Freestyle embroidery is a fun way to add detail to quilted projects. Things that have large empty pieces like an Irish chain or snowball blocks are great to showcase embroidery. These wreaths are a quick and easy way to try some new stitches. I made mine Christmassy, but there is no rule that they have to be.
Sometimes I do embroidery first, and sometimes I do the piecing first. It depends on the size of the finished project and the weight of the embroidery. If it is for a large quilt, it is easier to embroider the blocks and then piece them. If the embroidery is quite heavy, it might pull and distort the fabric, so it’s better to do the embroidery on a larger piece, and then cut it to size after it’s done. This also allows you to centre it properly.
This is the Fill in the Blanks table runner, and I did the piecing first because it’s pretty small and the embroidery is light.
Trace a circle with a wash-away marker. I tried a few bowls and plates until I found the right size.
I just eyeballed placement, but you could use rulers if you want it to be exact.
Put the fabric in the hoop. Make sure the hoop is large enough that your embroidery is not right at the edge, but still small enough that fabric covers the whole circle.
For quilting cotton, I use only two strands of embroidery floss. Follow the line you have drawn with an embroidery stitch. If you need help learning to do the stitch, there are some awesome tutorials at Stitch School and at Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials.
Stitch all the way around the circle.
Then you can add a bit of accent embroidery if you want. Here are some sample combinations.
Feather stitch with French knots
Herringbone with straight stitch flowers
This is a variation of an interlaced running stitch with a piece of Perle cotton woven through.
short groups of chain stitch with lazy daisy flowers and French knots
cretan stitch with straight stitch stars
wheat ear stitch with clusters of French knots
These wreaths can easily be made larger or smaller, and you can add as much or little embellishment as you want. You could use them on a quilt, or frame one by itself. A small one could be made into a brooch, and you could use any kind of fabric and thread combination. It’s like doodling but with needle and thread.
Sometimes it’s fun just to play with stitches on something where it doesn’t have to be perfect. Freestyle embroidery is the answer.
designer, teacher, speaker
Elizabeth enjoys doing all types of sewing and needlework and teaching others new techniques. Find out how to take a course or workshop.