National Embroidery Month Stitch-Along



Did you know that February is National Embroidery month? That’s right, we have a whole month to celebrate! Because I love embroidery so much, I wanted to spend the month stitching together! I’m sharing this original free pattern, instructions, and weekly video stitch tutorials for the month of February. Download the “Tropical Plants at Night” pattern below and let’s get started!


Video tutorials will be available weekly on my Instagram in my stories, posts, and saved in my highlights. Follow me at MCreativeJ and tag your posts with #MCreativeJ because I’d love to see how your piece is coming along.


Tropical Plants at Night

Materials that you might need:

• Cotton fabric

• One 5 inch embroidery hoop (I use the wooden Darice hoops that can be found at most local craft stores)

• Embroidery needle

• Scissors

• DMC embroidery thread, listed below

• Needle threader

• Felt

• Sawtooth hook

• Craft glue

• Safety pins

• Peel and stick sulky-solvi

• A printed copy of the design

• Sharpie

• Well-lit window or lightbox


Pattern Thread Colors:

Two thin cacti: DMC 832

Wavy cactus: DMC 3812

Spikes of wavy cactus: DMC 3849

Snake plant outline and one of the inside colors: DMC 166

Second inside color of the snake plant: DMC 3818

Prickly pear cactus: DMC 943 and DMC 907

Blooms on prickly pear cactus: DMC 164

Fiddle Fig stem and outline: DMC 472

Leaves of fiddle fig: DMC 319

Vine leaves: DMC 772

Vine stem: DMC 3347

Moon highlight: DMC 415

Moon midtone: DMC 169

Moon dark spots: DMC 413


Prep before stitching:

Thread:For this design the amount of thread you will use for each stitch will vary. Some stitches use all 6 stands of thread, while others use 1 or 2 strands. Cut your thread to a desired length for stitching. I recommend about 12-18 inches—anything longer than your arm is just hard to work with. When splitting your thread, pinch the top of the cut piece of thread and gently pull up and out one strand of thread at a time. Pulling out more than one strand may cause the threads to tangle.


Threading the Needle:To thread your needle, wet the ends of the strands of embroidery thread and gently glide through the needle’s eye. It helps to hold the thread very close to the end, to gliding it into the needle. If you are having trouble threading your needle, try a needle threader.


Knotting the Thread:The easiest way I have found to knot my thread is with a French knot. To do this, thread your needle. Then take the longer end of your thread and wrap the end of it around your needle’s tip 2-3 time. Next pinch the wrapped thread and gently push it over the needle’s eye and down the strand of thread until it knots at the end. Make sure both ends of your thread are not knotted together.


How to Stitch the Design:

1. Download this design and print it to scale.


2. Use a well-lit window or light box and trace your design on the peel and stick sulki-solvi.


3. Place your fabric is your embroidery hoop. Make sure your fabric is taught so that when you place your pattern it doesn’t move around.


4. Peel back off the backing of the sulky solvi design and place it on the fabric, lining the plants up with the bottom of your hoop.


5. Use all 6 strands of DMC 832 to reverse chain stitch the two thin cacti on the left-side of your design. Reverse Chain Stitch:The reverse chain stitch creates a looped line and looks similar to a chucky sweater. Start by bringing your needle through your fabric, from the back to the front, and make a small stitch by going back down the fabric and pulling your needle out the back of the fabric. Next, bring your needle and thread a short distance away from the end of the stitch. Pass the needle under your first stitch so the thread goes under your previous stitch. Pull the thread all the way through and bring your needle back down where you started your second stitch, making a small chain link. Repeat this looping stitch for entire length of your cactus. When you get to the end of a row, repeat all parts of this in a row parallel to your first row.


6. Use 2 strands of DMC 3812 to fishbone stitch the wavy cactus to the right of your reverse chain stitched cacti. Fishbone Stitch:The fishbone stitch is a filling stitch often used for feathers and leaves. To start, bring your needle up through the fabric at the top point of where you want to fill and make a short stitch in a straight line in the middle of the cactus. Next bring your needle up to the left of the start of your previous stitch. Bring your needle back through the fabric so that it slightly crosses your first stitch at a diagonal. Repeat this on alternating sides from right to left to fill the space evenly.


7. After you’ve filled in your wavy cactus, use DMC 3849 to add cactus spikes to the cactus with the fly stitch. Fly Stitch:The fly stitch will be used to create spikes on the cactus. Start by bringing your needle up through the fabric and down a stitch distance away. Next bring your needle back up through the fabric to the left of your previous stitch. Bring needle back down through fabric on the opposite side of your first stich and across from your previous stitch. Hold the thread in a loop as you bring it back down through the fabric. Bring your needle back up through the fabric where you ended your first stitch with thread loop on outside of needle. Bring the thread back down through the fabric a short distance away and pulling the thread taught so that it creates a “Y.” This stitch is now the start of your next fly stitch. Repeat until the blooming cactus is outlined.


8. Use 2 strands of DMC 166 to outline the snake plant with the stem stitch. Stem Stitch:The stem stitch creates a thin outline that is great for plant stems and curved lines. To start, bring the needle up through the fabric, slightly above the pattern vine line. Go back down through the fabric one stitch length away from your previous stitch below the pattern line. Bring your needle back up through the fabric next to and about half way between your last two stitches. Then bring your needle back down through the fabric and repeat until the vine is complete.


9. Once outlined, fill in your snake plant with DMC 166 and DMC 3818 in alternating wide bands of color, using the backstitch. Backstitch:The backstitch creates a solid line and is good for hand embroidering text or outlining a design. Begin by pulling the needle and thread up through the fabric and do one stitch forward. From underneath, space the needle out the length of your desired stitch (1/4 inch or less), pull up through the fabric and bring the needle and floss back down through the end of the previous stitch.


