the great embroidery project of 2016

Embroidery is one of those skills I tried to learn as a kid but didn't really have the patience to stick with it.  I vaguely remember taking an embroidery class through our homeschool group sometime before I was in high school.  While I was digging in the bottom of my sewing box trying to find my stash of embroidery floss I came across some practice stitches I did for this class.

Many years later, I now have buckets of patience for complicated crochet and sewing projects.  I love creating things and having something to do.  Unless I'm completely worn out and really need some time to just sit and do nothing, I'm always craving for something to keep my hands busy.  For the past few weeks I've been working on a baby blanket during Sunday Bible Class (I promise I'm paying attention!) and now I have this embroidery project to keep me busy while we enjoy downtime in the evenings.

I've had ideas for an embroidery project bouncing around in the back of my mind for quite a while.  Recently I started recovering the throw pillows that came with our sofa and decided to do some pretty embroidery on one of them.  For a pattern I settled on one of the beautiful illustrations from the coloring book Secret Garden by Johanna Basford.  I was so proud of myself for coming up with such a clever source for a pattern.  But then I got on Facebook and saw that Johannah Basford had shared this beautiful embroidery based on one of her illustrations.

Inky stiches! Love this little Enchanted Forest Fox by Katie from Cottage Garden Threads! They dyed the threads, then embroidered the design. Colour me happy! Jx
Posted by Johanna Basford on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

It burst my bubble of pride, but I was also in awe of the delicate stitches.  When I tried to find the image again I came across this beautiful hummingbird embroidery also pulled from the Secret Garden coloring book.

The last stitches are in, the project is complete, and here it is: http://www.needlenthread.com/2015/05/secret-garden-hummingbirds-last-stitches-finished.html
Posted by Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread on Thursday, May 14, 2015

I know my finished project will not be as impressive as these amazing works of art, but I'm still excited to try out embroidery again.

I would have loved to do one of Johanna Basford's intricate circular illustrations, but I knew I needed to start out with something much more simple for my first project.  For this project I copied a page full of flowers and then cut it down so I would have only whole flowers to work with.  Then I taped it to a piece of cardboard, making sure the paper was completely flat, and then taped a piece of tissue paper over the flower paper.

Yep, tissue paper.  When I started gathering supplies for my project, I knew I needed a heat transfer pencil and figured I could just use it on regular paper.  I should have done more research.  When my test scribbles didn't transfer to the fabric I turned to Google and discovered fancy tracing and transfer papers and a billion different ways to transfer embroidery patterns.  I didn't really want to buy a bunch of fancy paper in case I got sick of this project and never wanted to embroider again.  One of the websites I came across suggested using tissue paper so I gave that a shot and it worked!  It took me two evenings of ridiculous tracing, but I finally got it done.  (I'm sure there was probably an easier way I could have accomplished this.)

Next I cut apart the flowers and arranged them on the new pillow cover I had sewn together.  At first I tried to be careful with the heat settings on my iron because I didn't want to scorch the fabric, but the flowers just wouldn't transfer.  I ended up cranking the iron to the silk/wool heat setting and pressing down for thirty seconds on each flower.  I would not recommend this if you're working with delicate fabric, but my material seemed to be pretty sturdy and wasn't affected at all by the high heat.

Now I am happily spending my evenings stitching away at my pretty little flowers!  And I've already finished the first one!

I'm not too sure about the color combinations.  I think the pinks and purple on the petals look nice but maybe the green and yellow isn't quite right.  But the stitching looks pretty nice considering this is the first time I've embroidered anything in 10+ years.  I am planning to do one gigantic blog post when the entire project is done, but until then I'll probably post updates on Facebook and Instagram, so keep an eye out for more pretty little flowers coming your way!  :)


  1. The flower looks great! Just relax and enjoy.

  2. This is SO pretty! I love the gray fabric. Embroidery is on my list of things I want to learn!

    1. Thank you, Megan! It's definitely a skill worth learning. I'm having so much fun!