sore fingers

08.05.11 | sore fingers

Prior to and during my break from blogging, I was inspired to take up a form of needlework I hadn’t spent much time with: embroidery. Between this lady’s cute pin ups she’s been working on, and my love of vintage embroidery transfers, it was only a matter of time before the stars aligned and the siren call of creative exploration could be resisted no longer.

Let me just say: I’m head over heels in love.

I dare say that embroidery will be somewhat like knitting and crochet for me: a craft I take up off and on to occupy my hands in the evenings and at odd moments. It’s not at all like sewing or knitting (and crochet) for me though: my brain isn’t as engaged as it would be with the other crafts. When embroidering I fall into the zen-like state I remember being so pleasant when I used to paint. It’s quiet and allows me to just enjoy the process, colors and design. Sure, there is a technical aspect to it (as with painting), but it’s more about creating art than precisely following directions.

08.05.11 | sore fingers

Funnily enough SH thinks this newfound mania is rather amusing, and keeps watching me while I stitch each evening with sidelong glances. I think the lack of utility about embroidery (as opposed to sewing or knitting) is what confounds him—it just doesn’t seem as practical as most of my handcrafts; it’s far more decorative. Though I did assure him that if I become confident enough in my stitchery, this could be used for making Christmas gifts for the mothers (just forget I said that if you’re reading this, Mom!). A good use, I think!

The first piece I stitched up was the little sailor on a hand towel. (Pattern here.) It’s currently gracing the front of the oven in our kitchen and making things look a bit more cheerful (and breaking up the beige…). I also started on a pretty 40s “southern belle” last week as well (pattern here). She’s going much more slowly, but I’m having a great time on this. I’m just stitching her on a piece of cotton, which I plan on framing for the guest bathroom once it’s done. Or maybe she’ll go near my sewing space? I don’t know!

08.05.11 | sore fingers

Do you embroider? What sorts of items do you like to embroider on? Clothes? Household things? Pieces for framing? Paper?

Don’t forget the giveaway for the vintage Dritz bound buttonhole tool ends this evening!

August 5, 2011 · 56 lovely thoughts
posted in creativity · tags: ,

Alli August 5, 2011 at 06:42

Soooooooo cute Casey! It’s adorable. Beautiful job :)


Sarah August 5, 2011 at 07:04

Oh I love him he is super cute!!! Nicely done! Love the striped tea towel you picked too.. very nautical.


Kirsty August 5, 2011 at 07:07

Hi Casey, I love your blog (I can’t remember if I’ve commented before). Your little sailor man is great, I’m obsessed with nautical imagery.

I’ve just got in to embroidery myself, actually I just posted my recent embroidery on my blog. So far I’ve only embroider three items that I’ve made: a needle book, an apron and a scented RSVP. I’ve fallen completely in love with it too!


Emilie August 5, 2011 at 07:21

That’s an adorable piece there with the sailor…what a great job!
I’m currently working on Alicia Paulson’s (her shop: Posie:Rosy little things) ABC sampler with crewel wool and I am really enjoying it!


karen August 5, 2011 at 07:29

Your little sailor is so full of personality!


Bridget August 5, 2011 at 07:35

Oh I love this! I was just in northern Minnesota and picked up two embroidered tea towels, for $3 each! They make me feel like my grandma, in the best of ways. :)


Elise August 5, 2011 at 07:46

I think thats why I never took to embroidery tbh, I like more practical crafts! Your sailor is fabby, well worth the finger hurt I bet! :)


Annika August 5, 2011 at 07:51

That sailor turned out so good! Very neat stitching!

I have just rediscovered embroidery for myself, I do mainly cross stitch and have done that on and off since I was a child. I am aiming on introducing more embroidery into every area of my life! :)


Olivia August 5, 2011 at 08:15

Very cute and inspirational for me to get back into embroidery. I wonder if there are vintage army embroidery patterns.


Joyce August 5, 2011 at 08:37

I am so addicted to vintage embroidery. I’ve made so many flour-sack tea towels and have gotten my daughter started on making them for her hope chest. My mom and grandma got me started years ago on pillowcases, table scarves, dresser scarves, and apron tops, so I’m very nostalgic about vintage linens as well. I have hundreds of their old patterns, and have collected patterns mostly from the 30′s and 40′s as I find them. I just finished 2 1940′s pinup girls for a set of pillowcases. I love to see this craft coming back!


YarnUiPhoneAppv1.6 August 5, 2011 at 08:45

the Southern Belle embroidery is very popular and you can now find the pattern on a machine embroidery CD so it can all be done by machine with different threads. Totally looks handmade too. The sailor embroidery you did Casey would look cute on a white sailor top.


kater August 5, 2011 at 08:48

Oh yay, a sewing post I can contribute to :D Haha! I love embroidery! My mother and I both do it, something about it is so calming. My favorite bit is when you get in a bit of a trance, I suppose, doing it, and I just feel like I’m at the point of the needle, or my mind is, and I’m just going along.

