Having a hobby can be expensive, but a few simple tricks can save big bucks. Luckily, embroidery is very cheap to try. You only need a few things things to get started (some of which you may already have).
Scissors: While there are embroidery scissors out there that are small and designed to cut tight stitches, they aren’t necessary to invest in if you are trying to keep costs low. I recently purchased one to travel with (since my nail clippers weren’t great a cutting threads). Amazon and etsy have a wide selection of scissors for every sensibility and price range.
Needles: Any needle with a large eye would work for embroidery, but investing in one specifically designed for embroidery isn’t taxing for your budget. You can get 6 for under $3 on Amazon.
Fabric: There’s a huge variation in fabric types and costs. As a beginner, I’ve stuck mostly to cheap cotton. I like the simple cotton quarter that come in a variety of colors of patterns and are around $2.50 (I get mine from Joanne’s). With a 5” diameter hoop, it’s possible to do almost 6 pieces with this cheap fabric cut. You can bulk buy on Amazon for about half the price of what’s stores, but there’s limited choices of color choice.
Threads: Embroidery threads are crazy cheap- about $0.30 -$0.50 per skein. But thanks to the wonders of amazon you can bulk buy for even more savings. You can buy skeins for as low as $0.10 cents apiece if you start buying in the hundreds. There’s some small problems though: first, you get a giant randomized bag of colors, so you might not get the exact color you need. Second, there’s no bulk offers for DMC Thread. DMC Thread is the craft store standard and has a great quality reputation. Upside, the quality is about the same. Downside, the color identifier codes don’t exactly correspond to DMC. Some brands have color conversion charts but most likely you will have to bring threads to the craft store and visually match up the colors.
Hoops: You may assume that since I’m such an amazon junkie, I would go straight for the bulk buys of hoops available. Not so. Embroidery hoops vary greatly in quality even at the same price point. That’s because of the variations of the brass tensioner. Some hoops have less turnable tensioners, leading to a loser working area and puckered fabric. Others have weaker fasteners connecting the tensioner to the hoop, leading to progressive loosening and eventually total breakage. Therefore, I’m wary of buying them online. Plus, there isn’t a huge cost savings. Prime eligible wooden hoops are still ~$2 each, about what they are in a store. Though, if you like plastic hoops there’s some good deals.
My go to hoop distributor is Joanne’s. My first few hoops were from Micheal’s and A.C. Moore, but I was astounded at how quickly the fasteners degraded. Joanne’s hoops have very high endurance tensioners that have withstood several uses and abuses.
If you are interested in the fancy wood grain hoops, there’s two good places to look. HobbyCraft is a British crafting store that sells the hoops at reasonable prices, but shipping to the United States is $12, 3-5 times more than the hoop itself. UsedThreads on Etsy sells hoops at cost with only $5.26 in shipping.
Travel Bags: First off, there isn't a real requirement for this item. Ziplock or plastic bags work perfectly fine. But, some people want a more organized method. Amazon is an incredible resource for storage options. Craft stores don’t always have a large selection of storage options specifically for embroidery threads. Amazon is the only place I’ve been able to find my storage method of choice- Floss Away bags. These can attach to a carabiner, making them super travel friendly. On Amazon, you can get 100 for less than $6.