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Best Fabric for Embroidery

If you want your embroidery designs to look as good as possible, then the type of fabric that you use is very important. But with so many different fabrics out there, how do you know which type to use? That’s why I’ve created this guide to explain what the best fabric for embroidery is so that you have no problems choosing.

When choosing a fabric for embroidery, natural fabrics tend to work better than synthetic ones. They tend to have a more even weave and the right amount of weight and stretchiness.
The best fabrics to use for embroidery are:

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Canvas
  • Denim
  • Aida Cloth
  • Even-weave
  • Muslin
  • Satin
  • Silk

All of the above fabrics are made with natural fibers, making them ideal for different embroidery projects. However, some are better for specific projects than others, and they each have their pros and cons. In this article, I’ll share all of the details you need to know about using these fabrics for embroidery.

Best Fabric for Embroidery

What is the Best Fabric for Embroidery?

If you’ve ever attempted an embroidery project and found out that the design just didn’t look the way you hoped it would, or it was too hard to push the needle through the fabric, then it’s likely that you weren’t using the right type of fabric. Whether you’re embroidering a piece of clothing, an accessory, or just creating a home decor item, here are the best fabrics to use.

1. Cotton

2 Yard White Cotton Fabric,Natural Cotton Fabric by The Yard,White Fabric,59 Inches Wide 100% Cotton Fabric,Soft Embroidery Fabric,Muslin Quilting Fabric Material for Sewing Material Apparel ClothCotton is one of the most versatile fabrics that there is when it comes to sewing and embroidery projects. Whether you buy cotton fabric or are embroidering ready-made items such as pillowcases, clothing, or curtains, you can’t go wrong.

However it’s important to note that there are many more specific types of fabric made from cotton, some of which I’ll discuss later. But in this instance, I’m talking about the standard 100% cotton fabric. Not only is it expensive, but it comes in many different colors as well if you don’t want a white background for your design.

The downside to cotton is that it can shrink easily. While many cotton fabrics are pre-shrunk today, not all of them are. It’s important that you wash the cotton before using it for embroidery so that it doesn’t mess up the shape of your design by washing it afterward if it does shrink.

2. Linen

Caydo 3 Pieces Large Size Linen Needlework Fabric for Garment Craft, Flower Pot Decoration and Tablecloth, 62 by 19 InchLinen is another common fabric used for embroidery, especially for clothing. It tends to have a very even and tight weave, which can help your stitches look more consistent. Plus, linen has a unique texture that complements the finished look of the embroidery stitches as well.

If you’re hand-embroidering designs, then linen is one of the top choices for fabrics that you can use. It’s okay to use for machine embroidery, too, although you may have to make additional modifications when embroidering large designs to keep the fabric from moving too much.

Linen also doesn’t come in as many colors as cotton fabrics do, and undyed and untreated linen is usually gray or brown. You can buy white linen, but in some cases, you may have to bleach or dye it before embroidering if you want it to be a certain color.

3. Canvas

CT CRAFT LLC Canvas Needlework Fabric for Decor Crafts, Upholstery Flower Pot Decoration and Tablecloth - 19 Inch x 19 Inch x 7 Color (Tan, Pink, Aqua, Green, Gray, Purple, Denim Blue)Canvas is a popular material used to make shoes and tote bags, but also used to make flour sack fabric. It’s is typically made from primarily cotton or linen but may have some synthetic fibers blended in. It is very easy to hand-embroider with an embroidery hoop, and it is very easy for the needle to puncture it.

The typical colors of canvas fabric range from white to ivory to beige, so it is really easy for different colors to pop on it. And just like you can use plain canvas fabric to embroider designs and home decor, it also wouldn’t be hard to embroider something like a tote bag made from canvas fabric.

Sneakers made from canvas may be a little more difficult to embroider just because of their shape. Another thing that you have to be careful of with canvas because some of it can be a little thicker than normal, which can make it harder to embroider.

4. Denim

ZAIONE  5pcs Fat Quarter 17.7'x17.7' Pack Soft 100% Cotton Washed Denim Fabric Canvas Jeans Dress T-Shirt Material Patchwork Lot Clothes SewingIt’s not uncommon to see a denim jacket or jeans embroidered with cute designs. That’s because denim is very easy to embroider since most of it is made from cotton. Plus, denim comes in many different colors and washes, so it is very easy to choose one that will make your embroidery pop.

Since embroidering denim is primarily done with clothing, you may be wondering how the design will hold up over time. As long as you know what you’re doing, you should have no problems with durability. But if you’ve never embroidered on denim before, you may wish to start with another fabric first to practice the design you want to embroider on the denim.

Another great thing about denim is that it is a medium-weight but very rigid fabric, which means that it won’t move too much as you embroider it. However, its rigidity can make smaller stitches more difficult, so it’s a good idea to stick to basic designs until you get the hang of embroidered denim.

