It can be so tricky when you first start stitching — there are so many options for materials and supplies, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know what might work best for you. Of course, any stitcher would tell you to just try things out and see what you like best, as there definitely isn’t a “one size fits all” solution for every stitcher. But I’ve been asked over the years what I use personally when stitching up projects (whether my own designs or projects just for fun), so I’ve come up with a roundup of my top ten stitching tools. I hope you get inspired to try some new things, and maybe you’ll find a new “must have” stitching tool that will make your stitching so much more fun and enjoyable. 🙂
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission (such as from Amazon). Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality, and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. I would never recommend something I wouldn’t use myself. 🙂
Everyone has different tastes in cross stitch and embroidery needles, and sometimes you need different needles for different tasks. For example, I often use a size 22 or 24 tapestry needle when working with metallic threads. The extra width from the needle means there’s less friction between the fabric and the threads (so less fraying, shredding, tension, etc). But for my workhorse needles that I consistently use, here’s what I use:
1. Tapestry: Easy Guide needle
I love these needles, they are now being sold by Sullivan’s. The slender shaft means there is far less friction between your needle and fabric, and the German steel doesn’t tarnish nearly as easily as every other tapestry needle I’ve tried (I’ve used the same needle daily for about 3 months, and it barely is showing any wear from where I hold it, compared to within a week for other needles). The combination of the ball tip and the slender shaft is almost like a tapestry needle and a sewing needle had a baby, the ball tip pushes aside the fabric and floss just like a regular tapestry needle does. Do note the eye of these needles is more similar to an embroidery needle than a chunky tapestry needle.
2. Embroidery: Clover embroidery needles sizes 3-9
I have a huge variety of embroidery needles I’ve collected over the years, from John James to Bohin. I do like these Clover needles though, the gold eye seems to be easier for me to thread, and they’re just pretty. 🙂 I’ve also reviewed some other types of cross stitch needles here (such as a super cool needle I use for beading).
I don’t often use a needle threader these days (as I usually thread by hand), but this was my favourite threader I trialed in this needle threader review post. You can thread most tapestry needles (and many embroidery needles) with the double ended LoRan threader (and it’s super sturdy), so it’s good bang for your buck.
I was soooo excited when DMC introduced the new 35 colours to their range (and I was actually sent a set to design with even before they were announced to the public, I was super pumped). They are such lovely colours and filled in some gaps in DMC’s range up to that point, such as a gorgeous range of rich purples and plums, and some really beautiful shades of lime green and lemon yellows. Plus the collectors tin is just stunning, it’s like stitchy treasure. 😍
Cross Stitch Fabric
Ah fabric… so many stitchers end up with a massive stash of fabric over the years, and many end up with several favourites. I have a couple of favourites depending on what I’m working on.
5. Aida: Fiddler’s Cloth (oatmeal Aida)
For Aida, I really like Fiddler’s Cloth (an oatmeal Aida that sometimes has little flecks in it). For me it gets nice and soft in my hands as I’m working with it, and it has a lovely rustic feel to it. It goes with most patterns as it’s a nice neutral colour, but gives the finished project a bit of a vintage vibe.
6. Linen: Zweigart 28 count Cashel linen
For linen, I’ve been using a lot of Zweigart’s 28 count Cashel linen, I often use Antique White (shown is Butter Cream). I find this white slightly “softer” than regular white, and it stitches up beautifully. Zweigart has amazing fabrics that are very high quality, and they’re very soft in your hands to stitch with.
If you’re anything like me, you likely have quite the collection of embroidery scissors. I have probably about six pairs of various sizes (including a new pair I just got for goldwork embroidery), and I love them all. Some I bought purely for their looks as they’re so pretty and elegant, but if you’re looking for a pair of elegant yet awesome scissors I would highly recommend Gingher scissors. They’re super pretty with the often-seen stork design, but they’re also very functional and very sharp. These are on my wish list for the next time I “need” to buy a new pair, but I’m recommending them as I’ve seen over and over again whenever someone in a stitchy group asks for scissor recommendations, you can see people screaming GINGHERRRRRR over and over and over. 🙂
8. Lowery stand
As many of my readers know, I was hurt in the military years ago and still suffer with chronic pain and some mobility issues in my upper body. I’ve trialed so many stitching stands and frames, and they were ok, but still not quite right for me as I have to stitch reclined with heat on my neck. And then I discovered the Lowery stand, and I was in love. 😍 Not only is this stand really low profile (meaning you can just swing it out of the way when you’re not using it), you can also get an extra-wide L bar (pictured below) in case the arm of your chair or couch is quite wide, or you just want to have options. There are also all sorts of little gadgets you can hook onto your Lowery stand, such as a pattern holder. They are very well made and sturdy, and ideal if you have mobility issues and have a hard time with gigantic heavy floor stands, or clunky lap stands that take up a lot of space. The clamp can hang onto anything from a hoop to a Q-snap style frame, to even a scroll bar frame. If you’re using a large longer scroll bar frame with it, you may need to put weights on the base so the stand doesn’t tip from being too off-balance, and maybe prop up the other end of the scroll frame (like with a sewing box sitting next to you). The Lowery stand has made it so much easier for me to work in almost any position as you can adjust the angle the clamp is holding at and the height of the L-bar, I love it. It’s also super easy to flip your project over to get at the back, you just flip the locking lever (super simple to do, even I have no problems with it). I purchased my Lowery stand from Sew & So in the UK, but they’ve recently shut down so you can also get the same stand directly from Lowery, or also from Stitchers Paradise in the US. 🙂 Also note if you are going to buy the extra wide L bar as well, make sure the frame and the bar are the same finish (like I got the powder coated silver grey) — I’ve heard that the different finishes for the extra wide bar will only fit the same finish of Lowery stand (so get the silver grey with the silver grey, etc). 🙂
There are lots of ways of storing your embroidery floss, but for me I loooove bobbins and these plastic bobbin boxes by Darice. I can squeeze over 80 colours into each box, and I find this to be the most compact and efficient way of storing my floss as I can see through the lids and see all my colours at once. For those who are scared to put their floss onto bobbins because it can eventually get creases if left on for a while, pshaw, nothing to worry about. Simply running your floss across a slightly damp clean sponge before stitching will pull those kinks out (and this tip also works really well for Kreinik floss that is coiled from being wound around the small spools). 🙂
Obviously, as a designer I’m constantly needing to compare floss colours to each other, so I use this real floss card constantly. This is the newest edition of the DMC color card, it does contain the newest 35 colours as well. But even if you’re not a designer, this color card is ridiculously handy if you need to substitute a colour in a pattern (if you just can’t be bothered to go to the store for one colour), or if you want to substitute out a section of colours for another (like make the three-toned red bow in a girl’s hair blue). If you want more info on substituting out colours (and see my DMC color card in action), you can check out this blog post on how to substitute colours in cross stitch patterns.
Bonus tool: Lighting
11. OTT floor lamp
Lighting is sooo important when stitching, and I adore this OTT floor lamp I got several years ago. It wasn’t expensive at all, and the light is perfect and even, and it can swing away from you or bend a little if you really need it to get closer to your stitchy project. OTT lights are fantastic in general, and this one is no exception. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this top ten! Were any of the items new to you, or what’s your favourite? Leave a comment below! 🙂