Tips and Techniques

These tips are from our membership and from other embroidery friends. They all seem to be great tips but use them at your own risk.


** When ever doing anything that requires you to follow a graph use a Post-It note to underscore the line that you are embroidering.You avoid loosing your way.  Pam.

** Use a shower cap (or thin plastic dish cover) to cover your embroidery hoop to protect your work whilst storing.

**If you will be working on a hooped piece for a long time consider using a piece of fabric with a hole on the middle to cover the hoop and work through it, the outside fabric will keep grubby sleeves etc away from edges and also stop your arms rubbing the worked parts.


** Natural fibre threads often have a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ direction to them, if you run the thread through your fingers tips first one way and them the other, one direction will feel ‘rougher’ than the other.  Use the thread in a way that sends the thread through the fabric smoothly. You do not want to damage the thread by continuously sending it through the fabric the wrong way and damaging it. Besides by coarsening the thread you loose some of the sheen (shine) of the fibres.

**  A skein of embroidery thread often comes in multiple strands. Different techniques call for different number of strands to be used, for example a pattern in cross stitch may say use 2 strands of thread. To get the best sheen and finish to your work ,cut off the 2 strands from the skein of 6 threads, and pull them apart, then making sure they both go in the same direction lay them side by side together again. Thread them through the needle and stitch away. This means that they will lie flat on your fabric looking their best, any twists having been removed. This is good to do whatever type of stitchery you are doing.

**  Use shorter rather than longer lengths of thread, they are easier to control but also if you have a very long piece of thread that has to go in and out of the fabric multiple times it can get damaged and once again you loose sheen.

**  Some hand dyed threads, (and in the past even shades of factory produced threads) can bleed colour when washed. If you think you will need to wash your embroidery after its finished, you may be wise to wash small samples of the threads before you begin

Finishing and Framing

** Tips from Alison Snepp via Ngaire:

1)      If you are making a fancy or complex embroidery on the outside(eg say on a book cover)use a plain or matching fabric on the inside so that the inside doesn’t detract from the embroidery on the outside.

2)      If your work is being framed don’t pull a colour from your work for the matt, go neutral.

3)      But if you do want to pull a colour out use a thin second matt keeping the main matt neutral.

Fabrics and their uses

Lugana Formally known as Brittney, Lugana (52% Cotton,48% Rayon) is suitable for all counted embroidery techniques.Counted over two threads Lugana can be used in place of Aida cloth and has an even surface.

Cashel Linen (28 count)
A high quality fabric made up of 100% linen in the very popular 28 count. Cashel is suitable for all counted embroidery techniques including Hardanger. The rich color range offers the stitcher a wide variety of colors which are sure to compliment any design.

Belfast Linen (32 count)
A 100% pure linen evenweave fabric. It has similar qualities as Dublin but its finer weave makes it more suitable for delicate designs

Aida (14 count)
A 100% cotton evenweave fabric perfect for medium to fine cross stitch. An excellent fabric for the transition between 11ct Aida & 22ct Hardanger. Easy to count, yet it allows good detail.

Permin linen 28ct
Permin evenweave linen. A 100% linen, woven from the finest quality flax. It is an excellent fabric for cross stitching, hem stitching, drawn work and all types of counted thread work.

Lugana is usually stitched over 2 threads. So 28 count Lugana, for example, stitches up like a 14 count. Your pattern may say ‘over two’ (that is, stitch over 2 threads); or ’2 by 2′, or ’2 over 2′ (that is, stitch 2 strands of floss over 2 fabric threads).


One excellent website I have found that gives clear photographic instructions for most stitch families is by Sarah


There are also good clips demonstrating beginners pieces in various embroidery forms.


Blackwork has been worked since the time of Chaucer but became very fashionable in the English Elizabethan period. It was often stitched on clothing as when done in the traditional way the pattern was perfect on both sides so suitable for collars and cuffs.

It is worked in double running stitch (Holbein stitch) or backstitch, traditionally in black thread but any colour can be used.

If you want to learn more about this technique try looking at these sites: