When I first started embroidery, I was eager to get into pattern making myself. There were a few issues with this: (1) I couldn't draw and (2) I didn't have an iPad (which seemed to be the thing you needed). Once I felt I was comfortable making my own patterns, I set out to find a cheaper alternative. Here's what I learned: you CAN draw amazing embroidery patterns WITHOUT and iPad!
Here's what I have personally experimented with:
When I wanted to create personal patterns for my own enjoyment, I turned to Canva initially. When it comes to embroidery, you don't need a full picture to embroider. What you need are simple lines, shapes and leaves. This is what I started with. I made wagon wheel stitches by combining circles and lines. I used an outline of a leaf in their graphics section to be my guide. There is an abundance of fonts to choose from - which I often turn to when not using my own handwriting. There is so much you can do from both your phone and your desktop.
Canva is free to use and does have a "Pro" option, but you won't really need it.
Do you have an iPhone? If so, this solution may be right for you.
When I was ready to try drawing more freely, but couldn't afford an iPad, I used my iPhone. I went to my local Staples (office supply store) and purchased a $30 stylus. I chose one that allowed for more precision than the rounded tip ones. Check out this link for an example. This stylus is not as precise as an Apple Pencil, but it worked for me.
I worked this way for months, and months! Nearly my entire first year embroidering, I used Procreate Pocket. Was it more difficult? Absolutely. I had to zoom in much more, and my work was a lot less detailed, but the patterns you see in my gallery were all created this way. Embroidery pattern making is just a series of lines, curves and shapes. These are all things you can achieve with a cheap stylus, a phone you already own, and Procreate Pocket.
The features of Procreate Pocket are not as vast as that of the iPad version, but know that it will be enough.
Drawing Tablet & Krita
Do you have a computer? Chances are you do, and if so, there's a way to draw digitally.
Although a touch more expensive, for about $80 - $100 you can choose to invest in a drawing tablet similar to what graphic designers use. Check out this link for an example. This is a great drawing tablet and will work well for your embroidery pattern making needs. Pair it with free drawing software Krita and you're off to the races! Once you master the tablet, you will be able to draw precisely and more detailed. It takes some getting used to the tablet, but if it works for professional graphic designers, it will work for you. You can do everything on Krita that you can do in Procreate, and more!
Krita is an amazing drawing software that is free and downloads directly to your desktop. There are no subscriptions and no limits to what you can do. Krita believes that artists should have access to software and tools which help them create. It is similar to Adobe and Procreate illustrating softwares. If you have the talent and the patience to get a feel for the new tools, the options are limitless.
There are so many great solutions out there, and I hope one of these helps you. What I did learn that is at the end of the day, if you have your mind set, sometimes it's best not to go spending the little bit of cash here and there and just save up for what you want. I very much had my mind set on an iPad and much prefer it to all these alternatives. However, these methods kept me going strong for a full year and helped me design numerous original patterns.
Here's a quick blurb about the things I know and love about embroidery fabric!
First, let my start by HIGHLY discouraging you from using cheap fabric found at local big-box stores.
In my experience, and in my opinion, the best embroidery fabric is Robert Kauffman Kona Cotton. I source mine directly from Canadian Fabric Stores and Etsy (always supporting Canadian when I can). You can find them online or at your local craft stores (Americans: JOANNS and for Canadians: FABRICLAND / FABRICVILLE).
See my list of Canadian Fabric retailers BELOW!
As I mentioned above, I use Robert Kauffman Kona Cotton fabric in the colour Snow. I often pair this with a second fabric, and stitch on two layers of fabric so that my stitching doesn't show through. For the second layer of fabric, I use a cheap Poly-Cotton blend.
If you're wanting to stitch on one layer of fabric only, I recommend Cotton Twill. I have recently been experimenting on Robert Kauffman Cotton Twill and find that the fabric thick enough that most stitches don't show through. It's not perfect, but it reduces the need for two layers. The twill adds a nice texture, and overall, Robert Kauffman fabrics are very high quality.
List of my favourite Canadian Fabric Retailers:
All of these retailers are great for sewing or stitching projects:
This post is not sponsored, I just love these shops!
Selecting the right embroidery hoop can be daunting. There are a lot of choices on the internet, and if you're just starting out, it's hard to know where to begin. In this post, I'm going to share with you what I know about embroidery hoops.
The views and opinions are entirely my own. I recognize that some artists may know much more than me. Please feel free to share your opinions in the comments.
Here's a quick video on the different types of hoops.
Plastic Hoops vs Wood Hoops
Plastic embroidery hoops are popular with some artists. In my experience, I've found that they allow me to tighten my hoop much further than a wood hoop allows. They come in a series of great colours and price ranges. They don't crack and are likely to be more standardized, whereas some wood hoops quality greatly vary. I've personally struggled with plastic hoops as I've found that I can't adjust my fabric easily. I find that the hoops are so tight that my fabric isn't taught enough, but once I am able to get it right, it is consistent in keeping the hoops in the fabric.
Wood embroidery hoops are a dime a dozen, but they are not all made equally. Beware of using hoops off of popular sites like Amazon. They often are cheaper wood, arrive cracked, or don't have the option to tighten your hoop using a screwdriver. There are some great hoops for cheap, but I recommend asking someone you know who has experience with a particular one. Nurge are known as one of the best brands on the market. Personally, I enjoy stitching with them, but have found that my fabric can become loose.
Follow this link for a quick video tutorial on how to tighten your wood hoops.
Flexi Faux Wood Hoops
My personal favourite are Flexi faux wood hoops. I find that the right quality of Flexi faux wood hoops allow me to both stitch in them, and finish my project in them. They come in a series of shapes and sizes, including round, oval or hexagon. There are a series of choices on Etsy. I recommend giving these a try if you're looking for an all-in-one solution.
Overall, give each one a try if you can afford to. It's important to formulate your own preferences. Embroidery is an art and with it comes a variety of options. Each artists has their own likes and dislikes, and what works for me may not work for you. For more quick tutorials, follow me on instagram @HappyHobby_ca.