Hand Embroidery Basics

If you are a stitching beginner or more experienced but looking for fresh new ideas then this is the place for you
This post is aimed at all you stitching novices out there,
You have seen all the amazing patterns and glorious colours of thread on the market and you are itching to get started but totally bewildered by the whole thing!
So lets start right at the beginning 

Step 1 Design
The first thing you will need is a design to stitch
As a beginner you may not feel confident drawing your own design so i would suggest that use a commercial pattern
Xander Panda designs are all drawn and designed with YOU the beginner in mind
A bold simple design is the easiest to start with so I have drawn this cute little butterfly which you can download as a free pattern HERE
Download the pattern sheet and print it out

Step 2 Fabric
Now you have your pattern you will need some fabric to stitch it onto
!00% cotton fabric is the easiest to work with
Look for plain unpatterned quilting weight cottons in white, ivory or cream
The light colour will make it easier to trace the pattern

Step 3 Transfer
There are various ways to transfer a design onto fabric but we will start with the most straightforward method
Simply tape the pattern sheet to a light source using masking tape
The easiest way to do this is to use the nearest window

Tape the fabric over the pattern and trace the outline using a HB pencil 
The lines will be covered by your stitching

With your design now traced onto the fabric gather together the equipment for the next step

You will need:
Embroidery hoop
The wooden type with a screw mechanism which can be tightened with a screwdriver is the best type
They vary considerably in price but the old adage 'you get what you pay for' applies in this case as you will find that the cheapie ones are likely to split and/or the screw mechanism will break when tightened

Stranded Cotton 
Sometimes called embroidery floss, stranded cotton is one of the many types of thread which can be used for hand embroidery
As the name suggests it is made up of of 6 strands which can be separated to the thickness required for the project
It is widely available in a huge range of colours and ideal for beginners to start with 

Thread Conditioner
This is optional but I have found from experience that it really does make life a bit easier!
It reduces the amount of static in the thread making it less likely to knot and tangle

The type of needle you will need is a sharp embroidery or Crewel needle
The eye must be big enough to take the chosen number of strands easily
Small sharp scissors
Keep a pair just for your embroidery, using them to cut paper will blunt them quickly

Step 4 Place Fabric In Hoop
Place the bottom half of the embroidery hoop (i.e the piece without the screw) onto a hard surface
Place the fabric over the hoop making sure the design is in the centre
Place the other half of the hoop over the first trapping the fabric in between
Tighten the screw by hand and at the same time gently pull the fabric at the sides until it is taut
Finish tightening the screw with a small screwdriver to secure it
Step 5 Stitch
Cut a length of thread approx 18in (45cm) long using all six strands
Thread the needle and pop a knot on the end

The stitch we are going to use is a simple back stitch
Bring the needle through at A then down at B to create the first stitch
Come up again at C then down at D
Continue along the marked line in this way finishing by passing the thread through the last stitch at the back of the work and snip the thread close to the stitching

When stitching around a curved line make your stitches slightly smaller

When the stitching is complete, remove the fabric from the hoop

Place a clean folded towel over your ironing board and press the embroidery from the back - the towel helps stop the stitches being flattened

The finished embroidery