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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Have You Ever Embroidered your Handwriting?


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This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten into embroidered handwriting – and it probably won’t be the last!

If you’ve poked around a bit on Needle ‘n Thread, you might be familiar with my tutorials on embroidered lettering and text. That was a fun sampler! And it morphed into a series of 15 free tutorials on embroidered handwriting, lettering and text.

Right now, I’m working on some embroidered handwriting samples – some are along the same lines as the sampler, some are straightforward embroidered handwriting for specific purposes.

I thought I’d open up the topic for some reader input. Have you ever embroidered your own handwriting? Or embroidered text using a computer font? Have you ever embroidered writing on quilt labels, crazy quilt squares or the like? Or embroidered words on surface embroidery samplers? Maybe you’ve added embroidered names to christening gowns? Perhaps you’ve embroidered the words of an inspirational quote to hang on a wall or to use on a bookmark?

If you’ve done any of that, or taken other excursions into hand embroidered handwriting, my question is this: what stitches have you found most effective for these types of exercises?

Embroidered Handwriting

The more I play with embroidered handwriting, the more I gravitate towards certain stitches.

But what I’ve found is that the stitches I choose really depend more on the purpose of the embroidered Thing. For example, am I embroidering something meant to be primarily utilitarian? Or am I embroidering something primarily meant to be displayed?

That’s not to say you can’t combine both approaches. A quilt label, for example, is rather utilitarian: it’s purpose is to sign and date the quilt, and maybe say something about the maker or the quilt itself.

But who says a quilt label can’t be decorative? And in fact, I’ve seen many that are Highly decorative – almost more decorative than the quilt!

Embroidered Handwriting

When it comes to just getting a point across in embroidered handwriting, I find myself drawn to two stitches that work for me every time: stem stitch and whipped backstitch.

(And just to give you an idea of the scale of the handwriting above, see that needle? It’s a size 28 tapestry petit. In real life, the needle is t-i-n-y. The text up there is about 1/4″ high, even though it looks rather huge in the photos.)

Stitches for Embroidered Handwriting

Stem stitch, I like for it’s ropey appearance. It makes a nice looking line – not entirely smooth, no, but nice looking. It’s a little tricky on very small letters, especially if you’re using two strands of floss at a time, because it requires care when taking tight curves (or you end up with letters that look a bit hairy and prickly).

Whipped backstitch, I like because no embroidered handwriting task can be too small for it. Well, ok – “too small,” within reason! If you need to embroider fine, small handwriting, but you want a smooth line (not the bumpy, jerky line of typical backstitch), whipped backstitch does the job!

Two other favorites for embroidered handwriting: split stitch and heavy chain stitch, but those only under certain circumstances.

Split stitch, I like when using a non-strandable, softly twisted embroidery thread, like floche or coton a broder. I don’t like split stitch with perle cottons. It just doesn’t work as well for me. And if I’m using regular floss, split stitch is great for tiny, detailed writing with just one strand of floss.

Heavy chain stitch, I like for letters that are a little more blocky and that need a slightly heavy, smooth line. For heavy chain stitch, floche, coton a broder, and floss all work great. On heavy lines, #12 perle cotton can work quite well, too.

Do you embroider your handwriting?

Have you ever embroidered your own handwriting? Or embroidered handwriting-like fonts printed from your computer? What type of project was it for? And what stitches do you enjoy using when embroidering handwriting, lettering or text?

I’d love to hear your take, too – chime in below and let’s chat up the topic of embroidered handwriting! I’d love to hear your insights!


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(118) Comments

  1. I have embroidered my own handwriting several times – for a panel for a table covering for the local embroiderers guild (my name), and for several Christmas cards which were stitched. I used split stitch for these.

    My earliest foray is the most precious to me though. When I was five (some 50 years ago) I was a brownie, and we had to make an apron with our name embroidered on it. I don’t remember much about making the apron – I think Mum must have done most of that, but I clearly remember my father writing my name on the fabric for me to embroider. He had the most lovely copperplate hand, and I remember embroidering my name. It must have been one of the first things I embroidered. I used chain stitch. I still have the apron (we must have made them adult size for some reason).

    My father died when I was 30, 25 years ago now. The embroidered apron holds special memories of him for me.

  2. Good morning Mary,
    I’ve had a little practice with stitching letters. In both cases they where very small, no more than 1/4 inch. The Rosary Cases I made for my daughters are only 4 x 4 1/2 inches. In the lining of one I stitched the Mysteries of the Rosary with one strand of floss in split stitch. On the other I stitched the scripture verse that she wanted on the back with two strands of floss in stem stitch. I like the idea of whipped back stitch. Will have to play with it. I’ve decided I don’t like my handwriting so next time I have the need I will print a font off the computer. Thanks for sharing all of your experience. You have been A blessing to me
    Victoria in VA

  3. Many years ago when I was about 10 years old and my family was moving to another city my classmates autographed a cotton blouse for me that I latter embroidered. I used stem stitch with DMC floss in all different colors. I wish I still had that blouse but it has long ago disappeared. Since than I have embroidered handwriting many times and I have always chosen to use the stem stitch, but your suggestions make me want to try a different stitch the next time I embroider handwriting or letters.

