I have included a few links to materials I bought and used from Amazon. These are affiliated links so if you clicked through and made a purchase I would get a small commission.
I have been working on this floral wall hanging embroidery for what feels like forever. I started it in June 2022, 16 months ago! A lot of life has happened in that time.
Some of the life happening (such as moving house) has been a reason for it taking me so damn long, but also honestly its just been kind of a pain in the arse to work on because it was a much larger scale project than I’d tackled before.
I definitely cannot take any credit for the design. It was created by the amazing Lucy Freeman1 for Issue 21 of Love Embroidery Magazine.2 As soon as I saw the big bold florals I knew I had to try to make it. My original plan was for it to look awesome hanging above my stairs in my old house (the walls were lilac and it would have looked great!)… but I sold that house and moved in with my partner before finishing it so that particular dream never came true!
When I embarked on the project I really didn’t appreciate how tricky it was going to be, or how much time it would take, but it really has taught me lots of new techniques some of which I will revisit for sure,.
I’d never done appliqué before so I was quite excited about that part as a way to create large bold areas of colour, and different depth and textures, without using paint. I already had a packet of different coloured cotton squares off Amazon which included roughly the right shades for the design. I also picked up some thicker cotton canvas material, Heat n’ Seal and fabric stabiliser from Hobbycraft.
The instructions in the magazine did not mention this but I decided it was probably a good idea to wash my coloured fabrics and the canvas before I got started. I’d had some trouble before with set fabric shrinking and I was also a bit worried about the cheap Amazon fabric leaking dye if I did need to wet it later on!
I scanned in the pattern from the back of the magazine, printing it onto some A4 so I could attached it together and then used my light box to trace onto my canvas.
The appliqué areas I also traced and iron some heat n’ seal to the back of before cutting out and ironing onto the canvas design. That was a bit tricky to get the iron to the right temperature and over the intervening 16 months I did lose a small blue flower off it, and had to remake it later!
The instructions leave raw edges on the appliqué but I found with my cheap fabrics they started to fray and I didn’t like that look. After I’d finished all the rest of it I decided I needed to outline those areas to neaten it up and protect the edges.
This was an unplanned extra that meant I had to try to colour match the fabrics to my thread stash. Which then lead to me underestimating how much dark blue I needed, and a last minute trip out to Hobbycraft to try to match my off-brand cheap thread to a DMC colour (someone bought be a big packet of cheap Amazon thread, its awful stuff but I have it so I’m trying to use it in less precious areas!). Obviously there was no exact match but its close enough I don’t think you’d notice if you weren’t looking for it!
In the end I think it was definitely worth the extra 4 hours it took to outline everything. The appliqué sections pop a bit more now.
The Tapestry Frame
This project is 70 x 30 cm, much bigger than my usual 8 inch hoops! At first I tried using some of my larger hoops thinking I could just move it about the different sections but the canvas + stabiliser + appliqué layer was far to thick. Then for a while I tried just stitching it loose in my hands but even with sturdy fabric no tension is a recipe for disaster!
I started looking at getting a tapestry frame when I remembered that my Nan used to make tapestries before her eyes got bad. It turned out she did still have a frame that I could borrow! It was a touch bigger than was ideal but I could just fit my fabric over it – and I was away again!
While being able to stretch the whole piece out definitely made things a lot easier to work with, the frame is…. not the best. It’s really hard, nigh impossible, to keep tension in it! It’s a cheap light wood frame held together with wing nuts so every time it was moved it loosed a little. It was also very squeaky which my partner hated!
The frame was at a very awkward height for either the sofa of one of my dining chairs so I always found working at it for too long would result in stiff shoulders and lower back. The best chair I found was actually the patio chair which was at the the right height to get it right under and have my feet up!
I don’t plan to make anything so big again unless I have a much better frame. Honestly I am glad to see the back of that thing, it definitely take some blame as to why it took me so long to finish!
The leaves and light pink flower on this project were much larger than I’d tackled before and definitely presented a challenge to my satin stitch skills. There was quite a bit of unpicking and restitching to get the thread to lay neatly with the right tension!
I am very happy with the flower, but not so much with all the blue and green leaves. I can see how I improved from the first one I did to the last one! I’m not insane so I’m not going to unpick and redo them all… but I do know if I started again now I could do better! I have to remind myself that it’s all a learning journey!
Previously I’d either kept my projects in the hoop as a frame or stick them in a picture frame so I’d never finished and backed something like this. Thankfully I have a large metre long metal ruler which was perfect for ironing down straight edges before I sealed up the back.
The main issue I had with this was getting adhesive on the iron… Which I still haven’t cleaned off… We don’t do much ironing!
I had tried to make a tassel before for a little keyring kit that was a free gift with an issue of the magazine. It was a frustrating not particularly successful endeavour! Knowing I’d need to make 16 of the fucking things to finish off this project I got a tassel maker device in the hope that would make it easier than trying to fight with the piece of cardboard method. It definitely helped and sped things up – no regrets.
Actually the bit that my brain had a hard time with was how you finish off and tie the neck of the tassel. It took me about 45 minutes of trial and error and looking at various diagrams before I understood it!
I am still no master tassel maker… none of my 16 are identical, some of them are fairly rough looking!
I did it!
Am I happy with the end result? Yes, as much I could ever be. I can see lots of imperfections in it but from a distance you can’t see them, and in time I’ll let it go! It does look lovely now its all finished and hanging up.
I could not tell you how long it took in total working hours to complete. I watched three The Lord of the Rings movies, a lot of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Gilded Age, Avenue 5, Righteous Gemstones (twice through), all of Succession, Invincible, all of Fringe, 3 episodes of X Files, 4 or 5 episodes of Grimm while I did the tassels. Plus bits of audiobook and podcasts! I’m sure a lot more I’ve forgotten!
It also was really not cheap in materials. It took an awful lot of embroidery floss, and I used DMC floss which is £1-£1.50 typically per skein. At one stage I did a big order from LoveCrafts which was around £30 from memory, and I’ve definitely had to make a few top up purchases. Plus you’ve got the canvas fabric, coloured fabric, stabiliser, and two packets of Heat n’ Seal. I never bothered to track the cost of materials but I reckon £60-70 is a fair estimate.
These crafts aren’t cheap!
In the end though I learned a lot and now I have a beautiful, bright piece of art to hang in my home that I made with my own hands!
I now am FREE to make whatever I want (although I do have an 80% complete sunflower project I should probably finish…). I’m not sure what I want to do next. I would like to embroider Picard on vacation, or maybe the cats, or maybe something for Christmas… so many options!
If you want to follow my embroidery via Instagram I’m @ stitchesbyalice.
- Lucy makes many of these incredible wall hangings and lots of other pretty things. You can see more on her website or Instagram. ↩︎
- It feels kind of novel to still get a magazine to read. I do like it for inspiration and the free gifts and patterns. Though I have a huge stash of them now I’ve still not done anything with! ↩︎