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Best Embroidery Fabric

Trying to figure out embroidery fabric is something that makes my head spin.  As someone who is self-taught (and still learning), it has been difficult to find straight answers on what the best embroidery fabric is.  I don’t know if I can tell you what the best embroidery fabric is, but I can tell you what I like to use.  Here are the fabrics I have tried, in order of my favorite to my least favorite.  If you find this post useful, make sure to take a look at my How to Embroider for Beginners series.

Best Embroidery Fabric - Learn how to choose the best fabric for embroidery.

(This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended.)

Linen/Cotton Blend

I really love using a linen/cotton blend the most.  The one I use is called Essex Linen and you can purchase it in all kinds of colors from Fat Quarter Shop.  It’s a little bit tougher to stitch through than my 100% linen, but I like that I don’t have to worry about my threads showing in the back as much.  I love the color choices, and I love how soft it is.  This is definitely my favorite fabric to embroider on right now.

best embroidery fabric - cotton/linen blend

100% Linen

My first embroidery project ever was on 100% linen, and it continues to be one of my favorite fabrics to embroider on.   There are different thread counts for linen, but I just like to keep things simple and get mine from my local fabric store.  Maybe there’s something out there that is better quality, but I have made plenty of projects with it and had no problems.  It is a bit thinner and can tend to bunch a little if you pull too tight, so just be aware of that.

best embroidery fabric - linen

Flour Sack Towels

Flour sack towels are made from a fabric that is traditionally stitched on.  My mom still has some towels that my great grandmother made back in the day.  The blank towels are sold near the embroidery floss at the fabric store, and I love to stitch on them.  I really like how smoothly my needle goes through and how soft the fabric is.  I’ve never stitched an actual towel.  I just like to cut up the fabric and use piece of it to stitch on.  I don’t even know what kind of fabric the towels are made of, but if anyone knows where to buy it by the yard, please let me know.  The only downside to this is you only get one color, white.  I suppose you could start dying them, but I definitely don’t have time for that.

best embroidery fabric - flour sack towels

100% Cotton

If you want to stitch on a patterned fabric, 100% cotton is a good option. When I say 100% cotton think about the biggest section of fabric in the store that quilters usually use.  Try to get a heavier feeling cotton if you can.  It’s not my favorite thing to stitch on since I feel like my stitches pucker more easily, but it can yield some pretty results.  If you do use regular cotton, I recommend using some kind of interfacing to hold your fabric steady.

Other

Don’t be afraid to try different things.  You can also embroider on jeans, t-shirts (with some iron-on stabilizer), and even canvas shoes!  I have successfully embroidered on canvas bags, although my fingers did hurt a little after.  If you aren’t sure if it will work, you can always do some test stitches to try it out.  Have fun with it!

embroidered zipper pouch

Aida Cloth

I actually don’t like to embroider on Aida cloth at all.  I include this on this list because I have been asked about it before.  Aida cloth is meant for counted cross-stitch patterns, not the kind of hand embroidery that I usually do.  If you are cross-stitching, then you can certainly use it.  It has a grid of holes that are perfect for cross-stitching.  Sometimes you can add other stitches to your cross-stitch pattern, but only use Aida cloth if cross-stitch is the main stitch you are using. (Cross stitch pattern from Climbing Goat Designs.)

funny cross stitch

Final Tips

One last little bit of advice for those who are new to fabric shopping.  If you aren’t sure what a fabric is made of, look at the top of the bolt, and it should be printed there.  You can purchase as little or as much as you want.  I usually in buy in quarter, half, or whole yards.  And if you’d like to skip the fabric shopping altogether, check out my post on the Best Embroidery Kits for Beginners.  What do you find is the best embroidery fabric?  I’d love to try something new!

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Stephanie Estrada

Friday 6th of August 2021

I'm so glad I found your blog! I'm just beginning to learn how to embroider. I can't wait to finish my first little project!

Hannah

Thursday 15th of April 2021

If your fingers hurt when stitching (particularly with tough fabric) that's what a thimble is used for. :) Place the thimble on whatever finger you use to push the needle thru so that the needle sits in one of the divots on side. It'll keep your fingers from feeling like they're gonna fall off with every stitch.

Shelie Ramm

Sunday 21st of February 2021

I am just starting out. I am retired now and my grandmother embroidered some of the most beautiful quilts and framed wall art. I would love to embroider a framed piece with some of the musical notes from my brothers favorite song, for his birthday. He is teaching himself how to play the guitar. Can someone recommend fabric and a transfer method where I can use the computer to create the design?

Debra

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

I’ve found that muslin is a very versatile fabric and use that for most of my framed embroidery like redwork.

Nancy

Friday 20th of November 2020

I like to visit yard sales and thrift stores looking for vintage linens. Napkins, table cloths, hand towels, dresser scarves are great for embroidery. You can find all assortment of fabrics, especially linen, that lend themselves to a beautiful project and many times very affordable.

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