  4. I’ve embroidered a quilt label. Nothing fancy. Used back stitch. It was ok but now I wished I would have added to it

  5. I have often embroidered my hand writing, especially on items for my grandchildren, their Christmas stockings each have a personal message from me on the back, the youngest one whose name is Eve and loves being Christmas Eve, was a big surprise to us all as she has 2 elder sisters one of whom is seriously disabled and my daughter felt the family was complete when our gorgous surprise Eve arrived. I often tell her she is the best surprise I’ve ever had and I told her that on her stocking and hoped her Christmases would be the same. She is bright, funny earnest and very entertaining and much loved as are her sisters. I now also sign as discretely as posible and embroider my signature on all my work.

  6. I embroidered a flour sack tea towel for my grandson when he first moved to another state. It was monogrammed with his initial and I embroidered the name of each family member in their own handwriting. He loved it and is reminded daily of our love.

  7. I have not embroidered my own hand writing but I have embroidered the handwriting of others, words, signatures and any artwork they also made on a signature embroidery I made when I was at the European Scouting Jamboree in The Netherlands back in 1994. I used lots of different stitches to make them as I was going for as much variation as I possibly could and I had allowed everyone to pick the colour they liked for me to stitch the signatures with You can see the overview photo and a rather lengthy story about it here:

  8. The only time I embroider handwriting is when I “sign” my embroidery piece. Mostly I use black no 40 sewing machine embroidery thread. I just use my first name Elza and the year.
    Elza Bester Cape Town xxx

  9. I’ve embroidered my own handwriting on the surface of a couple of quilts. The writing is on the borders of the quilt and goes around all sides. I cut paper to the length needed on each side, wrote my message, and embroidered through the paper. Here’s the kicker. I sewed the writing on the sewing machine & quilted the quilt at the same time. I used the triple stitch, the one that goes forward twice, back once, & forward twice again, etc.

    1. Barb W. MO, I just read your comment on Mary Corber’s embroidery site about writing on paper the size of the borders of a quilt, sewing the writing on the sewing machine & quilting at the same time. You mentioned using triple stitch.
      What presser foot did you use or could I “free motion quilt” by dropping the bottom feed dogs?
      If I write the text with a chalk pencil could I see it as I travel to my next word?
      These are more for a quilting site but I’m embroidering the text now.

  10. Hi,

    Yes, I had embroidered letters on my first sheets and pillows. It was like a normal thin to do……

  11. I’ve embroidered a good amount of lettering. I usually use split stitch because I feel like I have the best control with it for tight curves.
    I like stem stitch for some lettering, too.

    I am weirdly terrible at getting backstitch to go exactly where I want it, but I am intrigued by whipped backstitch–maybe that would help me disguise my crooked lines.

  12. I have done 2 projects that involved handwritting where people were given a square of fabric to sign or to send a message to a friend. The first was with several troops of younger Girl Scouts, and also involved their learning about about how to do embroidery.

    The second was with a group of adults for a lap quilt which was made up for a sick friend. For this project people signed their names and thoughts on small squares of fabric and then did the embroidery themselves. Within a week the lap quilt was complete, with names and messages on each side.

    The work was primarily done in either stem stitch or tiny chain stitches.

  13. Many years ago I used backstitch on a presentation tablecloth to a teacher. It was okay but if I had to do it now I would have whipped the back stitches. The reason I used backstitch was because that was what I saw on antique quilts that I owned. AliceRae

  14. I think you could also use Hungarian Braided Chain stitch wherever you use the Heavy Chain stitch. I confess I haven’t used it on handwriting, but I do love that stitch (learned here) for running along a line of any sort

  15. I use the font “nuptial” because it’s elegant withought being loopy. I stitch it in stem stitch and back stitch too. I use one thread not two. It’s not super special, just what I’ve found that works. I can’t wait to hear how you make it happen better because I’m gonna steal it like a bad boy takes the farmer’s daughter!

  16. Yes, I do quite often. Traditional Bavarian men’s shirts have their initials embroidered on them. I either use a font from Word, initials from an old DMC book or I have my husband draw some. Then I stitch them in perle #12 and use stem stitch for the finer details and Hungarian braided chain stitch for the chunkier parts.
    And guess who inspired me to use the Hungarian braided chain stitch? Yup, that was you Mary. Many thanks!

  17. Mary, I’ve embroidered names and dates on some projects as well as a few monograms. I usually use outline stitch, as it’s a favourite. I’ll have to try whipped backstitch- I think it would look nice. Thanks.

  18. When my mother realised I was not going to get married but was going to live in sin, she gave me a linen tablecloth. She had received one from her mother when she got married. Every time someone came to dinner, after the meal, they signed the tablecloth and then my mother embroidered it. I did the same on my tablecloth. It is a memory of meals and friends and relatives looking back over the years.

  19. I’ve made a quilt label using cross stitch and back stitch for the lettering. In high school, I traced the logo for the band Chicago and embroidered it on the back pocket of a jeans skirt using red satin stitches.

