Needle Painting stitch along: Part 1

Needle Painting stitch along: Part 1

And here starts the first-ever stitch along on Stitch Floral! Together we are going to overcome the hurdles of needle painting, using the magnificent Pansies project by Trish Burr.

Truth be told, I nearly had a heart attack when I realized the REAL size of the pattern, which is only 3 x 5 cm. So small! Don't know about you, but the multiple layers of different shades on a small space is exactly what makes me anxious about these types of projects. But oh well.. you can't master it unless you try.

So, without further ado, let's dive into the project!

First things first, you can find the Pansies project in Trish Burr's “Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery” book which features lovely patterns made after vintage illustrations. The talented embrioderess also holds an online store, but at the moment of writing this post the Pansies project couldn't be found there. Anyway, I do recommend purchasing the book, because it contains LOADS of useful information and tips, not speaking about all the other lovely embroidery projects you can work. This book is definitely one of the must-haves in any embroidery library.

Preparation stage

  • Fabric. Needle painting implies making a LOT of stitches in a small space to fill it in. So, naturally, the fabric with a higher count should be used as a ground. Natural fibers like linen and cotton are the best options. Natural silk also fits this type of project. Aida is a no-no. I'm using a cotton muslin.
    Note that if the fabric is too light and transparent, you might want to back it up. The backing fabric should be preshrunk to avoid puckering. You might notice in the image above that my fabric is a bit transparent too, but this level is fine with me because the pattern is small and without any details outside the flower shapes,and we can skip worrying about random thread showing through. So I'm not using any backing fabric. 

  • Needles. Trish Burr recommends using sharps #11

  • Thread. This project uses 17 shades of DMC cotton embroidery floss and 3 shades of Gütermann sew-all polyester sewing thread. Since they don't import this thread here, I'm using equivalent DMC floss instead. You can find the PDF chart for matching Gütermann-DMC colors on Mary Corbet's Needle'n Thread.
    However if you have access to the Gütermann sewing thread, I recommend using it. Trish Burr explains that this polyester thread is used mainly for thinner shading outline, because sometimes even one thread of DMC floss can be too thick. Seeing the scale of the project I understand what she means. Nevertheless, I have to go with the floss. We'll see how it works.
    All the stitches in this project are worked having one thread of floss in the needle.

  • Hoop. Use any good-quality hoop you have, making sure that the fabric is drum-tight as you are working. Trish Burr recommends Susan Bates Super Grip.

Stitching tips

The pansies project is worked using two types of stitches: long and short stitch and split back stitch. If you are not familiar with any of them, make some time to have them practiced on a piece of fabric.

I already covered the long and short stitch with a complete step-by-step lesson and additional tips, so make sure you read it carefully and practice enough before starting with needle painting. Trish Burr also gives the non-obvious insightful tips in her book, but I won't delve into this in this particular post, because we are only going to make an outline at this stage. Let's save it for later, when we start with the long and short stitch.

The outline is worked using split back stitch. Which is basically the same as back stitch, except that with every new stitch you pierce the previous one at about 2/3 of its length. I don't have a lesson for it yet, but hopefully will fix this soon :)

Now, I think we covered all the necessary information at this point? If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section below!

Stitching the outline

We start needle painting by making an outline for the shapes we will fill in with long and short stitch. Outline is needed for raising the edges of petals a bit and giving them more volume.

Since we are going to cover all the space inside the flower shapes, I start the thread by making tiny anchoring stitches inside the petals.

Needle Painting stitch along: Part 1

So, the book I own is a Russian edition, where they mention only Russian equivalent for “split stitch” in the step-by-step instructions. Accordingly, I started making the outline with the usual split stitch, except that it seemed a bit too thick for the pattern of this size and didn't look quite the same as in the images in the book. And when I checked the diagrams for the stitches at the beginning of the book, I realized that Trish Burr actually uses the split back stitch. They just translated it wrongly...

Needle Painting stitch along: Part 1

I didn't redo the first petal, but the next one was worked already in the split back stitch. And I have to say that it felt much more convenient. The line got thinner and it followed the curves more eagerly. Lesson 1 – always check the diagrams twice, especially if you have a translated edition.

A little tip that I think I didn't share before. If you finished stitching the line and you need to start a new one in a distance, you can make tiny stitches along the next line to get to its point of beginning. Avoid making long thread transitions because it can cause puckering later.

Needle Painting stitch along: Part 1

Finally, we work the stems using three shades of floss. The darkest one was supposed to be the sewing thread, but I decided to use DMC. Maybe that's why the stems actually look a bit thicker than in Trish Burr's embroidery? Well, let's wait for the final result.

Needle Painting stitch along: Part 1

At this point, we're almost done with the split back stitch in this project. Actually, we're supposed to make an outline for the small leaves shapes in the right flower, but I decided to work it after filling the shapes in. I find it more convenient to stitch the “lower” shapes first and then cover with those that are placed “above”.

Well, for now, everything is quite easy, huh? Next time we are going to fill in the right flower with long and short stitch. That's where the real fun will start! Look forward to the Part 2!


Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


  1. Wonderful blog. Nice and informative tips. Beautifully explained

  2. Interesting blog with great tips & tricks. Thanks for sharing your work with us

  3. Hola, Amina,

    Acabo de descubrir tu blog y son verdaderas maravillas! Gracias por compartir, son regalos para la vista.



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