So you've learned a few stitches, tried a few techniques and you're ready to start creating your own work. Or maybe you can't find a pattern for the idea that's in your head. Don't worry, you don't need to train at art school or have a natural ability to draw well - there are plenty of resources to help you out.
Stencils are an excellent tool, whether you're designing on a sheet of paper or you want to draw directly onto the fabric. I use them all the time, especially for abstract pieces made up of squares and circles. But of course you can get more letters and numbers, complicated patterns, and whole books of themed stencils too!
This is another excellent tool I use all the time. Canva is a graphic design platform, used to create visual content. I find it especially good for designing pieces with words or phrases. There's so many fonts, templates, images and other designs to choose from. You can move things around again and again before you decide on a layout. You can use it online or download the app. While I think the paid version is definitely worth it, you can do a lot on the free version too.
If you already have an iPad, I definitely recommend buying the Procreate app (for around €11). If you don't have an iPad this might become a very expensive option for you! Procreate is a digital illustration app. Using the apple pencil, you can sketch like you normally would on paper but then you can alter and manipulate what you've drawn. Where I used to have pages of sketches slightly altering a design over and over, I can now do it all in one app. Handy or what?
Selecting the colours for a new project can be a bit daunting. How do you know what looks good together? Well some of the tools I've already mentioned will help with that. But there are an infinite amount of colours, and a finite number of shades of embroidery thread. An excellent resource for this is Stitch Palettes. This website not only has colour palettes already there to inspire you, but you can key in a hex code/thread number and generate a load of palettes to suit it.
I also recommend having a colour chart on hand to compare thread shades to your fabric or other real life objects. The one with real thread samples is best, but a card or even printable one will do.