Starting From Scratch













I have always loved embroidery, but I haven’t done much at all in the last several years. Since I love the meditative quality of hand stitching, I thought I’d start back at square one with some running stitches, back stitches, blanket stitches and couching. I was inspired by Rebecca Ringquit’s book, Embroidery Workshops. I’m moving on to Kazuko Aoki’s book, The Embroidered Garden. It’s a tutorial on embroidering delicate, beautiful flowers, butterflies and bees and I’m looking forward to trying my hand at this.

I always used the standard DMC #25 thread, using all 6 strands at once. I’ve learned that you can use this (without using all strands at the same time) and also #5 and #8, different yarns and metallic threads depending on what you’d like to accomplish. Ooooh, it’s going to be a fun couple of months experimenting with all of this.

The last picture I posted is a piece I started many years ago. I can’t believe how thick the stems on those flowers are. What was I thinking? Both of these books have been very inspiring and I’m loving every minute of moving my needle in and out of the fabric, calmly envisioning the possibilities of creative projects to come. The perfect way to spend a Spring afternoon.


  1. says

    Well, I’m delighted you found your way back to stitching! And the colors, not the stems, were what caught my eye in the last picture.

    Have fun!

  2. says

    Your stitching looks beautiful Susan, I remember trying that many years ago…..and I also remember being quite therapeutic……hmmm maybe I should try again ☺☺

    • says

      Give it a shot, Wendy. All you need to get going is some fabric, thread and a hoop. You could embellish some of the things you make that sweet grand baby of yours.

  3. says

    All of this handwork I’m afraid will soon be a lost art. Good for you starting up again. I think it is beautiful, wish I had learned when I was young. I do appreciate all the pretty pieces I see in antique shops. Thanks for sharing………..

    • says

      I have always loved hand sewing, Emily, and learning some new stitches will be challenging and get my creative juices flowing. Thanks so much for stopping by. Loved your Anthropologie post!

  4. says

    That book looks wonderful. I haven’t stitched in years either. I can’t see to thread the needle even with my magnifying glass but I still love to look.

  5. says

    Such loveliness! I haven’t done embroidery since I was little and would get kits for Christmas from my great-nana. But I’ve often wanted to. I like that final picture, the flowers are so pretty, and the colours just lovely.

    • says

      Thank you, Sarah. There’s really so much for me to learn – my experience with embroidery so far has been just some basic stitches. If nothing else, I’m enjoying the pleasure that comes from sitting quietly, with my own thoughts while I stitch.

  6. says

    I’ve never done handwork… but I would read those books just for the sheer beauty of them! and ‘ the embroidered garden’ especially.
    this is a glorious post. the colors just explode on the page!
    my gram as a young girl was taught embroidery and tatting. it was part of every young girl’s education then I guess. she did that… and exquisite little water colors.
    thank you for keeping the art of embroidery alive! XOXO♥
    and… ps
    I always smile when I have notice of a post in my email from simple cozy living.

  7. says

    Love the look of that Embroidered Garden book. I am also a lover of handwork. I have strayed from it and tried my hand at all different types of things but it is my first love. Can’t wait to see what you create!

    • says

      I’m with you, Lynn Marie. I have always loved hand sewing too. I’m looking forward to trying some of the stitches I haven’t used before and working with different threads.

  8. says

    Hi Susan,
    Oh my goodness, it looks like you will be settling in and creating your own beautiful garden in needle and thread. I love looking at all of your fibers, and that book by Kazuko Aoki is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing some of the pages in it– just might have to order one… Have fun embroidering!

    • says

      Cindy, the beautiful hand work you do, creating beautiful sweaters and dresses and embellishing them with embroidery are exquisite. You are one talented lady.

  9. says

    I know what you are talking about.
    I love stitching..your mini pillow is adorable and I am loving the Embroidered Garden..
    Hours of pleasure ahead of you!

  10. says

    I love that sweet little pincushion in the top pictures. Did you make it? It’s been years since I’ve embroidered and your post inspires me to do some again. Beautiful colors and threads and designs. Have fun!

    • says

      Hi Karen. Yes, I made the pin cushion. I wanted something bigger than the average size cushion to hold my threaded needles and pins. Now you have to get out your fabric and hoop and start stitching too!

