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Learn About Hand Embroidery

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I recently introduced you to the idea of Slow Sewing. Well, nothing defines slow sewing better than hand embroidery. Unfortunately, I never learned hand embroidery, so I decided that this summer would be a good time to take on this task.

Learn About Hand Embroidery Pin

Learn About Hand Embroidery

My friend Kitty at Night Quilter was the one who inspired me to take on this project. She had been working on a color wheel sampler and I was intrigued. I particularly liked the fact that the project combined understanding color AND learning different embroidery stitches.


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Without delay, I went over to Etsy and purchased this Color Wheel Sampler by Dropcloth. My original plans were to use inexpensive embroidery floss. So, off to Hobby Lobby I went.

embroidery thread

The creator of the Dropcloth Sampler is Rebecca Ringquist and she has a class on CreativeBug where she teaches almost all of these stitches. You can get a Free Trial of the class here.  

Learning Different Methods

In the class, Rebecca uses embroidery floss with ease. I started my project using the embroidery floss but it kept knotting and was about to defeat me. I also felt like some of the more delicate stitches disappeared with the floss.

printed sampler

It’s pretty obvious that I am a newbie who doesn’t know the best way to use this thread. After doing a few sections, I undid all of my stitches.Then I remembered that Kitty from Night Quilter kept talking about this awesome 12 wt. thread from Aurifil. I emailed her and she shared her color list with me then later she posted it on her blog. Thanks, Kitty!


You need to understand that 12 wt. thread is really designed for hand quilting. Since this is Aurifil thread, it has a nice sheen and is very strong. The thread was not available anywhere around here, and I had to go to the internet to purchase it. You can find similar thread in a variety of colors.

embroidery thread

Once I received my thread, it was like night and day. I started to enjoy mastering hand embroidery. My favorite stitch {so far} is Herringbone. I like the way it is stitched and I love the outcome.

embroidery stitches

A week or so ago I overdid it at the gym and was really sore for a day. As in ~ could barely walk. This was the perfect opportunity to finish my Dropcloth Sampler. So, I parked myself on the sofa and finished my embroidery project.

Continuing to Learn

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While I liked the CreativeBug course, I found one on Craftsy that I absolutely love. It’s called Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery by Jessica Marquez.

The Craftsy class shows the stitches up close. Waaaayyyyy up close. I was able to sit on the sofa with my phone and watch a little video, pick up my embroidery, go back to the video, etc.

Craftsy embroidery class cover

Some Bumps Along the Way

I know I have a way to go on my Chain Stitch and don’t even get me started on those French Knots. One of the things I did was double my thread on some of the thinner stitches. I took out the Coral Stitch I had previously done and replaced it with one using doubled thread. If I had been using the embroidery floss, I probably could’ve kept my stitches. Oh well, live and learn.

finished sampler

Hand Quilting the Sampler

Since the 12 wt. thread is really a quilting thread I decided to have a little fun with it. I applied batting and linen backing to my project and drew some quilting lines.

hand quilting sampler

I quilted using the Running Stitch. Then I trimmed away the excess batting and left 1″ of linen around all sides to create a binding. I hand sewed this down and then top stitched with a Running Stitch.

It’s pretty easy to see all of the imperfections here. Of course, this sampler has no real use that I can see other than the calm and relaxation the project provided.

finished sampler

Things I Learned

One of the biggest bonuses to this entire project is the whole color wheel aspect. I kind of feel like I’ve turned a color corner.

finished sampler

Slow Sewing is so rewarding and I’m glad I have taken the time to slow down a bit and enjoy the process. Next up, a little hand appliqué.

I’ll keep you posted.

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    1. Could you post those DMC colors that you started out with? I know the Aurifil threads are superior but very expensive . Thanks.

