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Embroidery Shop Essentials: Must-Have Supplies and Resources

With embroidery, like any specialized craft, it is important to have the proper tools, supplies, and resources. While having the proper embroidery supplies seems like common sense, there are a couple challenges. There are so many things that could go into your embroidery toolbox.  What are the embroidery shop essentials? What are the must-have tools?

These questions lead to even more questions such as:

  • With so much available, how will you know all various tools and supplies out there?
  • Which should you choose?
  • How might they help you get quality results?
  • What should you look for in quality embroidery supplies?

To help make what could become confusing, complicated, or overwhelming simpler, included below is a rundown of embroidery shop essentials, must-have supplies, tools, and valuable resources.

The Importance of Having Proper Tools and Supplies

Having the essential and proper tools for the embroidery job can be the difference between a masterpiece or a nightmare. With the right tools you are more likely to create just what you want. Without the proper tools and supplies, you may find all you are creating is a headache.

The High Cost of the Lowest Quality

Who doesn’t like to save money when making a purchase? However, there is a difference between getting quality discount embroidery supplies and skimping on quality for the sake of saving a few pennies.  Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to the essential tools and supplies of embroidery.

For those that skimp on quality thread, backing, bobbins, and other tools, they often find out the hard way just how expensive it can be to be too cheap when selecting and using tools, supplies, and materials.

Here are just some of the ways not investing in quality reliable embroidery supplies can come back to haunt you:

  • Problems with materials during the project causes you to use more material, which can cost you more in the end.
  • Problems with essentials like thread breaks are a hassle and take more time. Of course, time is money. Plus, peace of mind has a lot value.
  • Reduced quality of the end product. The high cost of low-quality product can mean poor functionality or appearance. This can be especially costly if you are trying to sell your products.
  • Cheap but low-quality tools have a tendency of failing when you seem to need them most. This can be incredibly frustrating and stressful. If you have a client depending on you, this is only amplified.

 

Comprehensive List of Embroidery Shop Essentials

Here's a comprehensive list of embroidery materials, tools, supplies, and accessories commonly used in the craft:

  1. Fabric:
    • Definition: The base material on which embroidery is done, available in various types and fibers.
    • Purpose: Provides a surface for the embroidery design to be stitched onto.
    • Best practices: Choose a fabric that complements the design and consider factors such as thread count, color, and texture.
  2. Embroidery Hoop:
    • Definition: A circular or oval frame made of wood or plastic, consisting of an inner and outer hoop.
    • Purpose: Keeps the fabric taut during embroidery, preventing wrinkles and facilitating even stitching.
    • Best practices: Use an appropriately sized hoop that fits the design, and tighten it enough to secure the fabric without causing distortion.
  3. Embroidery Needles:
    • Definition: Specialized needles designed for embroidery, available in various sizes and types.
    • Purpose: Used to create stitches and patterns on the fabric.
    • Best practices: Select a needle size suitable for the fabric and thread thickness. Change needles regularly to maintain sharpness.
  4. Embroidery Threads:
    • Definition: Threads specifically made for embroidery, available in a wide range of colors, fibers, and thicknesses.
    • Purpose: Used to create the decorative stitches and patterns on the fabric.
    • Best practices: Match the thread type and weight to the fabric and desired effect. Consider using stranded cotton, silk, or metallic threads for different effects.

  5. Embroidery Scissors:
    • Definition: Small, sharp scissors with pointed or curved blades, specifically designed for cutting embroidery threads.
    • Purpose: Used to precisely trim thread ends and snip excess fabric.
    • Best practices: Keep your scissors dedicated to embroidery to maintain their sharpness. Trim threads close to the fabric without cutting into it.
  6. Embroidery Transfer Tools:
    • Definition: Tools used to transfer the embroidery design onto the fabric, such as carbon transfer paper, transfer pens, or iron-on transfers.
    • Purpose: Enable the transfer of the design from a pattern or template to the fabric.
    • Best practices: Follow the instructions provided with the transfer tool to ensure accurate and clean design transfer.
  7. Embroidery Marking Tools:
    • Definition: Tools used to mark guidelines, patterns, or specific points on the fabric, such as water-soluble or air-soluble fabric markers.
    • Purpose: Assist in accurate stitching and placement of embroidery designs.
    • Best practices: Test marking tools on a scrap fabric to ensure they won't damage or stain the final piece. Remove the marks completely after stitching.

