I am often asked what fabric you can embroider on. The quick answer is: on any fabric!
However, there is of course much more to say about it. In this blog post, I would like to address a few points concerning the choice of fabric in relation to embroidery.
Embroidering on fabric with needle and thread
The most obvious way to decorate fabric with embroidery is by using needle and thread, an age-old way of embellishing fabric.
What should you consider when choosing your fabric?
- the quality and characteristics of the fabric itself
- the quality and properties of the thread/material you embroider with
- the technique you want to apply
- the effect you want to achieve
Fabric quality and characteristics
Each fabric has certain characteristics that are typical of that fabric. These include the raw material (natural fibres, artificial fibres or a combination of these), the way the fabric is woven (linen weave, twill weave, satin weave, etc.) and the thickness of the fabric. All these aspects determine how the fabric falls and how easy or difficult it is to be worked with needle and thread.
When the structure of the fabric is ‘open’, it will be easy to work through the fabric with a needle. The needle can be thicker than with a closely woven fabric, without damaging the fabric when embroidering. The ability to work with a thicker needle immediately gives you the ability to embroider with thicker threads or other materials.
If the fabric is delicate and thin, you will of course have to work with thin needles and thin threads, as thick needles will destroy the fabric. If you want to embroider thicker threads on thin fabrics, you can sew them onto the fabric with thin thread.
Quality and characteristics of the embroidery thread
There are many different types of yarn. Some are mainly practical: strong and good for many different applications. Others are especially beautiful: delicate and shiny, which limits their application. Consider the possibility of washing or cleaning a fabric after embroidery. When embroidering with silk ribbon, a thin and beautiful material for romantic embroideries, you have to take into account that the embroidery, i.e. the passing of the ribbon through the fabric, will wear out the silk ribbon. Therefore, it is best to use relatively short threads with silk ribbon.
If you want to embroider with raffia, you must remember that the eye of the needle and the needle itself must be large enough to ” push ” through the fabric. This requires a robust or open fabric.
When working with gold thread, the thread has a core around which a metal thread is wound. You can imagine that when embroidering, this wrapped thread will easily strip. This also requires special attention.
You can embroider with a normal needle and thread on almost any fabric. If you want to embroider with the tambour- or Lunèville needle, the choice is a little more precise. There are tambour needles in various thicknesses. So adjust the thickness of your needle to the thickness of the fabric. Silk organza can be stitched with a 70 or 80 size.
A thick interior fabric will also withstand a needle of 90, 100 or 110. With this, you can immediately process thicker yarns. This is also more appropriate in relation to the fabric structure, as thin yarns “disappear” into the fabric.
The envisioned result of the embroidery
Of course, every choice ultimately comes down to the effect you want to achieve. The more experience you have with different fabrics, materials and techniques, the easier it becomes to judge. This experience takes time. And courage. Go on experimenting and try out different materials, techniques and combinations in order to achieve your final choice. You understand: this requires considerable effort! A time-consuming process that is ultimately very worthwhile.
Conclusion? Everything is possible, but some choices have consequences that do not help you to achieve the desired effect. How you deal with this is a matter of experimenting, studying the work of others, asking for experiences and/or being informed by the supplier of your material.
For me, this is all very exciting and fun! It means that nothing is ‘wrong’, but that a lot is POSSIBLE! And that every stitch I embroider helps me to make a more informed choice between material and technique for the next stitch.
How do you experience these potential choices? Let me and other readers of this blog know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page. I would love to hear from you!