Getting Started With Embroidery : What Do I Need?

While I am no expert at embroidery I have been wondering if there was anything I missed or should know. I still class myself as a beginner as plenty of the time I don’t know what needle I should be using or if the fabric I am using is okay. So I have sat and read through website after website and so have decided to come up with my own getting started with embroidery post. Here is a small list of tools I feel any beginner should have in there hand embroidery starter kit.

Embroidery Equipment

While the main alluring factor for embroidery is the beauty another is the lack of tools you need to get started. Some of these things you may already have stashed away or can get quite cheaply from your local store. I for one had a number of these so didn’t take me long to complete my hand embroidery starter kit.

If you struggle with anything and want to find cheaper deals check out my Amazon links dotted around the page. These are affiliate links and if you were to purchase anything through that link I get a small commision at no extra cost to yourself.


Majority of fabrics and materials are suitable for embroidery. If you can get a needle through it, you can embroider it. Most will find it easiest to embroider onto cotton, linens and the specialist Aida cloth. Though there isn’t anything stopping you from using felt, wool, paper, leather, velvet and satin. Many people also use already decorated fabrics that have been printed on or painted.

While you may have some stashed away I would start with a plain fabric and if you don’t have any I would add some to your hand embroidery starter kit. It is worth starting with something as simple as you can so you can really get the hang of it before diving in.


This is where I am still learning, a lot of the time if I want to try something I will rush ahead and not prepare. This is what I have done most of the time with embroidery so I have stopped for the time being to learn more about the tools, especially needles. This other than your hoop will be your main tool, without a good needle or the right needle you will be running the risk of catching the fabric and ruining the project altogether. This is a must find for your hand embroidery starter kit.

The eye of the needle needs to be able to hold the width of the thread you are using, if it doesn’t it is too small. You should also think about the hole in which it makes in your fabric, you need to pick a needle that makes a hole larger enough for the shaft and thread to go through.

There are three different types of embroidery needle tapestry, chenille, and crewel. Each needle is made to have a long oval eye to enable to accommodate thick or multiple strands of floss, perle cotton, or yarn. The difference between the needles is that the tapestry needle has a blunt end. Whereas the crewel needles have a sharp end and the chenille needles have a sharp end with a long shank. Chenille needles tend to work better for ribbon embroidery work. The needles are then in sizes so the larger the number, the smaller or finer the needle.

A great way to getting started is buying a pack of needles that come with an array of different sizes inside. To know where to start, simply think of the fabric you are using. If you are using a tightly woven fabric either the chenille or the crewel needle would be better as the sharp end would pierce the fabric better. Whereas the tapestry needle with the blunt end works better for fabrics such as Aida and open weave fabrics.

To know that you are using the right size, simply poke the needle through the fabric a few times. If the needle catches on the fabric or is difficult to pull through the needle is too big. If you are working on a tight area or small stitches you will find a shorter needle will be better for the job.


There is a vast way of creating beautiful pieces of embroidery but for the purpose of both me and you being beginners, we will stick to the simplest ones.

Embroidery Floss

Which I often call thread so that is my bad, embroidery floss if possibly the most common to use. Embroidery floss is made up of 6 thinner strands twisted together to create one. It is readily available and cheap to buy, it is also available in a hundred different of colours. Each manufacturer will each have their own unique number or code for each colour they produce. Just always made sure that you remember the colour code you have been using in case you run out.

To use the floss you separate the strands off also known as plies of floss. To create small details and intricate stitched use 1-2 strands. If you are wanting to create big bold stitches and lines use the full 6 strands. Most common embroiders use 3-4 strands to have a good medium. If you are feeling bold and want to create a shaded look you can mix strands from 2 to 3 different colours to create this effect.

You can also find more speciality flosses such as metallic, fluorescent and glossy. These are great to add more depth, glitz and definition to your design, though they are often harder to work with. I love using embroidery floss as you can create so much with with and find such vibrant colours. I would definitely say to add it into your hand embroidery starter kit and try it out.

Perle Cotton

Though I have never used Perle cotton, it is something I am looking into after doing more research. Unlike embroidery floss, the Perle cotton cannot be divided into smaller strands. You can buy it in different weights to suit your project. They come in 4 different weights of 3, 5, 8 and 12, with 3 being the thickest and 12 being the finest. Size 5 is the most common used for embroiders when using Perle Cotton.

Perle cotton comes in a variety of colours like the embroidery floss but many shops and stockists tend to keep a small variety of colours in. If you are wanting to get used to all the materials, I would try this out so you can find out what you prefer using. I have never used perle cotton so I haven’t included a link to where you can buy it from but most craft stores, online and hobbycraft supply it.


Wool is the most popular to use in embroidery as it is very sturdy. While I haven’t used yarn for this particular project I would still recommend to add this to your hand embroidery starter kit so you can test out using it to decide whether it is for you or not.


Ribbon is something I have tried to embroider with before and we didn’t quite get along. Though it makes beautiful flowers and a lovely 3D texture, I feel it is harder to work with. Narrow satin ribbons are preferred as they are easier to work with and give a better finish. Though I wouldn’t


When it comes to embroidery a delicate fine tip pair of scissors are the best to use. The fine tip of the scissors allows you to get in close to what you want to cut without running the risk of cutting the wrong thing. You can protect your scissors by only using them for embroidery as well as storing them in a case.

These are the exact pair I have, well I actually have two as I always seem to loose one pair. They are great not too small so your fingers get stuck or cramp in your hand and of course they are beautiful to look at. I wouldn’t start any project without adding a pair of fine tip scissors to your hand embroidery starter kit as they are essential to me.


The hoop will keep your fabric taut to enable you to embroider onto the fabric and keep the stitches even. Hoops come in both wood and plastic and come in two parts, an inner part and outer ring. The inner ring is a continuous loop and the outer is connected with a screw at the top. This will tighten and loosen to enable you to keep your fabric taut.

If you are using a wooden hoop be aware that the edges could be a little rough and may damage your fabric.  Of course you can’t get very fair without an embroidery hoop (it’s in the name) so this is a definite to add to your hand embroidery starter kit.

Tracing Paper

I will admit, the small amount of embroidery I have done I haven’t used tracing paper. This is mostly used if you want to keep the original intact, transfer the original to the tracing paper. Use a pencil or marking pen to transfer onto the tracing paper. If you are using fabric that is quite light or thin you can trace straight onto the fabric.

You can find tracing paper at your local craft store, hobbycraft or online.

Marking Pens

There are many types of marking pens on the market but the most popular and common to use are the water-soluble and air-soluble pens. A soft #2 pencil will do just as good without the fear of staining from the pen on your mind. The benefit of a pencil is that you can rub out with a rubber or is can be washed out.

Check out my post of different marking tools and see if there is anything in there that would suit you better. You can also use a fine liner aslong as your stitches cover the pen line, the only downside to this is if the pen smudges, spreads or not suitable if you are using a light thread over the top.

Thank you for reading this post and hope that this has helped you get started. If you are a keen embroiderer and have any other essential tools you think I need to try out or add to the list, let me know in the comments below. Also let me know who is your main inspiration for your embroidery designs and techniques.

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