      embroidery stabilizers
  8. Embroidery Stabilizers:
    • Definition: Materials used to provide support and stability to the fabric during embroidery, such as tear-away, cut-away, or wash-away stabilizers.
    • Purpose: Prevent fabric distortion, puckering, or stretching while stitching.
    • Best practices: Select the appropriate stabilizer based on fabric type and density. Fr knits and lightly woven use a cut away stabilizer and for stable fabrics that are heavy woven use a tear away stabilizer. Other factors that may require a heavier stabilizer are the stitch of the design, long stitch lengths, and the weight of the material.

      View this guide to stabilizer selection 

  9. Embroidery Hoop Stand:
    • Definition: A device that holds the embroidery hoop in place, leaving both hands free for stitching.
    • Purpose: Provides stability and allows for easier and more comfortable stitching.
    • Best practices: Adjust the hoop stand to a comfortable working height and position, ensuring it securely holds the hoop without excessive movement. Learning the art of hooping is pivotal if you want to succeed in embroidery. 
  10. Thimbles:
    • Definition: Protective devices worn on the finger to push the needle through the fabric.
    • Purpose: Prevents needle pricks and provides a better grip when pushing the needle.
    • Best practices: Choose a thimble that fits snugly but comfortably on your finger. Position it slightly above the eye of the needle and apply gentle pressure while stitching.
  11. Embroidery Floss Organizer:
    • Definition: A tool or container used to organize and store embroidery floss.
    • Purpose: Keeps embroidery floss neat, untangled, and easily accessible during stitching.
    • Best practices: Use a floss organizer with labeled compartments to sort and store different thread colors. Wind floss onto bobbins or wrap around small cards for easier use.
  12. Embroidery Frames and Stands:
    • Definition: Frames or stands that hold the fabric taut while stitching, allowing for hands-free embroidery.
    • Purpose: Provides stability and relieves hand strain during longer embroidery sessions.
    • Best practices: Choose a frame or stand that suits your preferred stitching style and adjust it to a comfortable height and tension.
  13. Needle Threader:
    • Definition: A tool designed to assist in threading the embroidery needle, especially with fine threads.
    • Purpose: Makes it easier to guide the thread through the needle eye.
    • Best practices: Use a needle threader gently and ensure it is compatible with the needle size you are using.

      needle threader
  14. Embroidery Tracing Paper:
    • Definition: A thin paper coated with wax or transfer material used to transfer designs onto fabric.
    • Purpose: Allows for easy and precise design transfer without damaging the fabric.
    • Best practices: Place the tracing paper between the design and fabric, trace the design using a pointed tool, and transfer the lines by applying pressure.
  15. Embroidery Design Software:
    • Definition: Computer software used to create, edit, and digitize embroidery designs.
    • Purpose: Enables the creation of intricate and complex embroidery designs and patterns.
    • Best practices: Familiarize yourself with the software's features and functions, and follow tutorials or classes to enhance your digitizing skills
  16. Embroidery Pliers:
  • Definition: Pliers specifically designed for embroidery, featuring a flat or curved tip.
  • Purpose: Aid in the tightening and adjusting of embroidery hoop tension.
  • Best practices: Use pliers when adjusting the hoop tension to prevent hand strain and achieve an even fabric tension.

    17. Topping:
  • Definition: A temporary stabilizer placed on top of the fabric to prevent stitches from sinking into the fabric or getting lost.
  • Purpose: Helps maintain stitch definition and prevents fabric texture from interfering with the embroidery.
  • Best practices: Choose the appropriate topping for the fabric type and texture. Use a water-soluble or heat-removable topping and remove it after stitching.

