Stitching Outside the Box: 1st try at freestyle

Thanks to the wonders of the internet and all the beautiful embroidery on Pinterest, Etsy, etc., I’ve been itching to try freestyle hand embroidery for some time.  While I’ve cross-stitched since I was a child, I’ve never tried any other type of embroidery, and the idea of being able to stitch more free-form really appeals to me.  So I snagged a discount copy of “The Stitch Bible” by Kate Haxell at an after Christmas sale in January and started searching around for my first pattern to try.

While I love the idea of creating an original piece (as in, drawing a pattern, tracing it, choosing colors, etc.), I decided that for my first time out I wanted to try something a bit easier.  After drooling over patterns on Etsy for several days, I settled on a design by a lovely shop called Clementine Patterns and purchased an easy sampler called “Bless the Lord.”  Their patterns come already printed on a piece of cotton fabric (saving me a step for my first project), along with a guide which suggests what stitches you might use and some possible colors.  It all comes in a lovely little package with a color print of the model.

My first step was to choose colors.  I stuck fairly close to their model, but my colors tend more to jewel tones.  Here they are:

My colors for "Bless the Lord"

My colors for “Bless the Lord”

So far, I’ve really enjoyed myself.  It takes a bit more concentration that cross stitch in order to keep the stitches even, so I’m doing it in small doses.  Here’s what I have so far.



I also purchased a more difficult sampler at the same time.  If I make it through both of those, I’ll feel ready to take on a more complex project.  🙂


Organizing Embroidery Floss and Project Binders

Over the years I’ve tried a few systems of floss organization.  For years, I used the little cards that you wind the floss around, and keep in small plastic boxes.  This system had the advantage of being neat and portable.  But there’s a fair bit of work in winding the floss.  The reason I abandoned this system in the end was the way it creases the floss – particularly as you get near the end of a skein.

Over the past few years, I’ve used the StitchBow system from DMC and I’m really loving the way it works.  I use 3″ binders to store my floss collection.

embroidery floss in a 3" binder

embroidery floss in a 3″ binder

my embroidery floss binder

my embroidery floss binder

The plastic stitchbows themselves are inexpensive and quite easy to use – you transfer the floss directly onto them without having to wind it, and the labels with the color ID number are easily inserted.

Once on the stitchbow, the floss slides easily in and out of the plastic binder sleeves.  I leave extra sleeves in my binder and space out my existing floss so it’s easy to add new as I purchase.

Another advantage to this system is that the floss is transferred easily into a project binder.  Like many, I prefer to work on several projects at once.  I keep each project in a “go bag” (more on that in a later post) so when I sit down to stitch, I can easily grab the project I want and everything I need for that project is at my fingertips.  Having small children, this system keeps projects accessible to me, but out of reach of little fingers…

As I was saying, each project bag has the needed floss.  Depending on how many colors and the size of the pattern, I often keep these in a smaller binder in my go bag.  Here’s an example.

a project binder with pattern and floss inserts

a project binder with pattern and floss inserts

the front cover: usually an image of the project or instructions

the front cover: usually an image of the project or instructions

Of course small projects don’t necessarily need a binder.  More on individual project organization and floss binders in a later post.

So that’s my system.  I’d love to hear what works for you!