I usually do petit point on canvases, right now I’m working on a large bluebird with a thicker wool thread, and a little sleeping kitten. I haven’t tried ones like this though yet, so I’ll have to get on that! I really love doing ones for pillows or framing, and petit point especially, because I love the sensation that you’re putting all these little stitches together to make a fabric.


Laurie August 5, 2011 at 08:53

Good job! I adore embroidery! When I was a little girl, my grandmother taught me to embroider with basic stitches. Then I was adicted and learned more complicated ones, filling in the inside of the outline stitches. Then I started adding beading.. I embroidered many pictures while growing up. I also did pillow cases, aprons, etc. One picture hangs in my mother’s kitchen still. Then I moved on to other challenges. Now that I’m sewing historic clothing, I’m looking forward to time to apply embroidery to clothing and other “practical” items. I started an embroidered 18th century pinball on silk, with the flowers filled in, at a sewing class at the Colonial Williamsburg Costume Design Center last year. I still need to finish that. I’d like to embroider a stomacher for an 18th century saque gown, and a petticoat. I’d also like to embroider an 18th century pocket. Then I want to embroider a Regency gown. I also hope to return to the swing dress and embroider the midsection.. So many plans, so little time!


Sarah August 5, 2011 at 08:54

Hi Casey! I was wondering if you transferred these the same way you transferred that little Scottie dog onto your sweater several months ago? Thanks for sharing your projects! I’m inspired!


Caitlin Rose August 5, 2011 at 08:59

Oh that sailor is so cute! good for you!


Kristin August 5, 2011 at 09:07

How adorable! I also love the new project you’re starting on…I might have to give that one a try, too!

I love to embroidery…right now I’m working on a pattern based on the little illustration from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the picture that says “George Lassos the Moon.” I’ve also got a few other really cute patterns I’ve bought off Etsy to work on, as well as some vintage patterns from Flickr that I want to try. Plus, Alicia Paulson’s “Embroidery Companion” is on the way here. I’m very excited about that- it looks full of beautiufl ideas and it’s been on my wishlist for quite a while!

I mostly embroidery pieces to be framed, in hoops or regular frames. I’d love to start embroidering more practical things, such as clothing or kitchen towels, but I love how the little hoops look hanging on my walls. I agree with one of the taglines on Craftster- the one that says something like, “Cute doesn’t need a reason.” =)



Victoria / Justice Pirate August 5, 2011 at 09:14

oh wow. this is SO SO beautiful!!! You did an amazing job on it. I read a book this year about putting some flower embroidery on towels and being more like a pioneer girl. . .but I don’t think I could handle the patience of hand stitching things. Goodness, I can’t even tolerate sewing machines most of the time! I think the results of embroidery are incredible though. Good for you in giving it a try.


Marmielu August 5, 2011 at 09:17

I used to embroider, and haven’t done it in years. It sort of fell out of style to do that.
I agree with Sarah who suggested a scottie! Oh, and just in case you do pursue this, roosters, etc would be great on tea towels, too. ;-)


Tasha August 5, 2011 at 09:38

Oh, what a cute towel! I love embroidery as well, but fear it’s something I don’t pick up as often as I would like. I have two kitchen towels in progress and should get back to them! So far I’ve mostly embroidered on utilitarian things like towels, or hankies. However I’ve been inspired recently do embroider on a peasant blouse, and just got a 40s pattern for one with a square yoke that would be ideal for embroidery. I imagine at the rate I’m going however, I’ll probably only get to it by next summer! lol


Lauren August 5, 2011 at 09:53

i love embroidery! you are so right when you mention the zen-like calm that comes with such handwork. it is really relaxing & not nearly as stressful as sewing (which, to me, is the GOOD kind of stress! haha! but sometimes we need a break).

i don’t pick up embroidery nearly as much as i should.. partly because of the lack of patterns that strike my fancy, partly because of the lack of stuff to embroider on (this is directly related to the lack of patterns; i love embroidered blouses but i rarely find good patterns & blouses to make it happen!), partly because i’d rather spend my home down-time in front of the sewing machine. i’ve actually considered taking the bus to work a couple days of the week so i can work on handcrafts during my commute. is that weird? haha!


