Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hand embroidery: Yes I can! I mean, I will!

I just could not resist any longer. Creating beautiful embroidery is what I am dreaming of doing during those quiet evenings when children are in bed and I finally get time to listen to music or watch a movie. My husband is an avid collector of antique Chinese embroidery, and I feel I ought to finally sit down and learn how to create embellishments inspired by those extraordinary pieces.

At some point last year I even went to Purl Soho in New York and bought some embroidery floss, a pack of needles and a reference book. But as time passed, it was all packed in a small box and put on a top shelf sharing the fate with my leather sewing tools, knitting magazines, and a few rather obscure what-was-I-thinking-type-of objects and books.

Whole past year, every time I logged in to my account, I was hoping to find a hand embroidery class. In vain. All they offered was machine embroidery classes. And then, this January, it happened: Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery by Jessica Marquez.

It is a perfect class for a beginner. The stitches are conveniently grouped in lessons, and after each lesson you finish a 4" (10cm) square with about a dozen of sample stitches. Here is the first sample I made after a lesson on flat stitches.

Stitches from the top down: 1. Running stitch; 2. Running stitch on a curve; 3. Back stitch; 4. Back stitch on a curve; 5. Threaded stitch; 6. Whip stitch; 7. Split stitch; 8. Split stitch on a curve; 9. Stem stitch; 10. Stem stitch on a curve; 11. Fern stitch


I enjoy Jessica's teaching style. She is very precise and concise, has all her tools and thoughts in place and, what's most helpful, she anticipates most of the beginner's needs.

The samples she prepared for the class are very neat and can be used as a reference, especially when assembled in a small quilt, as suggested by Jessica.

There are quite a few inspiration materials that Jessica shows to class participants demonstrating the use of the stitches covered in a lesson


The following remarks may sound negative, but they don't change the fact that I really like the class. My criticism is not about the contents, but rather about a few small glitches.

It was unclear at the beginning what transfer methods will be used during the class. Only one is introduced at the beginning, and another one is showed in one of a later lessons. I wish there was a brief intro at the beginning of the class on what is going to be covered besides the samples.

The same refers to the tools and materials. It would have been nice to have some options, or a suggestion for a most-essential tool kit. I'd prefer not to buy all the materials listed in the resources as I am only a beginner and easily succumb to the urge to buy all the existing tools, materials and resources for a new craft, which I may or may not pursue in the long run. For example, for practice purposes, I was at the end able to transfer the sample design to muslin with a simple pencil, rather than an iron transfer pen, which I may purchase later if needed.

Finally, maybe it was an exception, but it took Jessica almost two days, longer than in other classes, to answer my questions. I hope this will change as the class goes on - quick feedback is extremely important for a steady learning progress, especially in an online class.


Before beginning with stitching, I watched the entire class while cooking, or sewing. Three days later I was able to do my first stitches without buying any extra tools or materials. That's my first!

To stay motivated, I collected a few inspiration images or pieces and pinned them on a wall in my studio, and on my Pinterest board.


As you see above, I managed to get my stitches somewhat straight and somewhat consistent. I will continue posting about the class as I complete the lessons, and when I am finished I will try to stitch those cute fishes above. I want to use them to embellish a skirt, or something else. However, this week I got to practice looped stitches. One of them - the couching stitch - is used for the scales and the outline of the fishes. I'd better post the image in the class and ask Jessica. Will keep you posted.

Do you use embroidery, beading or other crafts to compliment your sewing? 

Disclosure: I am a member of the Craftsy Affiliate Program and receive a commission for sales that are generated through links to Craftsy classes from my blog. However, the class I review here was purchased by me, and the review is not a commercial endorsement but my honest and unaffected opinion. I count on your understanding that the commission generated through affiliate links helps support this blog and share with you thorough information, tutorials, reviews and learning resources. 


  1. Hi Marina, your embrodery sample looks Soooo good. Did you use a loop in this class? After reading your post I became very intrigued about this class. I worked on bead embrodery for a few years and I love it so much but for some reason I find the regular embrodery more difficult.

  2. Your sample looks great, Marina. I spent last night embroidering too, doing some practice stitches that tonight will go on the coat I am making. Embroidering is fun and I have done it for years. I picked it up seriously when my children were little and sewing machine time pretty non existent. I always had my bag of embroidery around and could pick it up for a few minutes whenever the opportunity presented itself. I got a lot done that way.