  20. Hi Mary,
    I have embroidered my son’s signature/tag
    To be used on his memorial book.
    I chain stitched using cottage garden thread in peacock.
    It was hard yet strangely comforting.

  21. The first time I embroidered my handwriting was way back when I was a Brownie Scout. Our troop leader had each of us sign a large piece of muslin with a crayon .. one for each of us (including her). Then she ironed the fabric to set the crayon. After that she taught us how to do the stem stitch and the chain stitch. We alternated between them and stitched over all the names and made a friendship scarf. I am chuckling right now because I am reading the letter from Rita from England describing a similar event.

  22. I agree, the whipped stem (you referred to it as backstitch) makes a smooth curve. I stitched the names of my 3 sons on the slip of the christening set that my mother made in 1971 along with the date. Many cousins have added to it.

  23. Interesting topic, Mary.

    I used to sign all my needlework pieces “Wrought by first name/last name”, but I stopped doing it for some reason. I never drew the lettering on the fabric, I just free-handed it like I was writing with needle and thread.

    I’ve since used my first initial/last name, and all three of my initials (but that’s not my signing of choice because I hate my middle name and I don’t want to sign anything with it), as well as just the first/last initials.

    A lot of my stuff goes unsigned now. I just don’t care anymore.

  24. I remember a quilt my grandmother had that was made of blocks of embroidered flowers. In the square below the flowers was the embroidered signature of each woman who helped hand-quilt it. I’m guessing it was made in the 1920’s-30’s, and was called a “Friendship Quilt.” It was a long time ago when I saw it, so I don’t remember it well, but I remember that the women mostly used a line-type of stitch like stem, but one used just a series of straight stitches — very modest in style, size, & color. I always thought it was such a lovely way to record all your friends who helped make the quilt.

  25. (Token male chiming in, here)

    Yep… Mom had me reading and writing script by the time I started kindergarten and doing calligraphy shortly after. Add to that the fact that I grew up in a house of five women who were always doing some sort of handwork makes the progression to textile artistry and the melding of the two art forms ‘seam’ like a natural progression. Ha!

    I can say, “Yes, I have done it” but confess that I don’t enjoy line work unless it is outlining or accenting a piece.
    I have used ‘Outline stitch’ or ‘back stitch’, ‘Lazy Daisy”, ‘Chain’ etc. for such instances.
    No, I have never stitched my own name but, I do enjoy ‘Initial’ or monogram work using ribbons and floral stitching. Does that count?

    By the way… thank you for such an inspiring and educational blog.
    I always enjoy seeing your name come up in my inbox.

    Peace and blessed be.

    1. Thanks, Richard! Always nice to have a token male chiming in! 🙂 I’m not a huge fan of line work, either, mostly because it can be hit or miss. When you mess up a line, it’s always really noticeable. When I’m having a particularly Off Day, I never go for lines, because I know I’ll just picking them out the next day.

      But I do enjoy embroidering text. I don’t do it often, but now and then it’s fun!

  26. Hi Mary,
    What fun! I will have to go back and read your series on handwriting. I have done some handwriting embroidery and it was within an outline of an animal or shape. I did an outline of a raven and put some lines from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven inside. I did it all in backstich. Thanks for your newsletter. I look forward to it every day……..Lori

  27. Loved your topic for today. I specialize in custom-made heirloom christening gowns, and I always embroider the child’s name and birth date on the underslip. I’m from the generation when they still taught penmanship in school, so my handwriting serves as my guide for doing that. My stitch of choice is usually the stem stitch with one strand of floss because it results in a fine line of cursive. I use the backstitch when I’m combining some shadow embroidery into the writing. On a communion dress I will frequently embroider the child’s name in very small script on the inside of the hem. I think this small bit of embroidery adds a personal touch.
    Can’t wait for your embroidered alphabet!
    Sandy Harris

  28. I have just been debating on that. I am torn between stitching my handwriting with thread or with beads. I am leaning towards beads because I want it to stand out.

  29. inlive this because I love writing “the old fashion way”loll I have a question about the stem stitch. When going around a sharp curve my stitches separate and lose their line. Is there a way to prevent this? Judy

    1. Hi, Judy – when you go around a tight curve with stem stitch, shorten the stitches up considerably. Start shortening them as you approach the curve, and then keep them small through the curve. There are some stitchers who hold that the working thread always has to be on the inside of the curve and the stitch, but this isn’t necessarily so. The key is keeping the stitches short through the curve, no matter where your working thread is in relation to the needle.

