Embroidery hints and tips

Hello friends,

These past few weeks, while everyone was sheltering in place due to Covid-19, lots of creative groups popped up on Facebook. I joined 2 of them that both provided free embroidery patterns and I have been enjoying working on these so much! Sometimes I do get questions about embroidery so today I thought I could share how I approach embroidery. I am by no means an expert embroiderer and there are plenty of tutorials out there, if you want to check them out, but these are my hints and tips :).

To transfer embroidery patterns from paper to fabric you have a couple of options. My favorite is to use my lightbox and a water soluble marker: You simply place your pattern on the light box, tape it down if necessary, and trace it with a pencil or water soluble marker (my favorite way).

If you don’t have a lightbox, you can use a sunny window just as well, or even an upside down glass dish with a lightsource underneath.

Another method that I used recently and really liked was to use these Sulky transfer pens.


With these, you simply trace over your pattern, lay the paper upside down on your fabric, iron it with a hot iron, and your design is there! The great thing about this is that you can do multiple transfers from that one tracing. You might wonder why you would need to do multiples…..well, let me explain: When you have a little bouncy puppy who has just learned to jump onto the sofa and likes to come bounding in after playing in the mud, you might need to restart your embroidery. True story. I have proof in the shape of a half finished embroidery which I tried to wash but the mud refused to budge. So I need a second transfer….

One thing to note when you use the transfer pen and you lay your pattern upside down on your fabric is that you are reversing your pattern. So musical notes and words and letters won’t work. But I added my words separately afterwards and it was no big deal. You could probably reverse your printout on your computer and then you would have no issues at all.

After I transfer my pattern, I am ready to start embroidering, but before I place my fabric in a hoop ( mine is plastic and not too big. I find too big of a hoop bothersome), I cut a thin piece of batting to go behind my fabric. This does 2 things for me: I love the way the fabric handles AND if I “travel” with my thread, it doesn’t show on the front of my work:


Onto embroidery thread: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Sulky Cotton Petites! I was introduced to these a while back when I took a Sulky seminar and I am a convert! One strand of this 12 wt thread is the same as 2 strands of regular embroidery floss. It comes on these great snap spools that hold your ends of thread in place so they don’t unravel, and because they are on a spool, they don’t tangle either. Win, win, win, and win….are those too many wins? I don’t care. I love this stuff. The only thing I have found is that the variegated thread runs. I have let the company know and hope they are able to fix that issue. You can see in my angel embroidery that the red and blue/green variegated ran. I was able to rinse a lot of it out, but we don’t want that problem! Interestingly, the solid red that I used on the cross and other places did not show one sign of bleeding, so the problem is definitely with the variegated.

I also wanted to share how I keep my supplies organized: I bought one of those plastic bins at Michaels and organized all my thread in there ( by color family~how geeky am I?!) Isn’t that a gorgeous sight? I know that you can buy organizers specifically for thread spools but I like the fact that these bins are 1) cheap, and 2) they hold my glasses, scissors, needles, as well as my hug light and my embroidery and pattern. 


I haven’t talked about needles yet. I use needles labeled “embroidery” but you should just use any needle that is sharp and has an eye large enough to accommodate your floss.

And finally, I want to talk a little bit about the actual stitching. I use a backstitch, which is what most people probably use. Some people like to hold their needle sideways and take a couple of stitches at a time. I find I don’t get nice stitches that way so I use what I call the “stab and stitch” method. One stitch goes down into the fabric, needle comes back up and I take the next stitch. Slow and poky maybe, but nice results. I also make my stitches smaller when ” rounding” things. So in the flower petals and the rounded letters I will take smaller stitches than in the straight walls of the houses or the flower stems.

I made a little short video to show you how I stitch:


I have provided links to all a lot of the products I mention for your convenience. Just click on the word to be taken directly to the shopping source. And, as always, your purchase gives me a few pennies, but doesn’t cost you anything extra~ Thanks for supporting me in this small way!


