Tools of the Trade Stitch Along #1


Tools of the Trade by Laura Wasilowski

Please join me for my latest stitch along called Tools of the Trade. In this Tutorial you’ll find directions from start to finish on how to make this small -free-form embroidery. Every few days I’ll give you the next steps for making the design here on the blog. Those steps will be added to the Tools of the Trade Stitch Along page as we go. It’s all free and you can join at anytime.

And now to get started.

This version of Tools of the Trade is embroidered on black wool but you can use any fabric you like as your canvas. Thank you for joining me!

Step #1
Click here for a Tools of the Trade Stitch Kit or assemble the following items:

  • Black wool (or other fabric of your choice) measuring 6″ x 9″
  • Sewing thread for transferring the pattern shapes (or used the light blue size 12 below)
  • Size 8 pearl cotton threads in these variegated colors: turquoise, pea green, orange, and red (these are the Artfabrik thread colorways used: Aquamarine, Peas in a Pod, Oranges, Red Hots)
  • Size 12 pearl cotton threads in these variegated colors: red, medium greens, yellow, turquoise, light blue, orange, rainbow (these are the Artfabrik thread colorways used: Red Hots, Lettuce, Butter, Aquamarine, Forget Me Knots, Oranges, Rainbow Bright)
  • Size 3 and 5 hand embroidery needles
  • Red felt (or other color of your choice) for backing measuring 7″ x 9″
  • Download and print out this Word document of the Tools of the Trade pattern.

Step #2


  • Complete the directions below. Or follow the directions on the printed Tools of the Trade pattern to transfer the shapes to the fabric.
  • Place tracing paper on the drawing and trace it with a black marker.


  • Place the fabric vertically so it is 6″ across by 9″ high.
  • Position the tracing paper about 2″ up from the bottom of the fabric.
  • Pin the tracing paper into place.


  • Follow the black marker lines on the tracing and stitch the outline of the shapes in the design using Running Stitches. Stitch with a sewing thread (40 or 50 weight) or a size 12 pearl cotton in a color contrasting to the background fabric and a sewing needle or size 5 embroidery needle. 


  • After stitching the outline, remove the paper using the tip of a pin to score the paper next to the stitches. Gently rip away the paper.


  • The Running Stitches define the edges of the design and will be removed after stitching the shapes with permanent stitches.

 (Note that directions will be added to the Tools of the Trade Stitch Along page as we go.)

On the Edge?


In these interesting times many of us find ourselves on the edge. And by “on the edge” I mean the fear of how to finish the edges of fabric shapes while attaching them to a background fabric at the same time. So I’ve come up with a few suggestions to alleviate your fears. edgestitching1Luckily, there are several ways of attaching fabric shapes to a background fabric. The Blanket Stitch, seen in the first shape, is your basic attachment. It gives a sense of stability along with a jolly little decorative feature. Then there is the Fern Stitch, Running Stitch, and novel Pistil Stitch. All delightful ways to anchor a piece into place.


But wait, there’s more! Place a heavy thread like the Size 3 around the fabric shape and couch or hold it into place with Lazy Daisy, Pistil, or plain old Straight Stitches. The ever popular Fly Stitch gives you a pointy edge and the heavy duty Chain Stitch firmly echoes the circular shape in our last example.

I hope this alleviates some of your fears. Remember, hand embroider is meant to soothe in troubling times. It is a quiet pursuit that gives you something to do with your hands rather than wringing them.  Have fun!

For All Your Stitching Needs and the Winners


Embroidered Garden on Silk by Laura Wasilowski

I’ve found that the best pearl cotton thread for all my stitching needs is a Size 8. It stitches easily on a fine silk fabric like this piece above where I’ve embroidered the tree trunk with a variegated size 8. You can make your own version of it by following my free stitch tutorial, Silk Stitch Along.


Yellow Chair by Laura Wasilowski

You can also use a size 8 pearl cotton on wool and felt. Here you see it making up the yellow chair, bowl, apples, and other elements in the design. Click here for the Yellow Chair Stitch Along.


Yes, Size 8 is very versatile.

As are the lucky winners of the size 8 thread give away last week. Congratulations to Melissa G and Barbara G on winning a skein of our hand dyed size 8 pearl cotton thread.

We’ll have more give-aways soon!

Wonky Stitching and a Give-Away


This gorgeous wonky textile piece is made by Cynthia using my hand-dyed threads. Don’t you just love those ribs and twists she’s created with hand embroidery? She worked the fabric with a whip stitch for the “corded look” and used a running stitch to gather the fabrics.

She states, “I like your thread, as it is strong and doesn’t break when some torque is applied.” Why thank you Cynthia!



Would you like to add some torque to your stitching too? Great! 

Please leave a comment below and you may be a lucky winner of a size 8 thread for stitching. (Please note that at some point I cut off the comment section, usually just before announcing the winners.)


New from Old Winner


It was so nice to hear from the young and reckless regarding one of my patchwork hearts that I’m giving away. Thank you to all who left a comment and the winner is: Deborah U. Congratulations Deborah!


This is how I’ve finished my version of the heart shape cut from an older quilt with hand embroidery. It has been stitched to a felt background fabric with a blanket stitch. Later I whip stitched a size 3 pearl cotton thread through the top edge of the blanket stitch to add more pizzazz around the shape. Not sure how I’ll finish up the felt background. But I’m so happy to have found a use for this old quilt and can’t wait to make more!

Making New from Old: A Give-Away


Many, many years ago I made small quilts with improvisational piecing. (I was young, I didn’t know what I was doing.) Years later, I used those quilts as a canvas to practice improvisational hand embroidery. (I was still young but was having more fun.) 


Today I discovered those prehistoric quilts and have decided to take them to their next state of evolution. I’ve run them through an Accuquilt die cutter and have cut them into heart shapes. (I’m still young but have become reckless.)


Would you like to be young and reckless too? Then please leave a comment below and you may be a lucky winner of one of my patchwork hearts that I’m giving away. (Please note that at some point I cut off the comment section, usually just before announcing the winners.)