Skip to Content

Best Fabric for Embroidery? (Complete Guide)

Best Fabric for Embroidery

Embroidery is a fun and rewarding hobby that allows you to decorate fabric with decorative stitches. However, not all fabrics are created equal when it comes to embroidery. The fabric you choose can make a big difference in how your finished embroidery project turns out. In this complete guide, we will discuss the best fabrics for embroidery and provide tips on choosing the right material for your next project.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Embroidery Fabric

When selecting fabric for embroidery, there are a few key factors to take into account:

Fabric Content

The fiber content of the fabric plays a big role in how it will work for embroidery. Natural fibers like cotton and linen work best as they provide an even weave that won’t distort when stitched. Synthetic blends can work but may not provide as high quality results. Stay away from fabrics with high synthetic content as they tend to puck and stretch when embroidered.

Fabric Weave

The weave of the fabric also affects the embroidery outcome. Tightly woven fabrics like poplin and broadcloth work better than loose weaves like muslin or gauze that can become distorted. Stay away from knits and stretchy fabrics as well.

Fabric Weight/Thickness

Lightweight fabrics are quite challenging for embroidery and do not hold stitches well. Look for medium to heavyweight fabrics. Lighter fabrics can work if you use stabilizers. Quilting cottons are a popular choice.

Fabric Texture

Very textured fabrics hide embroidery stitches while smooth, flat fabrics show them off best. It’s best to stick to smooth, matte finished fabrics. Shiny or slippery fabrics are also difficult to embroider.

The Best Fabrics for Embroidery

Taking into account the factors above, here are the best fabric options to choose for your next embroidery project:

Quilting Cotton

Quilting cotton is one of the most commonly used fabrics for embroidery. It has a tight weave and medium weight that provide an ideal foundation for embroidery stitches. Quilting cotton comes in a huge variety of solid colors and printed patterns.


Linen is a classic fiber that is highly suitable for embroidery. It has a beautiful drape and sheen, with a tight weave that prevents distortion. Linen has good strength and durability to withstand embroidery stitches. It does lack stretch which can make embroidering garments challenging.

Cotton Poplin

Poplin is a plain woven cotton fabric with a crosswise rib texture. It has a smooth, matte finish that nicely showcases embroidery stitches. The medium weight is also ideal. Poplin comes in solids and prints.

See also  How to Get Permanent Marker Out of Clothes? (Complete Guide)

Cotton Broadcloth

Broadcloth is a tightly woven plain weave cotton. It has a smooth, matte texture that stabilizes embroidery well. The lightweight fabric can work for some projects but may need stabilizer for large designs. It comes in a wide range of solid colors and prints.


Wool felt is an interesting choice for embroidery, as the fibers matt and mesh together to hold stitches. It has enough body for stitching without distortion. Felt comes in a rainbow of colors and a variety of thickness. It can be decorated with surface embroidery or cutwork.

Linen Blends

Blends that mix linen with cotton provide a nice combo. The cotton gives strength while linen adds beauty. These fabrics have body and drape that showcase embroidery beautifully. Blends with synthetic fibers can work but may not be as high quality.

Fabrics to Avoid for Embroidery

On the flip side, there are some fabrics that generally don’t work well for embroidery. Here are some to avoid:

  • Very lightweight fabrics – gauze, muslin, lightweight silks
  • Very textured fabrics – burlap, terrycloth
  • Very stretchy fabrics – jersey, lycra
  • Synthetics like polyester with high stretch and slipperiness
  • Fuzzy fabrics like fleece can hide embroidery
  • Denim is too tightly woven and heavy for hand embroidery

Tips for Choosing Embroidery Fabric

Tips for Choosing Embroidery Fabric

  • Feel fabric in person whenever possible so you can check weight, weave, and texture.
  • Prewash fabric before embroidering to preshrink it and remove finishes.
  • Use thicker fabrics like felt or poplin for stand-alone embroidery pieces.
  • Reserve lightweight fabrics for clothing or projects backed with stabilizer.
  • Match fabric weight to embroidery floss – use more strands on heavier fabrics.
  • Select quality fabrics from trusted brands and retailers.
  • Consider how the fabric dyeing process may affect embroidery results.

