Monday 22 August 2016

Take to the Sea: a Nautical Embroidery Project

UPDATE: this embroidery pattern is now available in my Patreon pattern library.

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I finally finished my "Take to the Sea" embroidery! Hurrah!

I had so much fun stitching this project, and I'm really pleased with the (slightly wonky) end result. Brace yourself for an avalanche of photos...

Back in early July I decided I wanted to stitch something in celebration of the late, great website The Toast - as a gift for a Toast-loving friend.

I started with a sketch: one of the unofficial mottoes of The Toast - "take to the sea" - plus some abstract waves and a little boat with a T (for Toast). I wasn't sure how I wanted to stitch it (or even what materials to use) but eventually settled on embroidery.

I traced the design in pencil onto some white fabric and stretched it in an embroidery hoop. I started with the motto, sewing the letters and the outline of the boat with backstitch and half strands of very dark blue embroidery thread (floss). I then began slowly stitching the waves.

I used half strands of blue embroidery thread for each wave, sewing curving lines of backstitch to gradually fill the space.

I started at the top of each wave and worked downwards. When I got near the bottom of a wave I'd sew the top line of the next one to make sure I could then sew right up to the new colour.

I have to admit that I got slightly addicted to working on this, and stayed up late several nights in a row working on it!

It took a lot of hours of stitching to complete all the waves, but it was such a relaxing process - and so satisfying seeing the piece develop. 

I ran out of thread a couple of times and had to stitch some of the waves in two similar shades. When this happened I made sure to make the dividing line between each block of colour a nice organic wave shape to fit in with the rest of the design.

Sadly my chosen hoop wasn't tight enough and the fabric got pulled about a bit as I stitched so the original circle shape got a bit distorted, but who cares?

Okay so the perfectionist part of me is kinda bothered by this, but for a first attempt stitching something this detailed I'm very pleased with how it turned out. And this is the joy of personal projects (as opposed to things with deadlines and paychecks) - you get the chance to experiment with new things and it doesn't matter so much if they don't turn out 100% "on brief".

Once I'd finished the waves, I used white embroidery thread to "colour in" the little boat and its sail.

This is what the back looked like when the whole piece was finished: so much thread!

After the excitement of finishing the embroidery it took me a couple of weeks to get round to tidying up the hoop, trimming the excess fabric and finishing the back neatly with a circle of felt to cover all the mess.

Here's how it looked before I packed it up and popped it in the post...

A little different to the original sketch, but close enough!

 I love the texture of all that dense stitching. Lots of work, but totally worth it. 

I kind of want to spend all my spare time embroidering things now! Mmm... embroidery...

Fancy a stitchy project of your own? Click here to find all the free embroidery patterns I've shared on my blog.


Jennifer said...

So fun!

Ariadne said...

Lovely pattern and so much work. I hope you will make more!AriadnefromGreece!

Angela said...

So pretty! I love the dense stitching and the whole thing is so soothing.

Amy said...

That is amazing - I wish I was as talented!

Amy from

Bugs and Fishes said...

Thanks guys! Being able to share this as I've worked on it made it even more fun xxx

Amy - this is definitely a project that involves more time than skill! You just need to know one stitch and have a lot of patience to sew it over and over :)