  30. My first embroidery project was stitching letters. I loved playing around with different stitches, but I think my favorites definitely include whipped backstitch for small letters, particularly with black thread as it smooths out so well. Stem stitch is another favorite as I do a lot of embroidered greeting cards and it works up well for those. I also found Portuguese knotted stem stitch works up really well for letters on cards or fabric, it’s a go-to when I want something a little more fancy but still uses a single line of holes in a card. And I really liked the way Palestrina stitch worked up on larger (2-3 inch) letters in that first project I did, it even took curves well. I trace most of my letters from fonts online as I don’t trust my own writing, but I’m not really good at tracing so I figure it lends my own flair to whatever I’m doing. 😀

  31. I just recently embroidered a poem on to linen, cut it up and appliqued it to a beaded wall hanging. I used stem stitch but it looks like the whipped backstitch will give me more definition. Thanks for the suggestion

  32. I embroidered my own handwriting once…and it was not the prettiest thing ever. In fact, to myself at least, it was barely legible! The biggest letters were probably about half an inch high, with most of the letters being closer to a quarter of an inch high. I used stem stitch with two strands of floss, and it just looks wonky! I’m pretty sure, though, that the reason for this is that I need to improve my penmanship…
    …and maybe check out Mary Corbet’s lessons on hand embroidered lettering.


    1. I’ve not done my own handwriting, but I have been working on these fabric storybooks from France for my toddler. You get their fabric panels that have stories already printed on it, and then you can embroider over any parts that you want to embellish. I’m currently going over the text in a split back stitch (2 strands of DMC brown and 1 strand of a metallic thread to catch my daughters attention). The stories are really cute and about 8 pages long. See here for their sample of little red riding hood – super cute, and nice to give as gifts

  33. I have embroidered my own handwriting on several occasions! I did a series of 6 inch crazy quilt blocks and each one had a word in the middle, such as Inspire, Imagine, Create. I did my handwriting instead of trying to make perfect/even letters.

    I prefer stem stitch for embroidering handwriting. I love the way it looks.

  34. My Mother and I made a quilt for one of my brothers teachers one year (been about 20 years ago)and had all the kids in the class sign their name on a piece of fabric. I went over them with embroidery and then Mom put the quilt together.

    The teacher loved it!

  35. I have embroidered words on such things as christening gowns and of course a signature line on completed embroidered pictures. Sometimes I use my own handwriting, sometimes I ‘free-motion’ it and sometimes I find a computer font i like, type out the words and use that.

    One friend had her guests at a Christmas party sign a new white tablecloth. After the party, she embroidered all the signatures. She used the same cloth for many parties, adding more and more names over the years. It turned out just beautiful and a wonderful momento.

  36. Interesting topic. The first embroidered lettering that I remember doing was a project for a Latin competition in high school. It was an embroidered map of the Roman Empire with all the place names embroidered in. As I recall, I used mostly stem and chain stitches. Since then I’ve signed embroidery pieces, quilt labels, etc. mostly using stem, back or split stitches. And then of course there are all the alphabets stitched on traditional style samplers using cross and other more interesting stitches.

  37. About 40 years ago I did a 4 generation chart that required me to draw in the persons name. This was a gift for my husband who was gone a lot. I used the stem stitch because it was the only one I knew. It turned out great with the letters less then 1/2 inch high. Since then I have stitched my name on a quilt that was a gift. All who worked on it signed their name. I am surprised at how easy my fumbling finger writing is to read.
    BTW This is one of my favorite sites on the internet.

  38. I’ve done it a lot, usually in stem or split stitch. When we got married (back in the 70s) I asked everyone to sign a square of fabric. I embroidered them all–it was fun doing all of the different signatures. It was to be a quilt that has never happened–all the squares are still in a box.

  39. I embroidered a quilt label I used a computer font and whipped back stitch and needless to say decorated it with flowers too. I’m an embroiderer more than a quilter. the quilt blocks were embroidered baskets 36 of them I believe. I need to stitch a label for another quilt but it hasn’t happened yet Prehaps this will inspire me.

  40. I have embroidered handwriting numerous times. Wipped backstich is the best. It makes such a lovely fine line and can easily handle the intrcacies of individial script. It is also easy to add a little straight stitch to it to thicken a spot without it showing.

    Meg P.

  41. I have a request to embroider some script and am sampling some stitches––stem stitch, split stitch and back stitching. I’m using floche, but not liking tight curves and duplicate lines for letters like n, m and w. Is floche too thick? The script is 5/8″ on organza. I’m also thinking I should write the script more loosely (wider) to give myself more room?

    1. Hi Sahara:

      I’m not the expert that Mary and many others are, but when doing letters with duplicate lines, I just embroider the first part of the line once and then start the next part of the letter where the duplicate part of the line would split. Does that make sense?
      Hope this helps.

  42. I have embroidered both my writing and computer fonts quite extensively. Almost all my patterns have some kind of writing or verse on them. Up to now I have always used backstitch with one strand of DMC but after looking at your whipped back stitch I am definitely going to go that route!. Thanks for your wonderful site!!!!!

  43. I did a cross stitch for my grandson and my husband insisted that I sign it. So I made my signature on tissue paper and then stitched it on the linen with a back stitch. I also did a hanging for the church and stitched the parish name and date on the back in a very fine reversed chain stitch. Love your newsletters.

  44. I embroidered the names and wedding dates of my mom, sister and niece on a wedding shawl for my niece. I used laces, fabrics and silk roses from the crown of my mom’s veil as decorations. Don’t know how to attach a picture here to show you.

    It was lovely.

