lessons and master classes



Introduction: Tips for Embroidering + What to Embroider Next

In this lesson, Ill give you lots of tips for better embroidery. Ill also troubleshoot some of the most common problems folks have.

Once thats done, Ill give you some ideas for where to go next on your embroidery journey!

Deciding How to Use Your Floss

For the most depth, its good to use various thicknesses of floss!

I tend to use floss thicknesses of 2, 3, and 6 strands most often. Below are some suggestions for how to use those thicknesses.

2 strands:

  • Satin stitch outlining
  • Small text
  • Satin stitch in tiny areas
  • Good for the following stitches: backstitch, running, straight, French knots, satin


3 strands:

  • Satin stitch outlines
  • Small text
  • My preferred number of threads for all satin stitching
  • Outlines on tiny objects
  • Good for the following stitches: satin, backstitch, running, straight, French knots, open fly, petal


6 strands:

  • Large text work
  • Bold outlines for objects
  • Flowers and leaves
  • Fill stitches
  • Good for the following stitches: backstitch, running, straight, stem, split, chain, French knots, closed fly, open fly, petal

Choosing the Right Stitch


  • Backstitch
  • Stem
  • Chain
  • Satin



  • Backstitch
  • Split
  • Stem
  • Chain


Filling in Objects

  • Satin
  • Chain
  • Running
  • Straight
  • French knots



  • Woven wheel
  • Petal
  • Satin
  • French knots



  • Straight
  • Satin
  • Fly (closed)


Stems and Branches

  • Fly (open)
  • Stem
  • Backstitch
  • Split

Tips for Better Embroidery

Be Wary of Accidental Knots

They can strike anytime, anywhere! Floss is notoriously terrible about tying itself into knots as you pull it through the fabric. You should always be mindful of the back of your work while stitching!

The knots the floss ties itself into to are typically slip knots, meaning theyre easy to remove if you catch them in time.

If your floss ends before you think it should as you pull it through the fabric, check the back! Chances are youve just made a little knot.


Knot Often & Dont Let Your Floss Carry Across the Hoop

I know its tempting to skip knotting from time to time and just carry that piece of floss allllllll over the hoop, but beware! A messy hoop back means more pieces of floss to snag your needle on as you pull it through the fabric. It also leads to more places where it will be nearly impossible to push the needle through.


Floss Looking Ratty? Use Shorter Lengths

If you find that your floss is tangling and getting fuzzy as you pull it through the fabric, chances are youre using far too long of a piece! This drove me nuts when I first started embroidering, but I soon found out it was easy to avoid. 🙂

The longer a piece is, the more friction it will endure as it is pulled through the fabric over and over. This is especially important if youre backstitching or using many small stitches.

Stick to lengths of floss in the 12-18 inch range for best results.


Dont Force It

If youre trying to pull or push your needle through and its just not going – STOP!

Fighting with your needle is no fun and it can also damage your embroidery or even ruin it. Ive made actual holes in fabric by forcing a needle through. Ive stabbed myself in the hand and chipped a tooth trying to get a needle through. Its not worth it. (For that matter, dont resort to pulling a needle through with your teeth. The needle has a VERY high chance of winning that fight. :P)

Instead, remove the needle and try a nearby spot in the fabric. There is a good chance that there is a knot or a significant amount of floss stopping you from pushing the needle through where you were before!

You can also flip the embroidery over and try to guide the tip of your needle through the floss and knot minefield if you really need to insert your needle in one spot.


Always Stitch with a Bright Light Nearby

Heres the thing: embroidery is really hard if you cant see everything in detail. You can even give yourself a headache if you sit and squint at it for too long. Even with an overhead lamp or a table lamp, things might be quite dim.

I keep a book light with my embroidery supplies to remedy these situations! You can set it next to your work area or even clip it to your hoop.

This is the book light I use – I love it! It has two brightness settings and a good sized clip. 🙂


Dont Worry About “Perfect” – Experiment and Enjoy It!

Embroidery is sometimes about persistence! Dont give in right away and pull out floss when things look like theyre going wrong – soldier on for a minute and see what happens. If it is a true mess up, youll learn something from it!

Many times if I just keep going, I realize the “imperfection” or “mess up” I was so worried about disappears as I stop focusing on it. It is very easy to get tunnel vision when embroidering. 😛

And dont feel as though you have to do every stitch the same way every single time! Experiment with different stitch lengths and where you enter and exit the stitch. Sometimes youll even find new ways to use a stitch. 😀

What to Embroider Next

Check below this lesson for a huge collection on additional embroidery projects on Instructables, including a few of mine!

I hope you enjoyed this class! Happy stitching, everyone! 😀

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