One of my most popular pincushions is my "Summer Garden".
This linen pincushion is filled with beautiful embroidered flowers. Each time I create it, I add or subtract a specific flower making each one unique. I may add a butterfly or a hummingbird. Or just fill it with blooms. I love to figure out how to recreate the beauty of nature with embroidery floss. The challenge makes it a fun project to create over and over.
Since this is one of my more time intensive pincushions, I'm going to make it a bit easier for you by only using 6 sections and 6 flowers. This will give you a bit more room to play. Each flower deserves your closest time and attention. With 8 sections and 8 different flowers, it usually takes me a few weeks to complete. This pincushion will be a bit quicker. If you want to create 8 sections, by all means do. You'll just have to adjust your pattern.
I'm going to break this project in sections.
Part One will be getting ready, buying your supplies and creating the template.
Part Two will involve embroidery lessons and how they are used to create each flower. I'll break it down into a few lessons so you can stitch a few flowers each month.
Part Three will show you how to finish up your pincushion. Lets do this in late October. You can check out the Classic Pincushion Tutorial if you want to jump ahead at any point.
I will introduce a variety of flowers to you. There are only about 9 stitches to learn! Each post will take you through 3 embroidery stitches.
I'll show you how to use them to create one or more flowers. That will give you lots of options for your pincushion!
If I were to create one for holiday giving, and I only had a bit of free time each week, this would be a fun project to start this summer.
Since its hard for me to keep up with this pincushion during the holidays, I thought I would create this ongoing tutorial. I will take you through each flower, stitch by stitch. If you are unfamiliar with embroidery, I have a stitch tutorial page showing how each stitch is made.
Each week I will teach you how to create a few flowers. I'll walk you through the stitches required. I will show you how I go from a sketch to a pattern. Then I'll show you how to design your custom pincushion.
If you are an experienced stitcher and you would just like to work from a full printed pattern, watch my Etsy shop. I will add an 8 Flower, Summer Garden Linen Pincushion Pattern to my shop in August. You will be able to follow a specific pattern, purchase floss by color number and follow my instructions on how to finish your pincushion. If you get lost along the way, just pop back here for more detailed instructions.
For this tutorial, each step will have a printable instruction sheet with basic instructions.
So lets begin!
My last post goes into greater detail on purchasing floss, needles and your fabric. You can download my Revised Embroidery Floss Basic Color List (PDF). Here is a JPG if you would prefer that file type- Embroidery Floss Color List JPEG It lists all the colors you will need for this project and more.
If you have read my last post, this next part refers to that information. You can skip down to the picture of the tools you will need. I know you are busy. This next part is a quick overview.
If you are new to embroidery, I suggest you start with a practice cloth. Pick up a piece of linen or linen blend in natural or ecru. The weave should be a bit loose. This makes stitching easy and fun, even if you hands are like mine, a bit worn but always willing.
Other great materials for embroidery are felted wool, wool felt, hessian cloth, or an textured woven cloth with a soft drape. Some inexpensive muslins are great for playing. If you work on quilting cotton or worse, a batik, you may find that the cloth is harder to pull a needle through and if you do a lot of stitch corrections, the holes don't close back up as easily. But, please don't let you fabric choice get in your way of creating this project. If you are determined, you can work with any cloth you have on hand.
Tip: There are times when I like to stitch on batik or I may need to pull a needle through multiple layers of fabric. I keep a small, jeweler's pliers handy. This is a great tool to keep you from straining tired or arthritic fingers. It is also the perfect tool for bullion stitches with many loops. Just be certain that your pliers has smooth jaws or you will scratch your needle. A dull, burred or scratched needle is your worst enemy.
I like a thin tapestry needle, size 24-26. It has a semi-blunt point, but because it is so fine, it is sharp enough to piece through a loosely woven fabric like linen. The long thin eye is easy to thread.
I also use Chenille needles in the smallest size available, such as size 24 or 26.
Another great choice is a size 8 Embroidery Needle with a sharp point. It will work with most any fabric you have. The needle is larger than most needles and the eye is nice a large so threading your floss is a snap.
I use DMC embroidery floss with 6 strands. I will give the color number when I have it, but please feel free to substitute at any time.
I would not recommend using a budget brand of embroidery floss. You will find that it knots up more often. The colors may be bright, but they may fade much sooner than a quality thread. If you are going to invest a lot of time into your work, you want it to last, and you don't want to spend more time fighting your threads than you do stitching your stitches. When each hank of floss is less than 40 cents each, why not splurge!