    Your husband's collection must be so inspiring. That one photo is lovely.

  3. Sample looks great, you could frame that! I've done some embroidery, yes, just a downloaded pattern on some muslin. I found a HEAP of embroider floss at a thrift shop for $3 so that's a good enough excuse for me! It was really fun and, as you say, good to do in front of the TV or something like that.

  4. Glad you're blogging again with more regularity.

    Please don't apologize for making frank assessments of a class. It's to our and also the vendor's benefit. Thanks for disclosing your arrangement with Craftsy and the circumstances under which you wrote this review. Incidentally, I took The Couture Dress class using the discount code provided on your site. It was a very good class.

  5. I agree, thank you for your frank assessment of the class. I respect your sewing knowledge so a good review from you adds weight.

  6. Oh wow the embroidery design is gorgeous. I can only wish to do that level of skill. I have done a little bit of embroidery and I keep meaning to do more with it but as it's not my particular style I always struggle to find something I can apply it too! I'm looking forward to seeing your design though!

  7. I have been working on a 1930s embroidered kimono style robe and was looking for a class to take, I have done a little practice but I really need more instruction tan a few tutorials on line. I will explore the class.

  8. Last year embroidery was one of my unmet goals. I love the embroidery design. I have an option to add embroidery module to my Bernina but since all our computers our Apple -- it seems expensive and difficult. Thus, I definitely wanted to hand embroider, especially since I've lost my favorite Mexican inspired peasant blouse. It was hand-embroidered beautifully. I love your post and am saving it as one of my favorites. You do beautiful and intricate work in your normally sewing -- I can't wait to see your embroidery!

  9. I am such a fan of your sewing blog and your sewing skills, I am certain mastering embroidery will present no problem for you.

    I began my sewing experience as a very young child, probably around four or five years old. It all began with embroidering pillowcases, and is something I was given to keep me still and occupied during inclement weather. Needless to say, it was not my favorite type of sewing. ...lol

    I do find that my handwork during my sewing projects is completed quickly and my stitches are evenly spaced and appropriate for the task. Because of all the practice I've had, I don't seem to mind doing the handwork required to complete sewing or tailoring projects. Recently, I have begun a focused interest in embellishing my sewn projects with silk embroidery embellished areas. My goal is to incorporate them into a sewing project very soon. I wish you continued success and will continue to follow your blog with enthusiastic interest.

  10. Love your sampler! I've been wanting to get back into hand embroidery so this is really timely. This class is going on my wishlist!

  11. Such neat stitches ! I find this class very tempting, but, having enrolled to 44 craftsy classes already, I can't justify the time till I have at least completed half of them. So many things to learn !

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Oops...deleted by accident, anyway. Your sample is incredible, you are so talented. I'm glad you are back blogging about all your creations. So inspiring for a beginner like me.

  13. Good luck with you embroidery, Marina. I find it incredibly relaxing! Might I suggest Mary Corbett's Needle N Thread blog. She is, in my opinion, simply the best there is and has lots of great tips and tutorials.

  14. Thanks for sharing this resource and inspiration. I really like your direct writing style and appreciate your sharing the affiliation disclosures. Practice samplers didn't appeal to me at all until you mentioned putting them into a quilt. What a great idea--or perhaps a wall hanging.

  15. I love this post. Thank you so much for sharing these. It makes me want to be more mindful of the backside of my embroidery. I'm always thinking of ways of covering it up with scrapes of cloth to hide the mess. :)

  16. hm.. I am reached here by searching for calibration details of embroidery machines... think it is right place for it and this site should be an encyclopedia for the embroidery business .

  17. Last year embroidery was one of my unmet goals. I love the embroidery design. I have an option to add embroidery module to my Bernina but since all our computers our Apple -- it seems expensive and difficult. Thus, I definitely wanted to hand embroider , especially since I've lost my favorite Mexican inspired peasant blouse. It was hand-embroidered beautifully. I love your post and am saving it as one of my favorites. You do beautiful and intricate work in your normally sewing -- I can't wait to see your embroidery!

  18. What an amazing chance for one of your very special creations. It would make my year to be lucky enough to have a one of your fantastic embroideries and it would have pride of place in my house. Whoever wins will be one lucky person!!!! Good luck everyone.



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