It's almost easier to answer this by thinking about what the limitation really is - if you can't get a needle and thread through it, you can't embroider it. That being said, you could potentially embroider a scrap of fabric, and affix it to the thing you can’t get a needle and thread through – that’d be called Applique embroidery – but I’ll talk about that in another article! By the way, if your question is more about what designs you can embroider, then have a look at my Embroidery Ideas and inspiration blog – there’s a free mandala stitch sampler in there which is a good starting point! In this article I’m going to talk more about what items you can embroider.
First off, an important consideration when it comes to embroidering something, is to think about the function of an item and take it into consideration before embroidering on it. What I mean by that, for example, is if you decide to embroider your umbrella, unless you've planned how you're going to waterproof your embroidery and protect it from being stretched when you open and close your umbrella, then you're going to get wet the next time you need your Umbrella, and your stitches won't last very long!
So, some ideas for different things you can embroider on. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good start for some inspiration.
Fashion - Clothing
From a fashion perspective, any type of clothing can be embroidered. You can embroider patterns on pockets, collars, cuffs, dresses, jeans, jackets, jumpers. I have quite a few pieces of clothing that I’ve revamped using embroidery. Denim is always a good one to stitch on – a little pattern just popping out of a pocket is cute. A pattern on a plain t-shirt is also a great way to breathe new life into old things. If you’ve got an item of clothing that you’ve not worn because it’s got a hole in it – great! You can embroider onto a patch and fix the hole with the patch! I’ve got an article specifically about embroidering on clothes though, so I’ll not get into too much detail on that here and let you read that one if you want!
Trainers can also be embroidered - who doesn’t like a pair of Converse with the side embroidered! Flowery patterns are definitely in fashion just now for trainers, but words can also look good. Function is important to consider when you’re doing this though – definitely don’t go embroidering something that’s meant to be waterproof, unless you also invest in waterproofing your embroidery.
Fashion - Accessories
When it comes to accessories - hats, bags, scarves, purses, wallets can all be embroidered. These can be quite tough to embroider depending on the material – for example a leather wallet or purse – but there are needles designed specifically for embroidering through leather so don’t let it put you off if you really want to. You might also want to invest in a thumb protector, to help protect your thumb from callouses from pushing the needle through such a thick material! Hair bands and bows also look great with some embroidery on them.
Fashion - Baby's clothing
Baby’s clothing can be embroidered – basically any of it and it can look the CUTEST! You do need to be careful here though, as you don’t want the stitching to scratch the baby – some iron on interfacing applied to the back will keep the baby’s skin protected from the stitching. These will also be keepsake pieces very quickly as they grow out of them so fast!
Lifestyle - Household Textiles
Then if we get on to household textiles, again there’s so many things! Cushions and pillows are a good start – the materials are generally medium to medium-heavy, and everyone has them in their homes. The reverse is also always covered, so you don’t need to worry about making sure the back is neat either!
You might have seen furniture with patterns sewn on the fabric – this is usually done using an embroidery style called Needlepoint. Towels can be embroidered, perhaps with some sea shells or ocean life? In the kitchen, Aprons, oven gloves and tea clothes can all be embroidered on.
Other household items that can be embroidered - duvets, blankets, lampshades, curtains - all of these can be embroidered on! The larger the item you embroider, the less the embroidery is going to stand out – unless you’re prepared to invest hundreds of hours into embroidering a lot!
In the dining room, table runners, mats, napkins can all be embroidered on. I have a customer who’s currently working on a Christmas dining table project that involves making her own table runner and mats with klona cotton, and embroidering them all using Christmas patterns I’ve adapted for her – I can’t wait to see the finished result of it!
I'll stop there for now, but hopefully that's given you some inspiration. If you know of something that I've missed, or have any comments/questions, then get in touch using the comments section below!