Free-Form Design Step #1

Welcome to a new free-form embroidery design!

This stitch project began with a step-out from the Nut House embroidery found in my book Playful Free-Form Embroidery. On the left you see the image used in the book directions and on the right is a detailed image from the finished piece. The step-out swatch only measures about 5” x 9” and has a few elements stitched to the felt background fabric. It the Nut House design, these elements are leaves on the tree branch and a flying tire swing that the ladybugs play on.

What can I do with this step-out swatch? The ladybugs aren’t the only ones who are having fun. I’m going to have some fun too by improvising a new design using the step-out swatch. Whoohoo!

My first step is to turn the swatch horizontally. By turning it in this direction it no longer relates to the tree branch and tire swing in the Nut House project. Now it has new life and I can imagine a potential design. Can you guess what I have in mind?

Beginning a new embroidery project is so invigorating! And to improvise a design is even more energizing. I recommend it to everyone.

What We’re Stitching 4

Now that their felt fabric pieces for the design are in place my students in the Mi Casa es Su Casa class at the Asociación Española de Patchwork Festival will begin to add decorative details with thread. I know it is sometimes difficult to make color decisions when adding hand embroidery. But remember, you can always remove the thread if you don’t like it!

One tip is to repeat colors throughout the piece. Here you see blue French knots added to the V shapes of the fly stitches around the roof top. The blue house and blue threads in the grass repeat that color. And I’ll be sure to add more blue to the design elsewhere as it progresses.

What We’re Stitching 3

My students in the Mi Casa es Su Casa class at the Asociación Española de Patchwork festival soon find that improvising a design is thrilling! And that free-cutting shapes or using found shapes makes the artwork uniquely their own.

As you follow along with my class, you see that I’m adding layer after layer of shapes like this blue felt house stitched to the ground with a blanket stitch. The blanket stitch is not only utilitarian but decorative too.

The next layer is the rooftop. I like the zigzag shape around the edge provided by the fly stitch. It’s another stitch that decorates as well as holds a fabric into place. There is much more embroidery to come but the foundation is made. Think of it as a canvas waiting to be painted with thread!