~blue water soluble marker

~ Sulky iron on transfer pens

~Sulky 12 wt Cotton Petites sets

~ Sulky 12 wt Cotton Petites singles

I hope you have found this helpful! Don’t hesitate to ask if something isn’t clear~ I am always happy to help!

Until next time~ Stay safe and happy creating!


25 thoughts on “Embroidery hints and tips

  1. Thank you so much for this lesson. I love, love, love all you choices of designs and your stitching is enviable. I am a quilter but I do some embroidery and want to do more.
    Your hints and tips I absorb like a sponge because I admire your work so much.
    Do you have a favorite place to get designs?
    Stitch on and keep the embroidery coming.
    Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, Mary, thank you so much for your kind words. It’s these things that encourage me to keep writing and sharing! And to answer your question …I found a lot of these designs in the Australian FB group called Love&hugs from Australia.


  2. I love everything you do, Monique. Your embroidery is beautiful. Every night in front of the TV I’m doing embroidery of some kind. I can’t sit still! Please, keep posting your blogs. I love reading them and seeing all you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have recently acquired some of these same threads. And I love them also. I have always used perle cotton, but I do LOVE the way the cap holds the ends, and stops them from raveling on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Monique, I look forward to reading your blog every Saturday. I pour myself a cup of coffee and enjoy a few minutes of me time. I also love the Sulky petites for hand embroidery. I love their sets where you get threads that go together. Have you tried their stick and stitch? Its perfect for larger, more complex patterns. Just put it in your printer and print out your pattern then stick it on your fabric and stitch away. I’ve found I don’t need a hoop when I use it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I too have rediscovered my love for embroidery thanks to you introducing me to cotton petites. I love that thread for stitching. Most recently I started using a thin layer of batting and I love the results. I’ve learned such great tips from you to make me a better stitcher and for that I thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sarah, I like to use cotton batting but that is because I use it for Quilt As You Go as well. You can use whatever batting you prefer, as long as it’s not too thick because when you incorporate your embroideries into a quilt you don’t want there to be a HUGE difference in thickness between your embroidered pieces and your regular fabric. I happily combine my embroideries and pieced blocks and then add batting as usual under the whole quilt top and don’t find it to be noticeable that some blocks have an added layer of batting…hope that makes sense!


  6. Hi Monique

    I love your embroidery-soo cute! Thanks for the tips. The one about putting the backing on is a great idea.

    Hope you and the family are keeping well. Love the cute puppy-it must be hard to get cross when they mess things up when that little face is so cute!


    Kerrie ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no I can’t get cross with him…he is just too cute! Have I mentioned that he has a new trick? He will actually jump on the sofa and then jump over our heads as we sit on the sofa! Considering he is just a little pup of 12 pounds we find this quite an amazing feat and think he may have been born in the circus! 😀


  7. I wish you would have given a little commentary with your stitching video. When you put the needle down through top are you going down into the same hole that you made with the previous stitch? It looks it, but hard to tell for sure. Or are you putting the needle right next to the hole?


  8. Another question for you! I just noticed that you position your hoop very differently than how I learned to embroider. In the video your fabric is positioned so that the design you are working on is in a “well”, or on the bottom or underside of the hoop. I was taught that you put the smaller or inside hoop under your fabric design, position the larger hoop on top and press down. Then one would be stitching with the design on top. You look like you stitch upside down. I am confused.


    1. Hi Janice. Yes, I take a stitch right back into the same hole to make the stitches seem like one long line. And yes, my hoop is upside down. I just learned that trick from someone in a fb group. When your hoop is upside down like that your thread does not get caught on the screw and it is also easier to tie off your thread when it is not ” in the well”. Hope that answers your questions😉


  9. Hi Monique,
    I noticed in your video, that after you brought your needle back up, you tapped it on your fabric before you went back down again. Is there a reason that you do that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Linda, after you mentioned that I had to get out my embroidery and pay attention to exactly what I was doing! So to answer your question…it is a idiosyncratic thing I do but it does allow me to grip my needle more comfortably for my next stitch. Hope that helps answer your question!


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