What Type of Fabric Should Beginners Use For Embroidery?

What kind of cloth is best for practicing new techniques and learning foundational stitches is one of the first queries beginning sewers have. There are a variety of thread counts and fabrics available for embroidery, including cotton, linen, and mixes.

The fabric you choose will depend on the embroidery style you plan to use and the item you intend to construct. Here is a brief overview of the most popular embroidered fabrics you can buy in shops, as well as some unusual sources you can discover in home decor stores.

What Type of Fabric Should Beginners Use For Embroidery?

This quick guide will help you identify the materials that work best for embroidery if you’re looking for a fabric to embroider on as a beginner. 

1. Cotton

The best fabric for novice embroiderers is 100% cotton. Although the fabric is smooth and silky, it nevertheless has a defined weave that helps ensure even sewing. A wide range of stitches can be used because of how tightly the weave is woven. Almost any hue is also readily accessible in cotton, which makes for an attractive and complementary background.

Unbleached muslin and other cotton fabrics with looser weaves and natural hues are commonly accessible. Aida and Hardanger are the best-embroidered cottons. Whether your first embroidery project involves making apparel, home decor, or gift crafts, there is undoubtedly a cotton fabric that will complement your project’s requirements.

2. Canvas

100% cotton canvas is preferred for embroidery. For projects like making colorful tote bags, canvas, also known as duck cloth, is a sturdy, reliable fabric that performs well. It is simple to precisely embroider canvas because of its distinct weave.

Because canvas is a heavier fabric, use a proper needle (a size 1 or 3 sharp could suffice) and a higher embroidery thread count. Canvas is available in several thread counts, from very open to closed yet loose. For the looser weaves, you might require a backing fabric.

Due to its loose weave, canvas may also somewhat stretch inside an embroidery hoop. To avoid crooked embroidered patterns, you might want to look into ways to stabilize or pre-stretch this type of fabric.

3. Linen

Another common fabric for embroidery is linen, sometimes known as art linen. In recent years, it has been more challenging to get a good selection of 100% linen in some fabric stores. However, this fantastic material can also be purchased online. 

For embroidered work, a 19-36 thread-count art linen is ideal. Because linen is more expensive, those on a tight budget might wish to stick with cotton for their starting efforts. Additionally, bear in mind that different embroidery techniques, such as cross-stitch or crewel, require particular weaves and weights. Therefore, carefully study the directions before buying your fabric.

Any embroidered item gains sophistication and depth from linen’s nubby texture and even, plain weave. It is offered in two types, one with a very loose thread count like linen canvas and a denser one suited for garments.

When new, linen has a slightly firm feel, which makes embroidery easier. If you’re using the material for garments or pillow coverings, it softens rapidly for comfortable wear. Online retailers now offer hand-dyed linen, which adds vintage appeal to wall art and other items from the past.

4. Wool

Another common material for more artistic needlework tasks is wool, particularly wool felt. Although it is simple for beginners to use, some stitches don’t work, because the material’s fuzziness might obscure minute details.

Wool, however, is resilient and doesn’t stretch. For appliqué or crewel stitching with striking designs, it works exceptionally well. Wool felt is a common material for ornaments, making it an excellent present idea for novices.

5. Denim

The majority of denim is made of cotton, but its distinctive twill weave and texture set it apart from other fabrics. Denim jackets, jeans, and skirts with embroidery never go out of style and are ideal ways to learn the craft.

When an item has reached the end of its useful life, embroidered denim patches are a fantastic way to repair, revive, or repurpose it as a craft. Both crewel and straight stitches work well when embroidering denim. To accommodate the fabric’s weight, however, you’ll need a heavier needle.

6. Ramie

Ramie, also known as ramie linen, has a texture and looks like linen. However, it is created from the stem of a Chinese nettle known as China grass. The fabric is categorized as cotton and linen. Due to its existence for so long, it is one of the strongest and oldest vegetable fibers.

Ramie is available in various weave sizes, just like linen and cotton. This material is a fantastic substitute for silk for novices, because it is a little thicker than cotton and has glosser. Ramie works well with both fashion and home decor. The material is very absorbent, and it is an ideal material for making embroidered dishcloths or towels. 

7. Silk

Another pricey fabric that can be a good place to start for a newbie embroiderer who is also a sewer is silk. For simpler crafts, like making a scarf or a wall hanging, the cost is actually not that expensive. 

Dressmaking has long been a favorite use of embroidered silk. Actually, there are at least 50 different varieties of dressmaker’s silk available. However, silk is not the simplest fabric to deal with for needlework, so complete beginners might wish to avoid it.

