It’s been a while since I’ve picked up an embroidery needle and thread. In fact, not since my teens. I used to love the texture and vibrant colours you could choose from to create pretty scenes and patterns. Now that homespun arts are back in vogue among the next generation of designers, decorators and other creatives, I have been inspired to revisit this craft and have been really very surprised by my enthusiasm for it.
Until very recently, I never realized just how much this – and other traditional craft forms, for that matter – can truly transform and, yes, even update a space without making it look ‘kitschy.’ It can often simply depend on your choice of pattern and colour. Just a quick internet search of modern geometric patterns and craft designs reveals there are several inspirations to choose from. Now, granted, it can sometimes depend on your style of home, but even here, by choosing a pattern you love with colours that you are already using in your space, an embroidered craft can integrate very well and add to the overall interest and personality of your home.
If you’ve wanted to try this traditional craft, but have been baffled about where to start, why not try a simple pattern like the one I’ve chosen here?
Here is how you can create your very own DIY geometric embroidery art for your own home.
Materials you will need:
- plastic mesh (size ‘7’ – indicates size of holes)
- darning needle (the end of this needle will be dull)
- yarns (worsted yarn, size 4 works well with size 7 mesh)
- pencil & ruler
- tape (not pictured)
- picture frame (not pictured)
When selecting your colours, choose a few to create interest and variety, but not too many that you cannot repeat the colours throughout. This will create balance and cohesion – but, of course, only you know what works best for you. The one I created is comprised of a modern palette of black and white with shades of grey and pops of mustard and pale blue. I have some yellows and warm greys in my Great Room and chose the colours in the project to both match (yellow and grey) and complement (blue, black, white) the space.
Once you determine your colour-scheme, measure the area of the mesh that you will display once the piece is ready for framing. In my case, I had a frame whose interior space measured 7 inches by 9 inches. Mark the edges of the mesh using tape or pencil and ruler.
Once you’ve marked what will become the framed portion of the mesh, begin dividing up the interior space into a checkerboard pattern. Because I had more vertical space available than horizontal, I created a checkerboard pattern of 4 squares going across and 5 squares going down. Within each square were 12 holes going across and 12 holes going down (with the exception of the bottom row of squares which ended up with 13 holes going down).
Duplicate your checkerboard pattern on a sheet of paper using the same dimensions – 7 by 9 – and create your checkerboard with 4 squares across and 5 squares down. On that same sheet, divide each square in half on a diagonal to create the triangular pattern of your piece.
Using this outline, determine your placement of colours. This will be your guide when you begin to embroider. The sketch will help you stay on track providing a visual that will ensure you have a good distribution of colours so that you don’t end up with two blue or two yellow triangles together. Along the way, you can change course, but it is a good idea to have a pattern created at the start. (For the more observant among you, you’ll notice that my finished product is exactly the opposite of the patterns created – I simply decided I liked the look of it upside down. With this type of pattern, you can display it any way you wish!)
Before you begin embroidering, this is what you will end up with:
(Tip: Once you begin to embroider, you can either leave the sketch taped on and simply cut away the paper one square or one row at a time. Or, simply set the entire sketch down in front of you as you embroider so that you can use it as a guide.)
Time to embroider!
Cut a piece of yarn about 30-35 inches long and thread your darning needle. If using the same measurements as the piece in this project (12 holes by 12 holes per square), this length will give you enough to complete a single triangle.
The type of stitch you will be creating is called a cross stitch. There are loads of tutorials online for both beginners and those more advanced, but basically, a row of cross stitches looks like this:
For this project, you will be creating only one half of that cross stitch. It will look something like this:
/ / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /
To begin your embroidery project, start with the square located in the upper left corner. You will be working on your first triangle. Start with the hole located at the lower left corner of the square. Begin from underneath the mesh, pushing the needle through that first hole. Pull the thread up. Then, taking your threaded needle guide it to the hole diagonally to the right and push the needle back down, creating your first (half) cross stitch.
From there, create your next half cross stitch. Guide your needle upward through the hole located directly above the first hole of your first stitch. Pull the thread through. Then guide your needle back down to the hole located diagonally and to the right and push the needle downward.
Next, simply repeat this pattern until you reach the top.
When you reach the top of your first vertical row of stitching, you are ready to create your next row located directly to the right of your completed one. You can now work your way downward, repeating the same cross stitch method going from left to right and on a diagonal. Because you are using your cross stitches to fill in your first triangle colour, make sure you don’t go all the way to the bottom of the square. You will need to stop at least one hole up from the bottom. This will help you create the angle of the triangle shape.
Repeat the process, going up and down each row, until you’ve completed your first triangle.
Tip: To prevent the first stitch from pulling out, I knotted it on the back, but it is not necessary. You can simply leave an inch or two loose. Then, as you begin your stitch work, you can secure the loose end by looping over it each time you create a new cross stitch. I used this method throughout the rest of the pattern in order to create a smoother and neater finish on the back of the piece. You can see both the knotted and non-knotted methods used for the first triangle below:
If this is your first time attempting cross stitch and you wish to duplicate the pattern in this tutorial, here are some additional tips.
Tip #1: At certain intervals, when finishing a row of stitching, you will find that you cannot start a new row without going back over the same hole, thus undoing a stitch. If that happens in your pattern, simply reverse the direction of just that one cross stitch. In other words, instead of stitching from the lower left to the upper right, stitch from the upper right to the lower left – but just for that one stitch. This will avoid undoing that particular stitch. Then resume cross stitching as usual, from left to right. The first time I had to do this was when completing my first triangle as pictured below:
Tip #2: When you complete your triangles along the right edge of the piece, you may wish to cover the white space showing through at the bottom right corner of your squares. You can ‘square’ this last stitch off as I have by creating a full cross stitch, as pictured below, or you can simply leave it.
Tip #3: Again, if this is your first time cross-stitching (or if it’s been a long while since you’ve done this), you may want to practice creating a couple of triangles first by playing around with the direction you take when creating your rows – either creating your rows of stitches by moving upwards and downwards or from left to right. Because it had been a while for me, I first started this pattern going up and down, but then decided that I preferred the look and feel of it going left to right and right to left. It may not make a big difference to some, but I felt it made the angles of each stitch more angular and thus in keeping with the shape of the triangles I was creating.
Tip #4: If you decide to use the pattern created in this tutorial, remember that, depending on the direction of your triangles, sometimes the cross stitch will create a jagged dividing line and sometimes a smooth one. This is to be expected and is simply par for the course when it comes to cross stitching.
When you have completed your embroidery project, make sure that any existing loose threads are secured on the back. Just thread through the stitches already created to do this. The back of your piece should look something like this:
Once you’ve completed your masterpiece, frame it! There is nothing better than finishing a piece like this off with a clean, white modern frame to make the colours and pattern pop. But, really, any frame that suits your style and taste will do:
Although this is a fun craft project, it is not a quick one! It takes a little time and patience, but it is incredibly relaxing to do. Just turn on some music or watch your favourite movies or TV shows to help pass the time. It was truly one of my favourite projects to do!
So why not try your own DIY geometric embroidery art project for your home? It will make for a truly unique and homespun addition that adds both personality and pops of colour to your space.