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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Rose Swirl – Free Hand Embroidery Pattern


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Today, I want to share with you the pattern for my next personal embroidery project that will be developing here on Needle ‘n Thread over the coming months.

See, I’ve had the goldwork and silk itch for quite a while now, and it can’t be ignored any longer!

To help relieve the itch, I’ve set up a project and I’ll be sharing it with you as it progresses, along with tips, techniques, successes, and the inevitable failures, too, so that we can all learn from the project. Even if you’re not into goldwork and silk embroidery, you’re guaranteed to find information that will help you along your own particular journey.

So, here’s the pattern, which I’ve named very unimaginatively “Rose Swirl.”

Rose Swirl hand embroidery design for goldwork and silk embroidery

If you can think of a more imaginative and creative name for it, feel free to suggest!

This is the same design that I used a few weeks ago to demonstrate to you how I convert old, public domain embroidery designs or other images into clean line drawings that I can use for embroidery patterns.

The design comes from a public domain book on goldwork (written in German) that I mentioned in this article. The book is called Die Kunst Der Goldstickerei, and it’s available at Antique Pattern Library.

I’ll be working the design in a variety of goldwork techniques, with some silk embroidery thrown in for the fun of it.

Follow-Along Embroidery Projects on Needle ‘n Thread

If you want to follow along and work the project as well, I suggest waiting until I’m well into the project and have made most of my decisions on supplies and materials.

Normally, I blog my progress and my thought processes as I go, so that you can see not just the How, but also the Why. Along the way, I may change my mind. I might choose a different thread from what I intended to originally use, or I might change a color. So, if you want to stitch the design along with me as a learning piece, it’s best not to jump right in, purchasing the same supplies I start out with, because I may change them as I go.

That being said, you might follow along with the project and stitch it completely differently, with different threads, different techniques – and that’s fine, too!

Or you might just enjoy watching the project unfold, thinking all the while, I wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot pole! Hopefully, you’ll still find it fun to watch!

Follow-along projects on Needle ‘n Thread eventually make their way onto their own project index, which is listed in the first section under Tips and Techniques in the main menu on Needle ‘n Thread. Once this project gets underway, I’ll create an index for it, so you can bookmark it and find all the articles relating to the project listed there.


Follow-along project articles appear intermittently on Needle ‘n Thread. I’ll still continue writing about other embroidery topics, and occasionally, when I’ve made any significant progress or I have anything worthwhile to share with you, I’ll write about this project.

Printable Rose Swirl Pattern

Here’s the handy-dandy printable for the Rose Swirl.

The design prints at approximately 5.5″ high and 6.5″ wide, from its most extreme points. If you want to print it at the size I’m using, make sure to choose “no scaling” or “print at 100%” or a similar option on your print menu.

Rose Swirl Hand Embroidery Design (PDF)

I hope you enjoy following along with me as I work out this design in gold and silk!


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(14) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    The Rose Swirl is a Lovely design especially the lattice centre piece and it looks quite a simple pattern to follow. I look forward to your progress on the goldowork and silk embroidery that you will embark on and I can’t wait for the tips and techniques on the goldwork and silk. I would like to follow along but I’m starting my lace journal now so time won’t allow for this. But hopefully next time you start a project I can follow along. Thank you for the free pattern and for sharing it with us.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  2. Good day,

    This is a very nice pattern, but I think the the leaf on the right side is so different that you can end up with a problem there. I know that I would. Anyway it is just my 2 cents.
    I am glad that you start a new project, I love following your project it is like a private lesson.
    Thank you for being there.

  3. Did you ever read/see “The Da Vinici Code”? It makes me think of the Rose Line – which would also be an appropriate name.

  4. OMG – just 3 days ago I transferred this design because I wanted
    To do embroidery and gold work – I had bought some of the
    Gold work books you had recommended and wanted
    To experiment with some of the gold threads and pearls that I had.
    Was just about to organize all my threads and was reading the books to decide
    What I wanted to do! Since it is small, I think will do mine and then
    Maybe a second incorporating some of your ideas.
    Cheers, Darcy

  5. Dear Mary,
    I know that you said to wait before starting but I am wondering if you can give some EXTREME beginning steps, like the fabric used, the hoop, the needles, what kind of scissors, etc.

    Thank you so much for all your wonderful ideas.

    Nick (an extreme beginner)

    1. Hi, Nick – I always do! I’ll cover everything. Well, ok, I might not always mention the scissors I use. But I’ll try to remember to give them their due!

  6. I have a completely unrelated question I’ve been meaning to ask you. I enjoy embroidery and cross stitch and love trying out new things and techniques but there’s one area that I always get stumped in; color, and shading.

    I tend to stick to single color and adding in a bit of lighter or darker color to an edge or any part really actually kind of scares me. How do you know what colors to use and the order to use them. For example leaves, how do you decide which color goes where because frankly I’m getting tired of plain leaves, I want depth I want color but i don’t know how to go about doing it. Please help.

    1. Hi, Irene – You might want to invest in Trish Burr’s book, Color Confidence in Embroidery. I’ve reviewed it here: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/2011/12/colour-confidence-in-embroidery-book-review.html It will go a long way to explain how colors work together, how to add shading and depth, and so forth.

      Another tip is just to observe nature and art. Take notice of what things look like in their natural state. And then observe the works of artists and see what they do. I don’t really mean embroidery artists so much, but painters. If you’re primarily talking about vegetation – leaves, flowers, and the like – browse through images of stiff life paintings. Observe the colors, the shading, and so forth. One thing you’ll be surprised to find is the use of odd colors where you don’t expect them, like purples or grays or whites or blues in leaves, or deep reds in shadows and so forth.

      And then, experiment! There’s no reason to be afraid to experiment. That’s how you’ll learn best. And what’s the worst that can happen? You might have to pick it out and try again? Or you might be entirely dissatisfied and have to start over? Well, we’ve all been there. The key is to learn something from it. Don’t be afraid to play, to test, to try, to push your ideas further, to put things together that seem unlikely. Before you know it, your color decisions will be made more quickly, and you’ll be more comfortable with color.

      Remember, it’s only thread!

    2. Adding to Mary´s suggestions:
      Take some coloring pencils and try the shading on paper first. It´s a little easier and less expensive, and you become more confident in shading and really “seeing” what colors are there in the first place (it is amazing, what you think is there and what really is 😀 )


  7. Hi Mary,

    This is very timely indeed! I need to start on a vesica and have chosen an IHS from your Church Embroidery Book which I bought some time ago (thank you!). The area I have trouble with is choosing which gold thread to use ie type and size and then whether it would be best to couch it down or use padding under it. As the lines in this Swirling Rose is very similar to the lines in the pattern I wish to use I am very interested to see what you do! Hopefully my gold threads order from Hedgehog Handworks will be processed soon as I can’t wait to get them. I’m looking forward to watching your progress with this design. Thanks for the free pattern too – much appreciated.

  8. Oooh, I would love to follow along with this, but my silk threads and gold work supplies are all in storage (:. I do have floche with me, maybe that would work. We’ll see!

  9. Hi Mary – I’m super excited that you’re starting a new project. It doesn’t matter if I’m stitching along with you or not, your posts about a project are my favorites. Thank you! Jane

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