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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Little Blooms Part 2: Stitch the Flowers


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Welcome to the second installment of Little Blooms: A Mini Snap Purse, wherein we explore stitching the flowers clustered here and there around the design.

If you are not familiar with the way a stitch-along works, you can find further information on what to expect with this project in the preview of Little Blooms here.

Last week in Part 1, we setup the project. That’s where you’ll find the pattern and the embroidery design, along with information on transferring the design.

Members of the Needle ‘n Thread community on Patreon will find the PDF for this installment already available. If you’re in the Dedicated or Avid Stitcher levels, I’ll be posting a video supplement for you a little later this week.

So that’s the backstory – now let’s jump into the flowers, shall we?

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

In Part 2, we’re going to explore how to stitch clusters of flower on the scroll design.

In the pictures, you’ll see that some of the vines are already embroidered. I worked the samples several ways – flowers first, vines first, and mixing flowers and vines as I went. You’re free to take whatever approach you want.

In retrospect, it makes more sense to me to do the flowers first and then to work the vines around the flowers, because it’s easier to get a good balance on the overall design, considering the flower bunches and the relative thickness of surrounding vines and so forth.

Unlike most embroidery designs, you will not be stitching over already-drawn shapes on the fabric. Instead, you’ll be working the floral clusters in a free-style approach, without a pattern.

While this may sound intimidating, you will see that it’s really a very easy way to stitch this type of floral element.

One reason it’s easy is because it’s a very forgiving approach: the flowers don’t have to be “perfect” to look great! The flower petals don’t have to be equal in size, they don’t have to be equally spaced. The greenery can be worked in any of the shades of green, in petal shapes and in straight stitches. The scattered French knots don’t need to be evenly distributed in color or size or location.

Overall, this free-style approach keeps the clusters from looking stiff.

Before stitching the clusters, you’ll need to decide where you want to place them on the design.

Deciding on Placement

To help you decide where to place the flower bunches, here’s a diagram of where I placed them on the stitched sample:

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

The clusters are situated between a pair of red dots along the vines.

Although it might be tempting to put a lot of clusters on the vines, keep a couple things in mind:

1. The design relies both on the flowers and the vines for its interest. Leave enough room to work the decorative vines! You want to shoot for balance between vines and flowers.

2. If you are working from the kit, I included twice as much thread as I used on the original sample stitched for this demonstration. Still, if you go overboard on the flowers, it is likely you will run out of thread!

Lightly mark the location of your flower clusters using a pencil. Just put a little small perpendicular dash on your scroll line, marking the two ends of each cluster.

If you decide to change the location of a flower cluster as you progress through the project, you definitely can. Any marks you make – as long as they’re kept pretty small – can be covered by the stitching on the vines.

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

For this type of stitching, use an embroidery or “crewel” needle, with a sharp tip. If you have the Little Blooms kit, there’s a #7 crewel needle in the kit. It’s the one with the shorter eye (compared to the other needle, which is a tapestry needle).

Decide what color you want for the majority of the flowers in the cluster you’re working on. For the example here, I started with white. The cluster I stitched had three white flowers in it – one larger one in the center and a smaller one on each end.

I built the whole cluster around and between these flowers.

The number of flowers in a cluster will depend on various factors: how large you stitch your flowers, how closely together or far apart you space them, how much greenery you want around them, how much space is available for the cluster, and similar considerations.

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

I started near the middle of the space with the largest flower, which is stitched in daisy stitch (detached chain stitch).

Stitch the petals first. They do not need to be equal in size, or equally spaced. It’s ok to leave spaces between petals, where you can fill in later with greenery.

Then I stitched the two smaller flowers on each end, so that the cluster will come to a taper towards each end.

I used light yellow for the French knots….

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

… following a path from one end of the cluster to the other, as indicated by the red line in the photo above.

As I moved along the cluster of flowers with the French knots, I used the knots to “step” my thread from spot to spot, so that I wasn’t carrying a long thread on the back of the fabric.

This approach to using French knots as the “step” between stitching areas is mostly how I worked the scattered French knots. It saves time, because I don’t have to keep starting and stopping to switch to different colors of threads or to avoid carrying a longer thread on the back of the work.

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

When you’re temporarily finished with a thread but the thread is still long enough to keep stitching with it, “park” the thread by bringing it up in your fabric somewhere else in the design, where it will be out of your way. Take your needle off the parked thread (or leave it, if you have plenty of needles), and start a new color.

Later, when you want to pick up the color again, just use the parked thread.

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

If space allows, add more flowers to your cluster, using one or more remaining colors in your color palette.

