Hand Embroidery FAQ

embroidery faq

There are 15 questions gathered in this FAQ, will you find yours? If not, write it in the comments! :)

Is hand embroidery difficult?

It will be difficult in the beginning as any fresh start (if you have experience in drawing you might find it a bit easier though) with new tools and a lot of new information. But as you learn it you will understand that it's not complicated at all! It is also a very versatile and forgiving craft: even with little practice your stitches might look very charming and cute. 

How long does it take to learn embroidery?

Frankly speaking, I doubt there is a limit to learning embroidery. You will probably find yourself in a continuous learning process even after several years, since there are so many stitches and techniques to try. 

Stitching one project will be pretty much enough to give you the general idea of how embroidery works. And then, with the time you spend practicing, your skills and love for embroidery will gradually grow :)

There's honestly no way to say if it takes you one week or few months to learn the ropes, until you try it yourself.

How do I start embroidery?

If you want a ready solution, you can purchase an embroidery kit, there are many on Etsy! They usually provide all the necessary materials, tools, design outline and instructions. I think it is perfect for a start.

However, you can also start on your own at home. Get yourself fabric, thread, needle, find any simple design or just practice stitches. You can find more step by step tips in the post How to learn embroidery at home.

How to choose embroidery fabric?

Stitching can be done virtually on any fabric, the only exceptions are very loosely weaved and stretchy ones. The most common choices are cotton, linen, calico and muslin which are evenweaves. To learn more about embroidery fabrics go to this post: What you should know about embroidery fabrics

How to choose needles for my project?

There is a certain classifiction of needles based on their shapes, and you will be able to define the one you need as long as you know how thick your thread is going to be and which fabric you are going to use. 

It sounds confusing, I know, I'm still getting confused too! :D With time, when my stitching style got consistent, I figured out which needles work the best for me and I just stick to them. 

Read my four tips on choosing embroidery needles if all the different types make your head dizzy :)

How to transfer embroidery pattern to fabric?

There are actually many ways! 

The window method doesn't require any extra tools/materials: print the pattern, tape it to the window, tape the fabric piece on top of it, and when the sun lights it up from behind you'll be able to trace the pattern easily. 

You can also use watersoluble interfacing material: draw the pattern on interfacing, baste it to the fabirc, stitch the project, soak it in the water so that interfacing dissolves. 

There are also special types of carbon paper for tracing patterns on fabric, iron on transfers and pens. 

I've been stitching for a while but my results are still different from others’, what should I do?

It’s only a matter of practice! The stitchers you look up to already have a baggage of years of practice behind their back: you see their current results but not how they started. Don’t compare yourself to others, rather enjoy your journey and do what you like :) 

When I stitch my fabric is puckering, what should I do?

You need to keep your fabric drum taught at all times. When it loosens a little bit, tighten it up again. However, don’t overstretch either! It is another issue that results in puckering that less people talk about :D There should be a nice balance. 

If you finished embroidery, took the work out of the hoop and only now see the puckering, don’t be sad! Here are some tips on how to fix that.

Can I wash my embroidery work?

Yes, you can, and some will even say you should. Because embroidery takes a while, as you stitch dust and other little particles can settle on it. It is not noticeable with naked eye, but after washing you might notice your needlework to look a little fresher :)

Read instructions on how to wash hand embroidery and how to iron hand embroidery

My thread is tangling on itself all the time!

Here are some tips on thread tangling for you :)

How do I choose colors for my embroidery?

I suppose it is also a matter of training - training our eyes and taste. There is a lot information about color theory, there are ready palettes, and you can also just take out some skeins out of your stash, put them together and see how they work. However, the way these colors will look on fabric might be different, so personally, I prefer working quick drafts before starting a project. 

Where to get ideas for my next embroidery project?

Inspiration is a tricky thing. It usually strikes when you don’t really expect it, and if you’re trying very hard to catch it, it might avoid you. It’s like a butterfly that will fly away it if it sees you with a sack, but will sit on your nose if you stand still and observe. Here are some tips on where to find inspiration (just my personal experience) and how todeal with creative blocks.

How do people stitch so realistically?

Realistic embroidery is called thread painting or needlepaining. It requires a lot of practice too, but it’s not as hard as you think! There are many needlepainting tips on my blog, you can try and work some past Stitch Alongs for more practice or join the Needlepainting for beginners course.

How many stitches do I need to know to be a good stitcher?

As many as you enjoy :)

I believe there are around 10 essential stitches that will allow you to embroidery virtually any project. However, the set might vary to your liking a lot. You can take away some of these stitches and add others that you like. Use Stitch Library to see more of them.

Can I make money with embroidery?

I believe you can, but it will take time to see what works best for you.

For example, personally, I can’t sell my own works - I am a slow stitcher and I like working with 1 strand of thread which takes longer time. Besides, I find it very hard to part with my works :D So I chose the educating side: selling patterns and courses.

Embroidery kits are very popular nowadays, from what I noticed. You can also write your own magazines, stitch books, embroidery guides. You can make stitched accessories like brooches, patches or scarves. Maybe you can collaborate with some local atelier and offer to embroider on clothes. Magazines also pay to feature your posts and works on their pages. There are plenty of opportunities for income.

But before getting into the “business” side, I would recommend you to wait, practice and understand what you actually ENJOY doing first.

Like at these job orientation events, ask yourself some questions: what are your stronger sides, weaker sides, your focus, your interest, etc. But to answer all these questions, you have to be self aware and that won’t happen until you have enough practice.

Lastly, please don’t overthink the followers count and likes on Instagram or any other social media platform. There is literally no connection between how many likes you get and how many works you sell. Better learn the marketing ropes and just enjoy your embroidery :)


I will leave some extra links here in case I missed something:

10 tips for ahnd embroidery beginners

Top 10 beginner mistakes in handembroidery

Write your questions in the comments let's answer as many as possible :)


  1. Gracias por los consejos 😭❤️❤️ creo que lo necesitaba mucho❤️ soy gran admiradora de tu blog y de tu trabajo ❤️🌻

  2. Beauty of writing.. Wonderful job Amina; this guide is really very useful for starters. Thank you very much.


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