Embroidered ornaments

In summer 2018, I took an excellent monogramming course at Hand & Lock in London (thanks, Juliet – great teacher!). We used mainly stem stitch and satin stitch to create some lovely effects in different lettering styles, like these ones:

So for Christmas 2018, instead of making cards as I usually do, I decided to make ornaments. Hand embroidery is such a delicate and careful creative skill, and the results are really satisfying. Beautiful and classic.

To get started, I drew small squares in pencil on a large piece of fabric. I chose a font I liked on my computer and printed out the names of friends and family members, then used this to trace through the fabric so that each square featured one name. I also added a sprig of holly.

(Note: this approach to transferring designs onto fabric was slightly different to the traditional “prick and pounce” method we were taught at Hand & Lock, which arguably lends itself to better results. But I was travelling a lot while working on these and couldn’t realistically carry pounce around with me in my travel craft kit!)

Then I embroidered over the pencilled designs, using the techniques I’d learned in the Hand & Lock workshop.

I needed to use a regular (large) embroidery hoop while I was working, so I didn’t cut out the squares until after I was finished embroidering a whole ‘sheet’.

Finally, I fitted these squares into some teeny tiny embroidery hoops that I’d bought from Amazon. This was quite a painstaking and fiddly process!

  1. Each little hoop first had to be thoroughly cleaned with soapy water. (I don’t know how they were made, but they were filthy and left black streaks all over the fabric in my first ornament attempt!)
  2. Then the fabric had to be squeezed gently into the hoop and the screw at the top tightened with a pair of tweezers.
  3. The excess fabric had to be trimmed and pressed down so that I could superglue the back onto the ornament.
  4. The final touch: I added a loop of of gold or silver thread to the top so the ornaments could be hung on a Christmas tree.

In one case, I learned too late that the recipient of this gift didn’t have a Christmas tree! So I adapted and glued a light magnet to the back of his, so he could stick it on his fridge instead:

Et voilà. The finished products, adorning their owners’ Christmas trees!