    18. Thread Color Cards
  • Definition: Reference cards or charts displaying a manufacturer's thread colors, allowing for easier color selection and matching.
  • Purpose: Helps in choosing thread colors that closely match the desired design or project.
  • Best practices: Use color cards from reputable thread manufacturers to ensure accurate color representation. Consider obtaining multiple brands' color cards for wider color selection.
    rayon color card

    19. Thread Storage Containers:
  • Definition: Containers designed to store and organize embroidery threads, typically with compartments or spool slots.
  • Purpose: Keeps thread spools neat, untangled, and protected from dust and light exposure.
  • Best practices: Store threads in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Use containers with proper thread slots or dividers to prevent tangling.

    20. Thread Assortment Boxes:
  • Definition: Boxes or sets containing a variety of embroidery threads in different colors and types.
  • Purpose: Provides a diverse range of thread colors and materials for various embroidery projects.
  • Best practices: Choose thread assortments based on your project needs and preferences. Consider selecting assortments that offer a balanced mix of basic and specialty threads. Many thread assortment boxes include things such as polyneon, rayon, metallic, spectra, cotona, aerofil, and more.



    21. Prewound Bobbins:
  • Definition: Bobbins wound with thread specifically for use in embroidery machines.
  • Purpose: Saves time and ensures consistent bobbin thread tension during machine embroidery.
  • Best practices: Purchase prewound bobbins compatible with your embroidery machine model. Choose high-quality bobbin thread to prevent thread breakage and ensure good stitch quality.


    22. Bobbin Cases:
  • Definition: A component of an embroidery machine that holds the bobbin and regulates the thread tension.
  • Purpose: Ensures proper thread tension and smooth bobbin thread feeding during machine embroidery.
  • Best practices: Clean and maintain the bobbin case regularly to prevent lint buildup. Follow manufacturer instructions for installing and adjusting the bobbin case.

    23. Bobbin Spools:
  • Definition: Spools specifically designed to hold bobbin thread for machine embroidery.
  • Purpose: Provides a convenient and organized way to store and access bobbin threads.
  • Best practices: Wind bobbin threads evenly and with the appropriate tension. Store bobbin spools in a container or storage case to prevent tangling.

    24. Embroidery Blanks:
  • Definition: Ready-made items or fabrics specifically designed for embroidery, such as towels, caps, bags, or garments. They can even be stuffed animals that you can embroider on.
  • Purpose: Provides a base for embroidery projects, saving time and effort in sourcing and preparing fabric.
  • Best practices: Choose blanks made from suitable fabric and construction for embroidery. Pre-wash and stabilize the blanks as needed before stitching. 



    25. Embroidery Machines:
  • Definition: Computerized machines designed for automated or computer-controlled embroidery.
  • Purpose: Enable precise and intricate embroidery designs, saving time and enhancing efficiency.
  • Best practices: Familiarize yourself with your embroidery machine's features, functions, and maintenance requirements. Follow manufacturer instructions for setup, hooping, and thread tension adjustment.

    26. Irons:
  • Definition: Heat-generating devices used to press and flatten fabric during embroidery.
  • Purpose: Helps remove wrinkles, creases, and hoop marks, ensuring a smooth and even surface for embroidery.
  • Best practices: Use a steam iron with adjustable temperature settings suitable for the fabric type. Test the iron on a scrap fabric before pressing the embroidered piece to prevent damage. 

    The Nifty Notions Mini Steam Iron is a small steam iron ideal for many crafts, sewing and quilting projects such as applying appliques and pressing bias tape

    27. Lint Brushes:
  • Definition: Brushes with fine bristles used to remove lint, thread, and loose fibers from fabric and embroidery.
  • Purpose: Keeps fabric and embroidery clean and free from stray fibers that may affect the stitch quality.
  • Best practices: Use a lint brush gently to avoid damaging delicate embroidery. Brush fabric and embroidery in one direction to remove lint effectively.