Ashley Bergstrom August 5, 2011 at 09:55

CUTE! It has been FOREVER sense I last embroidered but this makes me want to take it up again. I have to be careful though I have a bad habit of starting way to many projects at once. (curse you ADHD! lol)


Hosanna August 5, 2011 at 10:05

Nice work! I have done embroidery since I was about 8. I started with cross stitch but soon got bored with that and branched out into “traditional” embroidery.
My favorite thing to do, however, is crewel work. (Or Jacobean laidwork, as it is sometimes called.) The effect is so layered with texture; it is almost 3-D. It is very much like painting; but with needle and wool yarns.
I’ve even won several prizes for my projects when I entered them in fairs and such.
I agree, I also get into a zen like trance when I do embroidery. I mostly work on projects in the winter months when I am not gardening and riding horses all the time. :)


Michelle @ If Toys Could Talk August 5, 2011 at 10:38

That sailor is adorable!!! Your embroidery skills are impressive. :)


Meghan August 5, 2011 at 10:45

That little sailor man is absolutely adorable! And for just picking up embroidery, you seem to be a natural.


Corinne August 5, 2011 at 10:53

I love to embroider. I do towels, night-wear and any number of little things. Redwork is my absolute favorite style. I have one queen sized quilt done and another in progress. One of my vintage stitching books called this kind of work “Radio Sewing.” When this book was written, there were no TV’s! The ladies were encouraged to relax in the evening, doing little embroidery projects.


zilredloh August 5, 2011 at 10:57

Your sailor boy is quite cute. As I’ve been loathing my hand on my sewing projects less and less, I should give embroidery another try. Embroidered gifts would be a great idea for those ladies it’s always hard to shop for. Thanks for planting that seed in my head! :)


Audrey August 5, 2011 at 11:00

Cute! My mother taught me to embroider when I was in third grade I think lol. She started me out with a vintage kit she had that I made into a pillow for my Barbie dolls. (It was a single stem rose, I still have the pillow to this day!) Since then I’ve embroidered mainly dish towels, a great way to add a vintage touch to your kitchen. My mother and grandmother always have had embroidered dish towels and when I got married, my mom gifted me a set for my bridal shower that she made. When my friend’s dress is finished being sewn together I will probably hand embroider a design on the skirt for her to match her motif she’s chosen for her invitations.


Suzie August 5, 2011 at 11:04

Oh my goodness, I absolutely love your embroidery work – the sailor image is just so perfect for you. Oh dear….another thing to add to my long list of new things to try out! I would love to give this a go. I am sure the Southern Belle is going to turn out stunning.


Paige August 5, 2011 at 11:08

How funny, I was thinking about embroidery this morning while I did my hair! And then I come here and you’ve got the bug, too.

I haven’t done a project for a while, but I want to make something for my nephew’s room. Perhaps a monogram…


Kristy L August 5, 2011 at 11:15

Yes, I embroider. Right now I’m working on the ABC sampler from Alicia paulson’s Posie Gets Cozy website. I am so in love with it. I’m on the letter R and can’t wait to work on it tonight after work (after my husbands and my date night of course:)). I’m not great at embroidery but I keep plugging along. My mom taught me last summer and I haven’t stopped since. I look at youtube a lot to get some instruction and that helps a lot. I love the scottie dog you showed last winter and I liked how you used the paper technique. I haven’t tried that yet. I mostly find vintage transfers at the thrift store and use those. I also made pillows for our bed that have the MR and MRS on them. So cute!! Show us all your embroidery when you get done. I love seeing it and you are really terrific at it. How do you get the corners so neat and tidy? Mine always wind up looking a little crooked.
Happy weekend!


a two-bit Jeremiah August 5, 2011 at 11:18

Oh goodness, that is so great! It looks so amazing! Your handwork projects always make me dream fondly of doing handwork myself… if I weren’t all thumbs. :P


Susan @ pinkportugueseroses August 5, 2011 at 11:46

I love to embroider! I have been since 2007. Well, maybe a longer than that. I just love creating with embroidery. It was once written… “Embroidery is like coloring in slow motion”… I total get the “zen” thing. It’s one of the only things I do…that I hate to put down…LOL!!!
Lately, I have been embroidering for my etsy shop. I’ve been getting lots of orders for handkerchiefs for brides. I have done tea towels in the past too.

I love your salior boy…super cute!



arinn August 5, 2011 at 11:56

your recent forays into embroidery are super cute! hand-embroidering is my favourite art form at the moment. i am currently working on a large-ish framed piece, but i do a lot of brooches for my etsy shop.


Julie August 5, 2011 at 12:46

I learned to embroider in Girl Scouts over 50 years ago. I still have some pieces in progress that I haven’t touched in years. One is a large picture of kittens and daisies in a vase. I got the transfer from an elderly lady in her 80′s when I was about 15. It was already old by then, so it’s REALLY old now!


Tilly August 5, 2011 at 13:07

Very cute! I’ve embroidered a couple of iPhone cases and a couple of napkins, all on calico, which I think looks rather nice in its raw state. Did you see Gertie’s collection of embroidered animals that say hello? She posted about them a few months back – so cute!


