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Hand embroidery is any type of needlework that is done without a machine. It can be embroidery or cross stitch. Hand embroidered pieces are usually made on a piece of material with a pattern outlined on it. Some people may embroider freestyle, using material that doesn't have a printed pattern. The Importance of Tension
There are many different types of material that can be used for hand embroidery. A common material used for cross stitching is Aida. It is a thick material with visible holes in it. Cross stitching uses crosses, or x-shaped stitches to fill in the pattern. It uses running stitches to outline the design or to sew areas of the design that need lines.
Because a machine is not used, it is harder to keep the stitches uniform. Hoops and frames can be used to help keep the material taut. Hoops are made of wood or plastic, and are available in several different sizes. The material is stretched over the hoop and locked in place, making it easier to work. When the material is kept taut, the stitcher does not have to worry about maintaining tension to make sure the stitches are even. If you're just starting out, a wooden eight-inch hoop is ideal, unless you're working on very small pieces. Advanced embroiderers usually have several hoops in different sizes. What Can Be Embroidered?
Any type of fabric can be embroidered, from silk to canvas. For beginners, small, woven cotton pieces, such as handkerchiefs or dish towels, are the best materials for learning. Look for fabric with a weave that's easy to see, as you'll need to do some precise stitching to get the best results.
Hand embroidery uses various sized needles. Needle size depends on thread size and material size. Fabric materials have a count, which refers to the number of holes per inch. Aida 14 has 14 holes per inch. It can hold 14 crosses per inch for cross stitching.
There are many types of material for both embroidery and cross stitching-the type of material used is usually dictated by the project. The higher the number of holes per inch, the smaller each individual stitch and the more thread it takes to complete a project. Hand embroidery designs are printed on various counts of material. Check the label to find out the count.
You'll also need a selection of embroidery floss for stitching. This is the thread that is stitched to complete the design, and it's available in a wide array of colors and thicknesses. Printed designs include numbers for the different colors of floss, so all you need to do is match the numbers to get the right colors for a project.