Stitched sampler


I approach my little textile pictures as I would decorate a room- The stripping back, the preparation of the surfaces are crucial, then comes the decoration, the final touches.

So I source old cloth, dye it with tea or coffee, paint it or distress it  in some way first. Background colours make such a difference. I have a stash of coloured backgrounds, already cut and ready to rock. Sometimes I favour a muted neutral colour where I could use blended tones in the foreground, other times I feel a bit braver and dive right in with a bright bright colour when I know everything on top needs to be contrasting but equally bright in order to work.

Then there’s the layering of the foreground- Ive written about that in a previous blog ( How do we find our own style), so wont linger on that one. Suffice to say, I play with patterns and plains, solids and see throughs, flat and texture and that biggie- colour. I spent years teaching about the colour wheel and giving youngsters ample opportunities to create different effects whilst adhering to certain rules. Always fun to do, and I never tire of experimenting with mixing and matching shades and tones. What sort of world would it be if we didnt have colour?

Then, there’s the final stage – the stitching on top of the layers on top of the background fabric. Which stitch? Which colour? Which tone? Where? How many strands? I dont have hard and fast rules about stitching really. I have just learned to use different thickness threads and again, play. I do have favourite stitches which come out again and again and I never get tired of them because they always seem to work. Ive recently made a stitched sampler using various stitches in a much more formal way (picture at top of the page). I loved making it but doubt that those more uniform stitches would creep into my work anytime soon.

So lets start with Bullion Knot. An all time favourite- great for delphinium lookalikes. Usually I use 3 strands of thread as I find any less and it needs more wrapping. My golden rules for this stitch are to firstly use a longer needle with a thin eye and secondly, don’t wrap the threads too tightly round the needle. They should slip off quite easily- if it becomes a battle, then change something.

blue bullion knots


Lazy Daisy stitch is an absolute favourite of mine. Sometimes I add a french knot in the centre, sometimes a bead-always a contrasting colour for a bit of bling. Usually I use 3 strands, sometimes 2 depending on the scale of the piece. Easy and quick to do as well, but always cheerful wherever its plonked!

pale blue lazy daisy stitch


Fly Stitch is another trusted friend- can be any size, any scale, any thickness but great for filling a space in between flowers. Easy to do, you sort of get into a rhythm and just go with it. 

blue fly stitch


Another stitch which I find really useful and versatile is what I call- Wibbly Wobbly french knot. All that means is that it’s exactly like a normal french knot except that you don’t pull it tight- leave 1-2cm thread so that each time you make a stitch, you get a bobbly effect. I tend to alternate between 2, 3 or 4 wraps to create a more varied texture.

yellow wibbly wobbly french knot


My final fave is made using organza. I tend to cut small circles or ovals or irregular shapes, pin them in place, often haphazardly overlapping 2 or 3 pieces then catch them down in the middle with a bead, french knot or wibbly wobbly french knot. This can create some lovely whimsical looking flowers and just gives an impression rather than a solid stitched flower.

purple organza scrunchies

There are so many more I could mention. But these are my must haves.


Happy playing, sometimes the nicest effects are the happy accidents, so just have fun with them and do share anytime!

Julie x