So, you're ready to get started!
You've collected the basics that you need to start embroidering - or better yet, bought a beginner's embroidery kit.
There's also a few tools that can help you on the way - whether that's helping with threading pesky needles, easing sore hands and fingers, or help with learning new embroidery techniques!
Some of these tools are obvious; while others are fabulous small investments that can be made if you plan to do embroidery more regularly.
Scissors are one of the most vital accessories for starting embroidery.
I like to keep two pairs to hand: one pair of small embroidery scissors (I love ones with cute designs like rabbits, unicorns, or dragons - like these); plus a bigger pair of fabric scissors, for trimming off larger pieces of material and felt.
I always try to keep both pairs of scissors as sharp as possible. My favourite scissors are reserved for embroidery only - going near paper or sellotape with them is a huge no-no for me!
A needle minder is made of two small magnets that you can attach to your embroidery, which your needle sticks to when you're not using it.
There's tonnes of lovely needle minders available - they're the embroidery accessory that you can really personalise and find something to suit you. My current needle minder is actually my own blue whale (pictured) - I got these made in Britain recently, and was so chuffed with how it turned out I've already got two more of my own designs being made into needle minders!
A strong magnet on your needle minder is essential, so that your needle will stay safely stuck in place. Bonus use: if you drop a needle (which I do all the time), sweep your needle minder over the floor to find it and pick it up!
A hoop stand is a must for anyone who suffers with sore hands or fingers while doing detailed crafts like embroidery or cross stitch.
My preferred hoop stand has a flat base that tucks under my leg while I'm sitting down - like this one.
. Once sitting, you can alter the height and angle until it's in the perfect position for you to comfortably stitch - then just tighten the screws and start embroidering!
I also love these for saving my posture - my hoop stand saves my back from being hunched over a piece of embroidery for hours at a time!
Needle threaders are a god send when working with a small needle - or with thread that keeps splitting!
There's a few different kinds, but I prefer the simplest ones. These are a metallic, bendy diamond shape, and are easy to use. You just need to push the metal diamond through the eye of the needle; pass your thread through the diamond; then pull the diamond (and thread) back through the eye of the needle. Easy!
Note: some needle threaders won't fit through needles with smaller eyes; if you're using a needle minder like the one pictured, it's best to use needles in size 7 and upwards.
When I was learning embroidery, I found it really helpful to have a stitch guide to hand that I could refer to whenever I needed to jog my memory. I got my first stitch guide from an embroidery kit I bought, but it was very basic and only went through two stitches (this was partly why I started Paraffle), So I gradually made my own guide - this is what I include in my beginners starter embroidery kits.
For perfecting some of the more complicated stitches (French knots anyone?) I moved on to watching YouTube videos - like this one - of embroidery stitches that I could come back to if I was struggling with a technique. Again I couldn't find everything I wanted, so I've made my own stitch guide videos.
After a while, stitches can become second nature - but it's always good to have a stitch guide to hand!
Even the most experienced embroiderer can find storing skeins, threads, and bobbins an absolute nightmare! I probably organise my threads once every couple of months - and they're always in a state of complete disarray whenever I get around to it!
If I have lots of full skeins of thread, I'd recommend a good wall hanging - a simple metal grid and some hooks is all you need to hang up your threads. I try to arrange them by colour - mostly to make it easier when I'm choosing new colours for a project. Plus, it adds a gorgeous pop of colour to a wall!
With shorter bits of thread - or ones that have been pulled out of the skein - I like to wind them onto simple paper bobbins, and write the colour code on the top. These can be easily stashed in a box (in colour order again!), to keep everything looking tidy - for a short while, at least!
If you have any questions or thoughts about these or other embroidery tools, let me know in the comments section below!