5. Aida Cloth

Aida Cloth Cross Stitch Cloth 6Pcs White Natural Linen Needlework Fabric Cross Stitch Cloth 20 Inch Embroidery Linen Fabric for Making Garment Craft Needle Embroidery Decoration and Tablecloth (6B)Aida cloth is a special fabric with an open but even weave. It is not ideal for all types of embroidery, but it is one of the most common choices for cross-stitch embroidery. The fabric resembles a thick mesh so that it can be embroidered without using an embroidery hoop due to its stiffness.

Cross-stitching is a little different from other embroidering types since most cross-stitching is done by hand. It is primarily used for home decor projects and not necessarily for embroidering clothing and accessories. If cross-stitching is the primary type of embroidery you’re going to be doing, then this is the best fabric for you.

6. Even-weave

Even-weave fabrics aren’t made from one particular type of fiber. Rather, the term refers to a group of fabrics with the same number of stitches vertically and horizontally. This creates a fabric with an even weave, hence the name. These fabrics may also be referred to as balanced fabrics.

Even-weave fabrics are ideal for embroidery and cross-stitching because they ensure a more consistent design. Using even-weave fabrics helps your stitches be more even, creating a cohesive design.

These are great fabrics for people stitching more complex designs or even those just starting with embroidery. Most even-weave fabrics are made from a cotton and rayon blend, so it is important to make sure that you wash the fabric before embroidering it since both of these fabrics can shrink.

7. Muslin

Muslin Fabric 63 Inch Wide Natural Fabric Unbleached Stitch Cloth for Making Garments Crafts, Sold by The YardMuslin is a lightweight and loosely woven fabric that is made from cotton. It has a bit of a transparent look to it, so it can create some stunning embroidery designs. However, it is harder to embroider, so it’s not ideal for beginners.

Even if you have plenty of experience with embroidery, it’s important to stick to simple designs, especially if the designs are larger. Designs with simple lines and stitching are best since muslin tends to move or pucker, even with a stabilizer.

8. Satin

Satin is another fabric that can be embroidered, but it isn’t ideal for beginners. The reason is that satin can move easily due to its slippery texture. Using a sharp needle and a stabilizer are key to embroidering satin successfully with a machine.

Although embroidering on satin can look beautiful if done right, you also have to be careful of the designs you choose since satin is a drapey fabric. Large designs can interfere with how the fabric drapes, so it is important that you stick to small and simple designs when embroidering satin.

9. Silk

Pink 100% Pure Silk Fabric Charmeuse Fabrics by The Pre-Cut 1 Yard for Sewing Clothing Width 44 inchSilk is another fabric that requires a lot of experience to embroider. It is a lightweight and delicate fabric that can tear easily and move as you’re embroidering it, both of which can affect the finished look of your design.

Silk can be embroidered by hand or an embroidery machine, but you’ll want to use a stabilizer and keep your designs simple. This will prevent the fabric from moving, pulling, and teasing as you embroider it.

10. Polyester

Although natural fabrics are best for embroidery, one synthetic fabric is the exception. You can embroider polyester easily. However, you’ll have to make some adjustments to the tools you use.

First, it’s important that you use a thread made out of synthetic materials. Polyester thread works best, but you can also use thread made out of rayon since it is a semi-synthetic fiber. Rayon thread can bring a slightly different look and feel to your embroidery designs when embroidering polyester.

One of the problems with synthetic fabrics is that they can be woven too tight to get the needle through easily without puckering or damaging the fabric. Choose a polyester fabric that has a looser weave, or use a ballpoint needle which will be easier to push through the fabric,

Choose designs with few or light stitches as well, because too many stitches or stitches that are too dense can cause the fabric to pucker and tear. Consider choosing polyester and cotton blend fabrics, which will be easier to embroidery but durable as well.

What to Consider When Choosing Best Embroidery Fabric

Now that we’ve narrowed down the best types of fabric to use for embroidery, there are other factors we have to look at when choosing the best embroidery fabric. Different types of fabrics have slightly different weaves and weights, for example, which can affect the overall look of your design. Stretchy fabrics can distort your design as well.

All of the fabrics mentioned above were chosen because they have the ideal characteristics needed for embroidery. Here are a few things to consider when choosing an embroidery fabric besides just what type of fabric it is.

Fabric Weave

Fabric weave determines how loosely or tightly the fibers are woven together, which has a lot to do with thread count. You may see a particular type of fabric that comes in different thread counts. Higher thread counts usually mean a tighter weave.

For embroidery, you’ll want to go with a fabric that has a tight and even weave. But, you don’t want the fabric to be too tight because it can make the needle and thread harder to pull through the fabric.

You also don’t want a fabric with a weave that is too loose or uneven because it can make your design uneven or create holes in the design or fabric. Ideally, look for fabrics with a thread count of 28 or higher for your embroidery projects.

