Learning to Design and Embroider- Creating Original Bougainvillea

I discovered hand embroidery projects by way of Inspirations Magazine and NeedleNThread.com, and after completing the first square of the quilt blocks, I thought it went well enough that I then wanted to create my own canvas, my own design, and chose my own colors. Nothing like jumping right into the fire!

The first thing I did was organize my embroidery thread onto bobbins. As I would the bobbins, endlessly, I put them into fishing tackle boxes. I find that the result is a fantastic palette, easy to access and easy to see.

Embroidery Floss Bobbins

I needed a subject. I pondered over this for a few days…always on the look out for something catchy, something unique, something exotic…then as I was staring out the window, my mind wandering over the many valleys and hills in my mind, I realized that for each of those days, I had been staring out the window…looking at a wild, but very happy and healthy, bougainvillea. I thought that the subject matter, wouldn’t attract many other people to want to stitch it, but, the other plants potted in front of it would be great for ribbon embroidery, and I realized that I would be stitching something original and unique for me, and perhaps someone else may be inspired from it to look out their window and stitch what they stare at.

I cut a 15×15 square of muslin and dug out my watercolors. I knew that I could do a few washes on the background to enhance the finished item, so I fixed a palette and painted some ‘splotchy’ background for my bougainvillea.

After painting the fabric, I had to ‘draw’ the pattern or picture that I wanted to stitch. Well, I really didn’t want to draw out all the details of this wild and crazy plant, so I basically made a few ‘shapes’ to transfer onto the material with pencil.

Simple rough sketch of bougainvillea

Once the fabric was dry and the pattern shapes penciled on, I had a great time going to my tackle boxes of embroidery floss to choose an original color palette. I pulled out some pinks, purples, greens…and several browns.

I went through several stitch ‘encyclopedias’ and collections to choose a few stitches to use while working up my bougainvillea. I favored turkey stitch, stem stitch, french knot, detached chain, detached fly, and couching.

It is a lot of fun to stitch this way! I made up everything as I went along.

As I finished up the background areas of the bougainvillea, I decided to add stumpwork to the foreground. (Resource: A-Z of Stumpwork) I padded and added silk embroidery ribbon for the main triangle facing the front center, (which still needs a hanging stem protruding from the area), and I added silk ribbon and perle cotton for the potted pink gingers and fern. I did paint the pots on another piece of fabric, stuffed them and appliqued them to the main fabric.

This is what it looks like so far:

Out my window...Bougainvillea


Filed under embroidery, Painting Fabric for Embroidery, silk ribbon embroidery, stumpwork, Watercolor Paint for Fabric

7 responses to “Learning to Design and Embroider- Creating Original Bougainvillea

  1. goffcouture

    Wow, this is really gorgeous!

  2. alicia in Hawaii

    Thank you! 😉

  3. paulahewitt

    This is great – I cant believe you are only learning. well done.

  4. Alicia this is incredible. I have the desire to embroider pictures from the garden and find your bouganvillea so inspiring

  5. alicia in Hawaii

    Thank you so much for the kind comment about my bougainvillea being inspiring. If nothing else, I hope this blog will do just that…inspire others to create original designs for their own art. I really appreciate your note.

  6. Deepa

    Gosh!! this is beautiful!! And you claim to be a beginner in Embroidery!!!
    Lovely work!!
    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.Otherwise I wouldn’t have found you.

  7. alicia in Hawaii

    Thank you Deepa. Yes, I really am a beginner at embroidery 😉 I hope other beginners will be brave and try more daring things as well…smiles, alicia in Hawaii

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