Hand Embroidery on the Go

“Embroidered Pear” by Laura Wasilowski

Over this past weekend I took a quick trip to California for a family reunion. After spending several hours sitting at the gate, on the plane, and in the car, I was really wishing I had brought some hand sewing to pass the time.

Now that school is almost out, for many of us summer getaways and road trips are just around the corner. Since I know I’ll be doing more traveling in the coming months, I decided to look for a fun hand stitching project to work on while in transit.

Lucky for me, the latest issue of Quilting Arts Magazine has just what I need! This issue features an article by Laura Wasilowski where she shares her technique for creating small densely stitched vignettes of everyday life using cotton thread on wool. Here are directions for her Free-Stitched Embroideries:

1. Select a shape for the design. Shapes should be simple with lots of open areas for embroidery, such as the pear shape in this sample.

Use running stitch to create an outline that will contain your embroidery stitches.

2. Using size 5 thread, create an outline of the design shape on the wool. I don’t mark my fabric first. These long running stitches work best for drawing the outline shape and will be removed after the shape is filled in with embroidery stitches.

3. Use the size 8 and 12 embroidery threads to develop 4-6 embroidery stitch combinations or motifs that can be repeated within the shape. Make small patches of the stitch combinations (less than 1″ square) and fill in the shape. The patches may be square, curved, or unevenly shaped. Refer to the finished sample for suggestions.

4. After the inside of the shape is embroidered, remove the size 5 outlining thread.

Remove the original outline then replace it with stem stitch for a more finished look.

5. Place an Outline or Stem Stitch around the shape using the size 8 embroidery thread.

6. Create a background motif with stitches like the Running Stitch or Cross Stitch filled with French Knots.

7. Finish the edge of the wool with a Blanket Stitch.

I’m so enamored with the idea of slowly and thoughtfully stitching bits and pieces of everyday life, I’m not sure I can wait for my next trip. Plus, there’s no need to start with a drawing or pattern; you can just start with a shape and fill it in with a variety of embroidery stitches.

If you don’t want to be stuck in the car with nothing to work on, and if you don’t want to watch longingly as a flight companion stitches while waiting for the airplane to arrive, you won’t want to miss the June/July 2016 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. Order your copy of the magazine today for art quilting inspiration along with hand embroidery stitch tutorials. And if you can’t wait to get started, download the digital magazine today.

Happy stitching!

Brenna's Signature

P.S. How do you pass the time while traveling? Share your favorite take-along project by leaving a comment below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Hand Embroidery, Quilting Daily Blog

2 thoughts on “Hand Embroidery on the Go

  1. No matter where I go as a passenger in a car, I ALWAYS take something to stitch…usually it is the binding on a small quilt or table runner, but often it is embroidery or applique that jumps into the car with me. It doesn’t matter whether the trip is a short one to the grocery store or a real Road Trip, I just feel that the time is better spent if I can stitch something.

  2. My family thinks I’m nuts because I’m not looking at the passing scenery-usually. I almost always have some knitting with me. I’ve taken along garments to finish, crazy-patch work, some cross-stitch, and sometimes other embroidery. I do not construct by hand sewing! The car is much too rough to do fine stitching while moving. The last traveling we did, I finished a knit bag I’ve been working on for months, but also took much time gawking at the splendid scenery. You can’t go to Arizona in the middle of winter without looking at the beautiful, sunny scenery!