Hand Embroidery Made Modern with Simple Hand Sewing Stitches

Hand embroidery often has an old-fashioned connotation, especially if you grew up following hand embroidery patterns for cross stitch or hand stitching Bo Peep-like ladies on pillow cases.

I love to incorporate vintage hand embroidery pieces in my fiber art, especially prayer flags. They are charming and reusing them honors the (mostly) women who spent so much time hand stitching.

modern hand embroidery poppies pillow berganini
Simple hand embroidery and felt flowers add pop to this pillow by Stefanie Berganini, from Stitch Fall 2014.

But hand embroidery stitches can look modern, too. And I’m so pleased to see simple hand stitches making their way into contemporary designs.

This Poppies Pillow featured in our sister publication, Stitch, is a perfect example. Designed by Stefanie Berganini, the pillow uses modern shapes and clean lines for a sleek, minimalist look. The combination of linen and layered felt provides warmth and texture, while the simple handwork is meditative to stitch.

The running stitch and a cross stitch (or French knot?) are all the hand sewing stitches you need.

You can make this project in an afternoon. And just by altering the felt colors, you could have Poppy Pillows for every season!

The editors of Stitch have a way of featuring projects that are contemporary, even if they give a nod to the past. In each issue, I find projects I can’t wait to make. Stitch is perfect for anyone who likes to create with fabric and thread–explore past issues to find your next project.

P.S. What was your first embroidery project? Leave a comment below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Hand Embroidery, Quilting Daily Blog

7 thoughts on “Hand Embroidery Made Modern with Simple Hand Sewing Stitches

  1. This pillow is so creatively simple and lovely.

    My first embroidery work was at 8 yrs old – the traditional Days of the Week dish towel set – you know the one where the dishes have faces and legs and arms! I felt so grown up to have my project to work on while the rest of the ladies worked on their embroidery and cutwork pieces.

  2. My first embroidery project was a pair of pillowcases for my parents’ bedroom stitched over 60 years ago when I was in my early twenties My aunt had taught me some stitches on a scrap of fabric and I plunged right in with a “good” set of pillowcases. They were common white cotton muslin, purchased for 99 cents a pair. The design of 3 topiary rose trees joined with ribbon swags and some scattered blossoms came from a Vogart iron-on transfer. I used a pallette of deep bright green, and yellow-orange for the topiaries and a pale variegated yellow for the ribbon swags. I still have and use these cases today and I’m amazed at the fine work for a beginner. I don’t think I could duplicate them today. Beginner’s luck or ignorance is bliss, I guess!

  3. This pillow is so fresh and happy!!! Also it is an easy project that looks way more complicated and very professional. My embroidery experience is limited but this is one even I could handle. Thank you Jenny

  4. My first embroidery was in the late 60s. We heavily hand embroidered our denim jeans and jean jackets with flowers, mushrooms, peace symbols and anything else we could think of. Today we’d probably do it with our sewing machines.