10. Use 2 strands of DMC 943 and DMC 907 to fill the prickly pear cactus with the long and short satin stitch. Long and Short Satin Stitch:The long and short satin stitch is a good filler stitch and creates a smooth appearance. The satin stitch is a great way to fill in large areas with color or blend colors. Take your needle and thread and create one stitch. Bring the needle up again just next to the opposite side of the initial stitch and make one shorter or longer than the previous stitch. Keep the stitches close to one another, and work in rows as required to fill the design.


11. Add small blooms to your prickly pear cactus with DMC 164 and the French knot stitch. French Knot: French knots are great for adding detail and texture. Pass your threaded needle from back to front. Hold your thread taught away from your fabric and wrap it around your needle twice. Keeping the thread taught, pass the needle back through your fabric next to your previous stitch. Pull tightly until the fabric is knotted on the front.


12. Use 3 strands of DMC 472 to stem stitch the outline and stems of the fiddle fig leaves.Stem Stitch:The stem stitch creates a thin outline that is great for plant stems and curved lines. To start, bring the needle up through the fabric, slightly above the pattern vine line. Go back down through the fabric one stitch length away from your previous stitch below the pattern line. Bring your needle back up through the fabric next to and about half way between your last two stitches. Then bring your needle back down through the fabric and repeat until the vine is complete.


13. Use 2 strands of DMC 319 to satin stitch fill the fiddle fig leaves. Satin Stitch:The satin stitch is very similar to the long and short satin stitch and is a good filler stitch that creates a smooth appearance. The satin stitch is a great way to fill in large areas with color or blend colors. Take your needle and thread and create one stitch. Bring the needle up again just next to the opposite side of the initial stitch and make one shorter or longer than the previous stitch. Keep the stitches close to one another, and work in rows as required to fill the design.


14. Use 3 strands of DMC 3347 to stem stitch the vines of the leafy plant on the right.Stem Stitch:The stem stitch creates a thin outline that is great for plant stems and curved lines. To start, bring the needle up through the fabric, slightly above the pattern vine line. Go back down through the fabric one stitch length away from your previous stitch below the pattern line. Bring your needle back up through the fabric next to and about half way between your last two stitches. Then bring your needle back down through the fabric and repeat until the vine is complete.


15. Use 2 strands of DMC 772 to add leaves to your vines with the lazy daisy stitch. Lazy Daisy Stitch:The lazy daisy stitch creates petal like loops. Start by bringing the needle up through the back of the fabric. Then bring the needle down next to your initial stitch. Hold thread to desired petal length (for this pattern ¼ inch) as you bring the needle back up through the fabric where you want the petal to stop. Thread should be on outside of the needle as you pull the thread through the petal. Bring thread back down through the fabric on outside of loop petal stitch next to previous stitch to complete the lazy daisy loop.


16. Use 3 strands of DMC 415, DMC 169, and DMC 413 to backstitch the moon. Each color is stitched separately. Use the darker colors to add shadows and craters in your moon face. Backstitch:The backstitch creates a solid line and is good for hand embroidering text or outlining a design. Begin by pulling the needle and thread up through the fabric and do one stitch forward. From underneath, space the needle out the length of your desired stitch (1/4 inch or less), pull up through the fabric and bring the needle and floss back down through the end of the previous stitch.


17. When you are finished stitching, remove your fabric from the embroidery hoop and gently run warm water over your design. The sulky-solvi pattern will dissolve. Lay your design and fabric flat to air dry.


18. Once dried, replace the fabric in your hoop.


19. Trim the fabric to a one-inch width around the edge of the hoop, removing excess fabric.


How to Finish Your Hoop:

I finish all my hoops with a closed back so that they can be hung like a picture frame. You don’t need to do this, but it does make it easier to display your handmade artwork.


1. After you’ve trimmed your fabric to about 1 inch from the edge of the hoop. Stitch a running stitch around fabric so that it gathers the fabric tightly on the back side of your hoop.Running Stitch:The running stitch is one of the most basic stitches to create a straight line and will be used to close the back of your embroidery. To start, bring the needle up through the fabric from the back side for the fabric to the front at your starting point. Go back down through the fabric a short distance from the first point. Continue this until you go all the way around the back of the hoop and knot fabric.


2. Next, use a sharpie to trace your hoop on a piece of felt and cut the felt to size of your hoop. If sewing on felt back, trim the felt so it is slightly smaller than your hoop.


3. Sew the sawtooth hook to the felt, about one inch from the top edge.


4. Glue or whipstitch felt to back of hoop, keeping the sawtooth hook level at the top of the hoop.

a. If gluing, apply a thin layer of craft glue to wooden hoop back and firmly press felt to hoop back. Let dry for at least 4 hours.

b. If using the whipstitch, pin the felt circle backing to hoop back to hold in place while stitching. Whipstitch:This stitch is great for covering the edges of a fabric and will be used to attach your felt back to your hoop embroidery. Start by bringing your needle through the fabric on the back of your hoop and down through your felt back. Continue wrapping this stitch around your hoop by bringing your needle through your fabric then through your felt until you’ve gone all the way around your hoop. Knot thread at end.


Have fun with this design! I can't wait to see what we can stitch together.

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© 2017-2020 Melissa Galbraith of MCreativeJ. All rights reserved.

© 2017-2020 Melissa Galbraith of MCreativeJ. All rights reserved.