Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day
Sheep are great fun to embroider. Try sketching a few sheep to help you get started—the important thing to capture is the round wooliness of them and the way their ears stand apart from their faces at right angles. They are very forgiving subjects because the wool disguises their actual shape (unlike cows which are really hard to draw). When sheep are out in the fields at their most wooly, take some pictures so you can record how they gather together in little groups, some sitting, some standing, with the faces turned at different angles.
- A wooden block—This one was made of oak and was a 6 inch cube sawn in half diagonally. Oak is nice and heavy. You could have two cubes of wood if you prefer, and adapt the design for a square shape by putting the tree in the center.
- Fabric to cover the bookends—I used antique French ticking in neutral colors as a contrast to the front.
- Very light wadding (batting)
- Threads (embroidery floss in choice of colors)
- Knot Stitch: See Tutorial Page 4
- Loopy Stitch: See Tutorial Page 4
- Rollover Stitch: See Tutorial Page 4
- Satin Stitch: See Tutorial Page 4
- Slip Stitch: See Tutorial Page 6
- Split Stitch: See Tutorial Page 2
- Stem Stitch: See Tutorial Page 2
- Straight Stitch: See Tutorial Page 1
scissors, pencil, tracing paper, ruler, iron and pressing surface
Prepare the block by stapling the wadding to it as neatly as possible.
Cut pieces of fabric for the face you plan to embroider and its opposite face, allowing 1/2 inch extra all round. Staple the plain piece to the block though the wadding on the overlapping fabric, but not too close to the edge.
Fold the panel you are going to embroider over the block so you can mark the area of the embroidery. Do not embroider within 1/4 inch of this fold to allow yourself a bit of leeway when fixing the panel to the block. Print template. (Note: The blue word “template” is a link. To access this template, select the link, then download and print template.) Using the template, lightly trace the fence onto the panel and stitch, followed by the tree. The fence is worked in single thread and you can use either stem, split, or straight stitches. Use a different brown for the fence than the one you use on the tree. See Stitches Tutorial (Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, and Page 6). Stitches Tutorial reprinted with permission from Hand-Stitched Home: Inspirations, Ideas, and Projects by Caroline Zoob (Harper Collins Publishers). Some sample references may not be available for viewing.
Now work the tree. I always start with the trunk, working a single thread in long and short stitches to give the effect of the bark. Flare the trunk out at the bottom, imagining as you do so the way that tree roots spread out and make the ground beneath them bumpy. Build the tree trunk and branches upward with satin stitch and knot stitch using single thread, and then use rollover stitch to create a few ridges in the bark. Add the leaves using stem stitch.
For the sheep I use 4 strands and make tiny stitches next to each other, but do not pull the thread right through the fabric. You could use knot stitch, but I like using these loopy stitches as they feel a bit woolier. When you are happy with the body of the sheep, add their black faces, ears, feet, and tails.
Add blades of grass going across the legs of the sheep and the fence posts and some behind. Lastly, if you choose, add the little bird on the fence post.
Iron your embroidery. Staple it to the padded block. Cut a piece of fabric that will stretch around the long diagonal side and bottom of the block, allowing enough for a 1/2 inch turn under on all edges. Slip stitch the fabric to the block, starting with the embroidered panel diagonal edge and continuing around, joining the two ends underneath the block as in the picture below. Alternatively, take the block, fabric, and embroidery to an upholsterer and ask him or her to do it for you!
by Caroline Zoob
Reprinted with permission from Hand-Stitched Home: Embroidered Inspirations, Ideas, and Projects by Caroline Zoob (Harper Collins Publishers), ISBN: 9780062250049