Just Call Me Crafty Katie!

I am feeling extraordinarily pleased with myself. Remember that I mentioned that I’ve been doing embroidery lately? Well, I did my first-ever, all-by-myself project. I wasn’t sure how great it was going to be, so I rooted around in my drawers and unearthed a basic white t-shirt, one from a pack of men’s undershirts I bought at some point. I love a t-shirt with flowers, so I figured that I’d give it a shot, and if it was terrible, it wouldn’t be much of a loss. Here’s what I did.

Last you heard, I was experimenting by trying to make some little embroidery flowers. Then Cute W bought me the book Foolproof Flower Embroidery, and while I haven’t actually gotten around to learning new stitches from it yet, I took the author’s advice on getting started with a basic design. I drew a few very simple flowers that I think are cute and that I knew I could stitch (you’ll recognize them from the earlier practice flowers), and I made a sketchy little pencil drawing, then I traced over the basic design with a Sharpie.

I ironed the t-shirt and put the paper inside it to that I could trace the design. I’ve actually struggled with this before — I’d tried some sort of “disappearing ink” marker, but it would fade almost immediately, as I was trying to sew. This time I used Leonis Water Erasable Marking Pens and they worked great.

Next I chose which colors I was going to use, mostly following the models of the practice flowers that I’d made before. I put the t-shirt on a large embroidery hoop which was big enough to accommodate the whole design, although I ended up moving it around once or twice. Then I started with the stems and leaves, followed by the biggest and darkest flowers first. Here it is about halfway through…

You can see that I used the blue design as just a very rough outline. I moved things around as I went, usually based on what made the embroidery easier or if I didn’t love the original drawing (like that lowest leaf). None of these were difficult stitches at all. Really, the most challenging thing was trying to make sure the amount of tension matched on all my stitches for the pink petals. Oh, and also avoiding accidentally sewing the other parts of the t-shirt together!

The yellow flowers are French knots, which are a little tougher for me than the other stiches, but the nice thing is that flowers themselves aren’t entirely uniform, so they don’t have be exactly the same size and shape to look pretty. In fact, sometimes I’d add extra knots or extra spaces to make it look a little bit organic. A couple of times when my knot looked particularly bad, I just made another one that sort of overlapped it so that it wasn’t as noticeable.

Last night, I finished. In fact, I stayed up a little bit too late because I was so close to getting in all the stitches, and I wanted to wrap it up so that I could rinse it and let it dry overnight.

Getting rid of the blue ink was super-easy. I didn’t have to do a full wash (I have no idea if I ever WILL try a regular wash; seems too delicate, no?). Instead, I just filled a bowl with lukewarm water and lowered the design part into it for a minute or two– you can see that this is the reverse side, which is definitely messier-looking than the front. Then I hung the shirt to dry in my shower before heading to bed.

And this morning, ta-da! I modeled my new t-shirt.

I am not sure what I’ll do next. I think I have a basic canvas bag around the house somewhere, or I’ve got plenty more plain t-shirts. I’ve been meaning to get silk or satin pillowcases for the girls and me because it’s supposed to be better for your hair, so I could add a little something to one of those, maybe? Or embroidered book marks? I’ve also seen embroidered sneakers, which I love, but I don’t want to go out and buy sneakers. Or do you think we’ll become so zero waste that hankies-over-tissues will make a comeback? I don’t know, but I definitely like doing embroidery, so I’m making something.


  1. Mary Ellen Whiteley

    I’m super impressed!!! I love it! Love the colors, love the French knots, love the design! Better than store bought

  2. Claire

    Wow, I’m impressed! I’ve probably mentioned this before, but the only thing I’ve ever succeeded at that involves a needle and thread is cross-stitch. That was way back in college (I won’t mention how many years ago that was), and it was short-lived. I basically did it just to prove that I was capable of doing something with a needle and thread, and once I proved it, I didn’t enjoy it enough to continue. Currently the only crafty thing I do is scrapbooking, and while I enjoy this hobby, I don’t feel good about it because the scrapbooks take up so much space, and I don’t want my son to feel burdened with them when I’m gone. If I hadn’t gotten hooked on it before the dawn of digital photography/albums, I probably wouldn’t have ever bothered with it.

  3. @Claire, Aw, I love a good scrapbook! I don’t think they’ll be a burden. I’ve made a few, but they’re definitely amateur-ish.
    @Mary Ellen, thank you!!

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