Embroidery Tips, Tricks & Techniques, a new ebook to help you stitch

Hand embroidery is as popular as ever again, with articles about how it's making a comeback appearing in mainstream media since early 2015. Recently, Etsy cited embroidery as one of its four main trends for 2018 and issue 25 of paper-focused Flow magazine features embroidery artists.

The result of hand embroidery being back in mainstream consciousness is that there are loads of first-timers, beginners and returners to embroidery. Some have never held a needle and thread, others have a vague sense of where to start and others are wracking their brains to remember a long-forgotten skill. I've seen a surge in pattern customers who fall into these areas and it's made me remember how daunting or overwhelming it can feel when you're just starting out, more so if you've no one to show you the ropes. 

I regularly answer questions and it got to a point where I felt I’d answered enough questions in enough detail to fill a book. And so I started gathering all your email queries, Etsy convos and social media messages, and then added every tip, trick and technique I could remember having learnt over the past decade and a half to create Embroidery Tips, Tricks & Techniques, an ebook for beginners through to more experienced stitchers who may simply be interested in my embroidery practice and will hopefully pick up a trick or two. 

The five chapters that make up the book are:

  • Tools & supplies
  • Tips & techniques
  • Starting & ending threads
  • Projects
  • Caring for embroidery

So basically, everything outside of actually sitting and doing the embroidery. It covers things like how to choose suitable fabric, using six-stranded embroidery cotton, drawing tool recommendations and how to transfer designs to fabric, dealing with knots and unpicking, projects from start to finish, and hopefully the answers to any other questions you may have for me about embroidery!

There are tips and clickable links to online resources scattered throughout (the beauty of an ebook). Some are well known, others I've stumbled across by happy accident or come up with while trying to solve a particular problem. I've laid everything bare, from organising threads into Instagram-worthy floss boxes to the not so Instagrammable knots, needle pricks and blood spots...

Bear in mind though that this latest ebook may not always tell you the "right" way to do things, it's more an insight into how I embroider for those interested in replicating my designs, whether a PDF pattern or a project from one of my books, kits or magazine contributions. It's an accumulation of the nuggets of information I've gathered over time from books new and old, other embroiderers, the internet, trial and error.

Ideally, Embroidery Tips, Tricks & Techniques should be paired with 120 Embroidery Stitches, my previous ebook of hand embroidery stitch instructions (which has a fresh new cover design!). Together, they should give you more than enough information to get started. And if you want some samplers to put your newfound knowledge into practice, there are eight in my Patch Samplers pattern, which is designed to work with 120 Embroidery Stitches – a sampler for each stitch family.

I've bundled these ebooks and patterns in various ways at reduced rates, so you can pick and choose according to your skill level or wants/needs.

The links above take you to my Etsy shop, but all the books/patterns and bundles are also available on Craftsy, or via my SA price list if you live in South Africa. 

B+W Safari, contemporary African embroidery

Two ideas came together to create this hoop art: a desire for contemporary African embroidery design and patterning as a form of mark making with needle and thread.


Using silhouettes of the animals gave each design in B+W Safari a distinct outline that delivered the modern look I was after and gave me a clear-cut shape to fill with patterned stitching.


Some, like the giraffe, are made up of the same cluster of stitches in repeat. Others, like the elephant, are filled with a pattern made up of various different stitches repeated in sequence. It makes for a meditative few hours of embroidery that leave you feeling calm and relaxed!

Sticking with black thread on white fabric added to the contemporary feel and united the five designs into one black-and-white display. You could easily swop it for a colour that matches your decor though, and the designs lend themselves to more than just hoops – they'd look quite smart float mounted in frames but would be equally effective embroidered on to scatter cushions (the patterned stitching creates a texture that feels lovely to run your hand over). And you could also just pick and choose your favourites to create as many hoops as you want.

The wild animals featured are a buck, elephant, giraffe, lion and rhino – five animals most people hope to spot on a game drive. 