Fabric Weight

You’ll also want to consider the weight of a fabric before choosing it for embroidery. The reason why weight is important is that thinner and more lightweight fabrics can tear or wrinkle easily, while heavier fabrics are harder to push the needle through.

The best fabric to use for embroidery is a medium-weight fabric, such as cotton, linen, denim, or one of the others listed above. You can use lightweight fabrics such as silk and muslin if you know what you’re doing, but these are a lot harder to embroider effectively.

Stretchiness

Finally, you’ll want to choose a fabric with little to no stretch. The reason why stretchy fabrics are bad is that they can move too much during embroidery, affecting the evenness of your design. Some stretchy fabrics can also lose elasticity over time which can cause your design to sag or shift.

Cotton, linen, canvas, satin, and the other fabrics mentioned above all have a very little stretch, which is consistent across most woven fabrics made from natural fibers. Stay away from knit fabrics with embroidery, as these have too much stretch.

What is the Best Fabric for Hand Embroidery?

Best Fabric for Hand Embroidery

Any type of fabric on the above list is good for hand embroidery. With hand embroidery, designs are usually not as complex and you can be a bit more careful with how you use them. Cotton, linen, and canvas are usually the easiest and best choices to hand-embroider, especially for beginners, due to the weave and weight of the fabric.

Aida cloth is best for cross-stitch embroidery, which is usually done by hand. If you’re going to use a cloth such as muslin or satin to embroider by hand, the use of an embroidery hoop is necessary to act as a stabilizer for the fabric.

What Fabric is Best for Machine Embroidery?

Best Fabric for Machine Embroidery

Any woven fabric can be used for machine embroidery, including cotton, linen, and polyester. But, denim and heavier canvas are usually best if they are embroidered by a machine due to being a bit stiffer than fabrics such as cotton and linen. Machine embroidery allows you to embroider larger and more complex designs, such as what would be seen on denim.

It’s possible that those who have experience with embroidery can embroider thinner fabrics such as silk or satin with a machine, and maybe even knit fabrics as well. However, you will have to use a stabilizer. Otherwise, the fabric will move too much, which will mess up your design.

Embroidery Fabric by the Yard

The price of embroidery fabric may be something that you as an individual consider when determining what fabric to buy. But when purchasing embroidery fabric by the yard, a few factors can affect the price.

The first factor is what type of fiber the fabric is made of, as some fabrics are naturally more expensive than others. Cotton and polyester tend to be the cheapest and can be found for as little as a few dollars per yard.

Fabrics such as linen, satin, and silk can be a bit more expensive, either due to less availability or the processes used to make them. Plus, if the fabrics are dyed or patterned, they can cost more.

Another factor that can affect the cost is the fabric’s weight. Heavier and thicker fabrics tend to cost more than medium and lightweight fabrics, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes delicate fabrics can cost more as well.

In general, embroidery fabrics can cost less than $5 per yard or more than $10-$15 per yard. It just depends on the type of fabric you choose. Plus, some embroidery fabric isn’t sold by the yard but in pre-cut squares. One example is Aida Cloth, and the cost will depend on the size of the squares.

Where to Buy Embroidery Fabric?

Embroidery fabric can be bought in physical stores or online, usually from retailers that specialize in crafting. Retailers that specialize exclusively in fabric or embroidery will likely have the largest selection, but even stores such as Hobby Lobby and Michaels have a wide selection of fabrics as well that can be used for embroidery.

When buying embroidery fabric, it is best to buy it in person, especially if it’s a fabric you’ve never used before. That way, you can see how the fabric actually looks and feels before buying it to determine whether it is suitable for embroidery. If you like the fabric, then you can purchase more online when you run out.

What Fabrics Should Not Be Used for Embroidery?

We’ve already touched on this a little, but there are several types of fabrics that should not be used for embroidery. Generally, stay away from synthetic fabrics because they generally have too tight of a weave or too much stretch. Avoid fabrics that are too loosely woven, as it isn’t hard to visualize what could happen to your design if the weave is too loose or uneven.

You’ll also want to stay away from knitted fabrics as well due in part to some of them having a loose-knit but also due to how much they stretch. It’s not a good idea to try to hand-embroider a knit fabric, but you may have some success with machine embroidery as long as you use a stabilizer.

Finally, stay away from thin or sheer fabrics, especially as a beginner or if you’re embroidering a large or more complex design. Thin fabrics can tear or pucker too easily, so it makes sense why you wouldn’t want to use them.

Depending on your experience level, all of the fabrics listed earlier in the article should be safe to use for embroidery. If it isn’t on the list, it’s better not to use it if you want to ensure that your designs come outright.

Conclusion

The best fabrics to use for embroidery should be medium-weight, tightly and evenly woven, and have little to no stretch. If you’re just starting with embroidery, try something simple such as cotton, linen, or another even-weave fabric. When you become familiar with it, you can move on to other fabrics. If you found this article helpful, share it with others, and feel free to leave a comment as well. Thanks for reading!