Amy August 5, 2011 at 14:50

I recently won a set of embroidery patterns and canvas bag from Sublime Stitching thanks to a giveaway Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons hosted, but I’ve yet to sew a stitch. I have laid out all of the “Beach Babes” and figured out who’s going where on the bag. I hope to take it with me on my second honeymoon. I think it’ll be a fun way to pass the time on the long flight. If I can’t find room to pack it, then it’ll become my nightly meditation for the fall. I can’t wait!


Alicecloset August 5, 2011 at 15:18

Great design!! I I’ve embroidered a lot of bibs when I was a child…but now I don’t have time anymore!!


Courteney August 5, 2011 at 15:26

Your embroidery is great! Love the designs! I used to embroider little things when I was younger and off and on for the past couple years. You might have just inspired me to dust off my embroidery box! :)


Carla August 5, 2011 at 15:27

I’ve been embroidering for a good while. I love it ever so.
Some of the things I embroider are my old pairs of pants, random bits of muslin, and on felt for badges.

Your Southern Belle is going to be simply adorable :3


Ann August 5, 2011 at 15:52

I used to hand draw my own designs, leaves, birds, etc. and transfer them to aprons. I also think vintage transfers are adorable on baby onesies, it really personalizes those white gerber ones so frequently given at baby showers.


Janice August 5, 2011 at 16:02

I used to cross stitch in high school, and I find it a tremendous waste of time now! I usually framed all my pieces and put them in random rooms in my parents’ house (bathrooms, guest bedrooms, etc.) I find sewing much more practical in terms of time spent.


Lesley August 5, 2011 at 16:57

How precious! I’ve banned myself from cross-stitch after an ill advised project took over 2.5 years to complete. However, this looks like just the thing for little cute projects. Love!


Achaia August 5, 2011 at 17:42

How funny that you’ve taken up embroidery as well! Currently that is my newest go-to thing. Right now I’m just putting cute little doo-dads on flour sack dishtowels, and I think my next project is going to be embroidery on the yoke of a dress…. I’ll have to let you know how it turns out!
My favorite designer, Anna Maria Horner, has done some amazing things with embroidery lately, and has a few free flowery patterns. (You can download them here:

Hope you are having a lovely Friday!
XX Achaia


amy dame August 5, 2011 at 18:47

i love to embroider! it’s completely taken over crochet for me – if i have time for hand work, it’s embroidery every time!

i embroider stuff to frame, i embroider on clothes, i embroider fabric and make it into pillows. i have a project that i’ve been working on for over a year now, off and on, which will be made into a quilt when it’s done. i also love to embroider on non-traditional surfaces. i pre-drill the holes (i adore my drill press!) and then it’s just like connecting the dots! i’ve embroidered on clipboards, on plastic headbands, on speculums (yes, i said speculums!), on vinyl records, all sorts of things. some of my embroidery is just decorative, some of it’s more political art pieces, but i love it regardless of what i’m working on.


Puppyloveprincess August 5, 2011 at 18:59

That little sailor is so cute! What a cheerful design :)


Jennifer August 5, 2011 at 19:29

That sailor design is so fun, i adore everything nautical.
I love embroidery, my mum bought me a wonderful book at Christmas called Doodle Stitching which has loads of cute designs and tells you about the basic stitches which was really helpful.
I’ve embroidered on scraps of fabric and felt pin cushions but my favourite has to be embroidering little motifs on pillows cases :)


Amanda August 5, 2011 at 21:03

Wow I love this! The sailor is so cute and perfect for you. I took an intro embroidery class and had fun (plus the floss is so incredibly cheap!), you’ve inspired me to take it up again.

Question, to transfer the design to the fabric do you put both paper and fabric up to the light (Iike a window) and trace? Can you believe I once put the paper on top of the fabric and embroidered them both together? Yeah, dumb!


Renee August 5, 2011 at 21:05

He is adorable. I love things like that.

I used to embroider a lot. My mom got a magazine called that had iron ons in it and I made my daughter a baby quilt with all kinds of kids and animals on pastel squares. She still has it (she is 35) when she was supposed to be having a boy I put blue gingham on the back so she could use it. So Livvie got to use her mommie’s quilt.

Now I do a little bit of embroidery and some counted cross stitch.


Lizzy August 5, 2011 at 23:32

Wow, is there no crafting related thing that you can’t do? ;) I love the little sailor and the southern belle. I love the look of embroidery, and wish I could do it.


Kelley August 6, 2011 at 01:28

Oh, yes! I embellish, personalize, and LOVE embroidery. Most recently I personalized with her new married name the wedding gown I made my daughter. After the reception, I began 12 weeks of embroidering (backstitch) every signature on her guest “book” tablecloth– nearly 150 signatures! Every stitch was a thrill.


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