Tools of the Trade

I’m often asked about the best type of fabric to use for embroidery and craft projects so I thought I’d share my most commonly used fabrics and how I work with them. There are so many suppliers locally and online that offer a brilliant range of fabrics. As an artist, I don’t always need to know what type of fabric I’m using unlike a dressmaker but I try to make a note or keep a swatch so that I can get the same type again for a different piece of work.

Good to Know… You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fabric, especially when you’re starting out. You can find fabrics in charity shops when they are allowed to reopen and lots of people have de-stash sales via Instagram or their website.


I use cotton fabrics for my English Patchwork pincushions and fusible web applique, prices usually start at £2.00 per metre. Quilting cotton comes in a huge variety of colours and patterns, perfect for fussy cutting designs and creating geometric patterns. I like to keep a range of colours and patterns in my stash that will work together for a project. Cotton is easy to cut and sew which makes it a great fabric to work with for embroidery and patchwork.


Calico is a type of cotton fabric, it comes in different weights and qualities and you can usually pick some up for around £3.00 a metre. I buy mine by the roll for all my classes and community projects which works out cheaper overall. You can also get calico that has been prepared for dyeing and printing, this has a much smoother surface and will absorb the pigment easily. Like other cotton fabrics, calico is easy to cut and sew making it great to embroider onto.


Since choosing a vegan lifestyle a few years ago, I haven’t bought any more wool fabrics but I am working with the fabrics from my stash rather than selling them on. Wool can be expensive, depending on the quality. The cream wool in my stash is £65.00 per metre but you can pick up cheaper fabrics online or from your local fabric shop. I use wool for my digitally embroidered drawings as the dense stitching sinks into the surface of the fabric. Heavyweight or boiled wool doesn’t fray which is a great bonus.

Vintage Fabrics

My favourite type of fabric has to be vintage, in particular vintage cotton like tray cloths and bed sheets. The smooth worn surface makes it perfect for hand embroidery, dyeing and printing. I like to make use of the features on the fabric too, like printed designs for embroidery or labels and laundry marks. You can pick up some great vintage pieces with prices starting at around £1.00 per item in charity shops. It’s great to think about reusing rather than buying new for every project. You can freeze vintage fabrics for a couple of weeks to get rid of anything like clothes moths and gently hand wash them to remove any strange smells!

***Please note that this is just my personal observation on the products I use regularly, everyone has their favourites and I recommend trying lots of different types to find the best one for you.***