Probably the most obvious choice for embroidery is 100 percent quilting cotton. Why the designation “quilting?” Quilting cottons are heavier than heirloom cottons like Nelona or Swiss Batiste. Heirloom cottons are also 100 percent cotton, but are sheer which is problematic for both hand and machine embroidery as threads often show through.
With the crossover of embroidery silk fabric and quilting, many quilters now incorporate hand and machine embroidery into their projects, so cotton fabrics are abundantly available.
Heavyweight canvas cotton is known as utility cloth. That makes canvas the preferred fabric for embroidery silk fabric on heavily used items like tote bags.
Linen is lighter, more textured, and 30 percent stronger than cotton. Created from the flax plant, linen is considered the strongest of natural fibers and wears extremely well. That’s probably why even the most used of antique linens are still highly sought after.
You may think of silk as a delicate, flimsy fabric but that is not always the case. Silk dupioni combines the luxurious shine of silk with a crisp, strong base. Fine silk threads run vertically in the fabric, along the selvage. Silk from conjoined cocoons run horizontally in the fabric producing a textured effect.
Whether it is pure wool, felted wool or even synthetic blends of wool felt, this fiber is particularly suited for embroidery. It is strong, does not fray in felt form, and provides some depth for embroidery without the nuisance of a deep nap that would swallow up stitches.
One of the biggest advantages of stitching on wool felt is the it does not produce a raw edge that needs to be finished or hemmed, making it perfect for decorative crafts.