What does an embroider do?
Professional embroiderers are masters of detail, applying a range of traditional stitching techniques to produce intricate designs on clothing, accessories, and home décor items.
Professional embroiderers combine traditional sewing skills with current software programs to design and construct embellishments on an item. Embroiderers often are employed by large-scale clothing labels, retailers or design companies, or they may work independently as freelance artists.
- sewing, both by hand and using a machine
- computer design (e.g. Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat, and Photoshop)
- attention to detail
- the ability to work well with your hands
- strong sense of creativity and design flair
- ability to work alone and as part of a team
- patience and the ability to remain calm under pressure
If you are dealing with the public, you also need to have customer service skills. If you are designing bespoke pieces, you need to be able to explain your creative ideas to customers.
If you're self-employed, you need business skills too, so you can market your goods and services, deal with finances and develop your business.
How do I become an embroiderer?
You could start by doing a degree in fashion or fashion and textiles and specialise in hand embroidery during your course. You would need to check that your chosen degree would allow you to develop embroidery skills.
You can also do a specialist degree course:
BA (Hons) in Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors, Textile Art at the Royal School of Needlework
BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Embroidery at London College of Fashion
You'll usually need:
a foundation studies diploma in art and design
2 to 3 A levels for a degree
You could take a college course to develop your textiles skills. Courses include:
Level 2 Certificate in Fashion and Textiles
Level 3 Certificate in Fashion and Textiles
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course
You may be able to get into this type of work through an apprenticeship scheme. The range of apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local job market and the types of skills employers need.
Ellie Mac is an embroiderer based in Brighton. She combines her background in sourcing and trading vintage textiles with her unique training in leather work and free hand machine embroidery. Applying her trades to collaborations and small batch production has seen her branch out into exciting interior, fashion and editorial pieces.
Ellie’s embroidery is produced on a Vintage Irish Singer and a Juki free-hand machine. These machines produce a beautiful stitch at a fast speed. Each piece is drawn, embroidered and finished by hand producing limited edition high end embroideries.
Photography c. Jo Thorne Photography