Embroidery in Pop Culture: Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack Dress for the Spice Girls Tour

If you want to spice up your life, wearing a fantastically embellished dress is one way to do it. And Ginger Spice herself Geri Halliwell did just that when she wore this embroidered Union Jack dress on the Spice Girls tour.

The embroidery was done by the studio of Jenny King Embroidery, which specializes in freehand machine embroidery, also known as Irish machine embroidery. They use vintage Singer 107W102 machines, which have a very wide maximum stitch width, to create a satin stitch that can fill in areas quite quickly, at least compared to hand stitched embroidery.

The designer for this dress is Gabriella Slade, who has recently been working on Six the Musical on the West End. Ingrid Pryer constructed the dress.


Free Pattern: Crescent Moon

Today marks one week until Halloween and if you want to add a little handmade flair to your costume, consider stitching on a crescent moon. This free pattern includes crescent moons with two fills – one with dots and one with a grid – if you want guides to help evenly fill your moon in with seed stitch, trellis stitch, etc. If you simply want to outline, then there are various sizes of moons to fit the look you’re trying to achieve.

Stem Stitch

Stem stitch is typically used as an outline stitch and is particularly well-suited for curves.

1 Place a single stitch.
2 Come back up halfway through the previous stitch, placing the needle next to the thread, not through it.
3 Place the needle a little past the end of the previous stitch.
4 Pull the thread taut.
5 Repeat until the line or area where stem stitching is taking place is complete.

Embroidery in Pop Culture: Aurora’s Leaf Dress in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

The sequel to Disney’s Maleficent was released last weekend and the costumes were glorious. In this post, we’ll take a look at the embroidery of Aurora’s blue leaf dress.

First of all, the dress was designed by the film’s costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick, with concept art by Adelaide Filippe.


Credit for the embroidery work goes to Cathryn Avison and her studio in West Sussex, UK. As you can see in the above caption, she calls this an embroidered leaf cobweb fabric.

According to her Instagram, she had a very special helper:

From what we can see from the above Instagram photos, it looks like the embroidery was stitched onto a transparent fabric. Then, the leaves and were cut and later placed onto the dress.

There appear to be two main types of leaves on the dress: a leaf resembling something like a beech leaf and another resembling something like an oak leaf.

The beech leaf has a distressed look. On her sleeve, we can see the fabric is cut out in between the stems of the leaves. It gives the idea that Aurora has definitely been wearing this while out and about in the magical fairy forest. Her dress gets caught on branches and vines while she’s out exploring and serving as Queen of the Moors.

The oak leaf has a cleaner look. There’s a distinct outline and what might be a satin stitch or appliqué of smaller, ash-like leaves inside the outline.

The two different looks compliment each other. Perhaps they symbolize Aurora’s position as Queen of both human and fairy kingdoms.

Aurora wears this dress at the beginning of the film for a very special scene, but no spoilers here.

Seed Stitch

1 Push your needle from the bottom of the fabric.
Place it down again a very short distance in any direction.
2 Pull the thread through and taut.
3 Make many more stitches of the same size, not connected, and in various
directions. It should look like seeds were scattered or dropped on the ground.
4 For thicker seeds, place two stitches next to each other.

Long and Short Stitch

Long and short stitch is used as a fill stitch in surface embroidery. As the name suggests, stitches of varying lengths are used, similar to how a pencil artist uses sketch marks of various lengths to fill in an area.

This tutorial uses a single thread of cotton embroidery floss, which requires a great deal of time. To shorten the process, try using 2-3 threads at a time, but be advised that this will make the work be thicker and more raised. I recommend only doing 2-3 threads at a time if you’re also using 2-3 threads throughout the entire piece you’re working on to ensure an even appearance.

1 Outline the shape where the long and short stitch will occur using an outline stitch. Here, split stitch is used.
2 Make several vertical stitches of various lengths across the top.
3 Stick the needle through the lower portions of the first set of stitches and make several more vertical stitches of various lengths.
4 Fill in any gaps that are created along the way. Do not allow the fabric to show through the stitches.
5 Continue working in stitches of various lengths until the entire area is filled.

Tips: (i) Using various lengths of stitches helps give the sketched look the long and short stitch is intended to provide. If you make stitches all the same length, you will end up with more of a brick stitch look. (ii) Outlining is not strictly necessary but does tend to provide a nice finish the long and short stitches that cover.

Free Page from Fall Leaves Bundle #1 Now Available

This week I opened an Etsy shop and placed my first hand embroidery pattern up for sale: Fall Leaves Bundle #1. It includes three leaves: maple, beech, and ash in a pattern with all three plus pages of the individual leaves in varying sizes.

Today I’m releasing one of the individual pages for free – the beech leaf. I plan on releasing many free hand embroidery patterns in addition to the ones I sell on my Etsy shop.

You can check out the free beech leaf page on the Hand Embroidery Patterns – Free page or click the link below:

Nat Johnson Embroidery – Beech Leaf

Split Stitch

The split stitch is typically used as an outline stitch.

1 At one end of the line where the split stitch will occur, make a single, straight stitch.

2 For the next stitch, put the needle halfway through the previous stitch, splitting the thread.

3 Stick the needle a little further down the line.

4 Pull the thread all the way through and taut.

5 Repeat steps 2-4 until the line is complete.

Tips: (i) The stitches for this tutorial were done at roughly 1/8 of an inch. You can go shorter or longer if you like. (ii) Working from top to bottom or bottom to top can help achieve an even look. If your line is horizontal, simply move your hoop until the line becomes vertical. 

Etsy Shop Now Open with First Pattern For Sale

It is with great enthusiasm that I announce the opening of my new Etsy shop. I will be selling downloadable, printable PDF hand embroidery patterns. The first pattern is already on the shop: Fall Leaves Bundle #1.

The pattern is a display of three leaves: maple, beech and ash. I include six and four inch pattern sizes as well as three pages of individual leaves in various sizes. I wanted to offer people the option of going beyond the pattern if they so choose.

Additionally, I include pattern instructions, stitch tutorials and pattern transfer suggestions. The instructions and tutorials are related to how I stitched the leaves pattern shown in the photograph. But I do not mind if people use different outline stitches, fills, colors, etc.

I can’t wait to add more patterns in the shop. But for now, I’m celebrating getting this first one done.