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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Small Passion Flower – Free Hand Embroidery Pattern


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I’m still cleaning up my great big folio of ecclesiastical embroidery patterns from the early 1900’s. It’s quite a task!

Occasionally, I come across some little excerpts or individual elements that I like to share here on Needle ‘n Thread. Some are obviously ecclesiastical in design, while others can be used for secular embroidery pursuits, too.

I’ve already posted several patterns that I’ve cleaned up from the same folio: this fleur-de-lis frame, the bloomin’ branch, this lily in a diamond, this wheat bundle, this rococo bud, and others. These are all excerpts from larger ecclesiastical designs, but I thought, taken individually, they make nice patterns for embroidery in general.

This small stylized passion flower is also an excerpt from a larger collection. The way many old folio collections of patterns were laid out, you could mix and match small vignettes from different designs and work them into other, larger designs. This provided a huge variety of possible embroidery designs, published in a smaller space.

Anyway, I thought the design was appropriate, since it’s Ash Wednesday. Maybe you can find some use for it!

Small Passion Flower for Hand Embroidery

The passion flower is a common symbol in ecclesiastical embroidery. You can see it in embroidery on altar frontals, vestments, banners, and the like. It’s a been a popular symbol since the early 15th century, especially adopted by the Spanish, but then eventually incorporated in Christian symbolism all around Europe. The various elements of the flower were seen to represent different elements in Christ’s passion, which is why it is commonly called (in English) the passion flower.

In some countries, though, the flower is called a “clock flower” because of its resemblance to a clock face!

However, the version here is definitely ecclesiastical in flavor, due to the stylization of the flower with a crown of thorns around the center.

Embroidery Ideas

There are so many ways you can go about embroidering a design like this!

It can be used for whitework, for goldwork and silk, or just for regular surface embroidery. You could appliqué the leaves and stitch the rest of the design, depending on how large you want to make it. (Appliqué works well for larger designs, and not as well for smaller designs.) You could embroider the design for a bible cover, for an element in a banner, for any church linens or decor.

Small Passion Flower PDF Printable

Here’s the PDF printable for the small passion flower. The flower prints at 3″ in both directions, but if you want it smaller or larger, you can always enlarge it on a photocopier or your printer.

Small Passion Flower Hand Embroidery Pattern (PDF)

You can find more ecclesiastical hand embroidery patterns here on Needle ‘n Thread, if you’re looking for something church-isn to embroider this Lent. You might even enjoy my Church Patterns for Hand Embroidery, Book 1, which includes over 120 patterns from old sources, cleaned up, squared up, and ready to used for stitching, arts, card-making, and whatnot.


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(15) Comments

  1. Thank you Mary. This pattern and the ones you referred to at the beginning of the article are just perfect for me today. I decided it was time to cut some fabric and prepare for my next project, but wasn’t sure what I’d do exactly. I’m going to work on silk with a backing fabric and prepare two sets on my Evertite frames. One will be for practicing different stitches and styles, and the other will be for I’m not sure what yet. Before I cut my fabric, decided to check your newsletter today and here I am. I’m going to print several of the designs and play with them to create one piece for serious stitching. On my practice cloth, I’ll transfer various elements for trying out different ideas. I have no idea how this is going to work, but the entire process sounds like a lot of fun and a good learning experience. Thank you.

    1. And on a saner note, I think I’ll just calm down and pick one of your designs for stitching in silks. I want to do too much all at the same time. So much I want to do, so little time.

  2. Dear Mary

    The Passion Flower is a lovely design and appropriately named for this Ash Wednesday the start of Lent and you can see the different elements of Christ’s Passion especially the centre Crown of Thorns very symbolic, a lovely design which can embroidered for Easter. I have your Ecclesiastical book of patterns and they are lovely, I’ve already embroidered a couple of them. Thanks for the Pattern and for sharing this symbolic design with us for the Lent season.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  3. Thank you for the free pattern Mary and the good ideas. I wondered if you had seen the beautiful Passion flower on Jenny Adin-Christie’s site in the stumpwork section. Amazing!

    1. Yes, it’s gorgeous! Are you familiar with the book, Mrs. Delany and Her Circle? There’s a gorgeous passion flower on the front of it, too – only it’s exquisitely done in very fine paper cutting. She was also an embroiderer – the book highlights her amazing creating work.

    1. Very fine chain stitch (possibly in two shades of brown) with the thorns worked separately, satin stitch (though I don’t personally like satin stitch for crowns of thorns – it is too fiddly at the divisions), any kind of compact braid-type stitch for the vine part, and then you can work the thorns separately with straight stitches. You could also couch a cord and work the thorns separately through the cord, using straight stitches. Anyone else have any ideas?

  4. Hi Mary,
    I bought the book of church patterns many years ago and it was such a frustration due to the lines being just off.
    Then you cleaned them up and I bought your book – oh what a relief it is. Thank you so much.

  5. Dear Mary, I’ve just purchased your Church Patterns book and am amazed at the work you’ve put into it. Thank you very much. Also, just wondering: what’s “the beastie” on page 36, please?

  6. Hi Mary,

    Thank you for the design – it is wonderful timing as I too am considering ecclesiastical designs but for an Altar Frontlet for my Church. Of the other designs mentioned above I did not have the Lily in a Diamond or the Rococo bud so I thank you for these as well. May you have a fruitful Lent.

  7. Hi, Mary, I’m barely able to sit up and take nourishment (as my father would say, LOL) but I had to read your news today as I was too ill yesterday, so am catching up. (pneumonia).
    This little flower would work so well I think with some of Trish Burr’s new whitework? I can just picture it. Lovely pattern.

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