Hand Embroidery on Black Fabric

hand embroidery on dark fabric by stitchdoodles

What a dilemma! I have tried many a suggestion for the best way to hand embroider a pattern on to dark or thick fabric and many have ended up with some choice words being thrown around and telling myself it would look better on white anyway!

Simple andStressFree

Basically, if its a lot of work or involves a lot of delay in the actual stitching part then its already on my suspicious list. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not lazy and I like things to be done right but transferring for me has to be 2 things…

I’ve tried Prick and Pounce (don’t get me started on that one!), chalk pens, white gel pens, carbon paper, stitch n tear…. this list could go on! (If you use any of these, like them and are successful then all well and good but for me, they just didn’t hit the spot!)

Many of you will have heard of the wonderful ‘sticky fabri solvy’ (SFS) and the many fabulous reviews from fellow stitchers. I am one of those converts and love this stuff!

It transformed my stitching on to felt as it was just a case of tracing, sticking and stitching, washing off and wohoo – fabulous result every time.

BUT (there is always a but!) I found I still had issues using SFS with dark fabric. You print your wonderful design on to the SFS, stick it on to your black fabric and you can’t see the design even with the best light.

So, I realised I had to draw over the design (boring but necessary), if I wanted to stitch without ruining my eye sight and sanity! This sounds straightforward until you trace over and stitch and then realise the pen you used stains your lovely threads when you wash the SFS off. I did this and was so upset after all my hard work!

So, to save future projects,  I did a little experiment using different pens on SFS using white thread to see which ones stained the least…

Example 1: Triplus Fineliner (3 vertical lines on left) , Gel Pen (3 vertical lines on right), Fine Sharpie (4 horizontal lines top and bottom)…

Of those 3 the Gel Pen was the winner!

Example 2: From Left to right there are 3 vertical rows of each of the following  fine line black pens…       Biro,        Staedler Lumicolour,        Frixion Pen,        Pilot Drawing Pen

From these 4 lines, the photo makes it look like they all came out great but the winner was the Frixion Pen (the biro was the worst, followed by the Staedler and then the Pilot).

My overall opinion and trust from doing that was to go with the Frixion Pen.

So, for me, the best way to transfer a pattern on to a dark fabric is using SFS and a red Frixion Pen- either print the design on and then trace over this with the Frixion Pen or trace directly with the Frixion.

Here’s my design ready to be stitched with this method… Easy to see and stitch – yay!

transferring an embroidery pattern

Take a look at the design finished above (top picture) and you can see there has been no transfer of the red pen to the threads when it was soaked.

Hopefully this will save you some stress and heartache if you want to hand embroider on Black fabric!

8 Ways with a simple Running Stitch!

Running Stitch is probably one of the most basic of stitches and it is amazing the variety of effects you can create with just this one stitch…

All with a SimpleRunning Stitch!

Forget those boring lines you learnt to stitch at school when you first tried out running stitch and go back and try out the possibilities this stitch has to offer.

These samples I stitched were great fun and just the tip of the iceburg as far as the effects you could create. I stitched them on to an evenweave fabric so you could see the way the stitch is used to create the effect. Here’s some closer pictures…

You run the needle in and out of the fabric creating a series of stitches.


All the stitches on the right side of your work should be the same size but you can be creative with small or large gaps in between, small or large stitches, different types and thickness of thread.

This can be used for straight and curved lines as well as a great filler for large areas.


Work several rows of even length and space and then alternate them to make a brick pattern like this… this would make a really fun border pattern.

Interlaced running stitch is so easy yet the result is stunning…


Work 3 rows of running stitch with the lines exactly above each other and then use a blunt needle to weave a thread vertically through the stitches to create a laced effect.


How about doing a double running stitch to create these fun lines… Stitch the first row with a normal running stitch and then come back on yourself filling in the gaps.

Heres some more ideas for zig zags, columns, arrows, wiggly lines, chains, and waves to name but a few!!!

So the one thing you should remember not to do is under estimate the abilities of the running stitch, it is fabulous!!!

The Dear Jane embroidery journey begins!

Many Many (!) years ago I came across the Dear Jane Quilt and was immediately smitten with the intricacy and amount of work that went in to this masterpiece. It was created in 1863 by Jane A Stickle and most quilters know of this legendary quilt.

