Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Maybe or…Maybe Not? Hand Embroidery Start Up Library Class


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A couple weekends back, I mentioned a new hand embroidery class on Craftsy, as part of their “Start Up Library” series.

Several folks wrote in, asking if I’d review the class in detail. I’ve finally had a chance to go through the class in detail, take some notes and think about it a bit, and then write (and re-write, and re-write again) a review from what I hope is an objective eye, wanting what’s best for you.

So, if you’re curious about this Hand Embroidery Start Up Library Class on Craftsy, this short review – with pros and cons – is for you!

Craftsy Hand Embroidery Start Up Library class review

A Class for Absolute Beginners or Youth

The Hand Embroidery Start Up Library class on Craftsy is a video-based online class geared towards absolute beginners in embroidery – or maybe youngsters who want to learn a craft.

The class is for folks who are primarily interested in the craft of embroidery. If you want to embroider for fun, you’ve never embroidered at all, you aren’t looking for any mastery of stitching at this point, you’re looking for a quick craft fix and you want to see what embroidery is all about, then the class is great for that.

If you’re an adult or an aspiring youth who desires to learn the art of embroidery, with a certain level of mastery of embroidery, you already know some basics and you’re confident in your learning abilities, I don’t know that you’d get that much out of the class.

The class is divided into 13 video lessons that range anywhere from about 4 minutes long to about half an hour long. Since the lessons are short, it’s manageable, time-wise. The longer lessons are generally those devoted to stitches, with many stitches taught in each lesson.

The Pros

1. For absolute beginners, the Hand Embroidery Start Up Library class on Craftsy provides an entry-level approach to get started stitching. This is what the title implies, and the class does follow through on that promise.

2. Craftsy classes are set up so that you can easily re-wind and replay segments (handy when you’re learning a new stitch), so that you can add notes to the class as you go (in your own private account, not seen by others), and so that you can interact with the instructor by asking questions and requesting feedback. This can be very handy for the beginner, who wants guidance, clarification, and support while learning.

3. Considering the class in terms of something for youth (8/9 and up) that would provide a structured learning approach for summer crafts, I think the class could be a good option.

4. Basics are covered: what fabrics and threads to start out with (what’s going to be easiest, without breaking the bank or causing frustration); tools to use (again, without making a heavy investment if you’re just starting out); transferring simple designs; working a variety of stitches; choosing your own designs and stitching them; managing floss; some blurbs at the end on crewel embroidery and bead embroidery.

5. The instructor is very enthusiastic about her stitching and obviously loves stitching, and that kind of enthusiasm is always wonderful to see.

The Cons

1. The price point ($69) is a bit tricky. I think it’s a bit high for this particular class, compared to the instructional content of other Craftsy embroidery classes. It’s just not the same quality of instructional content. Also, most of the instruction in this class can be found online for free through a hundred different resources, like YouTube, blogs, and the like. You can also learn what’s in this class through any basic hand embroidery book and then, if you want video for stitch tutorials, you can troll YouTube for them. That said, it’s nice to have the structure of a class and the information all in one place.

2. Without going into too much detail, I’d encourage anyone, once you know the basics, to feel free to explore and discover that there are other approaches to stitchery beyond the class. What you learn in one class is not necessarily the only way (or even the best way) to do things. A few brief examples from this class that you might explore beyond the class: the cutting length for thread; the manner of stripping floss (and separating and reuniting floss for better coverage and more consistent stitching results); ideal fabric recommendations; certain transfer tool recommendations; and even some of the stitch instructions, which are great for absolutely beginners or youth, but the results are not necessarily the ideal to strive for (e.g., satin stitch, long & short stitch).

In a Nutshell

If you already know the basics, I’d probably forego this Craftsy class.

If you are an absolute beginner and you don’t know where to start and you just want to figure out how to get stitching, then the class would be helpful. If this describes you and you’re ready to take the plunge into the Wonderful World of Embroidery, then you can find Craftsy’s Hand Embroidery Start Up Library class here.