Now that you know what to look for when selecting fabric for embroidery, it’s time to explore some specific fabric recommendations. Here are 10 of the best fabrics for hand embroidery and machine embroidery projects:

1. Kona Cotton

Kona cotton from Robert Kaufman is considered by many to be the premier quilting cotton. It has a tight weave, matte texture, and medium weight that make it ideal for embroidery. Kona cotton is mercerized so it has a smooth, lustrous finish and high strength. This 100% cotton fabric comes in a huge selection of vibrant solid colors.

Key Features:

  • 100% cotton
  • Mediumweight – 5.4-5.9 oz/sq yd
  • Plain weave with matte texture
  • Mercerized finish
  • Outstanding color selection
  • Works for hand and machine embroidery

2. Charles Craft Aida Fabric

Aida fabric is specially designed for cross stitch embroidery but works for other counted thread techniques too. This fabric has a crisp plain weave with a mesh-like texture. The evenly spaced holes make it easy to create precise embroidered designs. Aida fabric has good body and prevents distortion. Charles Craft Aida is 100% cotton and comes bleached or natural.

Key Features:

  • For cross stitch and counted work
  • Holes spaced for 14, 16, or 18 count embroidery
  • 100% cotton with tight weave
  • Medium weight – 5.8 oz/sq yd
  • Available bleached or unbleached
  • Suitable for hand and machine embroidery

3. Osnaburg Linen

Osnaburg linen is a versatile plain weave linen fabric that works beautifully for embroidery. It has the signature smooth texture of linen that neatly displays embroidery stitches. The tighter weave gives it good strength for stitching without puckering. It has a slightly nubby feel. Osnaburg linen softens with washing which can enhance drape.

See also  Does Spandex Shrink In the Dryer or When Washed? (Complete Guide)

Key Features:

  • 100% linen fiber
  • Medium weight – 5-7 oz/sq yd
  • Tight plain weave
  • Matte, smooth texture
  • Subtle slubs add interest
  • Softens with washing
  • Suitable for hand and machine embroidery

4. Rustic Weave

Rustic weave fabric from V.I.P. Textiles is a cotton/linen blend perfect for embroidery. The blend of 55% linen and 45% cotton gives a balanced fabric with the beauty of linen and strength of cotton. It has nice drape and a tighter weave to prevent distortion. The fabric has some slubs that add visual interest. Rustic weave softens after washing.

Key Features:

  • 55% linen/45% cotton blend
  • Mediumweight – 5 oz/sq yd
  • Plain weave with texture
  • Softens after washing
  • Drapes nicely
  • Suitable for apparel and crafts

5. Colored Felt

Wool felt makes an excellent foundation for surface embroidery. It has enough body and thickness to support embroidery stitches without the need for stabilizer. Felt comes in a rainbow of colors to let your creativity run wild. Opt for 100% wool felt with at least 3mm thickness. Embroidery on felt pops with dimension. Avoid acrylic felt which can pill.

Key Features:

  • 100% wool felt
  • At least 3mm thickness
  • Dense non-woven texture
  • Available in many colors
  • Holds embroidery stitches well
  • Fun for decorations and crafts

6. Antique Cotton

This fabric provides a nice hand embroidered look. Antique cotton has a soft faded color and variable slubs that mimic vintage fabrics. The cotton fiber has good strength for stitching. The subtle variations in the weave give embroidery an heirloom quality. It works well for quilting too. Red Rock Cottons and Marcus Brothers are popular brands.

Key Features:

  • 100% cotton
  • Varied, textured weave
  • Subtle color variations
  • Medium weight – 3.5-5 oz/sq yd
  • Vintage, distressed look
  • Great for quilting and embroidery

7. Monk’s Cloth

Monk’s cloth is a heavy woven cotton fabric perfect for embroidery. Traditional monk’s cloth has a basketweave texture but modern versions can be plain weave or knit. The holes between the woven yarns allow embroidery floss to pass through easily. It has body to support stitching without distortion. Canvas-like monk’s cloth is also nice for punch needle work.

