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How to start an embroidery project for the best results (the necessary bits before the stitching!) …

So, you have fallen in love with a new pattern and can’t wait to get stitching – taking a bit of time with the prep can make all the difference to how enjoyable it is to stitch as well as the finished result.

First things First – choose your fabric…

Tip… For beginners and those wanting an easier transfer journey consider choosing a light fabric.

Fabric Size…

Depending on the frame or hoop you are going to use to stitch the design in as well as the way you intend to frame it at the end will determine how much extra fabric you need around the design.

Usually 3 inches extra fabric around the whole design is enough – too much and it gets in the way as you stitch, too little and it doesn’t hold tight in the frame or you have to keep moving the frame around the design both of which spoil the embroidery.

In the above photos, I chose a bar frame to stitch the pattern in, firstly making sure the frame fits around the pattern with plenty of space around the pattern edge. I then placed the frame on the fabric and cut the fabric at least 2-3 inches bigger than the frame.

Finish off the edges with pinking shears to prevent as much fraying as possible as you stitch. It is so annoying have frayed edges catching in your stitches and puckering the edges of your project.

Now on to transferring the pattern to the fabric…

How you choose to transfer can depend on a variety of factors. With more detailed designs, I actually prefer to trace them as it gives a much nicer end result and it actually isn’t as difficult or time consuming as you may think.

A good light box is so much easier than a window!

Print out your pattern at 100% and tape this pattern to the light box to prevent slipping.

Light box illuminating the pattern through the fabric for tracing

Place your fabric over the pattern centrally and secure with tape to the back of the light box to help stop it moving. Carefully trace your design using your preferred pen – I love Frixion pens as they write on smoothly, show up well on the fabric and once all the stitching is done are erasable by heat so a quick iron will rid any marks left showing.

Resulting pattern completely traced and ready to stitch.

Finally, make sure it is nice and taut for stitching…

Whether you use a hoop or a frame to stitch in the key is to make it taut! I can’t emphasise this enough. Your stitches look better, the end result looks more professional and most importantly it is so much more enjoyable stitching a pattern when it is properly stretched as it just makes it easier from start to finish.

If you want to find out how to use a stretcher bar frame like the one above, you can read my blog post here

Take that bit of extra time to set the project off on the right track and you will love how much better it makes your piece look in the end.