  45. I embroidered the 23rd Psalm for my great-aunt and great-uncle as a Christmas present two years ago. I used the Edwardian script from Microsoft Word, blew it up to (I think)size 72. I used a flannel backed ecru high gloss satin-like material with DMC floss in a royal purple and the metallic gold for the capitals and where it said ‘Lord’. I used stem stitch because it was easiest to use while following the cursive script. It turned out really well once we got it matted and framed up (my mom and brother’s part of the Christmas gift) and my then five year old niece presented it (she was the cute part). They have it hanging in the entrance hall of their home.

  46. Dear Mary

    Late today been with family visiting an elderly Aunt of 98 she is so sweet, bless her. Anyway yes I’ve embroidered my own handwriting on various projects, on the back of the Little Things and the Guardian Angel on Eggsembroidery and many monograms, using mainly stem stitch or split stitch and L&S stitch, I agree these seem to be the easiest stitches for handwriting using Soie D’Alger silk or DMC cotton thread. I find thicker thread like perle cotton unsuitable for handwriting as it is to bulky but then it depends on the scale of the project for large lettering perle cotton would work. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on how you stitch handwriting and why you use certain stitches.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  47. II have only embroidered handwriting using trailing. It is pretty wonderful to capture someone’s handwriting. Trailing takes time. I will do some experimenting. This is a really good topic.

  48. Going back to the turn of the last Century, it was very popular for stylish women to have their signatures and/or initials (monograms) embroidered into their fur coats. This was a form of identification and ownership, as well as a status symbol. In New York City, the Furriers, located throughout the Garment District, would employ local embroiderers to customize these artistic works of art for their clientele. There are sure to be examples of these lovely works, which have withstood the test of time, stashed away in attics and museums. A must see for all those interested in the history of embroidery…AE.

  49. Yes! Often! I’ve done my handwriting, block letters, and a pretty initial, which I downloaded from your site.

    I must confess that when making children’s quilts, not heirloom ones, but the drag in the mud kind, I will use my sewing machine’s built in fonts and machine stitch the label.

    1. Hi Cynthia,
      I go, but I don’t see all yours pictures. Only “G” and your very pretty gown.Congratulations for your work.

  50. Although I don’t particularly enjoy lettering, I have embroidered my own handwriting. I have done a child’s verse, along with other sayings; several wedding date pieces and birth announcements. I use Stem stitch, because I like the ropey effect. The thread I use is EdMar Glory ( their smallest weight) which is rayon with a ‘Z’ twist. Of course, being from me, the rest of the piece is always Brazilian embroidery. Sometimes now I use a font from the computer.

  51. Yes, I have embroidered my signature and copyright notice on my art quilts. I have also embroidered original poems on some of them. I have used mostly stem stitch, but as you said I did have some problems with it getting spikey in the curves. I will give whipped backstitch a try in the future!

  52. I quilt and use my handwriting for the label. I use backstitch, split, stem whatever works for the writing, embroidery thread and fabric of the label. Linda

  53. I had my husbands grandmother sign the back of a baby quilt she had made for our first son and her first great grandchild (it was made from a lot of the material that she and her daughter had used in making baby clothes for my future husband). She was in the early stages of alzheimers (at the time we didn’t know it.) She was really puzzled at why I had asked her to sign it. I just thought it would be something special for my son since I knew at her age she wouldn’t be around that much longer. I was so glad I did. Of course I didn’t know what I know now about stitching so it is pretty crude but I did manage to stitch over her signature.

  54. I do quotes and sayings and for those I prefer stem stitch. Cursive is best stem, block print usually easier to do back stitch. And for the very tiny, back stitch is easier but will definitely whip that from here on out as I agree that back stitch alone is not a smooth enough look.

    For large one word pieces, I might do satin stitch but not so many of those! The one words– I will choose a font and trace. Otherwise, I like the look of actual hand written text.

  55. Hallo Mary, Oh! I,m sure it is not a new idea….but I am going to embroider my three year old grandson’s first drawings and writing …….. so precious ! : ) Daisy Debs x

  56. I made a quilt…Doctors signed their names on squares of fabric and I embriodered them! The quilt is still on display in the hospital.
    Used the stem and split stitches…

  57. Hello Mary,
    I’ve embroidered 2 largish projects using calligraphy computer fonts as the basic design. I did the lettering (which averaged about 1/2 inch in width for lower case) in rows of stems stitch using #8 perle cotton. I like using stem stitch because the rows seem to lock together and give a plushy look to the letters. I’ve also used raised stem stitch in the same way for thicker larger letters. For finer work I’ll have to give whipped backstitch a try!

  58. Yes, I did a signature cloth nearly 25 years ago. I was visiting relatives overseas and got them to sign a random place on it. Some signatures were large and some quite small. I embroidered these in chain stitch, and not sure now what thread I used. However, all these years later it is just being crocheted around the edge!
    Love your daily news, thank you.

  59. I’m working on a project in which I embroider quotes from my favorite books. Eventually I’ll probably make them into a little lab robe or something. Anyway, I’ve been mostly using backstitch because I want the quote to be the focus, not the stitching. The stitching is just to get it onto the fabric. It does a good job. I did one in my handwriting in stem stitch. It also turned out well.

