Floral embroidery is all the rage these days! If you follow any embroiderers on Instagram, chances are your feed is filled with beautiful and complex looking floral designs. In this instructable, I’ll show you several stitches that will allow you to create your own floral embroidery designs in no time!
In this floral sampler, you’ll use the following stitches:
- Petal stitch (also known as lazy daisy)
- Fly stitch (both open and closed)
- Woven spider wheel
- Stem stitch
- French knots
- Chain stitch
I’ve included photos and video of each stitch we’ll cover, so you should be able to easily pick them up. However, please reach out to me if anything is unclear and I’ll explain it in a different way. 🙂
For more information about embroidery, please check out my FREE Hand Embroidery class!
Step 1: Tools + Materials
- 6 inch plastic embroidery hoop for stitching
- 6 inch wooden embroidery hoop for framing
- a water soluble marking pen
- Sewing pins
- Embroidery needle
- Pinking shears
- Fabri-Tac glue
- Iron + ironing board
- Printer for printing the pattern
To Print the Patterns
Download and open the PDF files. When selecting print options, make sure the print is scaled at “full size” or “100%” – this will ensure you print the pattern at the right size.
- Embroidery floss in your chosen colors (see below about how many you’ll need)
- A 9 x 9 inch piece of fabric
- The floral sampler embroidery pattern (included below)
Choosing Floss Colors
This is the way I did it, but feel free to do whatever you like, color-wise!
- 3 colors for the large flowers
- 2 colors for the large leaves
- 2 colors for the vines
- Yellow/orange floss for the flower centers
- 1 color for the tiny French knot flowers
Step 2: Transferring the Pattern & Hooping
Cut out a piece of fabric and give it a nice press with the iron so it’s flat and unwrinkled. Let the fabric cool completely.
Transfer the pattern using the pin or hoop method – these are both covered in my Embroidery Class! Note that you do not need to transfer the tiny dots I’ve made on the pattern – those will be French knots later and we’ll fill them in as we go.
Once the pattern is on the fabric, place the fabric into the hoop with the design centered. You’ll want the design facing up as shown, and not down inside the hoop.
Step 3: Chain Stitch
To start, we’ll stitch a border using the chain stitch. I cover this extensively in my Mountain Sampler instructable, but here’s the stitch video for a quick refresher if you need it. 😀
Step 4: Woven Spider Wheels (Flower) Stitch
Now I’ll teach you how to make beautiful flowers! They may look complicated, but they’re not. To get the right look, we’re actually going to do a little bit of weaving.
These flowers are made by creating a spoked wheel on the fabric and then weaving your floss in and out of the spokes.
You can make these flowers any size you want, too! For small flowers, you’ll need 3 spokes. For larger ones, use 5 and 7 spokes or even more. As long as you use an odd number of spokes you’ll be fine.
Here’s a video showing how I stitch these flowers:
We’re going to tackle the big flower in the center first!
Thread two needles – one with the main flower color, and one with the center color. I like to do this just to speed up the process a little!
Start by bringing your floss to the front of the fabric through the very center of the flower. Then, insert your needle into the fabric at the end of one of the spokes and pull through. That’s your first spoke!
Work your way around the wheel, stitching each spoke and bringing the floss back up through the center of the flower for each new spoke.
We’re coming back up in the center every time to limit the amount of stray floss on the back of the embroidery – the more wild strands you have back there, the more likely you are to snag them and ruin your flower!
When you’re done, the front and back should look like this.
Now, bring the yellow floss through the center of the wheel. Pull it all the way through so its knot is flat against the back of the wheel.
And now we will start weaving! Beginning anywhere, start to move the needle over and under the spokes in a clockwise direction and pull the floss through. As you weave the yellow center, you’ll need to hold onto the floss tail that’s still dangling from stitching the wheel spokes. Otherwise, the wheel spoke it is attached to will become loose.
I only weave one spoke at a time, pull the floss through, and then go on to the next. This will keep your floss from tangling as much!
