Embroidery design is a funny thing. When you’re staring at your fabric thinking about what you want to stitch, sometimes it can be difficult to even land on a project. If you’ve ever had a blank-page moment, then you aren’t alone.


Embroidery does take a fair amount of time to complete, and of course, you want to absolutely love your finished piece. If you’re not fully into the design it can be easy to lose momentum.

That’s why taking some time to think about your next embroidery project before you start stitching can help maximise your enjoyment.

This article will help you to narrow down your decision and give you the best and boldest embroidery designs to choose from.

Where to start with picking your embroidery design

We’d suggest thinking about a number of factors; your style, who’ll receive the finished piece, your level of stitching ability and how much time you would like to spend on it.

We will focus mostly on hand embroidery here, but you can skip to our section on machine embroidery if that takes your fancy.

Jump to:

Beautiful embroidery designs for modern stitching

How to find embroidery ideas

Are you wondering how to get inspired for your next embroidery project? The good news is that embroidery inspiration is almost everywhere: if you know where to look!

One of the most popular sources of embroidery inspiration is nature. That can be anything from plants to flowers through to bugs and animals.

Even if you only stitched scenes entirely based on nature, you'd never run out of ideas! Thankfully, it’s never been easier to pick an embroidery design that sparks your creativity.

Free embroidery designs to spark your creativity

Free embroidery designs are a great place to start, and there’s no better place for those than right here on Gathered!

Browse tonnes of free embroidery designs created by a range of talented designers, available to download for free.

Practising your embroidery skills with free designs also takes the pressure off, as you can be a bit more creative since you can use whatever you have in your stash.

heart embroidery
Heart embroidery free design by Anne Oliver

Get inspired by other embroidery artists

Another way of finding embroidery inspiration is by admiring and browsing other artists' work. Check out Love Embroidery’s Instagram for plenty of embroidery design ideas that are proving popular with the stitching community.

You can even get a subscription to Love Embroidery, so you’ll never be short of design ideas thanks to the monthly issue arriving at your door!

Embroidery kits to get your mind buzzing

Purchasing an embroidery kit is an ideal way to get started as a beginner, as it gives you direction and all the supplies you need. Embroidery kits usually contain threads, fabric, needles and everything in between.

Embroidery kits often arrive with a beginner's guide too, making stitching a breeze even for complete beginners.

embroidery kit for beginners - main
Embroidery kits for beginners - round up

Choosing embroidery designs to match your style and ability

Your embroidery style

Think about your style. Do you love everything pretty and floral, are you a big fan of neutral shades, or do you adore Autumn?

You can usually look around your home and bedroom to get a feel for your preferred aesthetic. It’s a great way of making sure your new stitching will fit into your home decor too.

Your stitching ability

Another consideration is your stitching level. Are you a complete beginner, have you had a bit of experience or are you a total pro in need of a challenge? It may sound obvious, but the more types of stitches and the larger the design, the greater the challenge.

Embroidery designs and kits to inspire you

Unusual embroidery kits for alternative folk

Do you prefer all things weird and wonderful? Then you’ll love these abstract and unusual designs to create in your embroidery. We’re talking moths, mythical creatures, gothic designs and sassy sayings.

You’ll find it all in our unusual embroidery kits round-up. Find the perfect kit that speaks to your inner oddball!

deathhead moth embroidery hoop

Cool embroidery ideas to celebrate your favourite franchise

So, you’re a bit of a cool cat when it comes to embroidery? Our cool embroidery designs are going to inspire and delight you.

Pop culture, franchises and books are a great inspiration for your embroidery projects, especially if you’re a bit of a movie or pop culture buff.

Our round-up is jam-packed full of fun designs including Marvel, Star Wars, The Simpsons, Harry Potter and LOTR-inspired embroidery.

There’s something for almost every big fandom out there. Once finished your cool embroidery design can become a proud symbol of your favourite fandom!

cool embroidery - diagon alley

Small embroidery designs for quick stitching

Maybe you don’t fancy taking on a mega project right now. We know how hectic life gets, so sometimes a small satisfying project is just the ticket to get your embroidery hit!