The pattern includes all five designs, with close-up photos of each for you to refer to while stitching, and is available on Etsy and Craftsy.

Embroidered monograms, classic and contemporary

Monograms are a great way of personalising your projects, whether to create beautiful monogrammed bed linen or some fun hoop art for a friend – and I have two new sets of monograms for you to embroider.

Circular Monograms is made up of four alphabets that are, in line with the name, circular in shape. They range from fairly quick to more involved, giving you the option of how much time you want to spend on them. And there's an interesting stitch idea or two for you to try out. The pattern is available on Etsy and Craftsy, and includes all four alphabets in full.

The other pattern I have for you is a modern take on more traditional monograms.

Classic Monograms has more elaborate lettering, with flourishes and curlicues. But the overall feel is contemporary and different embellishments create three different alphabets for you to choose from, depending on how much time you want to spend embroidering. 

The pattern includes two different options when it comes to colour – green and white with touches of deep red, orange and yellow or shades of grey for a more contemporary look. It's available from Etsy and Craftsy.

Lush, leafy greenery in a free design for #WorldEmbroideryDay

The idea for a lush, tropical design had been knocking about for a while. So when I was flipping through the file of my gran’s old needlework transfers, photocopies and tear-outs, looking for an idea for this year's free design, this one jumped out at me.


Like Blue Bird and Minikin Garden previously, I’ve taken a vintage design and reworked it into a modern embroidery pattern, filled with different stitches to encourage you to get embroidering in July – the month that culminates in World Embroidery Day on the 30th.

Unlike Blue Bird and Minikin Garden, which started out as vintage iron-on transfers, Leafy Tropics is based on a photocopy of what looks a bit like one of those old colour-by-number designs as it’s carefully numbered. Who knows where my gran found it originally, but the elements are so beautifully retro and well suited to embroidery that it makes a great design, one I've stitched using deep greens with touches of vibrant red, orange, yellow and blue.

I used rows of tightly packed blanket stitch in my Wild Pods pattern and loved the way it turned out. The upper leaves lent themselves to a repeat of this stitch idea, although I graded the colour this time from yellow through light to dark green as it made up quite a large part of the overall design. It's a really effective and lovely looking way to fill an area with embroidery.


The pattern is available to download for free from my Craftsy shop and you can share your work with me on social media @kfneedlework or using the hashtag #kfneedlework. Remember to use the tag #worldembroideryday as well if you decide to embroider Leafy Tropics in July.


Anatomical Creatures: An embroidered bat, frog, lobster and turtle

I loved designing and embroidering the Anatomical Insects, as did a lot of you. And to be honest, I just wanted to do more of them. I’d embroidered all the insects I could visualise in stitches though, so started thinking about other creatures that would work well in my style of embroidery.


I like ceramics (I have a Pinterest board devoted to the art form) and when I came across a mug with a little lobster etched into it, I knew I had my first creature: Anatomical Lobster.

My grandparents had bats nesting in the eaves of their farmhouse and, as kids, we’d head outside at dusk armed with wooden tennis racquets to “get the bats” – a wholly unsuccessful but highly fun half-hour of swooping and whooping for a bunch of young siblings and cousins. And so Anatomical Bat made its way into the range.

Both of these were mostly single-colour creatures and so the next one had to be more colourful. I’d had the vague thought that a frog might deliver on colour and when I came across photos of the red-eyed tree frog, I could instantly see him in stitches and so Anatomical Frog was quickly added to the range.

I’d had some photos of turtles tucked away in my ideas folder for a while, because the shell offered interesting stitch opportunities. What I wasn’t expecting was the rest of the turtle to be so well suited to embroidery. Anatomical Turtle uses varied and interesting stitches while still looking lifelike and staying true to the spirit of the Anatomical ranges.

The designs are available as individual PDF patterns:

And as a single pattern containing all four creatures at a bundled price:

The links above take you to my Etsy shop, but they’re also available on Craftsy.