Embroidering Ready Mades for Home Dec

samples of embroidery with title.

Do you have embroidered orphans? These are pieces of embroidery that have been stitched but never been finished into something. This problem can be avoided if you embroider onto finished items. Tea towels, aprons, pillow cases and clothing are all good candidates. You probably have something in your home right now that can be brightened up with some stitching.

Here are some tips to make your ready-made embroidery successful.

Wash first

Wash the item before stitching. This will let you see how the fabric will stand up to washing and get any possible shrinking or dye running out of the way.

It is especially important to pre-wash items that will get a lot of laundering, like towels or place mats.

Fit the embroidery to the purpose

Consider the use that the finished item will get. Items that will get a lot of handling require embroidery that will stand up to the use. Keep the stitches closer to the fabric and use thicker threads.

Also consider who will be using the item. If you are embroidering a small bag to be used as a makeup bag by a woman, it can probably handle more delicate embroidery than a pencil case used by a child.

close up of embroidery on a cushion

Match the design to the fabric

Embroidery can be done on any fabric – from denim to silk organza. But obviously not the same embroidery can be done on any fabric.

There are lots of different design options, so choose the best one.

Iron-on transfer

Iron-on transfers are perfect for embroidering ready made items. They give you exact lines to stitch on, and often include embroidery stitch suggestions. You can get transfers to match your style, whatever that is. Possibilities are endless.

These work best with light and medium coloured fabrics. Usually the transfer lines are black and grey, so they might be difficult to see on dark fabrics.

collection of embroidery transfers with title.

Geometric design

If you want a design with minimal marking, geometric designs are a good choice. Mark a few lines or shapes with chalk or wash-away marker and then stitch with your favourite stitches and colours.

embroidered placemat with title.


People of all ages love monograms. Kids like their initials on anything.

Names and initials can be stitched in any size, so they are great for any project – napkins, towels or pillows. This could even be a way to preserve your child’s early penmanship.

embroidered napkin with title "simple monogram for stitching".

Match the thread to the fabric

The fabric you are stitching on will determine what threads you should use in the project. The thread weight needs to match the fabric weight. 

For most fabrics, embroidery floss is a nice option. You can use different numbers of strands for lighter or heavier fabrics.

pink and green DMC embroidery floss

For heavier fabrics, wool, size 5 or 3 Perle cotton or even crochet thread work well.

For lightweight fabrics, fine threads such as size 12 Perle cotton, flower thread or just one or two strands of embroidery floss are nice.

Whatever you embroidery, enjoy using it. Don’t just stick it in the back of a closet to be saved for special occasions. Let it bring a smile to you, your family and your guests.

embroidered flower picture.

Elizabeth DeCroos - Epida Studio.

Elizabeth DeCroos

Elizabeth DeCroos is the designer and teacher at Epida Studio. She loves to work in quilting, pojagi and embroidery and teach these techniques to others.
Learn more and get her to speak to your group.

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