All of these small embroidery designs can be stitched up in just a few hours. We’ve included plenty of mini embroidery kits for you to browse, plus a few of our favourite small embroidery designs available for free right here on Gathered.

Discover miniature moons and vibrant embroidered badges plus a whole host of other cute designs to start stitching.

small embroidery - moon

Embroidery ideas inspired by nature

As we mentioned earlier you could probably stitch only nature-inspired embroidery designs and never run out of ideas! Since there’s so much we’ve split it down into seasons for you.

Most of us have a favourite season, what’s yours? Is it the baby animals of spring, the summer sun, the burnt orange hues of autumn or the snowy days of winter?

Maybe there’s a particular holiday which resonates with you. If so, that’s a great place to draw on for embroidery inspiration!

Bright spring embroidery inspiration and ideas

Spring represents new growth and life! It’s a time for daffodils, baby bunnies, Easter celebrations and all things pastel-coloured! Basically, it’s the inspiration for lots of cute embroidery designs.

Simple spring embroidery hoop

Jessie Doe has created this absolutely stunning spring embroidery hoop featuring pretty text surrounded by spring flowers. You can download the pattern for free and we’ll show you step-by-step how to stitch it!

Spring embroidery hoop

Sweet bunny embroidery design

We have this gorgeous bunny embroidery that would be perfect for Easter fans out there. We’ll also show you how to assemble your stitching into an adorable bunny bag, perfect for gifting choccies in.

rabbit embroidery

Sunny summer embroidery ideas

Here comes the sun! Of course, summer is all about long hot days, relaxing at the beach and eating ice cream. That leaves our minds popping with lots of ideas for our summer stitching.

Pretty beaded sunshine embroidery

If you want to create a statement piece when it comes to worshipping the sun you’ll adore this sun embroidery design by Chloe Redfern. Adorned with felt appliqué and beadwork, this beautiful design will shine bright all year round.

straight stitch main

Retro-favourites ice cream embroidery

What’s better than a white sandy beach? Ice cream on a white sandy beach, of course! We’ve got these cute retro ice cream embroidery designs for you to download and stitch for free. You’ll find all your favourites in there from Twisters to Rocket lollies and the classic 99!

ice cream embroidery for beginners

Cosy autumn embroidery ideas

We must admit, autumn is one of our favourite seasons to celebrate through embroidery. There’s an abundance of embroidery inspiration in the fall; the brown and orange hues of crispy leaves, the quirky shapes of mushrooms and the plump pumpkins of Halloween are just a start.

Quirky mushroom embroidery

If you, too, are a fan of all things autumnal and cosy, you'll adore this mushroom embroidery pattern by Maggie Magoo. It features an array of quirky mushrooms in a variety of colours and is stitched on a lovely mustard-yellow fabric.

mushroom embroidery

Fun Halloween quick-stitch pendants

Do you want an autumnal quick-stitch? We’ve got this trio of autumnal pendants which will give the perfect finishing touch to your chunky jumpers and warm bobble hats. There is a pumpkin design for autumn, as well as a black cat and a broom for Halloween.

black cat embroidery

Festive winter embroidery ideas

You know what we’re going to say: Christmas!

Of course, Christmas is a fantastic inspiration for your embroidery. You can create hoops to hang, ornaments, gifts and even clothing. You can go for the classic Christmas hoop if you simply want to stitch and hang.

DIY modern Christmas stockings with embroidered neon trees

If you’d like to add a twist to your decor, try making your own modern Christmas stocking embellished with neon Christmas trees. It’ll add that modern homemade touch to your Christmas decor this year.

christmas tree embroidery - stocking

Delicate snowflake embroidery project

Winter stitching doesn't have to directly reference Christmas of course, as you can celebrate winter in other ways. During winter, embroidery and crafting can help to lift your spirits as the darker days draw in.