Key Features:

  • Heavyweight fabric
  • Open loose plain or basketweave
  • Provides foundation for embroidery
  • Holes for easy needle insertion
  • Fun for punch needle projects

8. Flannel

Flannel may not seem like an obvious choice but it can work nicely for stitching. Opt for mid to heavyweight 100% cotton flannel with a soft nap and slight stretch. The fluffy texture disguises messy embroidery stitches making it more beginner friendly. Flannel has nice drape for clothing and blankets. Just beware of potential shrinkage.

Key Features:

  • 100% cotton flannel
  • Napped, fluffy texture
  • Medium to heavy weight
  • Soft, fuzzy feel
  • Gently holds stitches
  • Warm for apparel and blankets

9. Dupioni Silk

Dupioni silk fabric has a crisp plain weave, substantial hand, and brilliant sheen that allows embroidery to dazzle. The nubby slubs add interest and texture. Dupioni resists wrinkles and holds creases that can enhance embroidery designs. It does require delicate handling and washing. Embroider with silk threads for a luxe feel.

See also  5 Ways to Get Rust Stains Out of Clothes (Step By Step Guide)

Key Features:

  • 100% silk with slubs
  • Medium to heavyweight
  • High sheen finish
  • Drapes and shimmers beautifully
  • Requires gentle washing
  • Luxurious for apparel or display

10. Embroidery Canvas

Embroidery canvas is specially designed for needlework. It typically features a plain weave cotton base with a stiff stabilizing chemical wash. The canvas provides an ideal foundation for securing embroidery stitches without puckering or distortion. Sizes range from 7 to 18 count canvas. It’s suitable for hand and machine embroidery.

Key Features:

  • Cotton base with sizing
  • Provides stabilized foundation
  • 7 to 18 holes per inch
  • Maintains embroidery integrity
  • Suitable for hand and machine stitching

Common Questions about Embroidery Fabrics

Embroidering on fabric for the first time? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about choosing the right material:

1. Does the embroidery fabric need to be pre-washed?

It’s generally recommended to pre-wash your fabric before embroidering. This helps preshrink the material and also removes any coatings or finishes that could interfere with embroidery. Simply run the fabric through the wash and dryer as you would after completing your project.

2. Can I embroider on clothing I already own?

You can add embroidery to existing garments but stretchy fabrics like knits can be tricky. Try hooping a stabilizer on the backside first. Wovens like cotton shirts tend to hold embroidery better. Avoid embellishing clothing in areas that get a lot of wear as stitching can come loose over time.

3. Is interfacing or stabilizer required for embroidery?

Interfacing or stabilizer provides important support for embroidery, especially on lightweight fabrics. Fusible products like Stitch N Tear can be ironed on the back to create stability. Tearaway stabilizers also prevent distortion. Some heavy fabrics like canvas may not require stabilization.

4. How do I know what size needle to use?

Consult your floss or embroidery thread brand’s recommendations. In general, lightweight fabrics take smaller needles like 10-12 size while heavier fabrics can handle larger needles like 14-16 size. Make sure the eye is large enough for the thickness of your thread to pass through easily.

5. Can I embroider on felt?

Felt can make a great foundation for surface embroidery stitches. Opt for pure wool felt at least 3mm thick. The density holds stitches well without a hoop. Synthetic-blend felts may pill. You can embroider designs on felt pieces to make fun patches, ornaments, bag decorations, and more.

Get Creative with Fabrics for Embroidery!

The fabric you choose for your embroidery project makes all the difference. Natural fiber wovens with a medium weight, tight weave, and smooth finish tend to work best. Now that you know what to look for at the fabric store, it’s time to get creative! Embellish ready-made items like clothing and accessories or stitch colorful designs onto fabric pieces to display. Have fun playing with different thread colors and patterns stitched on fabric.

Rate this post