  11. Judy says

    So glad you posted this. Now when I get my quilt back, which is any day now, you can help me embroider the rigging on the schooner. I’m not good at this and your work is so beautiful. . Love ya. Jude

    • says

      Judy, your quilts are not just quilts, they’re works of art. When you get it back, I’m going to take a picture of it and post it here on the blog for everyone to see! xoxo

  12. says

    I could be very inspired by this book, Susan. I used to make samplers, large and small, and loved learning new stitches. I think your flowers are beautiful, especially the stems…they don’t get ‘lost’.

    Love your pictures and thanks for sharing the names of the books.


    • says

      I can’t imagine you fitting embroidery time in your busy schedule, Jane. But if you do, there are dozens of fabulous books out there good for everyone from beginner to advanced. And, it really is calming.

  13. says

    Your work is beautiful Susan. I love to embroider and really should find the time to start up again. I have treasures from my mom and her mother. Such good memories they evoke. Lovely post.

    • says

      Hi Sharon. You do such a beautiful job painting that I’m sure it would translate well to embroidery. You could create incredible designs.

  14. says

    That looks like great fun! My grandmother was an incredibly talented embroiderer and I have to admit now you’ve got me thinking about giving it a try!

  15. says

    I think you should definitely give it a shot. Think of all the incredible southwest designs you could create, using your local landscape for inspiration.

  16. says

    The books you showed us are very inspirational, and the work you showed us that you stitched is lovely in my estimation, Susan! There are so many projects I want to tackle. Did you see the latest stitching pattern Alicia Paulson came up with on Posie Gets Cozy? I think hers was counted cross-stitch, but I love seeing her embroidery, too. Meanwhile, back on the ranch, I have been relaxing by knitting dishcloths and fiddling around with watercolors. Happy Spring! xx

  17. says

    Those books are delightful to look at, and your work, in spite of what you may think, is lovely. I know so few people who embroider. Like so many domestic arts, it seems to have gone by the wayside. That’s too bad, because there is something very endearing about it, not to mention beautiful.

  18. says

    I honestly think that there must be some sort of resurgence of embroidery going on. There’s many new books being published on the subject and page after page on pinterest – that’s actually what got me interested. I’m always so inspired by the beautiful work others do, and so I’m starting from square one and really enjoying every minute of it.

  19. says

    Wow! That last picture is really pretty! I think the stems are wonderful… I have dabbled in needle point but am not very good at it. My grandmother was though! She stitched two large pictures about 11×16 . One is the picture of a house and garden and the other of a school house or church, which one I cannot remember… I’m not sure if they were free handed or not, it has been a while since I have seen them but I love the simplicity of them, the aged look with the yellowing of the fabric. But most of all because my grandmother used her hands to make them. I love being excited about a new adventure in creating. Happy stitching xoxo

  20. says

    oh your work is beautiful! My grandmother had me doing simple backstitch embroidery on pillowcases when I was young and sadly that is about the extent of my knowledge! :) She knew more…I inheirited a lovely fall runner with raised knots and such that I pull out every fall. It’s on my bucket list to learn more someday but seeing this is certainly an inspiration :)

    • says

      And, your quilts are an inspiration to me, Deb. You just amaze me with your ability to turn out one quilt after the next – each a truly beautiful piece.

  21. says

    I personally like the stems on your flowers!

    May you have lots of inspiration with all the beautiful spring flowers blooming forth…

    Lots of love, Sita

  22. says

    Your stitch work is lovely Susan. I agree that hand sewing is very relaxing. I am making hand stitched quilt top at the moment, and so enjoy stitching quietly, listening to the radio, or an audio book. My sewing skills are extremely limited, but it’s surprising what you can make with very basic stitches x

    • says

      Hi Penny. I love hand quilted anything. I’ve done pillows, but nothing larger than that. I’d love to make a queen size quilt one of these days. It sounds like you’re really enjoying your hand sewing. I can’t wait to see the finished piece.

  23. says

    A lovely post, Susan. I look forward to seeing what you make. I’ve recently picked up a dictionary of embroidery stitches, hoping to increasing my repertoire of stitches. It will be a fun summer.

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