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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Penbroidery Bird – A Pattern & a Project


Amazon Books

Today, we’re going to revisit a project I did a long time ago, for a book called BiblioCraft. You can find my review of the book here.

The moratorium on using the project has long passed, so I thought I’d pass the design on to you, and tell you how I worked this particular redwork version of my Penbroidery Bird.

Penbroidery Bird in Redwork Embroidery

This project was inspired by the handwriting samples of the 19th century, which often feature elaborate swashes – and birds!

Materials Used

I stitched the redwork version of my Penbroidery Bird on a linen glass towel – I wrote about those here, when I monogrammed one – with red stripes.

For the thread, I used red cotton floche (color #321), in a #7 crewel needle.

And the stitching? Well, what could be easier? With the exception of the eyes worked in satin stitch, the whole piece is embroidered in stem stitch. The filled areas are simply rows of stem stitch, worked close.

The towel turned out great! It’s got a definite vintage look to it, and I really loved the finish! I gave it to my niece, who has put it to use a bit and it’s still going strong!

I really like the monochromatic approach to this pattern, because it reflects the original calligraphy a bit more – which was, of course, black on parchment.

Free Penbroidery Bird Printable

If you’d like to have a go at my Penbroidery Bird, here’s the handy-dandy free printable. The design is slightly off-set at an angle, so that it fits better on the page. I worked the design squared and centered above the red striping on the linen towel. You can work your version, though, however you wish!

Penbroidery Bird Embroidery Design (PDF)

The Same Design in Silk

I worked this same design in silk, as well. This is what it came out looking like:

Penbroidery Bird in Silk

You can read more about that version, here. There was a bit of a kerfuffle at the end, when it came time to frame it!

I really loved the redwork version of this, much more than the silk version. Still, I suppose they both have merits?!

Some day, I’d like to take one of those really elaborate penmanship swashes and stitch it in black on parchment colored linen. All the detail, all the variations in line widths – I think it would be So Much Fun!

But that idea’s been on my project bucket list since long before I first worked these bird projects.

And that just goes to show you how slow I am at getting around to that particular bucket list!

I hope you enjoy the bird and the pattern!


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(6) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    This is such a lovely design and I do like the silk version of the Penbroidery bird as well as the redwork version and very versatile in the way it could be stitched. I’m glad your redwork version was chosen for the book I’m sure you were pleased with their decision. Thanks so much for giving us the opportunity of embroidering such a lovely design and for sharing the free pattern with us, you are so creative I wouldn’t know where to begin to create a pattern never mind the beautiful penbroidery bird. Thanks.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  2. I thought these were lovely the first time around, and still do… and yes,
    both have merits! The infinite possibilities of embroidery choices to completely alter the character of a piece never fail to amaze me. I love your coined term “penbroidery,” too. That word and the images are quite inspiring….hmmmm….☺

  3. I adore this!! My guest room is margarita green and turquoise, with a bird-and-twig print in those colors on the bed comforter.

    Pretty sure embroidering this on the pillowcases is going to be A Thing this fall.

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