You are going to need some basic tools to get started. DMC manufactures premium quality supplies at a great value, for any type of needlework project.
DMC Embroidery Products
DMC Transfer Pens -These contain a non-permanent, blue ink that allows you to easily transfer designs onto fabric. The DMC Transfer Pen works well on light- and medium-colored fabrics. The blue ink is completely water soluble so that once the embroidery has been completed the markings can be removed with a lightly dampened cloth.
DMC Transfer Pencils - Transfer pencils are chalk-based and allow designs to be easily transferred onto dark colored fabrics. The white pencil markings are removed by using a damp cloth, just like the transfer pen, or can easily be removed by gently rubbing the fabric clean. DMC wax-free Tracing Paper can also be used to transfer a design onto fabric.
TIP: White chalk pencil lines can be accidently removed when stitching. Take care to avoid rubbing or placing your hand on the design areas until the embroidery is completed.
Click here to see different ways to transfer your design.
Choose from any one of DMC’s premium steel Italian embroidery scissors for cutting your threads and fine detail work. It is also a good idea to pick up a pair of fabric scissors at your local craft store to cut fabric for your projects. Remember to use your scissors only for cutting fabric and threads! Cutting paper or cardboard will dull them in a hurry.
DMC Color Card
The DMC Color Card is a wonderful reference tool to have on hand when searching for a special color. It allows you to view the entire floss color line and compare the subtle shades of each color available in the DMC floss line With the DMC color card you can choose your own color palettes to personalize any cross stitch design or find a substitute shade should your shop be out of a color.
Purchase the DMC Color Card here!
Embroidery Hoops help keep the fabric taut and your stitches even. Round hoops are the most common shape available and generally range in size from 3” to 12”. They’re made from plastic or wood and come in various styles and screw locking systems. Select a hoop that is slightly larger than the design area. The fabric should extend about 2” beyond the edges of the hoop to allow you to position and secure the fabric properly.
Click here to learn how to use an embroidery hoop.
Selecting the Design, Colors, Fabrics, Threads & Needles
Designs can be found anywhere; get inspired by fashion magazines and the prints that are trendy right now. Craft and needlework stores have books, magazines and kits as well as stitched models for viewing. Design sites and blogs are available online and many have copyright free patterns that can be downloaded at no cost. Check out contemporary embroidery books that are on the market right now; there are a lot out there that contain great patterns that are quick to stitch up.
Picking a Color
Once you’ve selected a design, the next step is to choose the colors. The easiest way to explore the possibilities is to make several photocopies of the design and color them in. Once you’re settled on the color palette, consider the threads and the stitches you want to use. Think about how you want the design to look: smooth, textured, filled in with a pattern or outlined and open. Review the embroidery stitches located in the Stitch Guide section, the types of threads you want to use and try to visualize the possibilities. Don’t hesitate to try out a stitch or two; you can always remove them and start over.
Choosing the Right Fabric
There are many different types of fabrics and each has its own particular characteristic. When selecting a fabric consider the embroidery techniques you’ll be using and the type of threads you’ll stitch with. There are three basic kinds of fabric used for embroidery.
- Woven Fabrics have a smooth tightly woven surface and are commonly used in clothing and home goods. These items are perfect for embroidery projects, because there is no finishing required!
- Even-weave Fabrics are distinguished by their distinct, evenly spaced threads and are traditionally used for counted thread techniques like cross stitch, lettering and pattern embroideries.
- Fabricated Fabrics are firm and non-fraying. Made by matting fibers together to form felt and suede materials, it’s a popular fabric valued for its soft feel and embroidery ease.
All three fabric types are manufactured in natural and synthetic fibers, various weights and are available in a rainbow of colors. Cotton, linen, felt -- whatever you choose, there’s a fabric match for your project. Once you’ve selected a fabric, embroider several stitches so you can determine if you’ve chosen the right threads.
A threaded needle should easily go into the fabric and the embroideries lie flat without puckering the surface. If the design and threads are hard to see, you may want to increase the number of thread strands or choose a thicker thread. If the thread overwhelms the fabric or distorts the design it may be too thick and a lighter one may be preferable.
Tip: When choosing threads and fabrics make sure they are of similar weight. Delicate threads for light fabrics and thicker ones for heavier fabrics.
Selecting Your Thread
Surface embroidery will entice you to stitch with a variety of threads and fibers. Choosing the thread that best suits your project is part of the creative process and often depends on the fabric you will be stitching on and the depth and texture you’re looking for in your embroidery. Whatever you choose, DMC has a thread for you. The DMC line of threads and specialty fibers has the perfect one for your project -- colorful twisted Pearl Cottons, overdyes, metallic threads, glow in the darks, shimmering satin floss and more. All DMC threads are made from the highest quality materials and are 100% color fast and fade resistant.
- DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss is one of the most versatile threads for embroidery. It comprises 6 easily separated strands, allowing you to adjust the thickness of your stitching by using a different number of strands. Charts and instructions commonly refer to a strand as a ply (ie. 6 ply embroidery floss). Cotton Embroidery Floss is a soft thread made from long staple Egyptian cotton and mercerized to give it a beautiful lustrous sheen. DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss is available in over 450 solid colors.
- DMC Pearl Cotton is easy to work with and appropriate for use on a wide variety of fabrics and all types of embroidery. DMC Pearl Cotton is a finely twisted non-divisible thread that has a supple silky feel that gives your embroidery a shiny, raised texture and lustrous finish. DMC Pearl Cotton is available in four sizes: 3, 5, 8 and 12. Size 3 is the thickest and size 12 is the finest. Pearl Cotton Skeins come in sizes 3 and 5 in over 250 colors, and Pearl Cotton Balls come in sizes 5, 8, and 12. Pearl Cotton size 5 is the most popular and commonly used size for embroidery.
- DMC Color Variations are a collection of “overdyed” threads beautifully designed to create subtle variations in color without having to change threads. Each skein has a blend of soft multi-colors that flow seamlessly into one another along the length of the thread. Color Variations are available in a distinct blend of colors in both 6-strand Cotton Floss and Pearl Cotton size 5.
- DMC Light Effects are created to add light and reflective qualities to your design. These 6-strand glistening threads are the perfect specialty thread for highlights and decorative sparkles. Available in a diverse assortment of colors to compliment any embroidery, Light Effects come in these distinct color groups: Precious Metals, Jewels, Antiques, Pearlescents, Fluorescents and Glow-in-the-Dark.
- DMC Satin Floss is a silky 6-strand floss that adds exceptional beauty and sheen to embroidery. These lustrous threads glide easily through fabrics and come in a vibrant range of colors created to inspire. Use Satin Floss to embroider entire designs or to accent areas where you want a notable glossy shine.
Selecting the Right Needle
Needles come in various sizes, lengths, shaft thickness, eye shapes and are either pointed or blunt tipped. Needles are sized by number and the bigger the number, the smaller or finer the needle. In general, select a needle that opens up a large enough hole in the fabric to allow the thread easily pass through. Refer to the DMC Needle Guide to see which needles are best for the thread being used.
For most of your embroidery projects you will use DMC Embroidery Needles or DMC Chenille Needles. DMC Embroidery Needles have a long eye for easy threading, and a very sharp point which will pierce close-woven fabrics. DMC Chenille Needles are also sharp pointed and long-eyed, but run only in the upper size range like the DMC Tapestry Needles so they are ideal to use with thicker threads.
TIP: Stash your needles in DMC’s Magnetic Needle Case so that your needles are protected and kept securely in one place.
Click here to see how to thread your needles