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Woman embroidering Hiraman/iStock

DIY trend: Embroidery for beginners

Whether ‘contemporary embroidery’ or ‘craftivism’ – having once been a square hobby associated with grandma’s living room, embroidery has now evolved into a real trend. We’ll show you how it’s done.

Do it yourself: Embroidery is the new knitting

DIY hobbies have been growing in popularity for years – but since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, traditional pastimes such as baking, indoor planting and handicrafts have really caught on.

Thanks in no small part to social media, embroidery has now become a genuine trend and is overflowing with creativity – from bold slogans to portraits of film figures, everything can be found on cushions, clothing, trainers or in picture frames. 

It has even become a medium for young artists: in the area of ‘contemporary embroidery’, fashionable designs such as cacti, alpacas, rainbows and skulls are finding their way from illustrations into embroidery hoops, frequently ending up being hung on the wall.

And expressive statements and slogans that provide food for thought are also highly popular as designs: in the art of ‘craftivism’ – a newly coined portmanteau containing the words ‘craft’ and ‘activism’ – profound and often bold slogans end up in embroidery hoops featuring pretty typography. It is primarily the contrast between the homely, ‘square’ medium and the unconventional content that makes the difference here.

The designs are transferred to the material in professional style using an embroidery machine, but it doesn’t have to be done that way. When done by hand, the embroidery designs are especially individual and the whole process is much more fun. And best of all: it is cheap and easy to get started, because you don’t need much equipment and the techniques can be learned really easily. Even embroidery beginners can conjure up exquisite works of art after a short while – perfect for decorating or presenting as a gift!

Embroidery frameika dam/Unsplash

Embroidery: The basic equipment for beginners

The basis for embroidery is the material that will be embroidered. Before setting about embellishing your favourite jacket or bag, leftover material or dishcloths are ideal for practising on. Any material is essentially suitable, but the easiest materials – particularly when starting out – are lightweight ones with a discernible structure, such as cotton or linen.

In order to ensure that the material doesn’t slip and always stays taut, it is clamped into an embroidery hoop, which has now even become a decorative element itself. Embroidery hoops come in a range of sizes and materials. Wood (mostly bamboo) is suitable for beginners, while advanced embroiderers also like to use plastic.

The thread used for embroidery can be purchased individually or as part of a set. Here, too, there are many different options available: from matt or shiny to multicoloured, silver and gold, the range leaves nothing to be desired. The thread is normally made up of six strands, but these can be separated and the number of strands can be reduced to create finer lines and more detailed designs. The key is to ensure that it goes with the material and the planned design.

Embroidery needles tend to be shorter than sewing needles. They are also available with blunt or sharp tips, which can be selected depending on the material and the thickness of the thread.

There are various ways of getting the desired design in the form of a template on the material: you could make a freehand sketch of your design using a pen. Any pen is basically suitable – but so-called ‘trick markers’ can be washed out more easily and some of them are even self-erasing after a short while. If you are not confident about making a freehand sketch, you can print out the desired design and trace it. This is best done using coated carbon tracing paper. With a good light source (by the window, for instance), the design can also be traced directly onto the material.

Basic stitches, gift ideas and smart cleaning

Backstitch, satin stitch, French knot stitch and Co – you can find basic stitches and amazing embroidery templates free online and, after a little practice, you can embroider a wide range of textiles either for yourself or as individual gift ideas for your loved ones:

For the next wedding, for example, how about creating a pair of high-quality material napkins featuring the name of the bride and groom? Or maybe create some really individual baby clothes for your first visit to the new parents. Perhaps you could embroider some words of encouragement in a frame prior to a big exam.

You can also turn your own clothes into real eye-catchers by adding cute animal designs or your favourite quote. Whether a denim jacket, pullover, shirt, canvas shoes, caps or hats – your basic items of clothing can be individualised with your favourite embroidery designs in next to no time.

Persil Service will help you to gently clean them: even your lovingly designed garments will get the best care here and Persil Repair Service can also carry out repairs if something goes wrong and a hole ends up in the wrong place. Find out more at www.persil-service.de and in the Persil Service app, now available to download from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

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