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Hand Embroidery for Beginners: What You Need To Get Started

red hand embroidery design

Hand embroidery is a beautiful craft that anyone can enjoy. It's been around for centuries and provides people with an opportunity to create beautiful embroidered art pieces. If you're interested in learning how to embroider or want to get started, then this blog post is for you! In it, we'll cover the basics of hand embroidery and some essential things you need to know before getting started.

What You Need for Hand Embroidery

  • Fabric: Choose light-colored quilting cotton or evenweave fabric, such as linen, for your first project. A 1/4 yard will be enough for many projects if purchased by the yard. Even though it's sold with embroidery floss, avoid using Aida cloth; it's best for cross stitch patterns.
  • Embroidery floss: Select a handful of colors of cotton embroidery floss. Cotton embroidery floss is available in several sizes. For your first project, select embroidery floss with six strands and a size of 18 or higher. Floss intended for craft projects should be avoided since it will be challenging to work with.
  • Embroidery hoopEmbroidery hoops come in various designs, but all you need to get started is a basic wooden or plastic hoop. For a range of tasks, a 6-inch hoop will be enough.
  • Needles: There are several varieties of embroidery needles available, much as there are numerous sorts of hoops. Any sharp needle with a large enough eye to thread embroidery floss through will do. A pack of various sizes of pointed needles designed explicitly for stitching is the most convenient option.
  • Water-soluble pen​: Several methods transfer a pattern to your fabric, but tracing is the most basic. A regular pencil will suffice, but use a water-soluble pen to ensure that you don't leave any stray markings. 
  • Scissors: Scissors for various embroidery activities are available, but you may use any scissors you have on hand. Just be sure they will cut the floss cleanly and that the end isn't frayed.

Selecting Hand Embroidery Stitches

When embroidering, the embroidery stitches you choose will determine how your stitched piece turns out. However, it's best to start simple and practice with different stitches before advancing onto more complex ones.

Running stitch: The running or straight stitch is basic embroidery that can be used on almost any surface while producing a simple embroidered line.

Chain stitch: The chain stitch can be used to make a simple outline, or it may take the form of an embroidery floss braid and other embroidery stitches. You'll need two hands for this embroidery technique; one hand will hold your fabric while the other pulls and loops your embroidery floss.

Buttonhole stitch: If you embroider a line of stitches on top of each other, you can create an embroidered area that looks like small boxes or diamonds instead of lines.

Split stitch: The split stitch is used to outline shapes and fill areas with thread embroidery; it's also perfect for embroidering on uneven surfaces.

Lazy daisy stitch: The lazy daisy stitch can embroider flowers and leaves; it's also a basic embroidery that beginners should practice since it's easy to create an even line of stitches using this simple embroidery technique.

French knot: French knots are embroidery stitches most often used for embroidered dots on your piece.

Bullion stitch: The bullion or coil stitch is an embroidery technique similar to the French knot, but it involves wrapping embroidery floss around a needle multiple times before pulling through the fabric.

Straight stitch: This straightforward technique is so basic that you probably already know how to do it without even learning it. As you embroider, you'll make a lot of short straight lines, whether you're embroidering letters or geometric shapes. It's also very easy to create twirls, swirls and curls with the straight stitch.

Backstitch: For any outlining, backstitching is the way to go. Make each stitch the same length, and you'll have something that looks fantastic!

Whatever stitch you choose to embroider first, you'll be on your way to creating beautiful embroidered pieces that are sure to draw compliments.

Finishing Tips for Hand Embroidery

When you're done stitching, your embroidery must be rinsed or soaked to remove stains. This also aids in the removal of creases. When it comes out of the water, use a towel to press away any extra moisture gently. Then iron the embroidery from the back using an iron on a foldable towel.

Start Your Hand Embroidery Journey

You're now ready to get stitching! With a bit of practice, you'll feel more comfortable and confident as you progress from simple designs to more complicated projects. Happy stitching!

The Next Big Thing in Handmade. What is Going on in the Handcrafted Industry?

hand embroidery design of bird on branch

Millions of people all over the world are in the market for handmade items. Many people enjoy buying these products because they can be personalized and show off their personalities. The handcrafted industry is growing exponentially, but there will always be room for growth when considering how many people are taking up hand embroidery as a hobby.

What is the handmade industry?

The handmade industry is a term used to describe the products that are created by hand. This can include things like home decor, clothing and accessories. Many people who enjoy creating their own items will learn new skills to make unique pieces for themselves or others.

These projects often require a lot of patience, making them even more appealing to those who enjoy creating something by hand.

Why is the handmade industry so popular?

The popularity of the handmade industry can be attributed to a few different reasons.

For one, many people like buying personalized items because they show off their individuality and don't come off as mass-produced goods that everyone has in their home. Many people also love the idea of handmade items because they are often unique and one-of-a-kind, which can help to give them a sense of pride in owning something so special.

The handcrafted industry is growing rapidly, but it has not reached its peak yet. The market for hand embroidery is enormous right now as many people take up this hobby. Those who enjoy hand embroidery may find themselves getting more and more creative with their projects in the future which could lead to even more significant growth for this industry as a whole.

