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5 types of fabric to stitch on

It's one of those questions I get asked all the time - "what should I stitch on?". To be honest, you can stitch on anything! I've seen embroidery done on leaves, on watering cans, even on garden fences! But some of these non-stretch fabrics are a good place to start


Cotton is probably the most popular fabric to stitch on and certainly my favourite. There are different types of cotton fabric - different weights, different weaves - but generally what is used for embroidery is 'craft cotton'. This is a medium weight, tightly-woven fabric that can come plain or patterned.

Calico is generally the cheapest type of cotton and what I use in many of my pieces. It's unbleached and a little coarser that craft cotton.

Cheesecloth and Muslin are other types of cotton fabrics but these are generally lightweight with a looser, more open weave.


Linen is another great fabric for embroidery, and quite similar to cotton. Again, it comes in light-medium weight and is a slightly looser weave than cotton - giving it a bit more texture. It's also not quite as soft and smooth as cotton, and tends to be more expensive. Linens with a more open weave, such as Belfast or Dublin linens, are often used for blackwork embroidery.


Aida is an open, even weave cotton. The openness of the weave creates a mesh or grid pattern, making it the ideal fabric for cross-stitch and blackwork embroidery. It comes in different sizes such as 14 count, 16 count, 18 count, etc., which refers to the number of threads per inch (tpi). The less tpi, the wider the holes between the threads and generally the easier it is to stitch. It is also quite a stiff fabric, meaning it can sometimes be used even without a hoop.


Silk Satin is tightly woven and comes in a variety of weights. It has a right side (glossy) and a wrong side (matte). Cheaper versions are made from synthetic fibres.

Dupion is a tightly woven, medium weight silk which is often made with different sized warp and weft threads, giving it a bit more texture. These threads are also often different colours which gives the fabric an iridescent look.

Habutai has a plain, tight weave and comes in light and medium weights. It has a very smooth, shiny look on both sides.

Organza and Chiffon are two types of sheer silk (almost transparent) which are often used for shadow work and two-sided embroideries.

Wool felt

Felt is very different to the other fabrics we've talked about as it is not woven, but matted fibres. It is a soft and dense fabric, often used for creating embroidered patches or Christmas decorations as it doesn't fray. Typically wool based, it can also be made from cotton or synthetic fibres.

wool felt


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