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Last updated: July 14, 2022
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Embroidery can be a relaxing hobby, creating interesting and unique pieces. But, your choice of fabric will impact your enjoyment. If you think you know what fabric you should look for, you may be mistaken. There are some fabrics that may look great, but can be incredibly difficult to work with. This can not only impact how easy it is to work with, but it can also impact the finished result, making the stitches look messy and the design unclear.
In our quest to find the best fabric for embroidery, we’ve reviewed a number of items. First and foremost, we looked at the type of material that will not only produce the best results, but impact how easy it is to work with. We also look at the hand, weave, thread count and even size, which all affect the practicalities of your embroidery project.
Other features: six pieces, comes with water-soluble pens
When you’re looking for the best fabric for hand embroidery cotton has to be one of the top choices and this selection is worthy of our editor’s choice. Caydo has assembled a comprehensive package to get you up and running quickly, including: 6 pieces of cotton embroidery fabric and 5 water soluble pens. The fabric colors include: army green, navy blue, sky blue, rose, black and white. Each fabric color (aside from white of course) has a corresponding pen tone which allows you to get creative.
The fabric sizes are 11.8” square which should meet your needs for a variety of embroidery crafting projects, including: handbags, wallets, garments, table cloths and more. This is a plain cotton weave muslin fabric which is the most common form of material used in embroidery today. The only real drawback to using muslin is if you’re doing counted thread embroidery. This is because it can be harder to see where the needle needs to go making this product better suited to free style embroidery projects.
What do we love it for? The pack is a great starter kit.
What were we disappointed with? The thread weave could be challenging for beginners.
The Exceart Cotton Linen Craft Fabric pack contains 7pcs of needlework fabric to meet various crafting needs. The cloth pieces are durable, breathable and healthy fabrics made from linen and natural cotton. This makes these linen fabric pieces ideal to make items, such as: pillows, handbags, bags, garments, backpacks and more. The high quality of materials offered make this product an ideal choice for those seeking the best fabric for machine embroidery.
Each fabric piece is approximately 19.69” square with a generous 0.04” thickness. The fabric can be cut and spliced to meet your various crafting needs and it’s easy to make you own DIY items. The price is very affordable considering that you get 7 different colors to work with and the fabric pieces are higher quality than some competitors’ similar products. If you want a product that allows you to get fabrics for embroidery and more this would be a good purchase. The fabric quality is great, they are easy to work with and very versatile making this is a great product for crafters.
What are its best features? High quality materials.
Other features: solid pattern, strong 3D touch feeling, 14 count
This JUSTDOLIFE Cross Stitch Fabric pack is a little different to the first two products featured on our list. The fabric pieces are only available in black or white and they are sized at 59” x 39” making the pieces rectangular rather than square. That being said, these fabric pieces are excellent quality and easy to cut with a pair of sharp scissors. The white colored fabric is particularly nice because it’s reflective under light making it work well with other colors. This fabric is well suited to many DIY crafting applications including: hang, machine, needle and cross stitch embroidery.
These fabric pieces have a very nice soft feel and they are easy to clean. The fabric is made with a mechanical griding process, this is a neat pattern that offers a strong 3D feeling for crafters. The fabric is simple to sketch and cut, it’s breathable, durable and very well suited to embroidery. If you want a strong and uniform design for your next embroidery project this may be the exact fabric to meet your needs.
As we mentioned above, Aida cloth is a popular choice for cross stitching embroidery enthusiasts because it has a square pattern that’s easy to count. But, this also makes Aida cloth perfect for counted thread techniques, such as: surface and assisi embroidery. It’s possible to get Aida cloth in many colors with different patterns, textures and prints. This is why we like the Similane 6 Pieces Aida Cloth product because although it’s only available in white it’s a great introduction to this fantastic crafting material.
There are 6 Aida cloth pieces in this pack measuring 12” x 18” with a 14 count. This is an American made product that’s perfect for cross stitching and embroidery projects. The pieces are all made from high quality cotton that’s durable and breathable. This may not be the best fabric for embroidery patches due to the solid block of white color. But, this cross stitching fabric is stiff enough to work on without needing a hoop.
Why are we impressed? The fabric is high quality and durable.
What negatives must you be aware of? The white is not bright white.
Other features: 28-count, can be stitched over 2 threads
The Charles Craft Aida Cloth fabrics are 100% cotton yards that feel a little thicker and heavier than other Aida fabrics on sale today. This is a great material for crafters and embroiders that prefer to work without using a hoop. This monaco cloth is easy to use with a 28 count and an attractive antique white color. This fabric is perfect for cross stitch machine embroidery projects, stamped designs and punch needle embroidery.
Each piece of cloth is 20” x 24” and it can be stitched over two threads. This fabric must be dried flat after washing in lukewarm water with mild soap and rinsing with cold water. This fabric is made in the U.S. and it feels softer than Aida and sturdier than most linens. This is a great fabric at a fair price and it will work well in a wide variety of crafting and embroidery projects.
Why did it make our list? It’s a great fabric for cross stitching.
Other features: four pieces, soft, wear-resistant, easy to clean
The UUYYEO White Cross Stitch Fabric Cloth pack contains 4 pieces of cotton blend material at an affordable price and it is our best value pick. Each fabric piece is 17.7” x 11.8” and they are easy to clean. This is a good value cross stitch fabric that feels soft to the touch and it is wear resistant. But, it’s important to understand that cotton can shrink and pre-washing is required if you don’t want a smaller size after completing your project. This is also important if you want to avoid color bleeding that can ruin your work.