If you want advance your skills in embroidery, if you want to learn techniques beyond entry level, and you’re aspiring towards embroidery as an art more than a craft, then there are other Craftsy classes that can help you do that: the goldwork class, for example (reviewed here), the stumpwork class (reviewed here), the bead embroidery class (reviewed here).

And there you have it! That’s my take, for what it’s worth!

Or All the Craftsy Classes?

Update, 2018: Craftsy is now part of a program called Blueprint, which gives you access to all Craftsy classes for as long as you’re subscribed, at a fixed low monthly price. You can try a 7-day free trial here. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re interested in running through all their hand embroidery classes!

Coming Up on Needle ‘n Thread

Ooooooh, we have some thread talk coming up on Friday! If you love the sparkle of metallics but can’t stand the frustration that often accompanies metallic threads, stay tuned!

Oh yeah. I love thread!

This article contains affiliate links to Craftsy, which means that Needle ‘n Thread gets a small kickback when folks sign up for Craftsy through the links.


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(24) Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this review!! I’ve had this class on my wish list and almost enrolled in the class when it was 50% off. I am a struggling beginner, but I think with all that you offer on your site I am better off staying right here.

    Although I don’t say much, I look forward to your blog each day and appreciate all the work you do to inform and inspire us!!

  2. Thank you for the honest review! I had been contemplating purchasing this class but I’m beyond basics so I’m glad I didn’t waste the money on it… now I can use that money to buy more thread!

  3. Dear Mary

    When I was started to learn embroidery 7 years ago now I used to go online and mainly on you tube to learn how to stitch, thats how I came across your site, so I agree there are hundreds of tutorials on embroidery for beginners online so there is no need to enrol on a course. But as you say if you want something structured then a class would be appropriate. Thanks for reviewing Craftsy online Embroidery Start up Library class and for sharing your review with us.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  4. Thank you for your candor. Your reviews are so trustworthy that they fuel almost all my embroidery-related purchases — and considering that I have been following you from the beginning, there have been a lot of purchases! Every one of them has been a winner.

  5. Your generous and free offering of lessons and other content are far superior to any other class online that I have seen. Your efforts to give not only instruction, but history and context for our art. Understand that your willingness to share your knowledge gratis has I’m sure been a huge boon to embroidery!

    1. Hi, Beth – that’s odd! The link on my end goes directly to the start up library embroidery class. I’ll look into that, and see why it is redirecting – thanks for letting me know! The start up embroidery class is taught by Kat McTee.

  6. I would love to learn Stumpwork someday but in the meantime, I would like to do a Nora Corbett mermaid cross stitch pattern I bought so I can put it in the bathroom. I did cross stitch way back when it was popular but only on aida cloth. It was fun but a bit monotonous after a while due to using on one stitch. This pattern is very detailed and has beads here and there. It’s also done on an evenweave. I never did a cross stitch this elaborate. I have ordered the beads and hand dyed 32 ct Belfast linen so I’m excited to start but first I need a scroll frame or something to work it on. I don’t want the kind you have to lace up. Getting closer and more anxious.

  7. And one can certainly come to YOUR site to learn the basics! I love your videos — clear and precise and excellent camera work. Thank you!

  8. Thanks for the review Mary! I still have the stumpwork class on my wish list, I might dive in one day soon though. I hardly ever buy craft books these days but I did buy that beautiful Stumpwork book by Sachiko Morimoto, which is so lovely just to look at!

  9. Thanks so much for this great review, Mary! Like ElizabethDX commented above, your reviews are so honest I don’t buy anything that you don’t recommend.

    I had been eyeing this Craftsy class but had a feeling that it would be a little too basic for me – but then I had an idea. I created a post on our neighborhood forum and asked if anyone would be interested in meeting once a week to go through this class together. After we completed the sampler of stitches in the class, we would continue to meet weekly to stitch on other projects. More than a dozen women immediately said, “YES! I want to learn to embroider!”