It’s ok if the petals overlap the other flowers. It’s ok if the flower looks a little wonky. It won’t look wonky, once greenery and French knots are tucked in all around it!

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

Here, I added a pink flower on the other side of the center.

Now that the basic cluster is in place, it’s just a matter of filling in everywhere, with anything you want to fill with!

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

Fill around the flowers and even between petals with green daisy stitches and straight stitches for the greenery, using all shades of green.

Work more French knots around the design and even between flower petals, on top of leaves, and so forth.

Work straight stitches in contrasting colors inside the flower petals to fill them out.

Work straight stitches in other shades of green inside the daisy stitch leaves.

Tuck straight stitches in for greenery where full daisy stitches won’t fit, or where you just want a little variety.

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

On the right side of the cluster above, you can see that I used a straight stitch flower instead of one worked with daisy stitches. This is especially useful if you want to work an extra-small flower.

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

You can see the straight stitches worked inside the daisy stitch petals in these flowers, but notice that the greenery leaves are empty. Mix things up! Fill some, don’t fill others.

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

When you finish a cluster, if it needs “rounding out” or balancing, go back over it and work more French knots in the peripheral areas.

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

Mix up your colors however you want, but remember that you should try to keep the color distribution on the whole design somewhat balanced.

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

In some spots, you might just have a small single flower instead of a whole cluster – especially on some of the scrolls at the two ends of the design.

Little Blooms: Stitching the Flowers

If you’re thinking the back might end up looking a bit messy, you’re right! But that’s ok! Notice that there are no long lengths of carried threads on the back, thanks to “stepping” with the French knots.

And that’s it! Go forth and stitch your flower bunches! I hope you have a lot of fun stitching them!

This part of the project will take a little bit of time. Look for the next installment later next week!


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(11) Comments

  1. Hi Mary,

    Perhaps I am not seeing it, but I cannot find a list of DMC colors for stitching this design.
    If it is in the text, I just could not see it.

    Thanks for the cute design,

  2. Dear Mary,
    I‘ve been looking forward to this project. Unfortunately I live in Europe and therefore I’m unable to order the kit from you.
    Can you provide me with the cokiur numbers so I can order them from DMC directly?
    Will there be a collection of stitches you have used in this beautiful little pouch? I think it looks so pretty and like a cute spring work!
    You have inspired me with your work and I am allways looking forward to your newsletter!

  3. Hi Mary, This is a wonderful project and I love the colors.

    What weight/size is the Pearl Cotton (12 or 8)? What color is the Pearl Cotton?

    Could you provide the floche colors you used so we can translate them to DMC stranded cotton or if you prefer not to could you just give us the color of the Pearl Cotton?

    Thank you

    1. I will provide the color numbers in the next post. I accidentally edited the list out of this one and have just now realized it while reading the comments. It’s a size 8 Perle Cotton…

  4. Hi Mary,

    I have been a subscriber to (and actually read!) your emails for several years with great intentions but until now have not had the nerve to actually take needle in hand and give something a try. I am a rank beginner at actually doing any decorative stitching. I screwed up some courage and bought this lovely kit knowing my grown daughter would love the finished purse if I could do a decent job on it. I am feeling a little overwhelmed though. I am familiar with the lazy daisy stitch and French knots, but I hope you are going to be specific with the other stitches and techniques you used to create the beautiful designs of buds, the vines, etc. as we go along. Hopefully I can look them up in your Tips & Techniques pages if you don’t demo them directly in each session.

  5. As always, this project is beautiful, can’t wait to make a start. Could you let me know what the numbers are for the colours you have chosen? I know I could be brave and choose my own, but I know I don’t have the same eye for colour that you do.
    Many thanks for all hours you spend road testing the stitch along projects you come up with. Oh for an hour spent inside your mind!!
    Happy Easter.

    1. Hi, Ros – I will list the colors in the next post. Sorry about that! I had them in the original article for this blog post, but I edited the article to cut back on some of the words – it was super long – and in reading the comments here, I just now discovered I edited that whole section out. :-/

  6. Hello, Happy Easter. I would like to follow along with this I see it is sold out and you have color numbers for DMC threads to co-ordinate? They have not been listed in any of the posts. Thanks

  7. Bonjour
    Je n ai pas beaucoup d inspiration pour l organisation des bouquets de fleurs..Pourriez-vous nous envoyer la photo de l’ensemble de l ouvrage déplié ?

  8. Thanks for being brave and showing us the back of your work! It always makes me feel less “terrible” to see what is an acceptable level of mess; I’m usually too paranoid of any threads showing through from the back to the front.

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