Embroidery supplies and equipment

Having the correct hand embroidery supplies and equipment can help you to enjoy your needlework even more.

This page will cover the equipment that I couldn't do without in my own sewing box. Other pages on the site will give more information about...

For a trip down memory lane you might like to visit this list of essential hand embroidery supplies and their prices in 'old money' from the 1930's. (The page will open up in a new window so you won't lose this one.)

So what else do you need to start embroidery?



Sewing Scissors

In my opinion the most important item you will need is a really sharp pair of embroidery scissors.

I am often surprised by the variety of scissors students bring with them to my classes. Dressmaking shears! Kitchen scissors! Scissors so blunt that they chew the thread!

Do yourself a favor and include a small pair with pointed, sharp blades that cut cleanly, amongst your counted cross stitch supplies. This is also important if you are thinking of trying hardanger or other cutwork techniques.

Read more about embroidery scissors here.

Embroidery frame

There are many types of scroll frames available if you do not like using a hoop. 

These are traditionally used for needlepoint and have wooden top and bottom roller bars withe webbing strips attached, and side pieces that stretch the fabric. These are available in various sizes. You need bars that are wider than your fabric, the length of the side pieces does not matter, as the excess fabric length will be wound around the top and bottom bars.

Take some strong thread and tack your fabric to each webbing strip. Wind the excess fabric around one, or both, bars to enable you to reach the area you are currently stitching. Most counted thread work is started in the centre so you would wind an equal amount onto both bars. You can also lace the edges of the fabric to the side bars to help keep it under tension.

More modern types of frame can eliminate the step of stitching the fabric to the bars. They have slots in the top and bottom bars. The fabric is laid across the slots and a wooden dowel is pushed through that grips the fabric.

Another type consists of 4 pieces of plastic tubing that fit together by means of corner sections. The fabric is laid over the tubing and snap on covers hold it in position.

Whichever type of hoop or frame you keep amongst your embroidery supplies, it is a good idea to loosen the work at the end of a stitching session to avoid over stretching the fabric.

Lap Frame

Holding a hoop or frame can be tiring on the non-stitching hand and could lead to RSI or repetitive strain injury. By supporting the frame with a lap frame or floor stand you have two hands to stitch with, making the work easier and quicker.

Lap frames tend to come in two forms; those that have a non-removable hoop or frame and ones with a clamp so that you can use any size hoop or frame.

Floor stand

I like to use a floor stand to hold my hoop as it leaves both hands free for stitching. These can be made of wood or metal but whatever it is made from, it needs to be sturdy. Some have places where you can attach other embroidery supplies such as a lamp, magnifier or chart holder. I have a magnet on mine to hold scissors or spare needles.

There are cheap models to be found, but you really do get what you pay for where floor stands are concerned.

Some of the cheaper ones will wobble as you work on them. Buy the best you can afford, to ensure stability. If a stand looks good as well as doing its job well you can even leave it out as an item of furniture in between stitching sessions.


I don't know about you but I find I need extra lighting when stitching. The room lights just don't provide enough, or direct it to the right place. I have to admit to being a bit of a lighting junkie, as amongst my embroidery supplies are three different lamps!

My favourite lamp magnifier has a circular flourescent tube surrounding a magnifying glass.  It is ideal if you always stitch in one particular room.  Being heavy, you wouldn't want to carry it around with you, however.

You might opt for something a bit more portable, such as the Compact Daylight Task Lamp which folds up.

When I'm out and about, (or in bed!) I have a little craft light that clamps to my hoop and supplies just enough daylight to my working area. This doesn't disturb anyone else sitting nearby and works from batteries so I can use it anywhere.


Due to my advancing age I find a magnifier a useful addition to my embroidery supplies. Many of my students use a magnifying glass that hands around the neck and has little "feet" that stand on your chest. Some also have a light. I have tried these but didn't get on that well with them. I found that ever time I moved I lost focus on the fabric, or the magnifier slipped and I had to reposition it. They may work for you though and are economical. 

I prefer to keep my magnifier closer to my eyes. There are several ways of doing this. The clip on magnifers that attach to your glasses can be useful. My favourite, however, are called Mag Eyes

As you can see by the picture, this headband magnifier sits comfortably on your forehead keeping them at an ideal distance from your eyes. Hinged arms enable you to push the lenses up out of the way when you don't need them.

If you use these, do NOT do what I did. After a stitching session I pushed them back and totally forgot I was wearing them. Whilst out shopping I was wondering why I was getting strange looks!

Other embroidery supplies to keep in your workbox

Other items to have amongst your embroidery supplies are a tape measure or ruler along with dressmaking shears for measuring and cutting your fabric.

You may also wish to have some sort of storage system for your threads and beads (if you use them).

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