    So I purchased the class (at half price) and our little neighborhood stitching group will begin to meet weekly in September. AND – as soon as we finish the sampler, all our stitchers will be given a little tour of Needle ‘n Thread! This is going to be fun!

  10. You are nicer than me. My list of cons was much longer. I bought it, as I do many books and videos, to pick up hints I might not know. Since this was a long ‘start-up’ class, I expected more from it. While the instructions were clear, for the part I watched, the methods taught were barely average quality. Problem will be beginners won’t know this. I’ve been doing needlework for about 35 years. I’m not a beginner so this bothered me enough I returned it without finishing watching it. Admittedly, from reading forums and having discussions, I tend to have higher standard of requirements for teaching than many people.

  11. I took the class, mainly because I hadn’t done any embroidery since I was a kid and wanted a refresher. I also didn’t pay full price because of an error and Craftsy was kind enough to give it to me for a dramatically reduced sale price. I don’t regret taking the class even though it was a bit too basic, and ultimately I didn’t finish it, but it got me moving. It’s definitely designed for beginners and kids and I think both groups would enjoy the enthusiasm of the instructor.

  12. Judging from the various comments, I found out what I needed to know. I tried to unsubscribe from the comments, but now I wonder if I have unsubscribed from the blog articles. Please make sure I have not made that mistake. Thanks! Beth

    1. Hi, Beth – if you unsubscribed from blog comments on an email with a comment, then you’re fine. It just unsubscribes you from the comments, not from the articles!

  13. Mary,

    I’m currently enrolled in the Hand Embroidery class you just posted about, as well as Sue Spargo’s Embroidering Texture and Dimension and Allie Aller’s Crazy Quilting class. My intent is to become proficient enough to make my own Crazy Quilt and embellish it. So, I figured this class would be a good place to start. I am an absolute newbie when it comes to embroidery, plus I’m left handed. I need the level that Kat teaches.
    However, I know that in order to step up my game, I will have to pursue other classes.
    Thank you for your honesty in your review.

  14. Hi Mary, thank you for all you do and providing this forum. Below is just what I’ve noticed on the platform over years… they are my recollections, so if someone wants to cry foul, I can take it. You may even be right 🙂
    It’s ironic, I’ve been at Craftsy since the beginning, and I’d never seen a class over $29 the first year or two. Then slippped in a $34 but those came with a little packet in the mail with fun things that might be hard to find or basic small winding of threads, charms, beads, etc. They ran great sales for most classes going for $19.99. Awesome. I bought lots of classes and some materials. And this went on for a while. I felt I was getting my money’s worth and often bought fabrics and yarns from the instructor. Or Craftsy sales platform.
    Then they started to go up in price a year or so ago to $40-$60 plus MATERIALS could run in the hundreds for the fabric and threads for a quilt. Even floss is all cotton and I’ll let Mary make the final judgement of floss and threads. (Being new to embroidery, I think all the cool handmade or unusual fibers are $$$! It’s like going into a bead/gem/pearl store!) But I’d think one could get good silk for these prices.)
    And there were no more freebies. It was getting silly. There is no way I’ll pay $40+ for a class at those prices online. Ever.
    I only shopped on $19.99 sales then, & I may have to do without if they don’t pull those back. I got the class above on a special sale for$14.99. There are other classes that have been running $25-34 for a couple of years that are now $49.
    Then Craftsy sends me mail after mail for a $15/month for all the Craftsy Classes I could watch. Of course they’d still carry all supplies needed. Which is definite convenient. And one still keeps the classes you choose (that was possibly not clear) but it was all CRAFTSY.
    I thought about it and saw how many classes I already had to watch already and decided to wait a year before committing to a subscription fee for more classes I’ve no interest in and even fewer new classes on any hand stitch work than most other categories.
    Now there’s Blueprint that have the classes so expensive I’ll never buy one unless they have a lot of big sales on craft classes. And they don’t let you keep the ones you watched and enjoyed when you stop your subscription? I will not be caught in this mess.

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