Strengthen Your Stitches With the Best Fabrics for Embroidery

There are so many different blends of fabrics on the market. Does it really matter which fabric type you embroider on? You bet it does! I’ll tell you why.

Thank You for the World so Sweet mats

  Thank You for the World so Sweet photo via Bluprint member  Val Laird Designs

What are the best fabrics for embroidery?

Photos via Bluprint members Bella Bleu Michigan and Edies Designs .

Natural fabrics with a tight weave, like cotton, linen, silk and wool, are the best fabrics for machine and hand embroidery. Their construction ensures a sturdy surface that easily supports decorative stitching. Satin-stitched edging, typical in appliqué, needs a particularly strong foundation fabric.

Get the Baby Feet design.
Get the Varsity design.

Photos via Bluprint members Sanity’s Machine Embroidery Designs and Embroidery Super Deal

The ways in which natural fibers are woven are also helpful to embroiderers. Individual fibers run both horizontally and vertically, allowing needles to easily pass through them. With synthetic fabrics, embroidery needles often perforate threads that end up fraying over time.

Get the Primsy Frog 01 design.
Get the Flower Bird Pink design.
sew useful

Photos via Bluprint member SEW Useful Designs

Here are five of the best fabrics for embroidery:

Quilting cotton

Probably the most obvious choice for embroidery is 100 percent quilting cotton. Why the designation “quilting?” Quilting cottons are heavier than heirloom cottons like Nelona or Swiss Batiste. Heirloom cottons are also 100 percent cotton, but are sheer which is problematic for both hand and machine embroidery as threads often show through.

Get the To Mum With Love pattern.
Get the Life is Sweet Sewing Machine Cover pattern.
busby quilts

Photos via Bluprint member Marjorie Busby of b-quilts

With the crossover of embroidery and quilting, many quilters now incorporate hand and machine embroidery into their projects, so cotton fabrics are abundantly available.

Get the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt in the Hoop design.
Get the Monster Patch design.
Princess Crown Split Applique Embroidery

Photo via Bluprint member Appliqué Geek

Heavyweight canvas cotton is known as utility cloth. That makes canvas the preferred fabric for embroidering on heavily used items like tote bags.

Get the Princess Crown Split Appliqué design.
Machine Embroidered Lace Classics Linen Example

Photo via Bluprint class Machine Embroidered Lace Classics with Hope Yoder.


Linen is lighter, more textured, and 30 percent stronger than cotton. Created from the flax plant, linen is considered the strongest of natural fibers and wears extremely well. That’s probably why even the most used of antique linens are still highly sought after.


Silk Embroidered Pillow

Photo via Bluprint class Embroider Luxury Fabrics by Machine with Pam Damour

You may think of silk as a delicate, flimsy fabric but that is not always the case. Silk dupioni combines the luxurious shine of silk with a crisp, strong base. Fine silk threads run vertically in the fabric, along the selvage. Silk from conjoined cocoons run horizontally in the fabric producing a textured effect.

Laird Felt

Photos via Bluprint member Val Laird Designs


Whether it is pure wool, felted wool or even synthetic blends of wool felt, this fiber is particularly suited for embroidery. It is strong, does not fray in felt form, and provides some depth for embroidery without the nuisance of a deep nap that would swallow up stitches.

Get the Shell of Roses pattern.
Get the Roses, Roses, Sewing Set pattern.
Holland Felt

Photos via Bluprint member Larissa Holland of MMMCrafts

One of the biggest advantages of stitching on wool felt is the it does not produce a raw edge that needs to be finished or hemmed, making it perfect for decorative crafts.

Get the Snow Bird pattern.
Get the Partridge & Pear pattern.

Learn how to embellish wool in Bluprint's class Stitch It With Wool: Crewel Embroidery with Kristin Nicholas.


Photos via Bluprint member Jenny of Elefantz


I asked Bluprint member Jenny of Elefantz  what type of fabric she used in her numerous (gorgeous) hand-stitched designs. She said it is known as hanky linen in Australia, a rather deceptive term as the blend of 55 percent cotton and 45 percent linen is heavier than what you would think. Its beautiful texture makes the perfect backdrop for hand-dyed threads.

Get the FREE Lord’s Prayer pattern.

 What fabric do you think works best for embroidery?

November 05, 2014
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Strengthen Your Stitches With the Best Fabrics for Embroidery