A Foxy Embroidery – With Buttons!


The Idea

Well I have been obsessing over foxes the last few months and wanted to create a project based on one. This design was quite simple, as I was going to go for something more realistic.  But I decided with the size of the hoop and the fox being the centre focus, that it should be colour and pattern that are more intricate and ornate. fox

My style is quite elaborate and I find that details really make a project pop which is why I added the detailing inside the fox. That was free hand and I gave myself the chance to just experiment with colours and pattern. I think it works well.

Materials & Stitches

For the fox I used a dark green fabric and a fabric stabiliser as I knew I would be filling in the whole body and wanted to make it a bit more rigid. At first I hadn’t planned to cut the fox out, and I started off with a split stitch as an outline. This is my first project where I specifically used silk shading and started off going over the outline and blending the reds together.

buttonsAs the fox began to take shape I tried using a finger grip which really helped. With the threads building up and the stabiliser, it was getting tough pulling the needle through the fabric.


Because I wanted this to be a mixed media piece I decided to cut the fox out and place him on a lighter green fabric. This worked really well. I thought I could glue him down at first but that didn’t really work, partly because of all the threads in the back made it quite thick. Instead I stitched him to the green and I like this much more. I added some other fabric circles and then lightly sketched on some flowers before stitching. I used stem stitch and tried a new stitch with the gold thread called herringbone – I like this a lot! I think I need to do some practice stitches before my next piece.


I added cute mini buttons for texture and richness and overall am really happy with the way it came out. I’m enjoying the experimental aspect to my embroidery and in my next project I want to use ribbons.



Tips on Hand Embroidery

I’ve been learning hand embroidery for about six months now and thought I’d share some tips – and frustrations! – that might give anyone considering trying it (or even beginners) some insights.



The fabric is your background that pulls your design together. When I first started I used some terrible fabric. It was heavily patterned and pretty but overwhelmed the embroidery instead of complimenting it. I’d recommend planning. Being impulsive I went straight in and was left disheartened with the end result.

Another thing that may seem obvious is ironing your fabric piece! Even if it seems relatively flat it may have some small creases and it’s best to start from a completely smooth piece.

In my last two projects I used a tear away fabric stabiliser (Seen here) which I found gave a good stability to the hoop. These were larger projects where I felt I needed some stiffness for so much thread, and this might not be needed for smaller pieces.


Back to planning. It doesn’t have to be meticulous and take ages, but I do some sketches before I start a project now and this allows me to play with ideas. I then use a tailor’s pencil to sketch the image onto the fabric and found the best way to do this is before putting it in the hoop. I’m going to be looking into transfers soon, but my approach has always been quite loose so I have some freedom as I make the project.



So far all my hand embroidery has been in hoops as wall decoration and I’m not bored with them yet! I love the variety of sizes and there is something pleasing about the circular shape. I tend to plan my projects with this in mind, although this is personal preference. After I finish the project I use a glue gun to secure the loose fabric at the back.


hoop and thread

With thread I found it was a bit of trial and error. You may find this too as you develop and learn as you go and it can get frustrating at times. I’ve had to unpick things before that didn’t work or the thread wasn’t very good.

My two favourites to use are Anchor Stranded Cotton which has 6 strands and is easy to divide when working split stitches for example, and Anchor Pearl Cotton which is 2 ply twisted thread and gives an interesting raised effect. I have tried to split this thread but I wouldn’t recommend it, you will be swearing for days!

I also like metallic thread although some a more difficult than others to work with, so I use them sparingly.


I choose some stitches before I begin such as a back-stitch for an outline but I also like to have some freedom while I am making the project. I love the split stitch for outlining, a satin stitch for filling in larger areas and then adding a fancy stitch to elements that need more embellishment. Stitches for depth and interest include stem stitch, lazy daisy, French knot. It’s surprising how much I’ve improved since I started, my stitches are much tighter and neat. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new stitches – that is how you develop your style and add to your work.


Suggested Reading

Some things that I found useful:

  • Mollie Makes: Embroidery
  • Stitch Along – Jenny Doh
  •  Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts! Embroidery
  •  Hoop-La! magazine
  •  Mollie Makes magazine

Street Art & Crafts in Manchester, UK

I’ve been really interested in the graffiti and art in Manchester for a while and wanted to do a project photographing some of the different places for the blog. Here is a small collection in the city’s Northern Quarter, a vibrant part of the city with little independent shops and cafes. It is also home to The Craft Centre where a number of local artists make and sell items from ceramics and textiles to jewellery and prints. I love taking friends and family who come to visit. I’ve lived here for nearly 3 and half years and just love the vibrancy and creativity in the city. The Northern Quarter is also home to The Buddhist Centre which is in a lovely building and holds lots of different classes such as meditation and yoga. If you ever visit Manchester I highly recommend these places.

Toucan Embroidery ~ How I Made Him


This is my most recent embroidery project I’ve been working on for the last two weeks and I love how it has turned out. It is the biggest and most complex piece I have made so far. I love toucans and I also love decorative and fancy designs which I tried to capture here.

Continue reading Toucan Embroidery ~ How I Made Him

New Dwellings

I’m back! And feeling much better after picking up a particularly nasty virus that has been going round recently. Loads of hot drinks, sleeping and soups helped. Since moving to my new place I have been trying to sort my room to make it super cosy, which is hard when you have so much art stuff like me and not much storage space!

Wall Collage
Wall Collage

Continue reading New Dwellings

Sea Life Embroidery

Here are two embroidery projects I’ve just finished.

Under the Sea

I thought a nautilus was perfect for the smaller hoop and loved the patterns on the shell which I tried to recreate. I used a running stitch and split stitch for this project and I focused in on the details and colours of the threads.

Continue reading Sea Life Embroidery

Busy-ness Vs. Arty-ness

What a month I’m having! I’m in the process of moving house, busy at work and now I am coming down with the lurgie I thought I was able to avoid because I had a super human immune system! Wrong! Plus Janaury is always the long month after Christmas when you have to make your money stretch…. and I always see things I want to buy, like a desk for my new place!

Continue reading Busy-ness Vs. Arty-ness

New Year & Monster Embroidery!

Well hello January. Yep it is that time of year, new beginnings, rain, sales and all that jazz… I have to admit I do quite like the hope that comes with New Year and look forward to Spring, the days getting lighter and the possibilities that lie ahead. I’m also 31 this year and am fully embracing this decade of my life! They say you know who you are in your thirties, or maybe you are just happier with who you are.

A few things I want to do this year include improve my web design skills, try snowboarding, go to Paris, go to life drawing classes, save money, get a fox tattoo and Pilates.

Plus I have always got a lot of art projects going on in my mind, I just need to focus on one at a time!

  • A new shadowbox
  • A mixed fabric Stag head embroidery
  • A Pandora themed tag box
  • More felting creatures

And here is a tentacled monster I just finished. He was more a project to practice my embroidery stitches but he came out pretty sweet! My fingers need a break now! After a walk in the lovely wind and rain in Manchester,I came home and baked a cake. Got to take advantage of a free kitchen! It is chocolate and orange swirl and it was still warm inside when I tried it. Yummy!

Happy New Year Everyone!

The Love of Magazines

I’ve been having a love affair with magazines for years! And this is a problem when you live in one room and can’t be parted with them. When I was little I would even make my own magazines, although I spent so long on one I don’t think I really let anyone else have it.

Continue reading The Love of Magazines

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