How to embroider letters - 
hand embroidery for beginners

Hey there, embroidery enthusiasts! I see you're eager to learn how to embroider letters and personalize your belongings. Well, you're in luck because we're diving into the wonderful world of hand embroidery for beginners!

Embroidering letters may seem intimidating at first, but trust me, it's easier than you think.

Embroidery has a rich history, dating back to a time when stitching was a necessary skill for running a household. Girls would spend hours perfecting their samplers, which always included alphabet letters.

Now, you can carry on this tradition and create personalized items that are both practical and beautiful.

What can I stitch letters on?

Think about it—baby bibs, blankets, Christmas stockings, handkerchiefs, gym bags, pockets, pillowcases, samplers, pictures, t-shirts, jeans—you can add a personal touch to all of these items.

Heck, I even made a room sign for my nieces with their embroidered names. It turned out pretty cool!

lettering makes a good hand embroidery for beginners projectA simple room sign for my nieces with their embroidered names

My first try at hand embroidery for beginners

I remember when I first started embroidering. I was a bit skeptical at first, thinking it was going to be too difficult or time-consuming. But let me tell you, once I got the hang of it, I couldn't stop! There's something so satisfying about taking a plain, ordinary item and turning it into something special with just a needle and thread.

One of my favourite projects was making Christmas stockings for my family.

I wanted each stocking to have a personal touch, so I embroidered each person's name on the cuff. It was a bit challenging at times, especially when I accidentally pricked my finger a few times (ouch!), but seeing the final result made it all worth it.

It made our Christmas mornings even more special, knowing that each stocking was made with love.

Create personalised gifts

And let's not forget about the joy of making personalised gifts.

Who doesn't love receiving something that was made just for them? Whether it's a monogrammed handkerchief for your grandma or a custom bag for your best friend, these thoughtful gestures can really make someone's day.

Plus, it's a great way to show off your creativity and skills!

Where do you start?

Now, I know that it can feel overwhelming when you see all those intricate designs and fancy stitches. But here's the thing: you don't have to start with complicated patterns right away.

Start small and simple. Maybe try embroidering a basic flower or your initials on a pincushion. As you gain more confidence and practice, you can gradually take on more challenging projects.

And remember, embroidery is all about having fun and expressing yourself. Don't worry too much about making everything perfect. Embrace imperfections and let your creativity shine. After all, it's the personal touch that makes embroidered items so special.

Getting the lettering on the cloth

satin stitch 01Filling a letter with satin stitch worked over a back stitch outline

Now, let's get down to business. The first step in hand embroidery for beginners is choosing the right fabric for your project. I recommend using cotton, calico, or polycotton materials. They're easy to work with and will give you great results. Once you have your fabric, it's time to transfer your design onto it.

Trace your letters with a HB pencil first then turn the tracing paper over and go over the lines with your transfer pencil. That way they will be the right way round once ironed on to the fabric. Practicing on scrap cloth is worthwhile so you don’t ruin the garment you want to decorate. Don't be embarrassed, we've all made that mistake!

If you don't have an iron-on transfer, don't worry. You can use a light box or even a window during daylight hours. Just place your template and fabric on top of the light source, and you'll be able to see through the fabric to trace your letters with a disappearing ink pen or a sharp-pointed pencil.

No need for reversing things this way, either.

Some fabrics are more tricky

Now, let's talk about textured fabrics.

If you're working with fabrics like baby blankets or toweling that have a "nap," the previous methods won't work well.

Instead, you can use tissue paper and tacking stitches. Write your letters onto the tissue paper, position it over the fabric, and stitch over the lines with a straight stitch using contrasting colored thread. Tear away the tissue, and voila! You have a guide for your embroidery.

Oh, and if you're wondering how to embroider letters on knitting, it's a whole different ball game. You don't need to transfer a pattern. Instead, you'll work stitches from a chart using a technique called duplicate stitch. It's like cross stitch but with knitted stocking stitches. Pretty neat, huh?

What stitches to use

Now, let's talk stitches. If this is your first time tackling hand embroidery for beginners start with simple stitches.

Outlining works great. Backstitch and stem stitch are perfect for that. 

embroider a nameStem stitch for the B and backstitch for the rest of the name makes this simple

If you want to get more creative with thicker letters or monograms, side by side rows of split stitch, or chain stitch are great go-to options.

split stitch 02Split stitch can be stitched in side by side rows to fill wider areas

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don't be discouraged if your first attempts don't turn out exactly as you envisioned.

With time and practice, your embroidery skills will improve, and you'll create beautiful, personalised pieces like the padded satin stitch initial I stitched for my mum, shown below.

lette s floral

If you want to learn more stitches, be sure to check out my basic embroidery stitches page. There's a whole world of embroidery waiting for you to explore.

So go ahead, grab some fabric, thread, and a needle, and let your imagination run wild. Explore different stitches, experiment with colours, and don't be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Trust me, you'll be amazed at what you can create.

And who knows, maybe one day you'll be making cool room signs for your nieces too!

Taking it further

Learn to embroider flowers
Learn to embroider leaves


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