    28. Oilers:
  • Definition: Small bottles or containers filled with oil used to lubricate and maintain embroidery machines. 
  • Purpose: Prevents friction, reduces wear and tear, and ensures smooth machine operation.
  • Best practices: Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for oiling your specific embroidery machine. Use the recommended oil and apply it sparingly and precisely to avoid oil stains on fabric. There are many embroidery & sewing oilers to choose from, but a fan favorite is the zoom-spout 4 oz.
    embroidery oiler

    29. Placement Tools:
  • Definition: Tools or templates used to assist in positioning and aligning embroidery designs on fabric or garments.
  • Purpose: Helps achieve accurate and symmetrical placement of embroidery designs.
  • Best practices: Use placement tools such as templates, rulers, or alignment marks to ensure consistent positioning across multiple items. Secure the placement tool firmly to prevent shifting during stitching.

    30. Cutters, Snips, and Rotary Cutters:
  • Definition: Cutting tools used to trim threads, remove excess fabric, or cut fabric pieces during embroidery.
  • Purpose: Enables precise cutting and trimming for clean and professional finishes.
  • Best practices: Keep cutting tools sharp and dedicated to embroidery to prevent fabric fraying or thread damage. Choose the appropriate tool for the specific task and exercise caution while cutting.

    31. Scissors:
  • Definition: Cutting tools with two sharp blades used for various embroidery tasks, such as fabric trimming or thread cutting.
  • Purpose: Allows for precise and controlled cutting of fabric and threads.
  • Best practices: Use scissors dedicated to embroidery to maintain their sharpness. Select scissors with fine points for intricate cutting and larger ones for fabric trimming.

    Fiskars curved scissors will trim small loose threads with precision, and with the uniquely curved blade design, achieve flawless snips flush against your fabric's surface, without a worry of damaging it. Craft with confidence using these exceptional scissors

    32. Seam Rippers:
  • Definition: Small tools with a sharp blade and pointed end used to remove stitches or open seams.
  • Purpose: Helps correct mistakes, remove unwanted stitches, or separate fabric layers during embroidery.
  • Best practices: Use a seam ripper with care to avoid damaging the fabric. Seam ripper blades should be sharp and pointed, allowing for easy stitch removal.
    seam rippers


    33. Tweezers:
  • Definition: Small handheld tools with narrow tips used for picking up small objects, adjusting threads, or removing stray fibers.
  • Purpose: Enables precise handling and placement of threads, beads, or small embellishments.
  • Best practices: Choose tweezers with fine and non-slip tips for better grip and control. Use tweezers gently to avoid pulling or distorting the fabric.

    34. Stitch Erasers:
  • Definition: Electric or battery-operated devices designed to remove embroidered stitches by cutting the threads. 
  • Purpose: Provides a faster and more efficient method of stitch removal, especially for larger or densely stitched areas.
  • Best practices: Follow the manufacturer's instructions for using stitch erasers carefully. Exercise caution to avoid damaging the fabric or adjacent stitches. One of the most widely used tools is the Peggys Stitch Eraser - which will make your life much easier. Peggy's Stitch Eraser removes stitches in fabric without damage to material! A must for anyone who sews!

    peggy stitch eraser

    35. Tape Measures:
  • Definition: Flexible measuring tools, usually made of cloth or plastic, used to measure fabric dimensions and distances accurately.
  • Purpose: Provides precise measurements for fabric cutting, placement, and design positioning.
  • Best practices: Choose tape measures with clear markings and a reliable locking mechanism. Keep the tape measure taut but not stretched while measuring.

    36. Tension Gauges:
  • Definition: Devices used to measure the tension of the thread in an embroidery machine. The digital tension gauge is used to set both bobbin thread and top thread tensions. 
  • Purpose: Helps ensure consistent and balanced thread tension, resulting in high-quality and uniform stitches.
  • Best practices: Follow the manufacturer's instructions for using the tension gauge with your specific embroidery machine. Regularly check and adjust the thread tension as needed.



    37. Spray Adhesive:
  • Definition: Adhesive in aerosol form used to temporarily bond fabric layers or stabilizers during embroidery.
  • Purpose: Provides temporary stability and prevents shifting of fabric layers or stabilizers during stitching.
  • Best practices: Use spray adhesive sparingly and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Apply it in a well-ventilated area and avoid spraying directly on the embroidery design.

