{ Happy Sewing } Embroidered Wallhanging

Here’s a tutorial for this sweet little wallhanging that you can fully personalize with embroidery.

I love the quiet process of hand embroidery. I learned how as a child from my Mom and still enjoy it today, though I have narrowed down all those stitches I learned early on to a few favourites I use on high repeat now. This project focuses on 4 favourites: The French Knot, Satin Stitch, Back Stitch and Chain Stitch.

One of the main things I enjoy the most about hand embroidery is that one can be as detailed and colourful as desired. Using the Words of Wisdom panel print for this project is great in this respect as you could pick and choose which elements to fill in or outline, or you could go all-out and fill in every last detail. That’s the beauty. It’s all up to you to make it your own! I chose to leave a fair bit unstitched as I felt it gave a clean, modern feel to the finished work and leaves places for the eye to rest.

I opted to use the prints from the Words of Wisdom fabric collection as my colour jumping-off point. The blue was already the ground in the panel (the panel print comes with either a white ground or a soft-blue one), so I focused on corals, yellows, greens and pinks as my pallet.

THE TUTORIAL

What I Used:

– A saying of your choice from the Words of Wisdom Panel, cut to 8 1/2″ x 10 1/2″.
– Embroidery floss in your choice of colours (I used 6 colours of DMC embroidery floss)
– Embroidery needle
– Embroidery hoop (approx. 5″ – 6″ diameter)
– 2 coordinating fat eighths fabrics from the Words of Wisdom collection
– Backing fabric (8 1/2″ x 17″)
– Sewing thread
– 2 pieces wooden dowel (3/8″ diameter x 9″)
– A 24″ length of yarn for hanging

What I Did:

The first step is the most fun… the embroidery. Here are the 4 stitches I used:

The French Knot: This can be used as individual small dots, or clustered for greater impact and to fill shapes.


Knot end of thread & pull thread up through fabric. Close to needle, twist loose thread twice around needle.


Put needle tip back through fabric at the same spot the needle came up. Pull thread taught around needle.


Carefully pull needle & thread through to the back of the fabric making sure to not upset the knot forming on top.


Pull thread taught at back. 1 french knot done!


Pull the needle back through to front of fabric wherever you’d like to create more. When finished, knot thread at back of fabric & cut.

Satin Stitch: Used to fill in a shape with uniform stitches that sit side by side, giving a smooth, satiny look and feel.


Knot end of thread & pull thread up through fabric. Insert needle point at the opposite side of the shape you are filling in (HINT: do not make stitches too long. Stitches much longer than 1/4″ can easily get caught on things & cause your fabric to buckle). Pull the thread through to the back (not too tightly).


Pull needle back up through fabric to the front, right beside where you started your 1st stitch. Stitch back to the back of fabric, following the contour of your shape.


Continue in this fashion, keeping stitches snug against each other and carefully following the outline of the shape you are filling. When finished, knot thread at back of fabric & cut.

Back Stitch: For creating straight or curved lines of stitching. Can also be used to trace fine lettering or outline shapes.


Knot end of thread & pull thread up through fabric. Insert needle point back through fabric about an eighth inch along the line you are creating.


Pull thread through to back and bring needle back up through fabric another eighth inch along the line. Insert needle point back through fabric at the point the last stitch ended (in essence, going backward).


Repeat the last step, again starting an eighth inch along the line and going back down through fabric at the point the last stitch ended.


Continue in this fashion to finish line. When finished, knot thread at back of fabric & cut.

Chain Stitch: Creates a wider, open line of stitching, or can be used to create individual leaves or petals.


Knot end of thread & pull thread up through fabric. Insert needle point back through fabric right beside where it came up, then re-insert point back through to top of fabric about an eighth inch away.


While the needle is in this position, make sure the loose thread runs underneath the needle.


Pull the needle and thread through (not too tightly), creating a loop. If creating a single chain (like for a small leaf) skip the next step.


Repeat this process, first inserting the needle point through to back right beside where the thread emerges from the fabric, then bringing the needle point back up to the front of the fabric about an eighth inch along the line you are creating, running loose thread under needle tip. Continue in this fashion along the line you are creating.


To end your chain, put your needle through to the back immediately on the other side of the loop created, just beyond where the thread comes up.


Pull the thread through to the back, securing the last chain in place. When finished, knot thread at back of fabric & cut.

Assembling the Wallhanging:

Refer to this diagram for the following instructions:

– Cut one of the coordinating fabrics to 2 pieces (1″ x 10 1/2″)
– Cut the other piece to 2 pieces (3 1/2″ x 10 1/2″)
– With 1/4″ seams and right sides together, sew together the pieces in the following order to make one long 10 1/2″ wide piece: One piece 3 1/2″ x 10 1/2″, one piece 1″ x 10 1/2″, the embroidered panel, the 2nd 1″ x 10 1/2″ piece, the 2nd 3 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ piece. Press seams toward the narrowest pieces.
– Right sides together, sew assembled piece to backing fabric along 2 long sides.
– Turn right-side-out. Press.
– Fold top and bottom ends under to the back 1 3/4″. Pin in place. From the front, topstitch in the ditch between the 1 1/2″ strip of fabric and the 3 1/2″ of fabric on both ends, thus securing the ends and creating a channel on both ends.
– Insert dowel in both ends.
– Double the yarn and attach to both ends of the top dowel to hang.