  60. Are you kidding? I can barely read my own handwriting let alone embroider it. LOL. Actually, I have embroidered some quilt labels, but it is just too much trouble. Maybe I was using the wrong stitch. I’ll give it another go with your suggestions.

  61. I have embroidered my own handwriting, on a crazy quilt pillow. I wasn’t terribly impressed with my result, but now I think it was because of a poor choice of thread. The ground fabric was velvet so I chose a heavy thread thinking it would stand up better against the nap of the fabric. It looks clumsy but to pick it out would have made it look worse. But that’s why they call it learning 😀

  62. Hi, Mary! Your post arrived one day after I embroidered my name on
    My latest finish. It is a crewel pony, finished as a stand up pillow.
    Whenever I do a project like this I embroider my name or initials on the
    Back, as I like this better then the little fabric labels you can buy which
    Say. “Made by………………..” I write my name and then just follow the
    Signature, usually in chain stitch. Sue in Bermuda

  63. I have embroidered my handwriting a few times too. First was on a pillowcase I did for my niece; with lambs and flowers and her unusual name Neisha. I think I actually invented a stitch on that project, to create the lambs’ loopy wool! Then I did a scripture for a young couple, as a gift. For the writing I stuck with stem stitch as I knew very few other stitches, and those only from doing crewel embroidery projects. They are a great learning tool, btw. The writing looked beautiful – but now that I’m a little more experienced, I am eager to try the looped backstitch too!

  64. I mostly use stem stitch to embroider my writing on a project but I have also used backstitch if the letters are small and I want the letters to be neat and legible.

  65. Hi Mary,, I embroider all my quilt labels with handwriting,, sometimes I use a font from the computer but the stitches I mainly use are backstitch, stem stitch, or sometimes palestrina stitch,,,,

  66. I have embroidered several samplers that were surface work,starting from before I was 5 years of age and learned to stitch. I have also embroidered pieces with mottos or other writing on them. Most of these were stamped pieces. I have had some stamped pieces that supplied alphabets to personalize and used sewing carbon paper and the stitch specified by the piece.

    I made wall hangings for my niece and nephew when they were young, using fabric that matched the baby quilts I made for them and stitched their names and the dates they were born on the hangings. I transferred the writing to the fabric with sewing carbon paper and stitched in back stitch.

    My husband has 2 nieces who were adopted from China, so I did not make baby quilts for them. When the older (now 13) was adopted (then 2) I started making her a wall hanging which was a long piece of red fabric with black stitching intending to resemble a Chinese scroll. I stitched a Chinese symbol for good luck and planned to add her name and birth date (in English) and the symbol for the year of her birth. (Her actual birth date is not known.) My sister in law, unfortunately, is the type of person who tosses aside hand made items (even though she is an artist). I therefore set the piece aside to complete at some time in the future, such as now, when niece would be old enough to at least know it was made for her. I now plan to complete it and make a matching one for her younger sister (5 years old – came here at 2). I printed the character and writing and attached the paper to the fabric. I then stitched through the paper (on the character the outline in outline stitch, later filled in with chain stitch in the directions I imagined the brush strokes for the character would go) and removed the paper.

    I am now working on a family tree piece for my sister. I finished the tree. Last night I started stitching my niece’s information, again using the “stitching through the paper method”, in back stitch. The writing was too small however for this to work successfully as I could not get the paper out of the letters without ruining the stitching. I have removed the stitching. I am going to have husband print the information, in light color) on fabric. I will then cut out leaf shapes and applique them to the piece (with a nice embroidery stitch around the edges to keep them neat and from running) and then stitch the information through the applique and the original piece.

  67. For my wedding I signed my initials on a handkerchief and embroidered them in blue. I cried so much during the Mass that I ended losing it!

  68. Yes. Years ago I had a job at a restaurant. We all wore the same aprons and few took them home (except me) and the dirty ones piled up until the weekend. Many had to come to work and dig through the dirty ones for a clean-ish one. I got sick of that, so after about a year, I had mine (I paid for them) that I washed after each use, but people would argue about their ownership (if I put mine down for even a minute) so I embroidered several tags with my name on them and hand stitched them to the back of the pocket (so no one could see the stitches) of my aprons. No one could switch or steal them and say they belonged to anyone but me. 🙂

  69. My earliest embroidery of a name must have been at school on my newly made cookery apron which we made at school for cookery classes. Chain stitch was the order of the day.
    Then some years later there were library bags for children going to school. When my family and I emigrated to Australia from England I bought a large piece of white table linen and asked friends and family to sign their names on the cloth. I then embroidered over their signatures using a running and oversewing stitch. ( I’m not sure the stitch has a name but thats my best description) It worked and is still there 25 years later.

  70. I have just finished a flag for India Flint’s ‘solace’ project.

    I embroidered my words in silk/wool thread using split stitch on a sleeve of a linen op shop shirt. (Forgot to take a picture before it was sent off!)

