Surface Embroidery

Surface embroidery is made up of stitches that sit on the surface of the fabric. Normally lines are marked on the fabric and the stitches are worked over the lines and symbols.


Embroidery is a great hobby because it is relaxing, inexpensive and gives you a beautiful and useful product. Here are the basic things you need to get started.


Almost anything can be used for embroidery.

The best option for beginners is quilting cotton fabric. It is inexpensive, easy to find and comes in any colour or pattern you could want.

Check out this post for more fabric options for embroidery.

rainbow gradient fabric collection.


The best option for beginners is embroidery floss. It is made up of six strands of thread that can be easily divided and made into whatever thickness you need.

Once you get started with embroidery, you might want to try other threads for special effects. Read about more embroidery thread options here.

pink and green DMC embroidery floss


There are just a few simple tools you will need. If you take care of them, they will last a lifetime.

Hoop or frame

A hoop or frame is used to keep the fabric taut during stitching. This helps all the stitches to lay flat and smooth and avoid pulls in the fabric.

Hoops are made from wood or plastic and come in a variety of different sizes.

embroidery hoops of different sizes

They are made of two parts, an inner ring and an outer ring. The fabric goes over the inner ring and is held in place by the outer ring.


You will probably want two pairs of scissors. Fabric shears will cut the fabric and small snips will trim the thread as you are stitching.


There are many different types of needles. For surface embroidery, you need a needle with a long eye and a sharp point.

Sometimes they are labelled “embroidery needles” or “crewel needles”.

crewel embroidery needle

learn to embroider with the Simple Embroidery e-book.


Most types of surface embroidery use the same basic stitches.

These are easy to learn with a bit of practice. Check out the embroidery stitch directory for detailed tutorials and information on using them in embroidery projects.

embroidery floss on fabric in hoop with title "embroidery stitch directory".

Ready for a project?

Check out these projects and tutorials for inspiration.

embroidered flower picture.

Freestyle Embroidery Project

Freestyle embroidery is done with little or no marking. It’s like doodling on fabric.

Follow along this project from planning to framing.

house embroidery with title.

House Embroidery Series

This series goes through the process of making a sketch from a photograph and stitching it in three different variations.

flower motif stitch sampler

Motif Sampler Project

This project takes a simple flower motif and stitches it in nine different ways.

It is a great way to see how stitches are used.

embroidered pumpkins with title "part one - fabric prep".

Pumpkin Embroidery

This simple project is a great way to use stitches in a simple sampler.

It is easily adaptable to any shape you like.

embroidered Christmas wreath

Freestyle Embroidered Wreaths

Embroidered wreaths are a fun way to embellish Christmas projects.


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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