Winter Floral, a gorgeous embroidery pattern by Lark Rising

In early 2019, I started working on Winter Floral by Lark Rising. I worked on it off and on for a few months and completed it in May.

At the end of the pattern instructions, the artist requests that any deviations from the pattern should be noted when sharing on the internet. I’ll do my best to share what I changed.

completed Winter Floral embroidery pattern by Lark Rising
completed Winter Floral embroidery pattern by Lark Rising

First up, the colors. The colors called for by the pattern are gorgeous, but for Christmas 2018, I got a large pack of DMC floss with dozens of colors. I wanted to use what was in my stash rather than collect more floss. So, I selected thread from that pack that most closely matched the colors in the pattern.

Also, the pattern often calls for three threads. I honored those instructions at times but during others, I went with 2 threads because that’s I prefer how 2 looks versus 3.

angled look at completed Winter Floral embroidery pattern by Lark Rising

Lastly, I transferred this pattern before I learned to tape things in place so they won’t slip. Due to some slippage, the pattern wasn’t traced 100% precisely.

This pattern takes awhile because of all the elements and they are all filled in. It is worth the effort because the finished product is so beautiful. I’m also happy to see how my stitching is improving over time.

Hand embroidered Captain Marvel barrettes

In early 2019, barrettes started coming back in fashion, according to magazines. (I’d been wearing them for many years, but okay). Some of the barrettes featured in the mags had large letters and I thought it would be fun to adapt the concept to an embroidered barrett.

embroidered higher further faster barrettes
embroidered higher further faster barrettes

Around the same time, Captain Marvel movie tickets went on sale and marketing for the film was ratcheted up. The Captain Marvel movie poster featured the words “Higher Further Faster.” I thought this was the perfect inspiration for hand embroidered barrettes.

The color palette presented a new problem – transferring onto dark fabric. If I had to do it now, I would simply transfer the pattern to a stabilizer and then remove the stabilizer after stitching. But I hadn’t learned that yet, so I printed out the words onto paper, painstakingly turned that into a stencil and used chalk to mark the letters on the fabric.

Working with DMC’s metallic thread was another challenge. It is quite unruly compared to the cotton thread and I did not enjoy working with it at all. I used straight, horizontal stitches instead of horizontal satin stitches which would have looked a lot better. If I had to do it over again, I would simply go with a dark yellow thread and use small satin stitches.

One last lesson, when making barrettes, make sure you know which side of your head you want to wear the barrettes while planning your pattern and double check before gluing onto the barrette. I originally had planned to wear these on the left side of my head but switched to my right after gluing the first one.

I bought blank craft barrettes and carefully glued the finished work onto them. They’re holding up very well many months later.

A sampler of crewel embroidery stitches

crewel embroidery stitch sampler
crewel embroidery stitch sampler

Color guide: Green = filling stitches, Blue = outline stitches, Red = surface stitches

1st row: Buttonhole stitch

2nd row: Burden, brick, trellis, seed

3rd row: Long and short, block, satin, padded satin, laid, fishbone

4th row: Back, running, chain, stem, split, Quaker, coral, couching, pearl, Pekinese, raised chain band, incorrectly done raised stem stitch (oops!), Van Dyke, herringbone

5th row: Whipped wheel, bullion knot, woven wheel, French knot, pistil, fly, feather, Turkey rug, detached chain, Cretan, leaf

In November 2018, I acquired the Royal School of Needlework’s Book of Embroidery. This book is large, heavy and full of detailed information on various types of hand embroidery.

One of the sections is dedicated to crewel embroidery, which contains many of the stitches that come to mind when you think of freestyle embroidery (as opposed to cross stitch or needlework).

I’d seen quite a few stitch samplers on Instagram and Pinterest so I thought I’d take a shot at making one using the stitches from the crewel section in the book.