  71. Dear Mary,

    I belong to a stitching group that meets on Wednesday nights. One lady, Nancy, embroiders the handwriting of her family every year. For Thanksgiving, starting with her father, everyone takes a turn writing a message. Each year is in a different color that her father chooses. It is really an heirloom….but I think they are on their 4th or 5th tablecloth.
    She uses DMC floss because the tablecloth is washed after use every year, and I think that she uses a stem stitch or whipped backstitch.

  72. I have used the stem stitch to embroider nursery rhymes on the borders of baby quilts and embellishing blocks. I used two,or three strands of DMC. The font I used was Lucinda off of the computer. I enlarged the letters to about 3 inches high. These quilts have been laundered many times and held up very well ,except for some abrasion, and a little fading. Just like you see on some very old, sunbonnet Sue, butterfly , and other embroidered quilts! I love stem stitch when I use very short stitches, I like the lovely rope look!
    Thank you Mary!

  73. You mentioned quilt labels, Mary, so I just have to chime in. As both an “art” and a “traditional quilter”, my most recent epiphany has been just this subject. Why do quilters put their names on the backs of their quilts? Aren’t these works good enough to put one’s name on the front? I had thought of permanent marker for a simple signature and date, but now you have opened my eyes and mind – Thank you! I will begin embroidering my signature and will encourage others to do the same.

  74. hi mary,
    i am still waiting for my winning gift!!! (smile) i have embroideried my handwriting and also several words and poems. the stitch i use depends on the style of the writing: if it is cursive, i get better results form the STEM stitch, but if i am writing in print, the BACKSTITCH seems to look best. thanks again for another great newsletter, i love and look forward to your emails like a kid on xmas eve.keep it coming

  75. I have signed many of my embroideries and Baptismal gowns with not only my name, but who, what, and when the item was made. I have also signed my quilts. Once, when I was in high school, I embroidered a chapter of the Bible for a boyfriend.
    The stitch I use has been what my mother called a running stitch, but what might be what you call the stem stitch.
    I love your site; look forward to it daily, have learned so much from you; keep the daily messages on file; and turn green with envy over your talent and time! <3 Peggy

  76. My first foray into embroidered longhand was stem stitch on a fundraising quilt for the Extension Homemakers. Names radiated like petals around the appliquéd circle center of each block. I used straight stitch to put my own name on Holly Hobbie pictures. Cross stitch worked for a label marking a family wedding quilt made of napkins and tablecloths from the outdoor reception. A series of bread cloths with computer generated folksy lettering were worked in backstitch. Chain stitched words on tea towels for a friend and stem stitch on my own towels. And finally split stitch on some small words on a feed bag.

  77. I have mostly just “signed” my work with my initials/monogram/cipher (still not entirely sure, Mary, sorry) using stem stitch or split stitch. I have never thought to use whipped backstitch although I have occasionally whipped the stem stitch to make it less hairy – great adjective, that, thanks Mary!

  78. I “sign” My pieces before exhibiting, using my initials MJB followed by the last two digits of the year, all in flystitch, usinf whatever thread is appropriate to the piece. Haven’t thought about handwriting, though, so new ideas to explore – thanks!

  79. For my wedding I signed my initials on a handkerchief and embroidered them in blue. Stem stitch with cotton sewing thread if I remember well. I cried so much I lost it that same day! 23 years ago.

  80. backstitch. I usually use a computer font. But after looking at your work, I see that maybe I ought to be taking tinier stitches. That maybe why my letters often look wonky. But I love the whipped back stitch. Good idea. I’m planning a surprise for someone–embroidering all the family’s signatures along with a drawing by her son. I’ll try the whipped back stitch for that. It will give it a little more heft, which will be nice.

  81. I teach needlework, baking, and cooking in an upper elementary Montessori classroom, and every fall I teach the kids how to embroider a monogram on their cloth napkins. They draw the letters themselves, and we use split stitch as it’s durable enough to last through many laundry cycles. It’s a wonderful thing to see all of the different letter styles they come up with, and it’s even nicer to see them focused on making something with their own hands!

  82. I mainly use backstitch to add text to embroidery. My mother had made a cross stitch embroidery for me depicting the church and a couple and two children in traditional costume from my home town Enschede, in the Netherlands. I added the word Enschede under it so that my family would know where the scene was from. Since the embroidery was in cross stitch, I added the words in backstitch as that stitch was also used as a highlight.

    I also add year and initial on baby blankets and mainly use backstitch. I sketch the words/numbers out first. For my mother’s embroidery I used a font on the computer and then embroidered that.

    Happy Stitching all.

  83. This settles it! I have an 1848 handwritten quotation from an ancestor and now with the ‘magic’ of an enlarging copier, I am definitely going to make it up as part of the sampler gift I’m working on for my granddaughter! It’s about the benefits of a ‘good temper’ and it’s in a gorgeous copperplate style with the ss looking like the double ffs. And I’ve used the #28 and a single strand before (it even works nicely with YLI 100) to label dishtowels…so no more shilly shallying on the quote for the design! Thanks for the encouragement and ‘how to’ tips and reminders!

