Today, I want to show you a really simple approach to embroidering a pretty, classic monogram. Nothing overly fancy, and nothing difficult to stitch!
I’m going to share with you exactly what I did on this monogram, including everything I did wrong and the solutions.
This way, you can learn from my mistakes. The overall concept here is very simple and it makes for a nice, neat monogram that anyone – including beginners – can stitch up in just a matter of hours.
For this monogram, I used the “C” from the dots & leaves alphabet in Favorite Monograms.
The ground fabric is Alba Maxima embroidery linen, and I used cotton floche for the embroidery thread.
I used a #7 crewel needle for all the stitching.
If you don’t have floche, you can substitute two strands of embroidery floss (from the six in stranded cotton floss).
The first step: I traced the monogram design onto the linen using a light box (I have this light box and I love it!) and a pencil. My linen was ironed and starched lightly with spray starch – if you want to know why, read this article.
Then, I set up fabric in a 4″ embroidery hoop, with the inner ring bound.
I bind the inner ring of all my wooden embroidery hoops, because it helps maintain an amazing and perfect tension on the fabric and it helps protect the fabric. You can read about how to bind your embroidery hoops here. I’ll be writing a little more about that in the near future, too.
I selected three colors families and multiple shades in those families for the embroidery: three shades of green, three shades of pink, and two shades of a sort of natural / taupe-ish color. In fact, I ended up ditching the light natural color (on the end in the photo above), because it just didn’t work, and I didn’t really need it.
In the order of stitching, I started with the leafy vine.
This was a mistake in the long-run. If I had stuck with my original plan, which was just to outline the letter, it would’ve been ok, but you’ll see what happens later, when I decided to fill the letter.
We’ll talk more about that below.
The leaves are worked in fishbone stitch, from the lightest shade of green at the top to the darkest shade at the base.
The vine between the leaves is worked in stem stitch in the darkest shade of green.
Next, using the three shades of pink, I embroidered the little dots or buds using Rhodes stitch in a circle. I explain this technique in this Stitch Fun! article on embroidering holly berries.
For those who are intimidated by stitching a perfect satin stitch dot, you might find this round Rhodes stitch much easier. However, if you want to go with padded satin stitch dots, you’ll find a tutorial for stitching perfect satin stitch dots here.
Then I stitched the outline of the letter using split stitch.
If you’re using floche, split stitch is a great option for nice lines. It stitches up beautifully with floche!
If you’re using stranded cotton embroidery floss, though (with two strands in the needle), I’d suggest using stem stitch for the letter outline instead of split stitch. Embroidery floss doesn’t make as nice a split stitch.
Here, you can see the height of the Rhodes stitch dots and you can also get a sense of the nice line that floche creates with split stitch.
Troubleshooting Problem Areas
Now we can discuss the problems and seek the solutions to them. (I love dissecting my mistakes!)
Remember, you can click on the photos for larger versions.
First of all, this line jiggle. When I stitched that tiny section of split stitch between the leaves there, my line was off. It seems like no big deal – that it wouldn’t be noticeable – but it really is noticeable. It gives the letter a big of a jiggle right in the middle.
The lesson: take special care when you transfer your design, or at least pay attention when you’re stitching, so that you can correct any discrepancies in your transfer!
After I finished the monogram the way I intended it, with just an outline, I decided to go ahead and fill the letter with split stitch, too, to show you how you can create a nice filled monogram with the same simple stitches.
Above, you can see the first half of the filling, which is worked in split stitch in the lightest pink.
But there are some things I should have done differently!
For one thing, as I filled, I followed the shape of the inside of the letter, all the way around. If you click on the photo above, you’ll get a better idea of the place where the arrow is pointing.
I should have brought those split stitch lines straight down to the outline, and not taken them across that short line at the base of the design there.
Turning the tight corners and changing the direction of the stitching lines really made that area stand out and look messy. If I had just split stitched from the top of the design area and straight into the dark outline without turning corners, it would look much better.
You’ll see this below, on the lower half of the letter.
On the lower half of the letter, I took the split stitch filling straight into the short, straight design line in the photo above, and it looked much better than creating little corners inside that small space.
Now, onto an area that looks decidedly worse!
Here’s the whole letter, filled.
Notice the warbles and wobbles in the filled letter around the leaves and vines area.
That’s the area circled above.
If you decide to fill the letter, stitch the filled letter first and then stitch the decorative elements that cross over the letter. This will help eliminate that warbly, wobbly look when you have to start and stop stitches in the tight areas between the leaves and vines.
As you fill the letter, you can cover the design line for the vine, but leave the leaf areas blank to fill in with fishbone stitch.
When it comes to stitching the vine line once the letter is filled, you can eyeball that as it crosses the letter, and just stitch right over your split stitching or stem stitch filling.
When it comes to the leaves, because you’re stitching them after the background letter is finished, they will appear to sit on top of the letter and they won’t cause the stitches in the background to look crowded.
In a Nutshell
1. Trace your monogram design.
2. Mount your fabric in a hoop.
3. Select your colors and thread.
4. Decide if you are going to fill the letter or not.
5. If not, go ahead and stitch the decorative elements first, because they’re so much fun!
6. If so, stitch the letter first and then the decorative elements.
You’ll find this monogram alphabet – and fifteen others – available in my e-book Favorite Monograms.
Give it a Try!
If you’ve been thinking about stitching a monogram but you don’t know where to start, I hope you give this approach a try! It’s simple, relaxing, and fun stitching.
Next time we visit monograms, I’ll show you a slightly more complex approach (but definitely an easy and manageable one!) to a classic embroidered monogram.