According to 2017 research, 49% of Americans are interested in buying personalized items, with 3% of these internet buyers prepared to spend more than $1,000 on "made-to-measure" items. As a result, the handmade business is on the rise.

Benefits of being a handmade company.

Many handmade companies can offer their customers a range of different benefits that other larger, mass-produced businesses may not be able to provide. For one, the products often feel more personal, which can help people to enjoy them even more.

Another benefit is how customizable many items in this category tend to be. Many handmade items allow buyers and business owners to choose the fabrics or colors they want when creating something new to perfectly fit their style and preferences.

This level of customization makes buying from these types of stores much more accessible than shopping at large retail chains where you don't have as many options for customizing your item before purchasing it online or in person.

The future of the handmade industry.

As mentioned previously, the handmade industry is growing at a rapid rate. In addition, many people have taken up hand embroidery as a hobby in recent years, which has helped push this growth even further.

Businesses that sell these items also continue to grow in number and popularity, making it an exciting time for those who love buying or selling unique pieces of handcrafted art online or in person.

The future of this type of business looks bright, with so many talented designers working hard every day to make new products available on the market. It will be interesting to see how much bigger this industry can get over time when considering how popular personalized gifts have become worldwide!

How you can foster growth and development within the handmade industry.

One way to help foster growth and development within the handmade industry is by taking up hand embroidery as a hobby. Many different classes or tutorials can be found online, which will teach you how to start this type of business from scratch with just your own two hands!

Embroidering designs onto clothes, accessories, home decor items, and more is easier than ever before, thanks to all of the resources available on the internet these days. In addition, many people who enjoy creating their own products often use sites like Etsy to sell what they make for money once they have perfected their skills over time.

Fostering growth in this area starts with researching precisely what it takes to get started making unique pieces one at a time. Those interested in hand embroidery should begin by learning the basics of stitching, which may help them get a feel for it before deciding if they would like to move forward and pursue this hobby full-time.

Another way you can help foster growth within the handmade industry is by supporting other artists on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. This can include sharing their posts or tagging them in your own posts to help spread the word about what they are creating online.

There are many ways that one person can help foster growth and development within this industry, which makes it an exciting time for those who love making handmade items of all kinds.

Make a difference today!

Shopping with Honduras Threads can help you make a difference in the handmade industry! Shopping for a gift for yourself or a loved one helps us continue to do what we love. Each time you place an order, you benefit our organization and assist families in Honduras. Shop with us today!

Annual Giveaway from Honduras Threads

Honduras Threads' Christmas Ornament Giveaway



Our artisans designed these whimsical, glittery ornaments to answer a request from Penelope’s Island Emporium on the Honduran island of Roatan. Penny’s store has a giant year-round Christmas tree in the corner because so many tourists want a Christmas ornament as a souvenir of their trip to Roatan. When Honduras Threads customers in Dallas saw photos of the sparkling marine life, they asked us to sell them here too. Each seahorse, angelfish, sea turtle, starfish, shell and macaw is unique, hand sewn and embroidered to delight you!


M'Lou Bancroft Receives Profiles in Leadership Award

On the evening of Wednesday, March 2, 2016, M’Lou Bancroft was honored with the Profiles in Leadership Award of the Southern Methodist University Women’s Symposium. The Profiles in Leadership Awards, initiated in 2000 at the 35th Annual Women’s Symposium, recognize women whose actions and example have served to advance the cause of women in the Dallas area. They are celebrated at the SMU Women’s Symposium as examples and mentors to women at all stages of life, and especially to young women at a time when they have many important decisions ahead of them.


M’Lou was recognized because she has “tenderly and doggedly mentored women who teetered at the edge of psychological defeat, giving them practical skills and the pride that comes with mastery.” Thank you M’Lou for all that you do!

Honduras Threads 2015 Mission Trip: The impact is building …

Small mission teams from Saint Michael and All Angels have been going to Honduras to work with women in rural communities outside the capital city of Tegucigalpa for the past six years. During that time a transformation has occurred. According to author Robert D. Lupton, in his book Toxic Charity, “charity can be either toxic or transformative.” As opposed to “relief” work, Honduras Threads promotes transformation by partnering in a continuing relationship with a group of women in a very poor country who are in chronic need. Through mindful “development” work over the past six years, the women of Honduras Threads have been transformed, afforded the dignity of working and earning money in their own communities to better the lives of their families and to educate their children by using proceeds to buy clothes, shoes and supplies required for school. Brigham Young is quoted as saying, “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman, you educate a generation.” Honduras Threads is impacting an entire generation.

Living in one of the poorest countries in the American continent, the women of Honduras Threads own their own businesses and build rewarding lives for their families, in many cases without electricity, medical resources, or clean water. They glorify God by using their abilities, productivity, and creativity in creating beautiful hand-embroidered products. They have become true artisans as good as any in the world.