  84. I have stitched my name and titles on quilt labels and fabric books. I have always used a stem stitch. I find the hardest thing to get right is the letter spacing and sometimes repeat letters in words don’t always look the same, but I guess that will improve with practice.

  85. Is it Monday yet? I woke up yesterday morning and the first thought in my head was “Is it monday” is the Embroidery Alphabet up yet? then I realized it was only friday, just wishful thinking.

  86. The only time I’ve embroidered my handwriting was when I was about 5, so it was in wobbly running stitch, I’m sure. I’d like to embroider names and dates on the slips of my children’s baptismal gowns. I’d probably use a combination of satin and stem stitch to look like calligraphy for that project.

  87. I just saw a comment about using quaker stitch but I have no idea what this is. Can anyone tell me please? I am guessing it must be a canvas work stitch but really I have no idea.

  88. for my mother’s 80th birthday I embroidered a lap quilt with all the names of her children and grandchildren, surrounded by lots of flowers. I wrote the names using a fine pencil.

    I used a fine stem stitch for the names and stem & detached chain for the flowers. I used floss and small stitches as the quilt needed to survive laundering by others. I am glad to say it survived many years of use while Mum was in care and quilt has been returned to me. I am not a good quilter, so the ribbon edge bindings need to be replaced, however all the names and flowers are fine.

    I recently added the names of some new granddaughters-in-law and great grandchildren.

  89. I have been recently thinking of embroidering my parents’ signatures, so I’ll be reading all of the comments here. I’m also interested in embroidering some of my son’s line drawings from when he was younger.

  90. About 60+ years ago I saw a picture of a plaque you could order for your Mother. I thought it was lovely, so, since buying it was out of the question, I drew it out on a piece of flour sacking and embroidered it. I used a stem stitch for the writing and probably 2 or 3 strands of embroidery thread. The flowers, stems and leaves were don in stemand satin stitch with French knot centers. The letters were about a half inch high and it turned out just fine.
    To ‘frame’ it and make it so it could be hung on the wall I found a piece of ceder block which I cut to size and stretched the cloth around it but I don’t know if I stitched it across from end to end and side to side to hold it on or if I used thumb tacks.
    I kept it a secret until it was Mother’s Day and my Mom was so pleased with it. She had asked me several times why I was spending so much time in the bedroom with the door closed but I just told her I was working on something and she respected my privacy. She had no idea I was making something for her. She knew it had taken weeks of careful planning and work and treasured the love and thought that had gone into its creation. She is gone now and the plaque is still at my sister’s place but I intend to get it next time I go to BC to visit her. I still get a thrill out of the memories of that surprise gift.

  91. I have a sampler project I started a few years ago with scrap fabrics. Each piece of fabric has a line from a song I like; embroidered to show something about the theme of the song. I learned how to use all sorts of stitches from this website and I would try them out on the lyrics. Most of them were stitched free-hand but some I planned out ahead. The results vary widely! For small letters I think stem stitch is the easiest but lots of stitches look great as letters.

  92. I often embroider my handwriting as either words (usually names and dates) or as initials. My favorite project was a Christening gown. The simple cotton eyelet gown was hand-sewn by my mother-in-law for the Baptism of her first child, my husband, and was later worn by his brothers and sister. My sister-in-law continued the tradition with her children. At my son’s Christening, I received permission to embroider the names and Baptismal dates of all the children who have worn the gown: seven so far. I embroidered with white cotton floss in stem stitch down the front and around the back of the gown, just inside the eyelet ruffle.

    On every project, I embroider at least my initials and year of completion. I copy my handwritten initials in a stylized backstitch or stem stitch.

  93. I’ve added a fair bit of wording to embroideries. My general method is chain stitch if it’s more than half and inch high. For smaller lettering, straight stitch around the letters and then winding threading through each letter so the outline is completely filled in and “fluid”. I don’t know what the name of that stitch is, but it’s great for outlining.

  94. What a great idea–embroidering one’s handwriting!
    Recently, my parents have passed on; embroidering
    their handwriting would make a very special
    memorial–hmmm I sense an embroidery project–
    Thank you, Mary.

  95. After we moved to our new home, I started a family and friends tablecloth at our first Thanksgining. Everyone who has shared a meal with us has signed it and I embroidered their names. Since the first signatures in 1994, we’ve added babies and spouses. Four people are no longer with us so, having their signatures is special. I started with your sampler “Quick brown fox”. My go to stitch is chain. But I used many different stitches for variety, many I learned here.

  96. I am just starting out with embroidering my handwriting. I want to do a lengthy biblical verse and not sure of the type of script (cursive or print) and the stitch. Do I iron on transfer the handwriting? Any advice would be appreciated.

  97. Lo siento pero al no hablar inglés, menos lo entiendo. No tiene fotos que por lo menos ayuden con la secuencia de la enseñanza.

  98. I have never hand embroiled leters or numbeRd. Now that I’m 83 yrs old I’d love to learn how to embrorder names for great granddaughter her
    Do you have a free pattern.

    I would really love to do this

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