More like this

Take on this beautiful snowflake embroidery for some mindful and relaxing stitching whilst you snuggle up on the sofa.

snowflake embroidery

Animal embroidery ideas

Get inspired by land, skies and seas for your next embroidery project

Unique octopus embroidery

Animals are an incredible source of inspiration when it comes to embroidery, from grizzly bears to tiny bugs there are plenty of species to stitch.

The sea features an abundance of beautiful creatures too, like this intricate octopus embroidery design. With its winding legs and beady eyes, it’s the ideal project for anybody looking for a stitching challenge.

octopus embroidery pattern

Squirrel brooch embroidery design

From cool to cute, check out this cute felt squirrel brooch design with a sweet face which makes for a unique accessory. It can be easily worked up using felt scraps, so makes for a great stash-busting project too.

Animal patterns – DIY felt squirrel brooch

Thread-painted chicken embroidery project

Have you ever tried painting with stitches? This technique works particularly well for creating the textures of animal fur or bird feathers. Give it a go with our lovely chicken embroidery designed by Bonny Cummings.

The technique requires you to use short stitch worked in the direction the feathers would naturally grow, this will give you a more realistic outcome.

Chicken Embroidery design

Fuzzy bumblebee embroidery design

You don’t always have to have one focal point for your embroidery! Combine multiple inspiration sources together, take a bit of your favourite season and an animal you love and create something truly unique! This lovely bumblebee embroidery does just that.

It combines beautiful spring wildflowers with a fluffy hovering bumble bee.

bumble bee embroidery main

Foodie embroidery patterns

Food, glorious food! We don’t just want to eat delicious food, we want to stitch it! Food is a surprisingly common inspiration for stitching. Things like cake, ice creams and even peas are all popular. Especially if they have cute little kawaii-style faces.

Festive food motifs to stitch

What better time of the year for feasting than Christmas or Thanksgiving? Celebrate your favourite delicious festive foods with these kawaii-style Christmas motifs. These embroidered Christmas dishes include everything from gammon to turkey, gingerbread men to yule logs, and they're all as cute as each other!

Succulent sushi embroidery hoop

This delicious design features a variety of sushi rolls, stitched to form lots of different textures. These lovely textures are created using a mix of French knots, long and short stitch, seed stitch and backstitch.

This pattern is a great way to start incorporating more stitch types into your hoops.

japanese embroidery designs main

Free embroidery designs to accentuate your home decor

Incorporating your embroidery and creations into your home can give your decor a boost! Plus they are a great talking point for guests (be careful though you’ll have a tonne of requests before you know it).

Cushion embroidery

Cushions are easy to embroider, you can work the fabric just as you would when creating an embroidery hoop. If your cushion cover is large though, you might have to move your hoop around as your stitch.

We’ve got this lovely relaxed and modern cushion design that we have stitched onto a mustard yellow cushion cover. We’ll even show you how to make tassels to finish your cushion.

Punch needle embroidery cushion design

Have you ever tried punch needle embroidery? It’s a straightforward and repetitive technique which makes it one of the most therapeutic crafts out there – plus you only need a few materials! Try our punch needle embroidered cushion pattern and get started on this mindful craft today.

If you’d like more inspiration we’ve rounded up our favourite cushion embroidery kits.

Punch needle cushion

Making DIY embroidered decorations for your home

Embroidery can be used to create cute wall hangings or decorations. This modern cactus embroidery by Chloe Redfern combines felt and embroidery to create a vibrant, modern decoration, perfect for a kids' bedroom!

cactus embroidery design

Embroidery designs for clothing and accessories to refresh your wardrobe

Embroidery can give your wardrobe a boost, whether you add a small motif to a t-shirt, or decorate a Christmas jumper. It can liven up plain outfits, and make boring clothes into statement pieces.

Embroidery on clothing can be done with both machine and by hand. But for now, we’re focusing only on hand embroidery.

Stitching on clothing is worked in exactly the same way as hand embroidery. You can transfer your design using your preferred method and pop the fabric into a hoop to stitch.

