I love to stitch, and I’ve found that I enjoy the experience much more when I have my favorite tools close at hand. I love that embroidery doesn’t require a lot of complicated equipment so I can do it almost anywhere. And anything that makes our stitching better, easier and faster has to be a good thing, right?
Here are some of my candidates for the best tools for hand embroidery (along with some great alternatives to suit your preferences) that I like to keep within reach. Most of them fit into a go-bag for portable projects.
Tip: Use a hoop or stand for your embroidery project. This will keep the fabric taut so your stitches will be more even.
For quilting, embroidery or other needlework on the go, you’ll love the Edmunds Adjustable Embroidery Lap Or Table Stand. When moving from one area of your work to another, you don’t have to rehoop – just scroll! The 9 by 18 inch frame folds flat, so it’s perfect to slip into your carryon or suitcase or to bring along in the car.
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Our embroidery pieces are more often rectangular than round, so why not use a hoop that works with us? This Edmunds 8-inch Wood Embroidery Hoop has more stitching area so I have to re-hoop less often. More time for actual stitching! And it much sturdier than the typical craft store hoops.
This hoop looks odd, but trust me – it’s awesome! The Morgan Lap Stand Combo Hoops elevate the work for me so that I can dedicate both hands to the stitch. I find that my hands and shoulders can be more relaxed when the hoop does the heavy lifting – I can have longer stitch sessions! The hoop sizes are 10 and 14 inches (hand quilting-friendly, if you are so inclined). A patented non-slip feature holds the fabric securely in place, and the hoop disassembles easily for storage or travel.[spacer height=”10px”]
Small is better when it comes to embroidery scissors. The fine sharp tips allow more precise cutting. Mundial Forged 3 1/2″ Florentine Embroidery Scissors are pretty without being frou-frou as well as holding their edge well.
If you worry about trimming too much (like, maybe, completed stitches or your background fabric), Kai’s Curved Needlecraft Scissors give you sharp cuts while keeping the sharp point safely away from the surface of your work. Kai makes super-sharp scissors that hold up well. Whenever they have a booth at a sewing show, it’s mobbed.
I had thread envy when I saw one of my friends with all of her embroidery threads organized in Floss & Needlecraft Organizers, all in color order, no less. I wanted to transform my jumble of knotted threads so I could see what colors I actually have. So I had to buy one (okay three) organizers, and I spent a rainy weekend organizing my embroidery threads. They make me so happy now, all in color order in a nice neat box! Each box comes with 50 plastic bobbins. I wrote the color number on each bobbin for quick reference. And I was so glad I purchased extra Plastic Floss Bobbins!
Good lighting – and, as time marches on, good magnification – are so important to consistent and accurate embroidery stitches. If you are trying to decide between a table lamp and a floor model, the Brightech Lightview Pro 2 in 1 will serve you well as you shift between tabletop and easy chair “studios”. The LED bulbs have a 20,000-hour lifespan – if you stitch 3 hours every single day, that’s 20 years! You can adjust from warm white to daylight white, depending on your needs at the moment. And the magnifier is 1-inch thick diopter glass, not plastic. Easy to convert from floor to desk use.
Embroidery needles have a larger eye so they will accommodate the heavier threads used for embroidery. I have found the Clover Gold Eye Embroidery Needles to be sharp, sturdy and smooth. I use different sized threads, so I like to have the size 3 to 9 assortment at the ready.
Chenille needles are sharp-pointed and long-eyed like embroidery needles, so they can handle thicker threads. I especially like them for embroidering on wool. They are slightly shorter than embroidery needles and the longer eye allows ribbons and multiple strands of threads to slip through more easily. I prefer Clover Gold Eye Chenille Needles No. 24 for most of my embroidery on wool with floss and perle cotton size 8 or smaller.
I love chenille needles for hand embroidery, so sometimes it’s nice to have a variety of sizes at hand for different threads. The sharp points glide through fabric and the large eyes are so easy to thread. Sewline Tulip Chenille Needles, Assorted, 6-Pack lets you try several sizes to see what works best for you and your project. If you are mixing threads (floss, silk ribbon, perle cotton, etc.) or using larger sizes of thread, the different sizes will be a big help! Tulip needles can be spendier, but are super strong and keep their shape longer.
I hate to thread needles. Even with years of practice, I’m just not good at it and I get so frustrated. This Clover Embroidery Needle Threader has saved my sanity many times! It is so easy to use and seems to work better with heavy embroidery threads than the wire type threaders. I have broken so many of those flimsy wires, but my Clover threader has lasted for several years, and I work it pretty hard!
Transfer-Eze is a printable, adhesive, water-soluble product that I use to mark embroidery designs on fabric. The photo shows some public-domain images that I printed using my home inkjet printer. To stitch, I cut out the motif I want to use, then peel off the backing paper. The transfer material has an adhesive that lets me position the design where I want it. It’s easy to needle through, then dissolves away with a soak in cool water. (Make sure your threads and fabric are color-fast!) Unlike many transfer methods, I don’t have to mirror the design for printing – what you see it what you get. Awesome for text!
When I am “traveling light” but still want a basic reference to rely on, the Pocket Guide to Embroidery goes with me! It’s a compact, folded and laminated reference for the most-used embroidery stitches, so it fits neatly in my purse or stitching kit. If I spill a little while stitching with a latte nearby, I can just wipe it off! (Ask me how I know!)
See all of the hand embroidery projects on Create Whimsy.