Dear Jane Quilt
Photo taken from the Dear Jane Website

Quilting was how I first fell in love with fiber and thread and I had every hope of giving this a go one day! I came across my tattered and neglected Dear Jane Book a few weeks ago and since then have had a niggling desire to give it another go!

So, I set myself the challenge to try and replicate the 169 square blocks with Embroidery!  I am strangely excited as this is going to be a project just for me. No need to think about thread colours and pattern writing, just replicate a block and stitch away.

It will be great to document this process and see if it actually gets finished!

dear jane 3

I am going to complete the top row first – may need quite a bit of graph paper along the way!

Loving it so far. These mini blocks are so cute and actually stitch really nicely.

So, lets see how far along I get – could be a labour of love with who knows how many years in the making!!!

Embroidery helps relieve pain!

I know, sounds a bit strange doesn’t it but I can say without doubt that Embroidery has been my lifeline since I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, 4 years ago.

I don’t often talk about my illness mainly because I am a very private person when it comes to myself and also because its not something I want to define me as a person.

Fibromyalgia is a very real pain – a pain in the real sense of the word where it is relentless physically and a pain literally as well since it inpacts on every aspect of your life and how you live it.

I am a very stubborn person and I think this has been both a blessing and a curse in terms of me having Fibro! Everybody is different and copes in their own way.

I have tried many a treatment and to date pain meds are the only thing that keep me on a level playing field. Self help groups are not for me, yoga and pilates hurt, meditation is just not my thing and staying in bed is not an option so what has been my saviour – Embroidery! How weird is that!

When I am stitching, I focus on nothing else  (other than perhaps a good bit of TV and a nice glass of wine!) and for that time the pain is not the main thing banging on and on wanting attention every minute of the day – it is magical.

That brings me to my latest pattern  – Butterflies…

butterfly hand embroidery pattern for fibromyalgia

Butterflies are fragile and can easily be hurt – very much like someone with Fibro which is why they are used to help support Fibromyalgia sufferers.

I have designed my latest pattern for 2 reasons :-

Firstly, in the hope that it will raise some awareness of Fibromyalgia – we desperately need the condition to be more recognised for the debilitating, life altering, chronic illness that it is so more help can be found through medications and treatments.

Secondly, in the hope that I can persuade more people suffering from chronic pain to try Embroidery – it is addictive, absorbing, exciting and for us it does what nothing else can – takes you to a place for just a short time where your Pain does not come first.

These butterflies are whimsical and full of different stitches… All are designed to be achieveable by anyone new to embroidery. Follow the pattern or don’t follow the pattern, use all sorts of colours, be neat, be untidy – it really doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy yourself and have something to be proud of at the end.

butterfly embroidery pattern

Satin stitch and basic running stitch complete the above design.

butterfly hand embroidery pattern by stitchdoodles

Stretch your skills and learn a few new stitches with this butterfly. I will be posting tutorials for all the stitches featured here over the next few weeks.

The Butterflies pattern is now available in my shop here and £2 from every pattern sold will go directly to FMA UK – a charity dedicated to raising awareness of Fibro to help all you sufferers out there.

Dog Embroidery Designs!

Dogs have been a big part of my home life as pets as well as in my working career so its no surprise I love stitching them!

I have wanted to get the Border Terrier Pattern I have had drawn out for a while now up as a pattern but due to one thing and another (mainly getting side tracked by different projects) it kept getting put back.

Finally I got around to completing him and I love the way he turned out…

Border Terrier embroidery pattern

The embroidery is stitched with Appleton’s Crewel Wool for the whole of the pattern as it is a dream to stitch with and really gives the character I am looking for.

Rather than go for my usual Long and Short stitch I decided to mix things up a bit and see what results I got from a different approach and I am really pleased.

I used a simple running stitch for the face and absolutely love the effect this has given.

The beard was the tricky part and I actually completed it with a combination of 2 colours in long stitch.

As you can see in the photo’s it took a lot of building up but the overall effect was just what I had in mind.

My final decision was with the eyes and I had a bit of fun here as I had a couple of beautiful 10mm glass eyes in my stash of bits and bobs. I love the way they complete this guys face and it was a complete transformation as soon as they were sewn in.

You can get a copy of the  Border Terrier pattern in my shop as it is all written up and ready to go

To complete your Dog Collection you can find all the other dog patterns in my shop as well from sewing a Shih Tzu to embroidering a pug!

Dog Embroidery Patterns to drool over!


Dog embroidery patterns by stitchdoodles