I recommend that you pick colors that appeal to you. If you are going to do a lot of embroidery, which is very addicting, go out and buy about 20-30 colors. You will need greens, yellows, pinks, reds, purples a few blues. You can just pick colors willy nilly, but in the end, you will be at a loss when you begin stitching.
Here is how you add some method to the madness.
Choose 3 pinks- Choose the main flower color and 3-5 coordinating colors; one darker, one lighter, one warmer and one cooler shade.
Then repeat the same for your yellows, reds, greens, purples and blues.
Coordinating colors are often together on the rack. You can find floss in any sewing or craft store.
Don't forget to add ecru, white, brown and black. You just never know when you are going to need them.
Here are the 8 flowers we will be creating in this tutorial.
Of all the flowers in the world, you have to list only 6 for the flowers you would like on your pincushion. You will find that many of the flowers I will teach you can be adjusted slightly to create an alternate flower. For instance, a simple daisy can easily be transformed into a sunflower, a dahlia, or a Gerbera daisy. The above pincushion has a few other flowers such as a Forget Me Not, Queen Anne's Lace and a few fantasy flowers. I've also stitched roses, mums, coneflowers, hydrangeas and sunflowers. The pincushion on the very top of this post has hollyhocks and a pink delphiniums.
Don't be afraid to play!
Tools and Materials
You Will Need-
Fabric, preferably linen or a linen blend in ecru or a natural off-white color. A fat quarter or a quarter of a yard will give you plenty of fabric for practice and for pincushions.
Embroidery Floss in many colors (See color list for each flower).
Perle Cotton in Off White or Ecru in Size 5 (to tie off sections later)
Sharp, small scissors
A long soft sculpture needle (to tie off each section)
A sharp sewing needle to close up your pincushion
A disappearing or water soluble marking pen or a friction pen
A Pattern (Use Template or draft your own with a protractor)
Jeweler's pliers, needle nose with a smooth jaw.
Emery enclosed in muslin (See my Emery Post)
A Needle Threader
A scrap of muslin to practice your stitching on. Great to have if you are a beginner.
Template Click to download JPG.
The PDF file is here. (Why don't you print two copies) Use one for sketching ideas and one for your pattern.
If you cannot print the template, you can draft your own.
On a piece of paper draw a circle 6" in diameter, (across).
Using a protractor, divide your circle into 6 equal sections. Each section is a 60 degree slice of the circle. (Think of it as a fabric pie.)
From the center out, mark you sections on your pattern. (See Template) You don't have to draft your own pattern if you downloaded a the template. But I recommend you try your hand out at drafting patterns. Once you gain confidence you can design just about any pattern you want.
Loosely sketch your flowers onto a piece of scrap paper first until you find a pleasing arrangement. Your flower should sit inside one section. Be sure to leave a 1/4" seam allowance around the outer perimeter. You may also want to leave 1/8" space around the section lines.
As you design, deep in mind what color each flower will be. You want to mix your flower colors up. For example, one flower could be red, one yellow, one white, one blue, one orange and one purple. (See the examples above).
Keep your flowers rather simple at first. Each line with eventually be a strand or two of floss. Tiny lines mean tiny stitches. Because our pincushion is on the small side, you wont have room to get into very involved embroidery. If you are a beginner, complex designs can seem overwhelming.
Don't let me scare you. This is really a fun project. I promise! This is a great project for someone who is new at embroidery because nature is imperfect, you can be imperfect too!
Just keep your sketches simple. Once we start stitching, I will show you how to transform shapes and lines into stitches.
Using a light table or a window, trace your pattern onto your linen.
Then cut your circle out of your linen. Be sure to allow for least an inch all the way around your pattern.
Then trace your sections with an erasable water soluble or friction pen.
Next, make a dot in the middle. This is where your button will go later, so its nice if the center mark stays there until the very end. This dot will be covered so use a pencil just for this one mark.
Then mark your seam allowance with an erasable water soluble or friction pen. This mark should go around the outer circle to mark your seam allowance. I have this area highlighted on the template. (I once embroidered into the seam allowance. I don't want to do that again!)
Whew! That was a lot of information but we are past the prep step.
Next we will be transferring your pattern to your linen.
Then we will start stitching! Oh Joy! I promise, you will love this project once we get started.
See you soon!