  1. Yay! I love your final mini quilt! The large running stitch-quilting lines are a great complement to the embroidery piece. I’m so glad I was able to inspire you 🙂 As for French knots, you have to check out this tutorial: http://sublimestitching.com/pages/how-to-french-knot I was terrified of them, but following these steps makes them easy peasy! I look forward to seeing your applique progress, too. I have been working on Carolyn Friedlander’s Park needle-turn applique pattern. It is so relaxing! One tip (that I just heard from Carolyn herself) is to take your time with the basting, being sure to keep the 1/4″ accurate. The basting is the most important part, and once it’s in accurately, the rest is a breeze!

  2. I love this little color wheel sampler. Can you share the color numbers you used ? I can’t wait to get all the supplies and start on this, get little carry along project to do at work lunchtimes

  3. Never mind my request for colors. I read your blog again and found where you mentioned a list by another blogger. Sorry. I need to slow down.

  4. This could be the goal of 2016! i used to cross=stitch, but my Mom was a whiz at hand stiching and crochet.. She did all the detailing on the “couture” clothes I made, so I never learned. Every hem and belt loop was stitched by hand. Sometimes I just look at them and think back to all the fun we had. I still have ton of embroidery floss so I really may give this a shot. Thanks for a wonderful post.

  5. I love to draw with stitches but tend to use crewel wool instead of embroidery thread. I do think that this sampler looks fab and I love the fact that you have done it as a colour wheel. thanks

  6. I really enjoyed this post. I learned to embroider in 4th grade at school and I distinctly remember it being so calming and enjoyable. I need to add it to my list….. Ahhh that list is so long at this point.

  7. Love the sampler – looks like a fun way to learn new stitches!

    I’m on a blogging sabbatical while my site gets a makeover and, among other things, I’m looking forward to spending some time diving back into hand stitching. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. That is pretty neat. I have been doing sashiko lately and loving it. It’s pre-printed so I don’t need to think about anything, just stitch stitch stitch. I may need to order the dropcloth, and it is fun that it is done as a color wheel.

    I was thinking of you yesterday as I stitched up some fox pins from felt and had to embroider their noses (satin stitch) and eyes (with eyelashes!)

    I recently did a little constellation embroidery kit that used French knots and mine were terrible. But I did a cross stitch kit ~11 years ago where I had tons of practice at making them and they turned out great! I just need more practice.

  9. My mother taught me how to hand embroidery and I love it. I have done table clothes, quilt, pillowcases and much more. I still have problems with French knots.

  10. I need help with needle point
    I having problems with the filling in parts
    The holes are 13 per in
    I am using the heavy twisted thread
    The background color will be black
    It’s an old elsa Williams rug about 20×30
    Pattern is abstract flowers. I hope this site is still WOR
    Working thanks for any help you can give me

    1. I’m still pretty new to hand embroidery and needlepoint. Perhaps a reader will see this question and give you a few answers or point you towards someone who is more knowledgable.

  11. Lovely post. I have checked out Rebecca’s Dropcloth Samplers in the past, so your post caught my interest. Your sampler turned to so pretty! And now I’ve followed your links and bought the sampler. I hope I will like the slow stitching. It does sound relaxing.

  12. I don’t know how old this post is but I think you have given me the inspiration I needed to get back to embroidery. I did it for a long time then life happened. Now I think I can go back to my personal therapy sessions. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. This has inspired me to get my thread boxes out. A color wheel is just what I need to get back to basics. I did embroidery a long time ago then found counted cross stitch[ccs] (which I love). The DMC you have displayed is not cheap thread, it is a high quality embroidery thread when used properly. You separate the length you have cut into individual threads putting the number you need together for the effect you want. Also it is highly recommended to use a thread conditioner on your thread to keep it from knotting. Also letting the needle unwind occasionally to keep the thread straight is helpful. Try that with your DMC threads and I’ll bet you will enjoy them much more. Usually in embroidery as in ccs you use two threads for most stitches. Good luck.

  14. I would love to try this. I used to embroider with my grandma when I was little around 8 so no professional but it brings back so many happy memories. I think this would make a beautiful pillow

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