The other day, I gave you a little sneak peek at the flowers on the Secret Garden project, and today, as promised, we’ll chat about colors and stitches.
Before getting into the general details about the stitches I’m using, let’s cover color choices.
If you’re following along with the project, remember that you’re absolutely free to make your own color choices! I’m only using two color families on the flowers. There are eight flowers total, and I’m alternating between the two color families around the design. I’m using the same yellows for both flower colors.
Corals to red: (light to dark) DMC colors 967, 3341, 351, 350, 817
Purples: (light to dark) DMC colors 554, 553, 552, 550
Yellows: (light to dark) DMC colors 744, 743, 742
The Secret Garden hummingbirds design (by Johanna Basford, and found in her book, which I reviewed a while ago) is a highly stylized design. The flowers, leaves, and birds that Johanna drew do not exactly replicate flowers, leaves, or birds that you will find existing in nature. Still, when we look at them on the drawing, we know they are flowers, leaves, and birds. That’s the nature of stylized design.
Because the design itself is stylized, I don’t feel compelled to make everything (or anything) in it look absolutely real, according to how it would be seen in nature.
So, for those who mentioned after Saturday’s article that the flowers look weird because you haven’t see flowers like that in your garden, welcome to the world of embroidery! I would hazard a bet that the majority of flowers that have ever been embroidered over the whole span of time in which embroidery has been practiced have not looked identical to anything you’d find growing in your garden. This is, after all, embroidery, and not photography.
So we see here the difference between realistic design and stylized design.
To further enhance the stylized design, I added “caps” to the tips of the petals in the flowers, so that I could add some solid satin stitch filling at the tops of all the petals. I chose seed stitch for the rest of the filling in the petals, to give a little sprinkling of color with a little bit of texture (to contrast with the satin stitch), and to avoid a solid filling. I outlined the petals with stem stitch.
The petals are worked from light to dark, from the center out. The red (817) is used to fill the middle teardrop shapes.
In the original design, there is a line of circles arching behind the petals. These, I switched to elongated French knots in two colors of yellow. 743 & 742, alternating the length so that the line of knots is a little jagged.
Elongated French knots (or pistil stitch), is simply a French knot with a longer space between where you emerged to begin the stitch and where you go down into the fabric to end the stitch. If you can work a French knot, you can work an elongated French knot.
If you have trouble with the elongated French knot, you can always work a series of long straight stitches and then go back and tip the straight stitches with French knots.
The base of the flower is a buttonhole wheel worked in yellow (743). After stitching the buttonhole wheel, I went back and filled between the spokes with straight stitches in a lighter yellow (744).
The centers of the flowers are worked in padded satin stitch, in the darkest red (817).
The links on all the stitch names above take you to various video tutorials for those embroidery stitches. The satin stitch and seed stitch videos are downright ancient (from the era when video first began to appear online), and need to be re-done. You may not be able to view them on mobile devices, but you should be able to view them on your computer. In any case, they’re on The To-Do List – you know, that ever-growing, never-ending List that we all have?
So that’s an overview of the stitches and colors used on the flowers in the Secret Garden project. Next time, we’ll look at some detailed stitching tips for the flowers, including some helpful tips for satin stitch and some fiddling about with the order of stitching.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below!
If you’d like to follow along with the Secret Garden Hummingbirds project, you can find all the articles relating to this project arranged in chronological order in the Secret Garden Project Index.