@ridewithblurryface asked for a little tutorial, so I’m going to give this a shot and make one (with a bit of silliness) —
The most expensive any hobby will ever be is at the start, and the great thing about embroidery and other needlecraft arts is that they are a pretty cheap hobby.
Here are the tools I use on a regular basis:
embroidery floss: your paint, usually less than 50¢ each
aida cloth: this is what I use, but any fabric, within limits, will do
bamboo hoop: this one is 5″ diameter, but you can get them from 3″ to 10″, plastic hoops work too
compass: like all the perfect circles I make for my sunsets? that’s thanks to this guy right here. make sure the large joint (connecting the opposite end of the pointy bits) is relatively tight, so the compass won’t slip larger as you’re drawing
the threader things: ??the things you use to pull the thread through the eye of the needle. threaders. (gah, fine i’ll google it …. post-google: wow they are really called needle threaders.)
lol i don’t know any of the names and google did not help but this thing is so useful for when i just mess up a lil bit. *linda belcher voice* lil bit. EDIT: @missjoat let me know that this is called a stitch ripper! what a name.
embroidery needles: no really, that is their name. next to the tapestry and quilting needles.
pencil: for sketching your image, preferably mechanical so that you don’t have to sharpen it
white eraser: for when you royally mess up sketching your image, and you need it to be white if you’ll be using white fabric all the time
scissors: ONLY FOR THREAD, don’t use them for anything else unless you want rough floss ends (nobody wants rough floss ends)
All that? 20-30 bucks, and the only things you’ll need to restock regularly are the hoops ($1-2 each), the floss (39¢ each at my local craft shop), and the cloth ($3.50 per roll, ~3-5 projects). And needle threaders, ugh. I think I go through about a pack of 3 per month, but they only cost $2 for a pack. Don’t get a fancy one because you WILL be replacing it.
If you have a local craft shop, just go to the needlework section and you will find all* of this stuff, probably next to all the yarn.
*except maybe the compass; for that, go to the drawing section
So about your embroidery floss, your paint. You know how paint is stored in those handy, sealable tubes? Ok, imagine if when you bought your paint, it was in a plastic sandwich baggie. Pretty inconvenient, right? Yeah, that’s how embroidery floss is packaged. Two little pieces of paper, wrapped in a tube around the gently bundled floss. Totally impractical for storage. That same section where you bought your tools will have storage options. I use these guys:
(guest starring my very fluffy cat, Basil Mae)
When I started, I didn’t label the color ID numbers on the holder, and man do I regret it. I have good eyes for color, so if I just take the color I need with me to the store, I can find it again, but WOW it would have been so much easier to have just labeled their number right from the get-go.
I have never regretted owning so many colors of embroidery floss. Never. If I could, I would buy three of each color available.
Don’t start with something difficult. Please don’t. Your first few projects will be for you to just figure out the craft - and that is good! But if you try to challenge yourself too much with that first one, you might end up frustrated and unwilling to try again.
This is my very first embroidery project:
(Don’t get me wrong, I love it! But it is simple and basic.)
Also, don’t be afraid to trace. In fact, I encourage it. Unless you can find a nice pattern to use, you’ll be making your own patterns (like I do!). I have to remind myself all the time that my skills aren’t in drawing, they are in stitching. It’s okay to use ‘unsavory’ methods to help my end product look as good as it does. (I say this because I really struggled with tracing for a long time. I thought it made me a bad artist and crafter. But the exactness of my projects are what make me especially happy, so I just said screw the haters and start off with tracing now.)
It is unlikely you’ll be able to trace the whole thing anyway. I use the bamboo hoop and pencil to size the edges of the total area, then gently tape the cloth to my computer. I get the image in place behind the cloth, turn up the brightness as high as it goes, and outline the parts that are definite. Because the fabric will shift a little bit, try not to copy everything; the positions of details will be close to impossible to mark during the trace stage, especially if you’re using thick cloth. Here’s a current project I’m working on (oh god it’s such a beast), and how it looked after the initial trace:
As you can see, I have major shapes outlined, but very little detail. After I’ve traced enough, I put the cloth back on the hoop, and fill in the details to the best of my ability. Here’s what it looks like when I’ve finished penciling:
Honestly? This still isn’t good enough with details - lines aren’t as straight as they need to be, some little parts are out of place or sized wrong, but at some point, you have to stop with your pencil. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a greyish fabric from all the erasing, and it will be difficult to see what you need to stitch versus the errors.
(This project isn’t finished yet - I’ve only just started stitching, but you’ll see the end result soon enough.)
Take your time stitching. It’s the best part. It’s the reason embroidery makes me so happy, because the action of stitching is so repetitive and simple, but over time you have this amazing work of patience and detail. It’s nice to be able to stitch while you listen to some tunes or TV. I have watched so many seasons of procedural crime dramas while I stitch. It’s what I do with my evenings and I love it. I struggle to just watch TV these days - I always want to be stitching!!
If you mess up, that’s okay! Either gently pull the thread back out, or get out one of your “i fucked up” tools. Sometimes, you are going to really fuck up, and you’ll need to start over. This Steve face was actually the 2.0 version. THAT was upsetting and I was pretty grumpy for a solid hour, but I’m so happy I restarted. It looks so much better, and I learned from my mistakes in the 1.0 version.
Alright, I am sure I didn’t cover everything, so as always, you can feel free to send me an ask and I am so happy to help. If you make anything, please feel free to tag me or send me a message about it.