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Let's Talk About... Fabric

Feb 21, 2020

It’s probably the most common question I get - What kind of fabric do you use? As a self-taught embroidery artist, the kind of fabric that I work best with has taken some time to discover. When I first started embroidering, I was inspired by some stretched linen canvases that Michaels was selling. I loved the natural color and how they looked when they had layers of thread on them! Not to mention that they came in squares and rectangles - which felt so different from most things I was seeing in the embroidery world. They came in different sizes and they were all ready for me to start stitching - so there was hardly any prep involved. Amazing, right? Yes, amazing… until I found out that Michaels was going to stop carrying them and I ran around town like a crazy person trying to stock up before it was too late… *Sad face*

So I had to figure out something else. For a while, I actually did stretch my own canvases (well, my husband did because he’s better with a staple gun than I am), and because I was trying to replicate the Michaels canvases I went on the hunt for a linen fabric that was easy to get and wouldn’t break the bank. Thankfully, Jo-Ann's was there to rescue me. Years later, I am happy that I was forced to figure out a fabric solution - because now I have so many more options!

My favorite fabric to stitch on is a linen or linen-cotton blend such as THIS ONE at Jo-Ann’s. It comes in a variety of colors, and the price point is good. I know that some embroidery artists like to work with tighter-weave fabric (such as quilter’s cotton), but I find the linen to be more forgiving and easier to work with. This is because the threads that make up a looser weave allow the needle to move through it without breaking the threads and disrupting the integrity of the fabric. Perhaps it is just me, but I feel that anytime I’ve worked with a tighter weave, I end up with unsightly holes and snags!

Other things to consider with fabric:

  • Stretchy fabric can be extremely tricky to work with.

  • Delicate fabrics, such as silk, can also be tricky and will definitely snag more easily.

  • Felt is a common fabric for embroidery, but keep in mind that with a lot of felts, the more you handle them, the more they tend to pill-up and look dull. So handle fabrics like this with care.

  • Don’t get too attached to any specific fabric and/or color - Even chains such as Jo-Ann’s have a tendency to discontinue fabrics for a variety of reasons, so be flexible!

  • When beginning (or when trying to find a new fabric) don’t go investing a lot of money in one specific kind! Have your fabric store cut you smaller pieces so you can try them to figure out what works best for you.

If you’ve been wondering about fabric choices, I hope you found this to be informative! If you have a favorite fabric to embroider with, feel free to send me a MESSAGE! I love learning about these things too, and I’m always eager to try new things!