Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Free Hand Embroidery Pattern: Turkey!


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Here’s a free hand embroidery pattern for you, in case you feel like embroidering a turkey…

In America, the turkey is the Great American Thanksgiving Icon. I like Thanksgiving weekend – don’t get me wrong! – but my liking the weekend has far less to do with the turkey than it does with the fact that it is a four day weekend of family gatherings that usually incite a festive holiday mood. (And it signals only three more weeks until school holidays for Christmas!)

To tell you the truth, when it comes to Thanksgiving weekend, I could take or leave the turkey.

Still…. I do like turkeys in general, despite the connotations often associated with the name of the bird. “You turkey!” is not really a compliment, you know. “Don’t let the turkeys get you down” implies that the turkey is negative, maybe even hostile or oppressive. I wonder why that is? When I see wild turkeys here in Kansas (and they abound!), they make me happy. I like to see the birds here and there, clustered on the edges of newly harvested fields. I love to have my windows open in the autumn and hear the turkeys out in the woods behind my house.

They don’t go “gobble, gobble,” by the way.

I think, in general, the turkey has gotten a bad rap.

And really, I’m not sure my drawing helps. If I were a turkey with these feet, I’d be pretty embarrassed.

Still, it makes an adequate little turkey embroidery pattern, which you can enlarge or reduce, depending on what you want to do with it. Reduced a bit (the PDF version, especially), I think it would look pretty stately and turkey-like, stitched in the corner of cloth napkins or a bread cloth for your Thanksgiving table.

Here’s the pattern – click on it for a larger version, then save it to your computer. You can then enlarge or reduce it as you wish.

Free Hand Embroidery Pattern: Turkey

And here’s the PDF version:

Hand Embroidery Pattern – Turkey (PDF)

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(13) Comments

  1. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for the line drawing. It's cute, even if it does have silly feet.

    Regarding your earlier question though, I've never heard anyone say "Don't let the turkeys get you down." It may be a regional thing.

  2. The turkey is cute – I like that watchful eye –
    It will be fun to stitch on one of the "Bird Brain" tea towels
    (love the name of the Co.)
    The Co. you mentioned some months ago where you get the nice flour sack towels – they have napkins too.
    Gee, now I have another project to do.. I am taking 2 week vacation, starting in 4 days, just to have time to work on some of these fun things for Holiday gifts.
    Have a wonderful day
    Sharon –

  3. I tried to embroider a turkey once but it kept squawking and trying to run away and it was REALLY REALLY HARD to do!!

    🙂 Happy Upcoming Thanksgiving all you Americans! (Happy Let's Observe Someone Else's National Holiday to the rest of you..LOL!)

  4. I like your little turkey! Thanks for the drawing.
    We have had a increase in the wild turkey population here in the Napa Valley (California) a few years ago. Used to be, you'd see them out and about in the less populated areas of the Valley. However, 2 weeks ago I was running an errand not too far from the development I live in. I happened to glance over, and there was a wild turkey sitting on a neighbor's front yard fence!

  5. I liked.It's simple,but effective.
    Mary,please check my blog.I've working a spiral trellis and woven picot with satin ribbon to create a sunflower and I would like if you analize the results.
    Embroidered kisses

  6. Glad you all like the turkey! I've got some ideas for embroidering him, but … no time yet for doing it. I was thinking the tail feathers would look great in buttonhole stitch, in layers…..

  7. Hi Mary, thanks for the pattern.

    Here's another cliche that I am fond of: "Why walk with the turkeys when you can fly with the eagles"

  8. Unfortunately, I am a beginner, and need to know what colors to use! I guess I could just outline, but….. If someone could help me, I’d deeply appreciate it!

    1. Hi, Dawn – with a turkey, I suppose it depends on whether you are creating something that is supposed to look “real” vs something that’s stylized. If you want something that’s supposed to look real, I’d suggest searching for photos of real turkeys and getting an idea of their color by looking at photos. But if you want to stitch something that has the typical fall colors in it, then I’d go with a selection of browns, oranges, deep yellows, etc. (Obviously, the latter would be a very stylized turkey, as the predominant color in wild turkeys – at least where I live – is grey.) If you’re completely a beginner, filling this type of pattern may prove difficult. I’d probably start by working the pattern as an outline, rather than trying to fill it – you’d have a surer guarantee of success that way, and the results can be quite pleasing. That’s just a suggestion, though – if you’re keen to fill it up, then go for it! Best of luck with your project! ~MC

  9. Material? I have a very difficult time choosing the material to do my selected project on. What is your preferred median to work on, and I am sure you are going to say “it depends on the project” right?

    Thank you

    1. Yep, it depends on the project! I think this turkey would be cute embroidered on cloth napkins. If I were going to do that, I’d buy pre-finished cotton blanks.

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