    38. Hoop Tape:
  • Definition: Adhesive tape specifically designed for securing fabric to embroidery hoops.
  • Purpose: Provides additional grip and stability to prevent fabric slippage while hooping.
  • Best practices: Apply hoop tape evenly and firmly to the inner hoop for better fabric tension. Ensure the tape does not extend beyond the stitching area.

    39. Lighting:
  • Definition: Additional light sources, such as task lamps or overhead lights, used to illuminate the embroidery area.
  • Purpose: Enhances visibility and reduces eye strain, allowing for accurate and detailed stitching.
  • Best practices: Position lighting to minimize shadows and provide uniform illumination across the embroidery area. Use natural daylight or white LED lights for accurate color perception.

    40. Puffy Foam:
  • Definition: Foam sheets or strips used to add dimension and texture to embroidery designs.
  • Purpose: Creates raised or three-dimensional effects in specific parts of the embroidery design.
  • Best practices: Cut puffy foam to the desired shape and size, then place it under the fabric in the designated area. Ensure the foam is securely attached and doesn't obstruct the stitching path.

    41. Thread Nets:
  • Definition: Fine mesh sleeves or tubes used to prevent tangling and unraveling of delicate or specialty embroidery threads.
  • Purpose: Protects thread from fraying, tangling, or excessive twisting during embroidery.
  • Best practices: Slide the thread into the thread net before stitching to prevent it from tangling or unraveling. Choose thread nets that are appropriate for the thread thickness and length.

 

What to Look for in a Quality Embroidery Shop

 

Ensure they have all the Embroidery Shop Essentials

A good embroidery shop offers all the essential items you need. That makes them a valuable resource to you as an embroiderer. Do they have the essential embroidery shop supplies for most, if not all of your projects? If so, that is a good sign.

 embroidery shop essentials

They have a wide variety of choices

Variety is not only the spice of life. Variety means choices for you and your embroidery projects. This is beneficial, especially in the area of tools and accessories. You may have a list of favorites, but life can throw a surprise your way. You may need to adapt and try something new. When this happens, an embroidery shop with a wide variety of options is helpful. In addition, sometimes it is fun to try new things. Trying new things can lead to learning new things. This can make you a better embroiderer. Variety can be your friend.

 

They offer top-quality brands

This seems like common sense, but it’s a good sign if the embroidery store offers top brands. In the embroidery and quilting world you want to buy from the best brands. Vendors like Tacony, Fil-Tec, Coats, Groz-Beckert, and Fiskar are all superior brands in the industry.

When it comes to top brands are at the top for a reason. In the case of Madeira thread, they have been around for over a century for a reason. The quality of their thread has proven out over time. That said, when an embroidery shop has top brands of thread, backing, bobbins, tools, and accessories it helps to ensure you get the most out of your embroidery.

top thread brands

It’s Simple to Purchase

Doing embroidery is better when buying your materials and supplies is simple. Is the embroidery shop offering a wide variety of products that include top brands? Can you get what you need for projects in a quick, simple, and reliable way? Great. Now you can focus on what’s important; making quality embroidered products.

Experience and Proven Reputation

Another sign of a solid embroidery shop is time-tested experience. This means its more likely you are working with a store that has provided good products with good service consistently. The longer an embroidery shop has been in business, the better. 

Pricing

This almost speaks for itself. Does the embroidery shop offer quality products at an attractive and competitive price? This is what you are looking for in order to achieve the results you want in a cost-effective way. Do they offer discounts or promotions when you sign up for their newsletter? 

They are a helpful and are a valuable resource

An embroidery shop is even better when they are a helpful and valuable resource. It’s the extras that sometimes make a big difference. It could be a friendly voice and a pleasant demeanor of the person answering the phone. Ensure that the customer service will refund you if there is an error in your order, or at the very least they will replace your package. 

Ensure that they have people you can turn to who have done embroidery projects and can offer help to beginners and experienced embroiderers.  It might be how-to articles, education, or tips on their website. An embroidery shop can sometimes be more than a store. It can be a helpful resource as well.