This time I tried an Irish linen fabric sold at Michael’s. The thread count is low and I don’t think it’s actually the right kind of Irish linen for crewel embroidery. But I was still able to complete the sampler and learn many stitches in the process.

Hand embroidered Christmas ornaments from the 2018 holiday season

The first holiday season after learning to embroider, I, of course, wanted to implement my newly acquired skills to celebrate. I figured ornaments would be a fun and relatively easy way to accomplish this.

The first ornament attempted was a self-drafted cardinal (bird) sitting on an evergreen branch. I was very pleased with how it turned out. But then I learned a tough lesson: I tried to glue the fabric to the cardboard base of the ornament frame and the glue showed through the spaces that weren’t embroidered. I tried to figure out ways to compensate, but haven’t come up with any. Maybe I’ll give it another think during the 2019 holiday season.

embroidered cardinal on an evergreen branch

A more simple ornament was simply cutting out two felt stars and embroidering chain stitched lines onto it. I stuffed it with a little batting and then closed it with a running stitch.

For my in-laws who live in Ohio near Lake Erie, I stitched an image of Kelleys Island, their favorite vacation island on the lake. I simply traced the lake from an internet satellite image, outlined it and filled it in with a trellis stitch and detached chain stitch flowers. I also did my first embroidered lettering. I transferred the letters using a stencil then used small satin stitches to fill in the letters.

For my niece, who was obsessed with the Pixar film Coco at the time, I designed an ornament based on the movie’s marketing. I found a font similar to the movie poster font for the words Feliz Navidad, which is Merry Christmas in Spanish. Then, I traced over the guitar and floral images used in the logo. I used embroidery thread as close to the logo’s colors as I could determine. I used satin stitch to fill in everything. The lettering is uneven here because at the time I was not taping the fabric down to hold it in place when tracing.

embroidered Feliz Nacidad ornament inspired by the movie Coco

For my husband, who is into hot sauces, I returned to felt to create a hot sauce bottle ornament with the words “Josh’s Hot Sauce.” I used little running stitches for the letters and a satin stitch for the cap. I secured the edges with a blanket stitch.

embroidered hot sauce bottle ornament

Last but not least, I embroidered two holly leaves connected by 3 red berries. Each of the leaves had two fills: both had half filled with satin stitch. Then one had a trellis stitch fill and the other had a gradient seed stitch fill. The berries are small woven wheel stitches.

 berries ornament.

My first self-drafted embroidery pattern: a basic pumpkin

As much as I adore the many beautiful and inventive embroidery patterns out there, I started to realize early on that I wanted to design my own embroidery patterns. So in the fall of 2018, I opted to design a basic pumpkin.

hand embroidered pumpkin
hand embroidered pumpkin

I drew the pumpkin on a drawing app on my iPad and then traced it onto fabric. I outlined with black and then filled with long, horizontal satin stitches. I had not yet learned about long and short stitches yet, which would have been more appropriate. Plus, orienting the stitches vertically probably would have given it a better texture.

For the stem, I got creative with the color, alternating yellow and brown and I like the effect that resulted.

Tenth Doctor 3d glasses embroidery

My husband and I love Doctor Who, and one of his favorite things (among many) is Ten wearing 3d glasses. I decided it would be fun to embroider them for him.

I found a printed fabric of Ten’s brown pinstripe suit on Spoonflower. I ordered a swatch because I intended the finished project to only be 4-6″.

Embroidered Tenth Doctor 3D Glasses
Embroidered Tenth Doctor 3D Glasses

I found a basic clip art of 3d glasses and transferred them to the fabric. Then I simply filled with satin stitch. I remember being confused about stitch placement and ended up compensating by filling in A LOT. I ended up with somewhat of a padded effect and uneven stitches. My husband claims to love it. I’ll just have to trust him. 🙂

A free, flowered cactus pattern by DMC

For my third embroidery project I again went with a cactus motif, this time via a free pattern called Cactus in Bloom offered by DMC. I didn’t follow the color scheme exactly. I chose to use green instead of black for the actual cactus, bolder oranges for the flower and warmer browns for the stones.