As you weave, pull the floss tight. You need to compact the middle woven stitches to try to cover the floss color of the wheel so no pink shows through! In the last photo above, you’ll see some pink still peeking out. This tends to happen with the larger 7-spoke and above flowers, and it’s easy to fix. If peekage happens, here’s how to cover it.
Stop weaving in a clockwise motion and instead move from one side of the center to the other, bringing the floss over the center of the flower. You can normally cover all the pink in a couple stitches.
When you’re happy with the center, push the needle to the back of the fabric and knot off the yellow floss.
And here’s how the front and back should look once you’re done with the center!
Now, bring the spoke floss needle to the front of the fabric next to the center. Make sure you’re not pulling the needle through any pieces of floss on the back.
Just like we did with the center, begin weaving the floss over and under the spokes, going around in a clockwise motion. If you push the needle through a spoke instead of under it, remove the needle and try again. You need to go cleanly under the spokes or you can ruin the flower.
When you start to run out of floss, push the needle to the back of the embroidery and tie off the floss. Thread another piece of floss and bring the needle to the front of the fabric right next to where you tied off, as shown above.
Keep weaving until you reach the ends of the spokes. There should be just a tiny amount of the spokes peeking out from under the flower. Now we’ll do a little stitching to cover them.
Bring the needle to the front of the fabric near the outside edge of the flower and make a large stitch. Insert the needle at an angle under the flower edge.
Pull the floss through while holding it down with a finger so it doesn’t twist and curl.
Continue taking these larger stitches all around the outside edge of the flower, slightly overlapping each stitch. Keep going until all the spokes are covered and then pass the floss to the back of the fabric and tie it off!
Here’s how your flower should look at the end! See how the spokes are covered and there are smaller stitches going all around the outside of the flower on the back?
Once you have the first flower finished, start on the others! Just remember to be careful while weaving and not hit any of the other flowers – they’re easy to mess up if you zone out. 🙂
Step 5: Closed Fly Stitch
Now we’ll learn the closed fly stitch for the leaves. The fly stitch is my absolute favorite way to make leaves because they have so much texture. It’s also super easy to do!
Here’s a video of me stitching a leaf using this stitch:
Now I’ll cover it in photos, too!
First, thread a needle with with whatever color floss you’d like your leaves to be and knot the end.
Bring your needle up at the end of the leaf, and make a small stitch down the centerline of the leaf, about 1/4 inch.
Then, bring the needle back up to the right side of the middle stitch on the pattern line.
For the next stitch, push the needle through to the back of the fabric on the pattern line to the left of the middle stitch. Don’t pull this stitch tight.
Instead, bring the needle back to the front of the fabric at the bottom of the middle stitch.
Now, pull the floss tight! The stitch coming out of the bottom will keep the loop of floss from the two side stitches held down.
Make a tiny stitch at the very bottom over the floss to secure it into place as shown in the last photo.
Keep repeating the motions to make new stitches! Right, left, and then the middle which is secured with a tiny stitch.
You can also make right and bottom stitches in one movement if you like. Just make sure the loop that forms is under the needle so you can secure the loop with a stitch.
When you run out of floss, just stop stitching at the bottom of one of the loops – secure it with a small stitch and you’re done! Knot the floss on the back and start stitching again on the right side as normal.
When you get to the bottom of the leaf, you’ll want to fill in the bottom sides more, so the leaf butts up against the flowers better.
It’s pretty much impossible to keep doing the fly stitch near the flowers, so just use straight stitches to add more to the leaf!
And here’s what it will look like when you’re done with the leaves! As you can see, I used two colors just to add a little depth.
Here’s the back of the leaves.
See that dark green leaf on the far right? My knot untied itself and popped right out, so I secured the floss tail with some of the Fabri-Tac glue. Don’t be afraid to add a little glue if things aren’t looking secure!
