Handmade embroidery is a great personalized gift, but store-bought kits can feel a bit generic. Instead of stitching another bunch of flowers on a tea towel, you can use modern graphics and fashionable fonts to create one-of-a-kind embroidery designs customized to fit any hoop and any occasion. This tutorial will show you that you don't need an embroidery machine to make fabulous embroidery from digital files.
What You Need
SVG files or vector graphics
Vector editing software
Light-colored cotton fabric
Embroidery hoop and needles
DMC stranded cotton floss
How to Create Your Embroidery Design
Choose Your Design Elements
When searching for designs, consider your own embroidery skills. First-timers should look for simple designs that can be done with a basic back stitch. Start with a premade SVG cutting file, such as We're Better Together, Adventure/Camping Cutting Files Bundle or Home Sweet Home. You can print the designs as they are or customize them in vector editing software such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape. Some SVG kits come with the design in other file formats that may be ready-to-print on iron-on transfers.
Edit or create your vector design in your preferred graphics software. While your print-ready design will need to be reduced to black outlines for optimal transfer quality, your design concept can be as colorful as you want. Save a separate full-color copy of your design to print out as a diagram for when you start embroidering. When choosing your color palettes, this DMC Color Chart will help you find the corresponding embroidery floss. Add a color key to the design document with the DMC codes to keep track of where to use each floss color.
Prepare for Print
Resize your file dimensions to fit your embroidery hoop. If printing to a medium such as iron-on transfers, you may need to reverse or mirror your design. Leave your design right-facing if printing directly onto fabric or using a tracing method. Print in black ink onto your chosen paper or medium and trim excess from around your design. Then print your design with the color key in full color on ordinary white paper.
Transfer Design to Fabric
There are a variety of ways to transfer an embroidery design onto fabric, from printing directly onto specialty fabric to heat transfers to the old-fashioned tracing method. The easiest method is to print your design onto an iron-on transfer and follow the product instructions to safely apply the design to your chosen fabric.
The printable Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy is a water-soluble stabilizer that you can adhere to the top of your fabric and stitch through or use as a backing and trace your design. The Fabri-Solvy dissolves completely when you rinse your finished project in cold water.
Alternately, you can use a water-soluble pen to draw on the fabric. Pin your printed black-and-white design to the back of your fabric, then carefully trace your design onto the front of your fabric.
Stitch Your Design
With your design transferred and your color key printed, center your design within the embroidery hoop and start stitching. If you're not ready to experiment with advanced embroidery stitches and techniques, keep it simply by using a satin stitch to fill in color areas and bold lettering and a simple backstitch for outlines and lightweight text. Embellish your design with a few impromptu French knots.
With this combination of digital and DIY, you'll be manipulating SVG files and other design elements like a pro to create custom embroidery designs for inspirational wall decor, to personalize tote bags and to perk up plain pillows.