Should I buy an embroidery kit or the PDF pattern?

Eee! You just found an embroidery pattern you absolutely LOVE. You know it’ll be perfect for your friend, a grandchild's birthday, or even just to hang up in your room. You can purchase it as a kit or as a pdf printable pattern - which do you choose? Since there are benefits and drawbacks to each, it really comes down to choosing what’s best for you and how you want to use it. This blog will walk you through what’s included in each Penguin & Fish embroidery kit as well as our PDF patterns. We’ll give some common reasons why some customers prefer to purchase one over the other, and hopefully help make your decision easier! 

Ready-to-stitch embroidery kits

Every Penguin & Fish embroidery kit will include all the supplies you need to start stitching right out of the box! These kits make great gift ideas, or easy grab-and-go travel projects. Here’s what you’ll get with each kit: pre-printed cotton fabric (no transfer necessary!), enough embroidery floss for the project, an embroidery needle, an embroidery hoop, a ribbon for finishing your piece, an Embroidery Starters Guide, and a color and stitch guide. 

all-inclusive embroidery kit contents

Why to choose an embroidery kit: 

  • It’s a minimal investment. If you’re giving embroidery a shot for the first time, a kit is a great way to give the craft a try. You won't be investing in a bunch of supplies that are going to sit around unused.
  • You're a beginner and need help getting started. All of our kits come with easy-to-follow instructions that are written with beginners in mind. We walk you through each step of the process, as well as offer tons of support on our website
  • No prep work! We’ve transferred the pattern for you, picked out the colors, and picked out your needle. All you have to do is take everything out of the box, grab your favorite scissors, and start stitching!

Embroidery kits are ready, right out of the box

Downloadable PDF patterns

A PDF pattern is great when you’ve got oodles of supplies, or want to get stitching right away! They can be used over and over again, and work great when you want to stitch onto something unique (like a bag, a shirt, or a fun designed fabric). Plus, the downloadable PDF pattern is chock-full of goodies. Here’s what you’ll get: An easy-to-trace black and white pattern, a black and white pattern in reverse for an iron-on transfer pencil, embroidery instructions for getting started, a color and stitch guide, and a color image of the finished embroidery for reference. 

Every Penguin & Fish PDF pattern can be instantly downloaded upon purchase and is also saved in your Digital Library on To learn more about accessing the PDF patterns in your Digital Library, click here

PDF digital embroidery pattern

Why to choose a PDF pattern:

  • You're ready to get stitching right away. Just purchase, download, print, and stitch!
  • You're a stitcher outside of the U.S. Don’t want to pay for shipping, but still love the pattern? PDF patterns are your friend!
  • You don’t need any more supplies, or you want to re-use the pattern. Skip the supplies with a PDF pattern, or collect patterns to re-use them again and again!
  • To stitch on something unique. With a PDF, you can transfer the pattern yourself, leavning room for creative decisions: enlarge or shrink the pattern, leave parts off the pattern, or transfer to a bag, shirt or other unique item. (Don’t worry, we encourage creative decisions, you won’t hurt our feelings.)

fun embroidery, eager to finish

Cool, but why wouldn’t I buy a kit or a PDF? 

There are times when an embroidery kit or a PDF pattern just isn't for you. Here are some examples we’ve heard from customers over the years. 

You may not want an embroidery kit if…

  • You’d like to stitch the pattern more than one time. 
  • You’re tight on money and can’t afford the kit.
  • You have one bajillion floss colors and hoops laying around already.

If this is you, check out the PDF Digital Downloads section of the shop.

You may not want a PDF pattern if…

  • You don’t have access to a printer. It can be difficult to trace or transfer a pattern without a printer.
  • You don’t have access to a computer or digital device. All PDF patterns are digital and will need to be downloaded upon purchase to access.
  • You need supplies such as an embroidery hoop, needle, and floss. 

If this is you, a PDF pattern may not be a great fit. Check out our embroidery kits, instead!

stitching garden embroidery pattern

Whether you’re all-in on embroidery kits, only purchase PDF’s, or find yourself somewhere in between, we hope you can find something cute to stitch in the Penguin & Fish shop! You deserve it.

To welcome you to the family, we’d like to offer you 15% off your first purchase! Let us know your email address below and we’ll send you a coupon right away. We’ll also send you fun crafting tips, let you know about new products, and share discounts with you - don’t worry, you can unsubscribe at any time. 


What are you waiting for? It’s time to pick up your next project!

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Marye Tolbert

Just getting back into embroidery. The kits are great because it helps me build my supplies.

Iris Lamb

You didn’t mention purchasing just preprinted designs on fabric which is generally my choice.

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