Step 6: Open Fly Stitch (for Vines)
Now we’ll do an open variation of the fly stitch to create some fast vines. 🙂
This stitch works exactly like the closed fly stitch, but you don’t butt the stitches up against each other.
Here’s a video showing the open fly stitch in action:
And now I’ll show you in photos, too!
First, you’ll want to thread a needle with 12-18 inches of floss.
First, make a stitch from the end of the vine down to the first set of branches. Then, bring the needle up at the top of the right branch, and down at the top of the left branch.
Now bring the needle back up at the very bottom of the first stitch, making sure your needle is inside the loop that forms between the branches. Pull the thread through and tack the loop down by making the next straight stitch.
Here’s what each section will look like!
When you get to the bottom of the vines, make sure the last stitch connects to the rest of the embroidery!
Knot off between each vine and continue working your way around. This is what the embroidery should look like when you’re done.
Step 7: Stem Stitch
Now we’ll start the other set of vines using the stem stitch. We’ll stitch the stems of the vines using the stem stitch, and then add the leaves in the next step!
Here’s a quick video showing how to work the stem stitch:
Now that you’ve seen it in the video version, let’s break it down in pictures.
Thread a needle with 12-18 inches of floss.
Start right at the edge of the main embroidery and take a 1/4 inch or so stitch. Bring the needle up for the next stitch to the left or right side of the first one, right in the middle. Continue stitching, starting every new stitch to the side of the previous one.
Here’s what the front and back of the stitches will look like. Now we’ll add some leaves to these vines!
Step 8: Petal (Lazy Daisy) Stitch
While this is called the petal stitch, I hardly ever use it for flowers! I always use it for leaves on vines.
Now let’s walk through this stitch in photos! I’m using the same floss color as I did for the stem stitch base, but feel free to use a different color for the leaves.
Bring the needle to the front of the fabric right at the end of the stem stitch. Now, insert your needle a couple threads above where you came out of the fabric, and glide the tip of the needle to the end of the leaf.
Loop the end of the floss around the end of the needle and begin to pull it through. You’ll see a knot start forming!
Keep pulling and the floss will form a cute little loop. Now, much like the fly stitches, we’re going to tack down the end. Make a tiny stitch over it to the other side of the loop.
Here’s what a finished petal stitch should look like when it’s done! Move down to the next set of leaves and stitch them the same way.
When you start moving between the sets of leaves on the vines, use the weaving method to get your floss back into the middle of the vine to move down cleanly.
And here’s what the finished stem and petal stitches should look like together.
Now we’re nearly to the end – the last thing left to learn is French knots!
Step 9: French Knots
Your floral sampler is almost completed! Now we’re going to fill in the spaces around the flowers with French knots. There’s no right amount of filling here – what I’ve done is just what looked nice to me!
Here’s a video showing how to do the French knots:
The most important thing when making French knots: make sure your fabric is CRAZY TIGHT in your hoop. If the fabric is loose, it will stretch and warp the weave of the fabric, making it harder for the floss and needle to go through.
Also: you can wrap the needle one, two, three, I don’t know how many times! Don’t feel limited to wrapping the needle once. The more you wrap the floss, the larger the knot will be. I want tiny ones here, so that’s why I’m wrapping once.
Bring the needle to the front of the fabric right near one of the flowers and pull the floss through. Loop it over the needle once from the front and around the back.
Hold the floss tail to keep the loop tight on the needle.
Push the needle back into the fabric right near where you exited. Hold the floss tail tight in one hand and pull the needle through with the other.
If the needle does not want to pull through, you may be hitting a knot or other obstruction on the back of the fabric, so check that and try again.
Once the needle goes through the fabric, you can let go of the floss tail. (Though some people prefer to hold it the whole time.)
Pull the floss tight and you’ll end up with a little knot!
Work your way around the flowers, filling in the empty spaces between the flowers and foliage.
When you’re done, the back may be pretty messy, but that’s okay. You don’t have to worry too much about carrying the floss all over here, since it’s hidden by the flowers and leaves!