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Embroidering the sunflower center
6. In my mind, I’d wanted a lattice-work effect similar to the look of darning, as you can see in this lovely darning work by Hannah Lamb. But once again, the sheer size of the space I needed to cover made this technique impossible, so I put my own spin on it.
I started by sewing diagonally across the center with brown bulky yarn, from one side to the other. The yarn was loose in the center and only sewn through the fabric along the edges of the circle.
7. I then started the lattice work diagonally in the other direction, starting from the center and working my way towards one edge. I wove the yarn over one string, and under the next, back and forth, alternating each row. The one difference from what Hannah Lamb did is that I stuck the needle through the fabric to the other side at every stitch, and then back up again, to keep it in place.
Finishing off the sunflower center
9. I was inspired by this Pin of a small embroidered sunflower to embroider a series of French knots around the edges of the sunflower center to fill in any spaces, make it look more finished and add extra texture to the work. You can see how to make a French knot here in the Sweater Doll embroidery school. A lot of people hate making French knots, but they’re actually one of my favorite stitches and I found them much easier to make with bulky yarn!
10. Continue making French knots around the center of the flower, until you like how it looks. I made two or three rows around so that they would be more visible and completely cover up any bits of red wool peeking through.
Embroidering the stem and leaves
11. Use the satin stitch (as shown in this Sweater Doll embroidery lesson) to sew a straight thick stem from the bottom of the blanket to edge of the flower. If you’ve sewn up the slit in a poncho, stitch the stem right over that slit.
12. Use the water soluble fabric marking pen* to sketch out leaves coming out from the stem.
13. As with the flower petals, use the stem stitch to outline the leaf and its stem, making sure to also stitch down the center of the leaf (top). Then use the long/short stitch technique to fill in each leaf with color, starting from the center line (bottom).
And there you have it! A giant DIY embroidered sunflower blanket from a garment that would probably never have gotten used again! My mother was so happy to get her old ruana back in another form, decorated with her favorite flower, and it now lives on one of her couches.
I really enjoyed this project because it was a real learning experience. I am not a master embroiderer by any means, but I discovered that embroidery on such a large scale is very different from small hoop embroidery.
First of all, embroidering with bulky yarn is much different from doing it with embroidery floss. Then, you cannot just fill in spaces with color with the usual satin stitch because the lengths of yarn don’t stay adhered to the foundation fabric. You cannot use an embroidery hoop with such a thick fabric and, without having this way to keep the fabric taut, it quite easily gets pulled and stretched, distorting your original drawn design. And lastly, a huge project like this is definitely not one that you can easily bring about with you to work on, for example, while waiting your turn in a doctor’s office! (I tried that once and it was a bit of a disaster!) However it’s lovely to cover yourself up with the blanket while working on it when it’s cold!
If you love the look of mending or refashioning garments and other items with decorative stitching, make sure you check out my tutorials on:
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