Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Design For Embroidery

I've mentioned this class before in passing and I thought I would share a little more about it today. The Design for Embroidery class is an intermediate technique study course given by the Embroidery Association of Canada. It's purpose is to teach you how to find inspiration by looking around you and how to translate that on paper into something that can be embroidered.

I took the class because I always wanted to design my own pieces but never knew how to go about it. It just seemed really hard and overly complicated. I don't exactly consider myself a creative person, but sometimes I'll see something and think to myself: Wouldn't that look amazing stitched?

So far I've only completed two lessons, but I've already learned so much. Lesson one was about looking at things in a different way. Instead of looking at a bigger picture, we used viewfinders to narrow our vision.

I just finished lesson two and the theme was lines. In this lesson, we learned how to simplify an object to it's simplest form.

One of the exercises was with toothpicks. I was warned about this one, as many stitchers found it difficult to do. We are to use a minimum of 20 toothpicks, play with them and create a composition. One of the compositions I created was this flower. I never realized how important curves are. To give the impression of curves, I had to learn to play with angles.

From there, we were to pick one composition and create three design sheets using three different techniques. Since I'm on a beading binge, one of the designs had to be beading. As you can see it below, it's very simple to create a design sheet. There were a few days between creating the composition and putting the design down on paper. So by the time I did I had spent time deciding on what I wanted and was able to create this one in minutes.

You need to figure out your technique and what size you want to stitch it at. From there, you can color your design to distinguish the different sections and note down what stitches you want to use. Noting the stitching order is also useful sometimes. As you'll see later, colors and stitches are not set in stone. This is just a draft, we all need to start somewhere.

We needed to stitch one piece from the designs we created and this is the one I went with. Here is where things started to change. I didn't have the yellow beads I wanted in my stash, so I switched my flower to purple.

With my materials selected, I went about stitching my piece using the instructions in the design sheet. I found that as I started stitched, I had to make adjustments. 

(click on the post to see the animation below)

You'll notice that the calyx was changed. I found that once I stitched it, it was too straight and looked unnatural. To fix it I added another line to really define the calyx. The petals had to be adjusted as well. Because of the minimum size requirements, the original stitch I planned on using couldn't be used anymore. I would have been left with too many empty areas. So I took a page out of Georgina Bellamy's book. She does amazing things with colored metal smooth purl. Her technique easily translates into beading. It was like needle painting but with strings of beads instead of thread.

One thing that didn't change was the stem and leaf. I love how it came out.

And there you have it. Despite the changes I had to make along the way, you can still see the essence of the toothpick composition. I'm quite happy with how it came out.

This lesson was actually very fruitful. We had to do this exercise again with string to play with curves and I have a lovely design I'm itching to stitch. I just might do that sometime in the future.

I will admit that not all of the exercises are pleasant to do and are more akin to something you would do in kindergarten or an arts and crafts class, but they do have a purpose. If you take the time and ponder through them you will be very surprised with what you can come up with.


  1. I love what you did. Thank you for explaining and sharing the process. Looking forward to seeing more of your designs.

  2. Thank you for the class details. Love what you did from toothpick design to completed beading on fabric.

  3. What a lovely flower you came up with! And that from tooth picks :). Although I am more of a gut designer, I did do an online class with Sharon Boggon from pintangle once. It was a great experience!

  4. Oh, very well done - that was clearly a useful exercise, and the flower looks genuinely like a flower, even though I can see the inspiration of the matches!

  5. What a gorgeous beaded flower - I loved seeing this project from planning to completion - just lovely! Thank you so much for stopping by Feeling Stitchy and leaving us a comment!

  6. That sounds like a fun class overall, even if some of the exercises feel a little silly to go through. Your first (?) project design from this class is awesome, and I can't wait to see what else you will come up with.

  7. What an interesting exercise! Challenging but you’ve come up Wyeth a lovely design. Can’t wait to see more!

  8. This sounds like a fascinatiing class and you've already produced a lovely design. I really like the way you seem to have layered the blue beads.