Skip to main content

Design Threads: Embroidery – Magical Micro Garden


This week for ‘Design Threads’ we are escaping into the magical world of embroidery.

As wild goats in Spain and Wales seem to be the only ones allowed to enjoy this fine spring weather, I have been trying to create a lovely English garden, filled with daffodils, bluebells and primroses, that can fit into the palm of your hand.

Fine Cell Work is a charity we are big supporters of here at the design studio. It is a charity and social enterprise which trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework. The charity aims to enable prisoners to develop new skills, earn money and acquire the self-belief to stop offending. We have worked closely with Fine Cell Work in the past creating designs and products.

Some of you may be feeling like prisoners in your own homes, with plenty of time on your hands, what better to do than create your own embroidery?
You will need a few tools to begin:
* Tailors shears or sharp scissors
* Embroidery hoops
* Embroidery needles. I use French embroidery needles with sharp points.  The needle size depends on the amount of No25 embroidery floss
* No 25 embroidery floss. I use DMC embroidery floss from France which is known for its vivid colours and lustrous texture.

I wind all my threads around cardboard bobbins like this – I find it easier to see the colours and create better schemes.

I have used a linen fabric from The Cloth Shop in a flint colourway – we often use this for fabric walling in the hotels, we try to recycle most of our fabrics so I am lucky enough to have lots of wonderful linens in storage.  However, you don’t have to be restricted, cotton shirts can be embellished, felts and wools are fantastic and if you have good sharp needles, it’s fun to do jean jackets and pockets. 

I love the work of the embroiderer and artist Yumiko Higuchi. I am always inspired by her flawless designs and I avidly collect her books – these two are my favourites:

When you are starting out, you can experiment with two types of stitches – the running and the chain stitch. This guide is from one of Higuchi’s books.

Now for the inspiration – all the wonderful spring flowers are out at this time; tulips, wildflowers and daffodils. Here are a few different types of daffodils we have spotted on our daily walks to get you inspired.

I usually sketch out the embroidery first and decide which stitches I’m going to use.

I have created this design stitched on to white linen. It will look wonderful framed or made into a table runner.

Embroidery is a labour of love. It can be done in bed, watching TV or sitting at your kitchen table, you can create your own characters and designs like I have done here.

Here I have used Christopher Farr’s ‘One way’ fabric to stitch on and created a carnival scene – close my eyes and I’m right there!

Please do send us some of your embroidery designs on Instagram with #designthreads and tag @kitkempdesignthread. We can’t wait to see what you get up to.

Weekly Book Recommendation from Much Ado Books

This week, our friends at Much Ado Books recommend Anne Kelly, Textile Folk Art.

It is filled with amazing art by amazing makers. But more than that, it is a guide and inspiration and instruction book with clear directions for putting together textiles to make creative, expressive artwork. Textures, colours and patterns came together in collages, embroidery, quilts and more. There are lots of illustrations to satisfy readers who just want to look – but it will be hard for anyone to resist setting up a sewing machine or unearthing their sewing needles!

CLICK HERE to purchase your own copy.

Back to top
Our website uses cookies to improve your experience. By continuing to browse our site you are agreeing to our cookie policy.
Cookie Preferences