Silk has a tight weave that can be problematic, and requires the use of a tiny, pointy needle with a tiny eye. Using a needle too big can leave overly large, permanent holes. Additionally, because some varieties of silk are so thin, the surface may reveal the presence of subsurface threads. In that situation, a backing can be required to provide strength and conceal under stitching.

8. Fabric Blends

For embroidered work, natural fibers are typically recommended, especially for beginners. For many basic embroidery techniques, natural textiles provide the optimum weight and weave. However, some synthetic or blended materials work well for straightforward jobs. Some fabric blends you might want to consider include. 

9. Satin

Satin used to be made entirely of silk, although this is no longer the case often. The majority of satin is constructed from synthetic filament fibers like nylon, polyester, or various combinations. The only difference between using satin and silk is that silk fabric is typically lighter.

It also has a distinct weave, which causes the fibers on top to appear “floating.” Some stitching results may not be adequate due to the tendency of these dangling fibers to pull to the side.

10. Velvet

While there have been some beautiful needlework projects on velvet, it is not a fabric recommended for novices. However, choose stitching that won’t blend into the fabric’s nap if you decide to go for it.

A hoop is also not advised while embroidering velvet, because it could leave an almost indestructible mark.

11. Burlap

Jute, hemp, or other natural fibers are twisted loosely to form burlap. For craftsmen, burlap has many uses. Try using more unique embroidery threads to cross-stitch, crewel, or straight-stitch a design, such as yarn or tapestry wool.

Burlap can be used to make original craft ideas for the home or as gifts when combined with embroidered stitches, background paint, beads, ribbons, or other materials. If you have a lot of creative flair, burlap can help you make a significant impact in the world of needlework.

12. Polyester

Even though natural materials work best for embroidery, one synthetic fabric stands out. Polyester can be embroidered with ease. However, you’ll need to change the equipment you use.

The thread you use must first be made of synthetic materials. The ideal thread to use is polyester, but rayon, a semi-synthetic material, can also be used. When embroidering polyester, rayon thread can give your embroidered patterns a slightly different look and feel.

Synthetic textiles can sometimes be woven too tightly for the needle to pass through without puckering or harming the fabric, which is one of their issues. Use a ballpoint needle to make it easier to press through the fabric, or choose a polyester fabric with a looser weave.

Additionally, use patterns with few or light stitches, because too many or densely packed stitches could cause the fabric to pucker and tear. Selecting fabrics with a polyester and cotton blend will make them easier to embroider and more durable.

Tips For Choosing The Right Embroidery Fabric

Making the improper fabric choice might cause your pattern to stretch, pucker, or even warp, undoing all your hard work. Keep reading for tips on picking the ideal embroidered fabric.

– Know Your Thread Count

Learn the significance of thread count, the number of woven threads used to measure an inch or a centimeter. This is crucial to the type of embroidery you’re learning.

– Pre-Wash To Avoid Puckering

Always wash natural materials in advance. Make sure the fabric is adequately prepared to prevent further harm to your diligent effort. Buy more natural fibers than you’ll need, because most of them will shrink to some extent. Always wash your fabric before beginning to sew. This tightens the weave and ensures it is uniform throughout the panel.

Additionally, it pre-shrinks the fabric, which is important if you plan to include your embroidery on a garment likely laundered, such as a quilt or shirt.

– Make Use Of Stabilizer

If your fabric feels exceptionally light or your pattern requires thicker embroidered stitches, add an embroidery stabilizer or background like Kona cotton. It may be possible to remove some backings, but it’s typically preferable to choose a permanent backing that will support your work over time.

– Try Out Different Samples

Attempt a sample. Before beginning a large project, experiment with a simple pattern on a small sample if you’re unsure of how a particular fabric type will handle embroidery work or how many threads would work best.

What Fabric Is Best For Machine Embroidery?

Machine embroidery can be done on any woven fabric, including cotton, linen, and polyester. On the other hand, because they are a little stiffer than materials like cotton and linen, denim and thicker canvas are typically ideal when stitched by a machine. You can embroider more elaborate and substantial patterns with a machine, like those that might appear on denim.

If you have embroidery experience, you might use a machine to embroider knit textiles, as well as thinner fabrics like silk or satin. But you’ll need to apply a stabilizer. If not, the fabric will move too much and ruin your pattern.


The ideal fabrics for embroidery should have little to no stretch, be medium-weight, and be evenly and firmly woven. If you’re just learning to embroider, start with something straightforward, like cotton, linen, or similar fabric with an even weave. You can switch to other textiles once you’ve become used to it.