Crafternoon inspo: Hand embroidery for beginners

Etsy maker Madi Astolfi, 19, discovered her passion for hand embroidery like we discover everything good these days — by stumbling across some artsy accounts on Instagram. Now a full-time uni student with her own online store, Madi also teaches classes… and don’t worry, she reckons most students get the hang of it after just a week or two (yes, even you)! We asked her for a quick how-to guide.

To get started, you will need (you can find this stuff at craft stores):

  1. An embroidery hoop with adjustable screw
  2. Some non-stretchy, sturdy cotton or cotton-blend fabric
  3. An embroidery needle – Preferably quite thin with a big “eye”
  4. The “stranded cotton” embroidery thread of your choice
  5. Small or shear-like scissors
  6. Lead pencil
  7. Glue

Here’s the process.

Firstly, have you got the design you would like to embroider?

  • Have this design traced and ready to go on a piece of paper.
  • You will want to have quite the simple design just to get you started (ee. A flower outline)

Secondly, you want to prep your fabric!

  • Make sure your fabric is cut to size for your hoop. You will want to leave a good allowance. For example, if I have a 17.5cm hoop, I will cut a 26cm square of fabric.

Get tracing

  • Place your traced design on a flat surface where there is good lighting (ie. A desk in front of a window)
  • Place your hoop over the design, but on its back.
  • Use your led pencil to lightly trace the design.

Prep your needle and thread

  • Take your desired thread, and cut a piece as long as the distance from your fingers to your elbow.
  • Tie a knot at the end of the thread and leave the other end untouched.
  • Take your needle and thread the thread through the eye.




~And it goes a little something like this~

Now to stitch!

  • You will want to start with some basic stitches, like the backstitch.
  • To backstitch the outline of your flower (or chosen design), simply follow these steps:
  1. Bring your needle up through the fabric
  2. And bring it back down about a centimetre across
  3. Bring your needle up through the fabric, about a centimetre across from where you came up with your needle.
  4. And bring it back down.

When your thread starts to get short, you can always tie it off at the back of the hoop, and cut another piece of thread and continue stitching!

… Then keep learning.

As you get more comfortable with your stitching, you can try out some other favourite stitches like satin stitch and straight stitch.

Join Madi at an embroidery workshop (by Etsy x Art Series Hotel Group) on July 2 at The Blackman in St Kilda, Melbourne. Tickets are here. Madi’s Etsy store Unpicking is online here and on Instagram here.