French knot florals

Everything is embroiderable; A love story to the creative freedom of modern hand embroidery

Ever since I began to do embroidery more seriously, I have the mindset that anything is “embroiderable”.

I don’t know if the term embroiderable even exists in English.

Honestly I just made it up… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yet, I think that it describes the point perfectly.

Embroider + Able = Embroiderable

Rue Poulbot Embroidery Design
Rue Poulbot, Paris Pattern

In traditional hand embroidery there are thousands of rules and techniques to consider (at least it feels like thousands!).

For example there are certain stitch techniques that go along with specific fabrics, floss and needles.

Furthermore, you usually have different approaches to the techniques influenced by where you are in the world.

But when it comes to the modernisation of the craft, things change.

Suddenly you can use a tapestry needle and wool while embroidering on an iron net instead of fabric…

Because, modern hand embroidery has no limits.

The focus is on the ability to embroider, meaning that you can stitch on anything and everything however you like.

And I just LOVE THAT.

To spread the power of creativity and how it literally heals both body and mind is what fuels my motivation.

It’s the action of stitching and creating with your hands that is far more important than whether you do it exactly by the book.

I don’t say that you have to agree.

Actually, I adore to see old traditional embroidery works and the incredible precision they hold.

But I know that on a personal level, I would not be able to feel creatively fulfilled if I stayed within the boundaries.

Ps. a funny side note…

La Seine of Paris
La Seine, Paris Pattern (PDF)

It’s quite ironic really that I used to loathe following instructions,

And today I make my living on sharing instructions and patterns to the world…

At first I could feel almost guilty about it.

But today I have come to terms with the realisation that we all feel creatively satisfied in different ways and that that is JUST THE WAY IT SHOULD BE.

There is no one size fits all.

Apart from the action of making something with your hands, the how you do it is up to each person.

Furthermore, artistic learning doesn’t have to equal boundaries.

In fact, in all our patterns and courses, we always encourage you to sprinkle you own flavour on the work.

For example, switch up the colours on the French knot floral stitches.

Or make the backstitch contours in dark brown instead of black, if you prefer a less contrasted piece.

Why not make a night-scene by using a black fabric with white contours instead of the usual white fabric with black contours…?

You see, the variations are endless, even if you use a ready made pattern.

It’s more about how the message is spread.

Is it with an open mind or a restricted process.

“When I get an idea for a new design I have to act on it… NOW”

Summer Dream House Embroidery Design
Summer Dream House Pattern (PDF)

I don’t know if you recognise yourself in the statement above.

But when I get an idea for something that I want to create, it is as if the urge is stronger than me.

My mind starts spinning with a million thoughts in the same time.

Preferably I share them out loud in the same time, which unfortunately isn’t always very popular with my husband.

Though thankfully he has admitted my spinning brain to be my charm…

Well, I’ve decided to just accept it as it is and try to embrace it as something positive (yet exhausting at times).

Thus when I get an idea of a new embroidery, my mind immediately takes off and I have made the first stitches often long before I have decided on the final result.

From experience I have never regretted to have made embroidery on unconventional things.

It has rather been the opposite.

If the material or technique isn’t perhaps the most optimal, it serve as a fun challenge.

Embroidered cardigan turned into success-story for what’s embroiderable

Tuscan Patio Pattern (PDF)

For example, a few years ago I got the idea to embroider something big and impressive on the back of my knitted cardigan.

I settled for a large peacock so that the feathers would spread wide around.

The thought of whether I would be able to wash the cardigan afterwards never hit me until my mother kindly brought it up…

At the time I had already embroidered more than half of the design and I wasn’t going to let her kill my vibe haha.

Thankfully I didn’t stop.

I completed the full peacock on the back and I am using the cardigan constantly even today.

It has resisted tons of washing machine sessions and lately even our little curious baby pulling the threads.

What I noticed early on when embroidering on clothes is that as long as you make double strong knots on the backside, there is no reason for the stitches to undo themselves.

And in the case of the embroidery on the knitted cardigan, I just had to stretch it out

Flower House in Strasbourg
Flower House Strasbourg (PDF)

after washing or exposure to friction and the design would kind of “settle” back to its original state.

Not sure if I explained that very well.

But the main takeaway I want you to have from the experience is that you should just try it.

And whether you use cotton floss on a wool sweater or following the style with the wool on wool – JUST GO FOR IT.

Because remember: Anything is embroiderable.

Unexpected designs

It just happens that many of my most unexpected embroidery design/material combinations are often linked to embroidery on clothes.

As aforementioned, embroidery on knitting is one topic that often gets embroiderers to freeze.

“Oh oh, what to do now”.

I have embroidered both with the same yarn as my mom used to knit the sweater as well as DMC cotton moulinรฉ floss on wool.

One thing doesn’t have to exclude the other.

Below you can see the full process videos of two examples of very different embroider on knitting projects.

The first one is the wool on wool stitching.

The video is a full tutorial on how to embroider your sweater

I used a tapestry needle to have a thick enough needle eye to get the yarn through it.

By using the same yarn as the sweater was knitted in, it created a very soft look.

A little cosy anecdote is that I just found out I was pregnant on the day that this video was filmed (though it was a couple of hours later).

Thus it will always be a special video (and even more special sweater).

Though the sweater have now got some spots on it from spilling coffee, so I’ll have to make a follow up video covering up those spots soon.

Ps. If you haven’t subscribed to our Youtube channel yet, I recommend you do to get more embroidery inspiration coming your way :)!

The second process video shows you how you can freehand embroider on a knitted cardigan to cover up a permanent spot.

No matter how many times I tried to wash away the stain, it just didn’t want to go away.

What to do? Embroider on it of course!

As opposed to the example above with the more harmonious design of the wool on wool – here I wanted a more poppy effect.

And thus I chose to use the gorgeous DMC moulinรฉ floss in complementary colours to the blue cotton knit.

So even if it’s not the same cotton yarn, I still used a cotton embroidery floss.

How to end this little love letter to stitches?

It’s hard to round off an article about something that I feel so strongly about.

But ones again I want to end with the emphasise on daring to try it out.

Try your ideas and if you don’t like the results, you can always cut up the threads and do it again!

At least floss doesn’t leave permanent stains in the same way as I got on the sweaters haha.

Instead, the floss is perfect to cover up the stains.

You can even embroider something today that you take up in a couple of years to give space to embroider something new in its place.

There are no limits and you are able to embroider however you like it.

Let’s stay creative <3

Cheers, Elin

Embroider Your Clothes Charles and Elin Academy

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