As is the case with many embroidery artists, one of my biggest sources of inspiration for embroidery is nature, especially flowers. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that if you’ve been around for a while, haha! Today I thought I’d share with you how my latest pattern collection was inspired by the beautiful “five-petal flowers” I’ve been seeing around this summer, and a bit about the design process.
You’ll find these patterns in my Etsy shop, either as a bundle or available individually!
BROWSE THE SHOP
The Sulfur Cinquefoil
Ah, that such a lovely flower should be afflicted by such a name! Really, it doesn’t hint one bit of its charm. Considered and invasive species, the potentilla recta is nonetheless a really beautiful flower. With its creamy yellow petals and delicate jagged leaves, the tall plants border the path down to the river on my favourite walk. There are so many pretty yellow wildflowers, but this one really stands out with its soft shade of buttery yellow. I felt particularly inspired to capture it with my needle and thread, and knew it would make a lovely embroidery.
You can shop The Sulfur Cinquefoil pattern right here.
After taking a dozen photos (none of which were able to do it justice) and plucking a few specimens for the flower press, I got my sketchbook out to draw an initial pattern. Each embroidery pattern always begins with a hand-drawn sketch.
I’ve never been very good at sketching or drawing, but over the last few months I’ve definitely noticed an improvement since I’ve been sketching more often to create patterns.
The Wild Rose
A timeless and personal favourite, I knew I had to include the wild rose in this mini-collection. I simply love this flower, and had really enjoyed embroidering some last year for my Garden Bouquet project.
While wandering around a very peaceful and secluded public garden in my village, I came across a bush of the palest and most perfectly five-petaled wild roses. I do love the darker pink ones, but these pastel pinks were so soft and delicate I knew I had to stitch one!
I actually had many lovely photos of them, but unfortunately lost them recently during an SD card malfunction (note: let this serve as your reminder to back up your photos!!). Fortunately, they happily live in my memories and now on my embroidery table as well.
You can shop The Wild Rose pattern right here.
One of the things I love about sketching for embroidery is that you can keep the drawing very simple, because your needle and thread will take care of adding all the little magical details. In fact, the fewer markings you can get away with on your fabric, the better. And when it comes to florals, there are often a few elements that get stitched on top of other stitches, so they don’t always need to be included in the pattern outline. It makes for a clean, simple designing process that I’m starting to really enjoy!
The Common Mallow
Last but not least, the third addition to my “Five-Petal Florals” collection was the common mallow. I had never heard or seen this flower until this summer, and it’s quickly becoming a favourite. Its various shades of purple and well-defined veins are truly stunning. They’ve been growing all around the house for weeks now, with their purple heads enlivening the dreariest corners. The deep green leaves are so big, too, and have this lovely soft jagged edge that almost looks like a scallop.
You can shop The Common Mallow pattern right here.
In addition to photos (which I was able to save, since they are still growing abundantly), I actually sketched from the live plant. The flowers last an amazingly long time even after being plucked, so I was able to surround myself with them while I puttered about in my sketchbook.
Once the sketch is good enough for me to stitch, I make a copy on tracing paper. After going over it with a fine Sharpie, it’s ready to be transferred onto fabric. Lately I’ve been using a heat-erasable pen, and it’s definitely my favourite transfer method to date! I’ll definitely have to update my previous post on transferring methods!
Creating the Embroidery Pattern
As I stitch, I often make little changes to the design, and I also take note of what didn’t work so well. I draw the final design on a plain sheet of white paper using the tracing paper copy I made earlier, and change or add to it depending on how the embroidery turned out. I go over the design with the fine Sharpie again, and then scan it and save it on my computer. Often, there will be little imperfections that I like to smooth out digitally, and I do that simply with Microsoft Paint and a tiny drawing pad. It’s not the best or most professional system, but it works fine for my current needs.
Once I’m satisfied with the pattern, I import it into Canva, which is the program I use to design all my PDF booklets. And finally, once the instructions are written and I’ve added all the photos, it’s time for the best part: listing on Etsy!
Northern Belle Atelier Shop
I’ve truly been enjoying designing and stitching these unique patterns for you, and I hope you find as much joy in embroidering them as I did! If you have any particular requests for something you’d like to see in the shop, I’d love to hear from you. I’m hoping to offer more than PDF patterns in the near future, so I’m always open to suggestions.
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