Native Honduran Oto Manley, translator for Honduras Threads during the last five years, has been a witness to this transformation: 

I have seen countenances get brighter with light and hope, women that are far more confident than when I first met them, daughters learning from their mothers, expressions of love among the group united in one purpose, happy children, and motivation all around. I have seen women who know who they are, and who “believe they can.” Certainly “all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

Likewise, those of us involved with Honduras Threads are transformed, as described by volunteer Valerie King:

I met these Honduran women years ago and I believe the impact of this embroidery cooperative has been life changing for them and for me. Although they come from different villages, they have forged a friendship and support for each other, which is just as important as the financial assistance they provide for their families. They are my heroes, keeping a positive attitude in the face of extreme poverty and adversity, maintaining a sense of pride in creating such beautiful embroidery pieces, and improving their business skills by learning the computer and cost accounting. I love being a part of this effort to support the women and watch them grow as they discover the best part of themselves.

In late June, a group of nine volunteers experienced a spiritual journey of broadening, deepening, and widening the way we understand and express God's love in Christ. We spent time teaching, learning, working, singing, praying, and having fun together in the small Episcopal Church in Santa Cruz Arriba with over thirty women, eight of their teenage children, and fifteen of their preschool children.

Each of the five rural sewing co-operatives has a small laptop computer to use in their business. This year, computer teaching focused on improving basic computer skills, using Excel to calculate the cost of production for each Honduras Threads project, and to keep accurate inventories of projects completed. In addition, each woman and teenager composed and typed his or her own personal story in order to improve writing skills.

 One of the highlights of the week occurred when the women were able to talk to former mission team leader Bill Bancroft on a Skype video call. The use of computers and the Internet has certainly broadened their world!

Last year the women earned certificates for proper use and maintenance of their sewing machines and refinement of basic sewing skills. This year, the women learned more advanced skills, once again taught by expert seamstress and sewing instructor Susan Oglesbee from Christ Church in Covington, Louisiana. They began work on a special commission to create clergy stoles designed by artist Pamela Nelson for the consecration of the new Uptown sanctuary at Church of the Incarnation.

All had a good time when certificates were awarded and we celebrated together on our final day.

The women appreciate the donated fabric that will be incorporated into colorful embroidered pillows, table runners and placemats sold in the Church Bookstore and online at hondurasthreads.org.

Mission team members appreciate the Prayer Partners who lifted us up each day, and thank God for allowing us to share our faith and friendship with this marvelous community of Honduran women and their families. They have demonstrated enormous capacity that continues to inspire us to build upon it.

Can’t go on a mission trip? There are many ways that you can be involved with Honduras Threads right here at home, where we are working to support the co-ops year round. Volunteers tag new products, sell products at events and shows, fill and ship orders, do photo shoots for our online store and more. We would love to have you! For more information, contact M’Lou Bancroft, mlou@hondurasthreads.org or Melanie McGill, melanie.mcgill@gmail.com.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

     Melanie McGill, Honduras Threads Volunteer











Una Bendición de Dios
(A Blessing from God)

by Melanie McGill

In the spring of 2013, I was a newly widowed, burned out college professor looking for challenge, meaning, and purpose in my life. I had always wanted to go on a mission trip and there are many to choose from at Saint Michael’s. Still teaching at the University and longing for summer break, I read about a mission trip to Honduras coming up that summer. When I attended the first meeting for details, I met M’Lou and Bill Bancroft and was introduced to Honduras Threads, a group of women working in six embroidery co-ops in rural communities near the capital city of Tegucigalpa. I was amazed at the beauty of their brightly colored pillows and table runners, and soon my adventure began! Before I knew it, I was planning a curriculum to teach basic computer skills and cost accounting to the women in the sewing co-ops.

In preparation for the trip, I read three books: Enrique’s Journey (Sonia Nazario, 2006), Toxic Charity (Robert D. Lupton, 2011), and When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself (Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert, 2012). These books were instrumental in framing my perspective for the trip and enhanced my understanding of social, political, and economic conditions in Honduras. The amount I spent on the weeklong mission trip was more than most Hondurans earn in an entire year.

Needless to say, I fell in love with the women of Honduras Threads! Even though I didn’t speak Spanish and we communicated through translators, I was welcomed and greeted with bright eyes and warm smiles, and I soon felt at ease. The women of Honduras Threads display a quiet strength, pride and dignity. Above all, they love God and love their families. Honduras Threads has provided them with a means to earn money to buy school uniforms and books for their children, as well as contribute to daily needs of the family. The children now see their mothers as productive wage earners. One of the best things about our mission is that we are providing a “hand up” rather than a “hand out” to the women; by working and owning their own businesses, they are empowered.

I returned to Honduras in the summer of 2014, and taught two levels of computer skills to the women and their teenage children while others learned about sewing machine maintenance and sewing techniques. The women learned typing in MS Word, using Excel templates to keep records, and how to email documents to us. Now, some of the women are even posting on the Honduras Threads Facebook page. In this photo you can see the excitement and joy they felt after receiving certificates on “graduation” day.