Why did it make our list? Easy clean.
What is not ideal about it? Vulnerable to color bleeding.
Things to Consider
With so many fabrics on the market, it can be tricky to choose the best one for your project. So, here we’ve compiled a buying guide with features to look for and answers to some common questions to help you.
Things to consider before buying fabric for embroidery
There are a number of considerations you should look at before making your purchase decision. This includes:
There are many types of projects to consider, perhaps you want to create something decorative or more practical? Do you want to embellish a garment or do you need a new cushion for the sofa? If you understand the purpose of your project clearly before you begin you can plan which ground fabric you need to use. Over time, you will assemble a considerable collection of fabrics in a wide variety of sizes and colors. This will allow you to make easier choices, but when you start out consider your choices carefully and try to cover the basics.
Type of embroidery
The embroidery type will influence your fabric choices, surface embroidery tends to feature flowing or curved lines and the fabric you choose needs to allow this. Surface embroidery is often used to fill spaces which requires a closely worked stitch, such as: satin, short and long stitch filling. For these types of stitches a full weave is better with no noticeable gaps such as the Exceart Cotton Linen Craft Fabric pack on our list. If you want to carry out counted work, including: counted cross stitch, Hardanger, blackwork and others an even weave fabric with little holes at war and weft intersections is ideal.
If you project requires heavy stitching and dense fillings you need to be careful when you choose your ground fabric. A dense filling stitch needs a heavier fabric such as the Charles Craft Aida Cloth with a 28 count. A lighter fabric will not work well with crewel embroidery that requires heavily filling and stitching. On certain projects a heavier fabric would be overkill and something lighter such as the UUYYEO White Cross Stitch Fabric Cloth pack will be more than adequate.
How to choose the best fabric for embroidery
Before you choose a specific fabric for your embroidery project, there are several things you need to consider.
Type and structure of the weave
The best types of fabrics contain natural materials, such as: linen, cotton, wool, silk or a blend. A natural sourced textile will be soft and yet durable enough to support your decorative stitches.
Another consideration is that they tend to have vertical and horizontal fibers that allow easy passage for your needle. If you use a synthetic fabric your needle can perforate a thread and this will eventually lead to fraying.
As the name implies, the hand refers to the feel of the fabric as you run your hand across it. When you want to carry out surface embroidery it’s good to have a fabric that feels smooth when you run your hand over the surface. If you have a lot of irregularities, bumps and textures it can affect the accuracy of your embroidery stitches.
Many people find that synthetic fabrics are abrasive on their threads or hard to work with. There are exceptions and for most of us this is purely a personal preference. But, if you want consistent results look for a fabric with a 100% natural content and you can make your stitching much easier.
If you’re new to embroidery the best way to think about the thread count is that it’s the same as bed linens. Thread count refers to the number of threads in a single square inch and this is important when it comes to embroidery fabrics. But, when you are looking for bed linen you typically want a higher thread count because it feels more luxurious. However, the opposite is true when considering embroidery fabric because if the thread count is too high you cannot perform stitching easily. If you stick to using fabrics with a thread count under 150, including: linen, Flour Sack, Osnaburn and Aida you can pull a needle through.
Size and weight
The fabric that you choose for your project must be able to accommodate your design ideas. So, the sizing of the fabric is crucial and it’s always a good idea to get more fabric than you need. However, the larger the fabric piece, the harder it will be to frame it in the mount. The most common fabric size for embroidery is 12” x 18” such as the Similane 6 Pieces Aida Cloth product on our list. This allows you to use the fabric in a number of different ways with a needle or a machine. Take some time to match the fabric size to your design before the project is started and the project will progress better.
Many people will know the exact fabric color that they want before they even begin their project. But, others may struggle to find the exact shade of fabric that they need. If you find that you know which fabric you need but perhaps it comes in only a single color that you don’t want. Let’s face it, color is incredibly important for every project and you need to have fabrics that are easy to work with. Some fabric choices on our list, such as the Caydo 6 Pieces Cotton Fabric for Embroidery pack have multiple colors to choose from. Others such as the JUSTDOLIFE Cross Stitch Fabric pack may only be available in black or white.
If you find that most or all of your embroidery projects are limited to white, off-white and natural linen colors you may be in a creative rut. It’s a great idea to go with a lighter color when using silks, linen and cotton if it fits the project. However, darker colors do work well if you have a lighter background that truly accents the color. Many experienced embroidery experts don’t enjoy stitching on top of a darker fabric. It can be very hard to see the needle and the results can be less impressive. Generally speaking, it’s easier to embroider on top of a white background and this is true even if you grow in experience. If you’re new to embroidery, stick to lighter fabric colors until you gain confidence and try a darker fabric if it suits the project when your skills have improved.
If you’re using cotton, you’ll need to prewash the fabric before you start. Once you’re ready to begin, iron the fabric and transfer the design. Finally, ensure the fabric is properly fitted in your hoop. It should be taut, but not stretched tight or you may distort your pattern.
As you can see there are some great fabric options for embroidery. From the JUSTDOLIFE with its soft feel fabric in a choice of black or white to the Exceart Cotton Linen Craft Fabric with multiple colors and breathable, natural fabrics. However, the stand out choice as the best fabric for embroidery has to be our editor’s choice, the Caydo 6 piece pack.
This is a nice kit with both fabric and water-soluble pens. This makes this pack a great choice for a variety of embroidery craft projects including table cloths, handbags and garments. The plain cotton weave muslin has a nice feel, but it is better suited to free style embroidery projects.