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4 Tips for Creating Neater Hand Embroidery

4 Tips for Creating Neater Hand Embroidery

"How is your embroidery so neat?!"

This is often a question students ask me when looking over class samples. What they're really asking is how is the stitching so precise. There are lots of answers to this question. I usually respond with something along the lines of practice.

Like all crafts, no one is good at hand embroidery when getting started. All handicrafts have a learning curve. It takes a while to figure out the different tools and materials as well as how to embroider the different stitches and what they should look like. This is why practice and patience are so important to keep in mind when learning embroidery. Additionally, there are a few more tips I've found helpful for creating neater embroidery.

4 Tips to Neater Embroidery

Cyanotype Botanicals- Beginner Embroidery DIY Craft Kit

Keep the Fabric Taught

By keeping the fabric taught in the embroidery hoop you can better control your embroidery stitches. Taught fabric allows for even tension of stitches and uniformity.

Back of embroidered hoop and embroidered pennant

Tidy Your Hoop Butt

When I learned to embroidery, my mom would say that the back of the embroidery should look as good as the front. While keeping the back of your embroidery tidy and clear of long thread jumps, tangles, and messes makes it easier to stitch, the back does not need to look the same as the front. It probably never will. But it will get neater with practice.

I find that having a cleaner hoop back/butt makes it easier for me to know where my needle is, have less trouble bringing my needle in and out of the fabric, and helps me keep more uniform stitches.

woman embroidering mushrooms

Know Where to Stitch

Another question, I get asked a lot is, "How do you know where the needle is/ where to stitch?"

I find that if I hold the needle near the tip of my finger and then drag the needle point along the back of the fabric is will press into the fabric and show me where the needle is. This way I can drag the needle along the back of the fabric instead of poking it through a bunch or having to flip the hoop over and use a light source to try to see through the fabric to my design.

Butterfly embroidery with stitches being taken out

Take It Out

Don't be afraid to take things out! Embroidery is just fabric and thread. Yes, those stitches might have taken a while to create, but they can be taken out and redone. Embroidery is a very forgiving craft.

If it's only a few stitches I need to take out, I unthread my needle. Then I slide the eye of the needle underneath the stitches and gently pull them out one at a time. The eye of the needle is duller and will make it easier to not catch stitches or all of the threads when redoing parts of the embroidery.

If it's a large section I'm taking out, I use a short sharp pair of scissors and snip the threads on the back of the embroidery. Then I'll use the eye of the needle to undo the stitches. By cutting the thread on the back, I'm less likely to damage the front of the embroidery.


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