We have plenty of free embroidery designs for clothing right here on Gathered. Spruce up your cardigan with this lovely cat embroidery - it looks especially lovely added to a pocket!

cat embroidery

Converse embroidery ideas

You’re not just limited to clothes, embroidering plain trainers will give them a unique twist. With dreamy florals and winding stems, this beautiful embroidered converse pattern will add a whole new dimension to your plain trainers.

The great thing about this design is that you don’t have to follow the colours or stitches that are suggested here you are totally free to customise your own signature pair of embroidered converse to suit your personal style.

embroidered shoes main

Tote bag embroidery designs

We’re all about tote bags, they’re reusable, good for the environment plus you can personalise them to suit your taste!

We’ve got this beautiful embroidered DIY tote bag for you which was designed by Mollie Johanson. Adorned with sweet stars, we’ll show you both how to embroider it and also how to sew up your own tote bag from scratch.

How to laid stitch

Machine embroidery designs

Everything we’ve spoken about so far has been related to hand embroidery, so we wanted to talk a little about machine embroidery.

The most popular use of a machine in embroidery is free-motion embroidery. This involves using a specialist machine to stitch a pattern or applique onto your fabric.

Want to give machine embroidery a try? We’ve got two free machine embroidery designs for you to download right now. With a cute mushroom design, which is excellent for embroidering clothes - we to transform a pair of denim shorts!

You can create unique and stylish accessories by machine too. Try this lovely free lace earring pattern available for free here on Gathered.

peach embroidery mr

Coming up with your own hand embroidery designs

When it comes to embroidery designs, you can be as creative as you like. It’s very simple to customise a design to suit your preference. Once you have the basic template or outline of your design you can decide on your thread colour and the types of stitches you use to get your bespoke outcome.

Even a slight tweak to the design will ensure your stitching is unique! Whether that’s choosing a metallic thread for festive stitching, incorporating beads or using appliqué.

If you want to start from scratch and keep it simple you can draw straight onto your fabric using an embroidery pen. If you do this, make sure your fabric is taut before drawing as it can distort your design if you stretch it onto a hoop afterwards.

Alternatively, you can draw your design digitally. You’ll need a digital programme like InDesign or Photoshop and then you can export your design to print and transfer it yourself.

transfer an embroidery design

Creating your own embroidery designs to sell

When coming up with your own designs, take inspiration from the sources we mentioned above. If you’re keen to design and sell your embroidery patterns it’s worth browsing places like Etsy, to see what's most popular and what’s a bestseller.

You can then base your designs around these. One thing to note, though: you should always design patterns that you love, not because they might sell. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself, and your creativity getting burnt out quickly.

Embroidery designs to bring out your uniqueness

The wonderful thing about embroidery is that you can design almost anything with it. The use of fabric and stitching creates an impressionistic effect similar to painting.

Like painting, chances are good that if you can think it up, you can stitch it! The challenge is often to come up with ideas that will keep you inspired throughout the project.

It’s always helpful to think about your style, ability and what piques your interest when you’re choosing an embroidery design.

Improve and expand your embroidery skills

A great way to add your own style to an embroidery design is by changing up which stitches you use. Each stitch has its own technique and will create a certain texture.

It’s fun to experiment with these and the more stitches you know, the more unique your embroidery will become.


Learn new stitches with our embroidery stitch library, packed full of step-by-step tutorials, and helpful illustrations.


Katie Dolan
Katie DolanDigital Assistant, Gathered

Katie Dolan edits our needlework sections, focusing on our embroidery and cross stitch articles, as well as making videos for our arts and crafts projects. Katie runs her jewellery business, Ophelia Jewellery Art, on Etsy, where she sells beautiful resin-pressed flower earrings. She has a wide range of craft interests including embroidery – she particularly loves all things pop culture and a less traditional approach – The Simpsons and Rick & Morty are among her favourites to embroider. She has recently completed a silversmith workshop and hopes to expand her jewellery business with these new skills. When she’s not crafting, she’s usually fuelling her Harry Potter addiction with a Sunday film marathon and a couple of butter beers!

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