All done!

{ Happy Sewing } … Embroidered Tooth Pillow

My boy is so excited … his first tooth is wiggling. These little life’s big moments take precedent and should be marked with something special. Ever since his big sister lost her first tooth a few years ago and I had made her a little owl pillow so the tooth fairy would know where to find it, he has been anticipating his turn. This is Emma’s:

Max does the most delightful line drawings of “des bonhommes” (little guys … whether it be super heroes, aliens, monsters, family members … we refer to them all as “des bonhommes”, pronounced “bonom”). So after mulling over various ideas with him (a race car, a fire truck, an airplane with a giant propeller), we decided he would draw a monser and I would translate that to fabric & take care of the rest. In about a minute & a half, this mini masterpiece was whipped up.

I scanned it, enlarged it & printed it to the desired size (about 4″ tall). As I did not have any printable transfer paper, I decided to go the route of a light box to transfer the image to fabric. An iPad with a white screen works wonderfully for this (or any computer monitor, for that matter). Simply adjust the screen’s luminosity to its highest, lay the paper image on the screen and place the desired fabric over top. Trace the image with a pencil & you’re set. A skein of embroidery thread and lots and lots of lovingly done little backstitches later, a few other scraps of fabric and some stuffing, and the project was complete.

I wanted to stay true to his mark making, so I left in all those overlapping bits of lines.

I did the same thing with his signature to embellish the tooth pocket.

Now we wait patiently to have something to put in it.

Stitching Family Heirlooms

I’ve been thinking about my creative grandmothers lately. First, my maternal grandmother (that’s what we called her, Grandmother … she was quite a lady, born into a very “proper” New Brunswick family in 1905).

Thinking of the things she lovingly sewed for her three granddaughters when we were little girls. I have the baby quilt she made for me that my own daughter sleeps with now.

And she also made each of us a tote bag to carry our books. I think mine disintegrated from overuse at some point, but somehow I ended up with my older sister’s.

She obviously loved doing appliqué work, which is probably why I enjoy it too, though I admit I am nowhere as good at it as she was. And her embroidery and crewel work skills are to be envied, for sure. Just look at all those teeny-tiny buttonhole stitches framing every fanciful bird in my blanket.

This is a cushion cover she created for me long, long ago. It is now stained and threadbare in spots, so I don’t use it for fear of it reaching the end of its life, but you can see it has been well loved through the years.

And another I have inherited that was folded away in a drawer at my Mom’s, but now takes pride of place in our home.

While my Grandmother used beautiful quality linens, cottons and yarns in harmonious colours, my Dad’s mom, Grand Mummy, was more creative with her fabric choices. She wasn’t picky about the fibres she used, probably a result of living in Trinidad where one was limited by what was available on the comparatively tiny island. At times she made dolls to sell to tourists from lots of zany polyester prints. One of my only memories associated with her is of bags of scraps of fabrics in a gazillion hot colours.

She made us each a mad random patchwork quilt (in various crazy patterned fabrics of unknown origin) that we sadly no longer have. What I do still have, however, is a “Snow White & the 7 Dwarves” set. I don’t know what she stuffed them with … they are really hard. And I have no idea what to do with them, but this girl who was never ever interested in visiting Disney Land, loves them completely.

I am probably a bit more my Grandmother in my sewing style and choices, but I strive to make choices with a bit more of the abandon that my Grand Mummy used. Either way, I would like to leave my children, and hopefully some day grandchildren, with some heirlooms of my own to carry on this tradition.

Embroidered Butterflies

Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 in Blog, Embroidery, Hand Stitching | 6 Comments

At Quilt Market, Art Gallery Fabrics was giving out little packages of 3 die-cut butterflies from their solid-colored fabrics. I knew I wanted to embellish them in some way, and this is what happened:

First I did a version of a buttonhole stitch around each one to attach them to the ground fabric, and then started stitching on the coral one. I haven’t done much embroidery in a long time, so my first attempt was tentative and safe. I added little glass beads to jazz things up a bit.

The blue came next. By this point I felt slightly more adventurous and tried to make things a bit more free-flowing and creative. And then with the yellow I aimed for something simpler and more modern.

Happy with the evolution!

Next up … Making a cushion cover with it!

Embroidered Wings

Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 in Blog, Embroidery, Hand Stitching | 3 Comments


I spent some peaceful summer hours outside stitching this past weekend. This season & I … we were truly meant for each other!