous and helpful!

  11. Hi Mollie! Thank you very much for your fantastic blog! I love it! I linked your blog to mine http://visualdistractions.blogspot.co.uk/. I am sharing my first embroidery project and followed your tutorials and I think they are a very helpful tool for anyone who wants to learn. Hope that is ok. Kind regards!

  12. That’s such a great blog! as an embroidery artist I will definitely check this out!
    Thank you, Elia

  13. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Hi Mollie! Can you recommend the best stitch for embroidering words?

    1. I think it would depend on the size and the style of the lettering. For larger lettering, chain stitch can look great (think the cool curly stitching on the back of a pair of Mickey Mouse ears!). When the text is smaller, I find backstitch to be my favorite, though stem stitch is also a good contender. These work well large too!

  14. Your work is beautiful and so inspiring. I am in the process of making a ball gown for Mardi Gras and will post on my blog shirleymckellar.blogspot.com sometime between now and February 2014. I am doing other sewing projects for clients so I will continue to work it in between those jobls

  15. Hi Mollie! Where can I look at the interesting embroidery designe?

    1. Are you looking for interesting patterns in general, or are there specific things you'd like to see?

  16. That's hilarious that you flipped the pictures for left-handers. Most of the sewing world is done in right hand style. I'm glad you made those available to those of us who are lefties. Embroidery is no easy task, especially if you don't have directions for your dominant hand.

    Gerald Vonberger | http://www.candeprint.com/#!services/c1pna

  17. Thank you for sharing this as this is very wonderful design of peacock with embroidery and even i m crazy about embroidery designs


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