Embroidery is a great way to embellish your crochet fabric. With a few simple stitches, you can create colour and texture in your crochet fabric well after you’ve fastened off. You can use embroidery to create interesting patterns on a plain background, or to add a small detail to a pocket, collar or bag. In this tutorial we’re going to show you three of the most common ways of working embroidery on crochet (you can use the links below to jump to each technique).
Cross stitch – One of the most popular embroidery stitches, each cross stitch uses one square of the base fabric, which means it’s an easy way to create all sorts of motifs, patterns and lettering.
Back Stitch – Often used with cross stitch designs to form lines and details in the patterns, backstitch can also be used by itself to create lettering and lines, as well as seaming fabrics together.
French Knot – It may look like a simple little dot, but don’t underestimate the power of French knots! They’re brilliant for creating eyes and other round shapes, as well as texture if they’re in large groups.
Here’s what you’ll need to start working embroidery.
First, you’ll need a tapestry needle – these come in various different forms, but make sure the eye of the needle is large enough to accommodate the thread or yarn you’re going to use to make the stitches. Use a blunt needle for embroidery that’s worked over whole crochet stitches. Use a sharp needle for embroidery where you need to pierce the fabric.
Second, you’ll need some yarn for embroidery, approx 50cm (20in) long. You can embroider using specialist threads, such as stranded cotton or silk, or use a yarn from your stash – a smooth yarn will give you better stitch definition for your embroidery.
Before you start, here’s some top tips for embroidery success.
Before adding embroidery to your crochet fabric, there are a few things to consider. It’s best that your base crochet fabric is plain and not too fuzzy, so choose smooth yarns and avoid novelty yarns. Double crochet is a great stitch for creating a fabric with a naturally square grid pattern that you can easily work into – if you’re making cross stitches, each cross can be worked over one dc stitch. It’s also important to make sure your crochet fabric is fairly dense so that the embroidery stitches have a firm base for you to work them into.
Adding embroidery stitches to your crochet fabric will make the fabric (or areas of it) much firmer and reduce its elasticity. This could end up distorting the fabric, but there are steps you can take to avoid this. Make sure you work the embroidery stitches evenly and don’t pull too tight on the thread or yarn. It’s a good idea to work a test piece of your embroidery pattern on a swatch of your fabric, to give you the chance to practise and get the look right.
Before you start working any embroidery pattern or motif, plan out where you’re going to place the stitches. Count the crochet stitches in the motif, then count the stitches in the base fabric, then place stitch markers into the fabric to help guide you with where to place your stitches. It’s a good idea to start each motif in the centre and work outwards, to avoid handling your stitches.
Start your crochet embroidery by inserting the thread or yarn through the eye of the needle and securing it at the back of one of the fabric pieces, at the point where you want to start the embroidery pattern. Try to avoid making knots, which can distort the stitches. It’s best to weave the thread or yarn into the back of the fabric stitches and then you can start your embroidery. When you’ve finished your stitches, make sure you weave in the ends of the thread or yarn.
To create good embroidery, always work the stitches from the right side of the fabric and be consistent. You can work your stitches over one crochet stitch…
…or over two crochet stitches…
…but you need to create a uniform look. With cross stitch, you need to work the first diagonal of all the cross stitches in the same direction and then work the second diagonal in the other direction, to give a smooth look to your embroidery.
Finally, check the washing instructions for the thread or yarn you want to use for the embroidery, to avoid colours that run in the wash.
Now that we’ve covered the important bits, let learn how to add embroidery on crochet!
You Will Need
- Crochet hook
- Tapestry needle
- Embroidery Thread
How to cross stitch on crochet
Bring the needle up in the bottom-right corner of the square (3) , then insert the needle into the top-left corner of the square (4).
Pull the thread through the fabric to create a cross.
Repeat from step 1.
How to do a backstitch on crochet
Bring the needle from the back to the front of the fabric two stitches to the right (3) . Then push the needle back into the fabric one stitch to the left (4) .
This will join up the line.
Repeat from step 2, moving horizontally, vertically or diagonally, to create a line as long as you need it to be.
How to do a French knot on crochet
Insert the needle back into the crochet fabric, very close to where it came out (you’ll need to pierce the fabric).
Hold the thread taut and push the twists of thread so they sit right up next to the fabric.
Pull the needle through gently to form a knot on the surface of the fabric.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this ‘How to do embroidery on crochet’ tutorial. Don’t forget, if you need any help with your crochet stitches you can always check out our crochet for beginners guide. And if you’re looking to treat yourself, check out our list of the best crochet hooks and the best crochet kits for beginners.