Thursday, 6 June 2013

Using Amy Tan's embroidery stencils: a tutorial and tips x

So I am sure you have noticed that I have been using my Amy Tan embroidery stencils a fair amount lately and I promised I would do a tutorial and helpful hints and tips post. So here it is. It is quite lengthy and has alot of pictures as I wanted to be as helpful as possible.

So firstly, Amy Tan's stencils come in 2 sets currently. In one you get 2 stencil sheets of alphabets and some cute graphic images, and the second set is made of graphic images to use. Each set comes with a mat, a hole pricker, 3 colours of embroidery floss in pink, yellow and a greeny-blue along with 3 sewing needles.

Each stencil set has the stencils full picture with the pricking holes clearly laid out ready for you to start so all you will need is a pair of scissors and the cardstock you wish to use for your project. I say cardstock as thin patterned paper will rip when you begin stitching.

If you have never embroidered before, worry not as I will give you a quick guide on how to do that in a moment.

So to start I would definately choose a thicker patterned paper, card or label to do your first stitching and if you have never embroidered before then use old card stock to practice on.

Choose you image to prick and lay your stencil over the top of your card/label/paper with the mat underneath your cardstock etc.

TIP 1: Don't rely on the pricking mat provided alone, I would place your craft mat beneath it as well because it is not very sturdy and could damage your table.

If you are new to using the stencils and don't feel confident about keeping the image still while you are pricking through the holes, then use some washi tape to stick the stencil to your cardstock etc to hold it steady. Then when you are ready simply use the pricking tool to make holes in your cardstock through the stencil holes. You don't need to use much pressure at all. When you lift off your stencil the holes you have made through your cardstock will be visible.

TIP 2: I keep my stencil handy to refer to as I stitch but another idea would be to lightly pencil in the design like a dot-the-dot so you can see where to stitch.

Now you are ready to stitch. Each of the threads has a needle with it which is pretty generous so choose your thread colour and thread your needle ready.

TIP 3: Don't put too much thread on your needle as it can become knotted as you stitch. Also if you're stitching a bigger design, occasionally allow your needle and thread to hang and uncurl. This helps prevents knotting as well.

This next section VERY photo heavy...............
To start you can either make a knot at the end of your thread or like me leave a small thread tail and stick this down with washi tape on the back of the card. Now bring your needle up from the back of your card to make your first stitch. Backstitch is very easy to do just follow these instructions..................

Now keep stitching until you have been through each hole of your design then bring your needle to the back of your card and stick down your thread with a small piece of washi tape and cut your thread.

And there you have your embroidered image. Cool.

I have been using my embroidery stencils to make layout titles.................


add elements to my layouts like these flowers and cityscapes.........................



and I will be trying them out on some fabric too.

I think the stencils are great value for money,they are £8.99 here in the UK,  as I have been doing embroidery for many years I have loads of embroidery threads to use once those supplied run out and you can get some kits of various embroidery shades fairly cheaply these days. I have some gr8 variegated threads to try.

There is one thing I was a bit picky over and that was that some of the stencils used quite long pieces of thread without a stitch, for example the camera image is very big and the bottom edge of the camera has only one very long stitch which when I redo that image I will make an extra hole along that line as I don't like the way the thread lies. That's just me.

 For those of you who haven't embroidered before, I can answer any questions if you would like to leave a comment or email me. If anyone would like a pdf/word version of the tutorial, I can do that too.


  1. My hand shot up in the air! Yes please for an embroidery tutorial. I've been doing a little bit recently and would really like to see more :) .... Thanks for this tutorial, it was really well done x

  2. I've dabbled in cross stitch and a tiny bit of embroidery but I'd be truly happy with any advice :) hints, tips & techniques ... In fact you name it, I'd love to see it

  3. What a great tutorial. Embroidery was my very first craft - way back when! I might have to pull out some of those early projects for Sian's Storytelling Sunday.
    Thanks for the reminder,

  4. Hey Jo these are great!
    I've done freehand-drawn embroidery on a couple of layouts, but it might be nice to get a special stencil. In fact, I may already have some, which came with a magazine.... (goes to look).
    Thanks for the great tutorial - I'm adding it to my blog's "Clever things" tab (if that's ok?). X


Hello and thank you so much for stopping by. It is always a pleasure to read the comments I receive and to meet new friends. I try and reply to comments on friend's blogs as much as possible. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog and look forward to seeing you here again soon. Love Jo xxx