Embroider Easy Applique Designs with Felt and Hand Stitching

Embroidery is hot these days. Some artists and crafters are rescuing the embroidered motifs from vintage pillow cases and tablecloth corners, re-purposing them in new fabric art projects. Others are designing their own embroidery patterns, and I'm not talking about daisies and bonnets. More like tattoo-style drawings, everyday objects, and modern motifs with simple lines.

It's easy to embroider an e-reader cover like this
one from Mollie Makes, using simple hand stitching.

Most of these contemporary projects are created with a few simple stitches that are easy to learn: running stitch, French knot, back stitch, split stitch, and blanket stitch.

You can vary the look of your embroidery stitches by changing the size and spacing and the type of thread you use (cotton embroidery floss, crewel wool, etc.), as well as using different color combinations.

One way to get started with embroidery is to work with wool or acrylic felt (wool is fabulous but a little pricey). The advantages of felt are that it doesn't fray (so no edges to turn under), the needle and thread slip through it easily, and it comes in a wide array of colors.

You can use the blanket stitch to create applique designs with felt cutouts and embroider details on your projects with other hand stitching techniques.

Here are basic instructions for the blanket stitch (also known as the buttonhole stitch).

The blanket stitch can be used as an edging for applique.

1. To begin the blanket stitch, find your baseline. In the illustration, the baseline is the dashed line at the bottom of the stitches.

2. Come up at A.

3. Insert the needle into the fabric at B and bring it back out at C. Your working thread must be under the needle as you come back out at C so that it catches. The resulting stitch should resemble a backward L.

Note: If you are left-handed, the resulting stitch may look like a standard L. It depends on how you hold the fabric and which direction you go in. Generally, right-handed stitching begins on the left end of the seam and left-handed stitching begins on the right end of the seam.

Now all you need is a fiber art project to go with your embroidery skills. There are a bunch of them in Mollie Makes Feathered Friends: Creating 18 Projects for the Home, a book full of charming projects and techniques using appliqué patterns, embroidery, and other easy sewing techniques.

P.S. Do you embroider? What are your favorite motifs and stitches? Leave a comment below.

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Blog, Fabric Art

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