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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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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