Cactus in Bloom by DMC with slightly altered colors
Cactus in Bloom by DMC with slightly altered colors

This time I used satin stitch instead of laid stitch and was much more pleased with how the stitches looked. I was frustrated that the satin stitch tends to pull the fabric, creating big holes, but that’s something I would learn to deal with better over time. Also, some fabrics tend to settle after a while and the holes reduce.

But things are looking pretty good for only my third project.

A modern cactus pattern by Ink and Ocean

After becoming smitten with my first attempt at hand embroidery, it was time to look for my second project. I searched Etsy and decided on this Ink and Ocean modern cactus pattern.

The first project was a kit that included thread and the pattern already printed on the fabric. For this second project, I would add to my skills by selecting fabric, transferring the project onto fabric, and choose the colors for the threads.

I wasn’t sure what type of fabric to buy, but the first kit seemed to be on a cotton. So I picked up a pre-cut fat quarter quilting cotton.

For transferring methods, I watched part of an embroidery course on Bluprint, which taught a couple methods, so I took to basic internet searches to learn more. I settled on using Frixion pens. These pens can have their marks erased (after stitching is completed) by applying the heat of a hair dryer.

Note: Many people do not like these pens because the marks can return if the temperature drops below freezing. But if your work will never face those temps, it’s not something you have to worry about. And you can always remove them again via hairdryer.

When tracing a pattern onto fabric, it helps to have a light source, such as a lightbox or even a window. But I realized that my iPad might do the trick. I did a search on the App Store and found the Trace Table App, which turns iPads into light boxes by displaying a white screen. You can also size an image and lock it in place.

Planning colors for threads took a little time. At first, I stood in front of an embroidery floss display, picked up colors and see if they go well together. Then I noticed a pack of threads and the bundle was cheaper than buying individual flosses, so I did that and then chose the colors from that pack.

What I like about Ink and Ocean patterns is that stitch suggestions are made but you can stitch the line drawing patterns however you like.

I knew I wanted to fill in the pattern and not just outline it. My knowledge of stitches was very limited. What I wanted was a satin stitch for the pots. What I ended up doing was a laid stitch. I was trying to save thread and a laid stitch uses far less thread than a satin stitch. But this project taught me that I don’t personally find the laid stitch as aesthetically pleasing.

I also experimented with various methods of outlining and filling in the cacti. For outlines, I did chain stitch and stem stitch. I really love stem stitching…when it looks good, lol. For filling, I used more laid stitches and stem stitches.

For the second project of a self-taught embroiderer, I think it turned out pretty well.

My Hand Embroidery Origin Story

In the summer of 2018, my husband and I were on our way to visit family in his hometown of Norwalk, Ohio. The plan was to then head to Kelleys Island, a vacation island in Lake Erie accessible only by ferry. I wasn’t sure what we would do there. Would there be television? Wifi? So I wanted to plan to have things to do. I also knew that my mother-in-law was interested in needlecraft. I wasn’t, but I thought it would be fun to try an activity with her. So I bought two Kiriki Press embroidery kits, a fox for myself and a llama for her.

I was surprised how much I loved hand embroidery. There was something soothing about hand stitching that I can’t quite explain. I never thought I would be interested in any type of needle arts. I had done some knitting in the past, but I wasn’t prepared for the pure and immediate enjoyment I would experience simply from pushing a needle with thread through fabric in an artful manner.

I tried to tell myself that I shouldn’t continue with hand embroidery since I was getting back into sewing. And it has been a long time goal of mine to learn to sew clothes for myself. Stay focused.

But I couldn’t forget the joy I felt from hand stitching. And hey, couldn’t I learn to sew and then embroider those garments?

So those are two of my goals. This website is dedicated to embroidery. And this is my embroidery origin story.