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4 Tips for Designing Your Own Embroidery Patterns

Embroidery is certainly a more modern take on a way that we can express our creativity through art. While following existing patterns from other creatives (like me, by the way!) can be a great way to get started, there comes a point in your creative journey that you may want to create something more personal and uniquely yours.

That’s where designing your own embroidery patterns comes in – it’s a great way to speak to your creative soul!

If you’re ready to give it a go, here are 4 essential tips to get you started:

1. Ensure your design is correctly sized.

Before you dive into stitching, it’s crucial to have a properly proportioned design. I can’t tell you how many times I drew something in the early days, and then realised it was either waaaay too big, or too small, and just wasn’t going to work.

To prevent that problem for you, I created my very own Embroidery Sketch Pad, so that you can get designing on paper in the confidence that your design will be the exact right size.

The A4 Pad is sized to fit a 6” hoop, and the A5 Pad is sized to fit a 4” hoop, and each has space at the bottom to add comments about the stitches and colours you might want to use as you go.

Not only does it help to have the right size so you can transfer the pattern directly to fabric from the Pad, it also helps to visualise the size of the shapes you create, to know whether they’re the right fit for embroidering.

2. Start Simple with Shapes and Designs.

As with any skill in life, embroidery pattern design benefits from practice, especially when you’re first starting, and starting simple is one of the best ways to do so. Begin with fewer and larger shapes as opposed to teeny intricate details and try not to overcomplicate your designs in the beginning.

Focusing on mastering the fundamentals is key to everything in embroidery and designing patterns is no exception. The more you practice, the more your confidence in your designs will grow, and you can gradually start to tackle more complex patterns with finer details.

3. Gather your design inspiration.

I’m a true believer that everybody is creative, and inspiration is at the heart of creativity. Everybody is inspired by something, whether it’s nature around them, architecture, landscapes, relationships, or even from their own imagination.

I personally draw my inspiration from nature around me, and also sometimes my own imagination. I take my planner and notebook with me everywhere, and I write down and/or draw my ideas whenever inspiration strikes. Keep something handy so that you can do the same – you’ll be surprised how often it happens!

I should just note here – there is a fine line between inspiration and copying. By all means you can sometimes use a reference as a starting point, but the key to designing your own patterns is to inject your own unique and personal perspective, creativity and style into your own designs. That can’t come from anybody else but you!

4. Experiment with colour.

Finally, colour. Agh, I love colour! It’s one of my favourite parts of designing. And honestly, it’s a part of it that a lot of people forget about!

Colour is such a powerful tool because it can evoke different moods and transform the look of your design entirely. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different colour combinations, and even to learn a bit about colour theory so that you know how colours interact with each other.

The exact same pattern can take on a vibrant or cheerful appearance with super bright and fun colours, or it can be subtle and soft by using muted pastel tones. Not to mention, colour is what totally brings your design to life!

Deciding to start designing your own patterns is a rewarding experience that allows you to infuse your creativity into a hobby that you already get so much enjoyment out of. But be kind to yourself and remember that it does take practice, whether you’re learning how to draw or learning your own style of drawing and embroidery.

So my friend, grab your Embroidery Sketch Pad and let that imagination run wild! I can’t wait to see what you create.

Happy designing and stitching!

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about sophie

Hey there! I'm an artist, mama, author and online educator who is obsessed with helping other women re-claim their time and creativity through modern embroidery.

Kick off your shoes, get cosy, and let's dive in to the world of embroidery, shall we?