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Ulster Linen sells Business to Business ONLY. You must order $200 worth of linens on your first purchase plus a $100 reorder to buy from this site.

Please email us if you would like to receive a list of catalog and web vendors.

Embroidery 101 - by Martha Stewart
Featuring linens available at Ulster Linen

The impulse to embellish fabric with decorative stitches dates back thousands of years even before woven cloth and at least one thing about embroidery hasn't changed in all that time. No matter how complicated looking the result, embroidery is remarkably easy. If you can use a needle and thread, you can embroider.

A few simple tools will get you started: an embroidery needle, thread of yarn, the fabric or article on which you'll be working and a way to transfer your design. You'll also need an embroidery hoop if you're working on a flat surface; it will frame the cloth for even stitching. Eight basic stitches are shown on the following pages, and with a little practice, you should find them versatile enough to create a wide variety of lovely personalized embroideries.

One of the most exciting aspects of this art form is that it is not limited to a "flat" canvas. When planning a project, let your imagination wander. Use your mind's eye to add embroidery to the things you're drawn to in fabric shops, linen departments, toy stores, and accessory boutiques. Finding the ideal surface for your creation is half the fun.

Choose fabrics with a visible weave. Linen is ideal, but woven cottons or wool are also suitable. Felt, though dense, is especially nice, because it is easy to use. Natural cream and white are the traditional backgrounds, but pastels and brighter or deeper colors will allow for more dramatic effects.

Thread and yarn for embroidery come in many colors and textures. The standard is cotton embroidery floss, a glossy thread made up of six strands that can be separated from one another to create finer weights. Silk and rayon threads also come in divisible strands. Wool yarn comes in three or four ply weight and cannot be separated into strands, so it is best suited to heavy fabrics such as canvas or the thickest linen. Be careful about bending the rules here. Bulky thread on fine fabric will pucker the material; light threads embroidered on heavy cloth can be difficult to see. Only when a thread is the proper weight for a particular material will it create the desired appearance: gently raised stitches the kind you want to touch with a satin finish on a smooth background.

These linens are available Business to Business ONLY. And are subject to the terms and conditions of Ulster Linen. If you would like to purchase these linens please EMAIL US and we will supply you with a list of catalog and web vendors.
These embroidered valentines began as linen napkins and coasters available now at Ulster Linen. Linens do not come with embroidery stitched to them.
Click here to order these linens

When choosing a design, you can always go to crafts and fabrics stores for ready-to-use iron-on transfers, but leafing through clip-art or vintage picture books can give you many more ideas. Calligraphy primers, coloring books, and old Christmas cards are rich sources for letters and numbers and field guides can be helpful if you want to embroider birds, trees, leaves or flowers. Look around your own house too. Even a cookie cutter can give you a pleasing design to trace. Any image that can be drawn with a pencil can be embroidered with a needle and thread. Embroidery, like most art forms benefits with innovations of the times. Use photocopiers to reduce or enlarge an art image. Explore the internet's thousands of images. Try drawing software to experiment with your computer until you get an image that's just right.

Designs can be transferred onto fabric in several ways. A heat transfer pencil lets you draw a design (in reverse) onto tracing paper and iron it directly onto fabric, like a store bought transfer. Or you can use a "light table". Make your own by balancing a piece of glass between two chairs and placing a lamp beneath the glass. Lay the design on the glass and place the fabric over it; use a sharp dressmaker's pencil (or a disappearing ink marker) to trace the design onto the fabric.

If you place your fabric in an embroidery hoop, be sure it is taut, like a drum. This will help keep the tension even. As for any tension about the outcome, just let it go. Embroidery is meant to be meditative and relaxing. The time for excitement is when you notice that your carefully wrought stitches have resulted in something beautiful and all your own.

About Ulster Linen Co., Inc.

The Ulster Linen Co., Inc. of New York is noted for being the most reliable source of Fine European Linens in the US. Our roots go back to an Irish mill called The Ulster Weaving Co., Ltd. which was started over 150 years ago by John Sloan Larmor from a small weaving division of the Ulster Spinning Co., Ltd. William Hogg Larmor, youngest son of John Sloan Larmor came to the United States and started the present New York importing company in 1933, then also called the Ulster Weaving Co., Ltd. Both the Belfast and New York companies recently changed their names to better reflect their corporate purpose and independence.

Our reputation for quick, courteous service and high quality products is well known. Ulster's longevity (oldest US Linen Company of its kind, still active) is the result of placing the customer's needs first and carrying ample stock of basic linens for swift delivery. Please review our product line and contact us when you need quality linen. You may select from linen by the yard or household linen.

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