Friday, June 20, 2014

On Learning Embroidery

Embroidery is one of those crafts that has always appealed to me. It's calm, it's beautiful, and the possibilities are endless. It's also purely for fun. I think about many of the crafts and hobbies I've adopted over the years, and so many of them started out of necessity so long ago when things like sewing and crocheting and baking were essential to life. Embroidering wasn't "necessary", exactly, so it really feels like pure enjoyment and beauty.

I dabbled in some embroidery projects before, but it was the bare minimum and left me wanting more. I really wanted this particular skill to be in my arsenal, so I was excited to add it to my 30 by 30 list. I haven't had much time for hobbies lately, so I finally approached it in February, and I've totally fallen in love!

I started with the library, because I wanted a physical copy of some instructions and ideas on hand. Sometimes I like to shut the computer down and do something creative without technology involved, despite the ease of access to tutorials online (which of course, I'm also using!). The book I found available at my library was Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection: 400+ Easy Embroidery Designs by Aimee Ray. So I requested it, and while I waited for it to come in, I started looking for internet resources.

Here are some great links I found:

DMC's Embroidery Stitches & Tips
Sarah's Hand Embroidery Stitch Picture Dictionary
Textile and Stitch's Easy Embroidery Pattern Tutorial
Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread Video Tutorials
Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread Free Patterns

I read through the first link so I could get a feel for some of the stitches. Since I've "sort of" embroidered in the past, the context made sense for me to read through, but I knew the only way to really learn anything was to give each of the stitches a shot. Anytime I found a new link of any kind, I'd bookmark or pin it - just waiting for some free time to try it all out!

The first thing I did was make a little self-sketched sampler to get a feel for some basic stitches.

Practice sampler for learning basic embroidery stitches.

1. Blanket Stitch / 2. Stem Stitch / 3. Fly Stitch / 4. Chain Stitch / 5. Split Stitch
6. Satin Stitch / 7. French Knots / 8. Feather Stitch / 9. Back Stitch

I had a lot of fun doing that - I didn't want to stop! I think my favorite stitch to do was the feather stitch. It's really fun to see it come together!

Next, I made a really simple hoop out of a vintage pillow case that I've been cutting up for various projects in our bedroom. I've used this material for a couple of other hoops, as well as a bunting. I kept it super simple, and just added the word I've been using as my decorating inspiration in our bedroom:

I love how it turned out! I used a split stitch on this one, and satin stitch on the heart. The blue thread was a last minute change, I started out with grey - what do you think? I love the bright contrast of yellow & blue together.

A while passed before I had time to play with my stitches again, but now that the baby is taking naps on his own, I'm taking the opportunity to be crafty again. The other day, I snipped a section of this vintage lilac sheet I've been hanging onto (I love lilacs so much!) and put it in a hoop to decorate above my kitchen sink. I decided to embellish it a bit by embroidering some petals onto the blue accents in the pattern. It was a really simple and fun project - I'm trying to decide if I want to add some purple french knots to the center of the petals before I finish it off and hang it up.

It was also glorious to have a seat in my new patio swing and stitch in the sunshine to the tune of the birds and the breeze! Sighhh, heaven.

So now the question is - what's next?!

Eek, I don't know! I think I want to buy a pattern to work with, I just have to decide which! I've been following a ton of Etsy shops with patterns for a long time now, like Kimberly OuimetClementine Patterns, AndWabisabi and Dance Needle. I also found this in the embroidery book I mentioned above, and I'd love to make this for our farmer's market trips on the weekends:

SO cute, right? I am so thrilled to add embroidery to my hobbies!

Do you embroider? Where do you find your favorite patterns? Do share!

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