Linen is a worthy ground-stuff, which may be worked on with flax thread, crewel, or silk, but they should not be mixed. Cotton is hardly worth embroidering. Of woollen stuffs, good plain cloth is an excellent ground for work in wool or silk, but it is not pleasant to the touch in working. Serge, if not too loose, may serve for curtains and the like, but it is not so well worth working upon. Felt is beneath contempt.
The nobler the material, the more essential it is that it should be of the best. Poor satin is not "good enough to work on"; it looks poorer than ever when it is embroidered.
Satin should be stretched upon the frame the way of the stuff, and it should not be forgotten that it has a right and a wrong way up. If it is backed, the linen should be fine and smooth: on a coarse backing, the satin gets quickly worn away, as you may see in many a piece of old work that has gone ragged.
"Roman satin" and what is called" satin de luxe" (perhaps because it is not so luxurious as it pretends to be) are effective ground-stuffs easy to work upon; but there is an odour of pretence about satin-faced cotton.
A corded silk is not good to embroider; the work on it looks hard ; but a close twill answers very well. Silk damask makes an admirable ground, beautifully broken in colour, if only it is simple and broad enough in pattern. Generally speaking.
you can hardly choose a design too big and flat; but something depends upon the work to be done on it. In any case, the pattern of the damask ought not to assert itself, and if you can't make out its details, so much the better.
Brocade asserts itself too much to form a good background. There is a practice of embroidering the outlines, or certain details only, of damask and brocade patterns. That is a fair way of further enriching a rich stuff; but it is embroidery merely in the sense that it is literally embroidered: the needlework is only supplementary to weaving.
Tussah silk of the finer sort is easy to work in the hand. The thinner and looser quality needs to be worked in a frame, and with smooth silk not tightly twisted.