Slow Stitching is a lovely freestyle type of embroidery but it can be a little difficult to know how to get started.
Cecile’s Heart Freestyle Embroidery Pattern
Today I’m sharing a pattern of a pretty slow stitched heart I embroidered recently. You might find it helpful to get going with this beautiful and mindful craft.
What is Slow Stitching?
Providing a pattern for slow stitching is a little counter intuitive. Slow stitching is a relatively recent term to cover many types of hand stitching, including decorative embroidery and mending, where there is no pattern. You can stitch as you please, just letting your mind and your stitches wander. It is precisely this lack of planning that makes it so relaxing.
You can use whatever threads and fabric you have. You can use whatever stitches you like. You can add beads, buttons, fabric scraps, lace etc if you want to, or not. It’s completely up to you which is what makes this style of stitching freeing.
All that said, I know from experience that some people struggle getting started on a creative project with no plan or pattern. So if you are one of those people, to whom a blank piece of paper or fabric is terrifying then this pattern is for you.
Once you’ve completed a piece of slow stitching, like this heart embroidery, I am sure your confidence will have increased and you will start to feel inspired to let your creative juices flow a little more next time and free style it a bit.
The backstory for Cecile’s heart embroidery design
This embroidered heart started as a little piece of stitching I did during my Auntie Cecile’s funeral service. As Auntie Cecile lived on the other side of the world we didn’t travel for the funeral but watched the live stream instead. I don’t know if you have attended many live streamed funerals but it’s not quite the same as being there in person. I think they are a marvel of modern technology, the fact that people all over the world can come together like this is amazing but we must acknowledge that the experience is not quite the same. I would never sit and stitch during a service if I were there in person, but as I was sitting on my sofa at home with a cup of tea and my laptop, watching people arrive on screen I had an urge to create something with my hands. Auntie Cecile was a very creative woman, she had such flair in the way she decorated her home and made many of her own fabulous clothes. I picked up a sample piece of upholstery fabric, my stash of embroidery thread scraps, drew a heart shape and started stitching.
It was a lovely way to keep my hands busy as I watched the service. Cecile was a vibrant, stylish woman so I picked bright, colourful threads for my stitching, thinking of her as I went along. I even included some metallic thread to add a little sparkle even though I really don’t like working with metallic thread. I listened to the service and reflected on my memories.
I carried on stitching after the service and finished covering the entire heart shape by the end of that evening so I’d estimate it look me about 4-5 hours in all but to be honest, when you are slow stitching like this I’m not sure you are supposed to count the time at all!
Basic guidelines for slow stitching
Slow stitching is normally a freeform, make it up as you go along embroidery so I’m sharing the pattern here with you in case you’d like to make something similar. Use it as a guide, swap the colours for any that you like/have. Switch out any stitches or elements that you don’t like, this style of embroidery is no rules. You can literally stitch whatever you like wherever you like.
This is an excellent project for using up even the tiniest scraps of embroidery thread that you might have left over from kits or other embroidery projects.
I didn’t here, but you can add buttons, beads, ribbon, lace or scraps of fabric applique to your stitching.
You don’t need any special embroidery fabric, as I said before, here I used a sample of upholstery fabric. Any fabric which has a bit of weight to it is ideal, nothing too thin, see through or too floppy. Denim would work well, or a thick cotton or even felt.
What you need to stitch Cecile’s heart embroidery
My embroidery hoop is like this spring tension one, so it’s really quick to reposition but any kind will work just fine.
Start by transferring the basic design detail of the heart onto your fabric. You can see an easy way to do that here: How to transfer an embroidery design onto fabric.
How to stitch Cecile’s Heart Embroidery
You can stitch the design in any order but you’ll probably find it easiest to stitch the basic design elements first, then fill in the smaller details afterwards.
I’ve created a stitch guide in a couple of different ways, use a mix of them to guide you, plus the photos of my finished heart embroidery or just pick the one that makes the most sense to you. Remember this is just a guide to get you started so feel free to change it up as much or as little as you like.
You can vary how many strands of embroidery thread you use. I used 2 strands for almost all the stitching except a few times when I used just 1 strand.
I’m not sure how helpful this version of the pattern is (below) I used so many different stitches and colours in the original piece that this may just be confusing. My husband, who is my non embroidering advisor, was not impressed but I’ve included it anyway just in case it works for you.
Ideas to alter the design to make it your own
You might find one or two of your stitched elements take up a little more or less space than mine did. That’s fine. Just adjust something else. Miss out some of the seed stitches or french knots. Or add more in to fill in the gaps. Maybe you have some little seed beads that you’d like to incorporate, they would be lovely in place of the french knots.
If there is a stitch used that you really don’t like just switch it out for one you do like.
If you are a beginner then maybe don’t use a metallic thread, they are notoriously difficult to stitch with. If you want a little bling on your stitching then add sequins or beads.
Where to find instructions for the different embroidery stitches
If you are new to embroidery, or don’t know some of the stitches used then I have a few places I can recommend. I have a guide to a few basic embroidery stitches and a step by step guide to stitch the spider web stitch. I also love the stitch diagrams on the DMC website and The RSN Stitch guide particularly their guide to the back stitch trellis which I couldn’t find anywhere else.
What to do once your embroidery is finished
When your embroidery is complete, remove it from the hoop and wash off any pen marks.
Place face down on a soft fluffy towel and then press with an iron. The towel will protect your stitches as stop the iron from flattening them.
Once it is dry you can frame your heart embroidery or use it in some other way. You could sew it onto a bag or cushion cover. I’ve made mine into a hanging scented sachet and will share how to do that with you soon.
If you’ve ever fancied giving slow stitching a go I hope you are inspired to try. Whether or not you use this pattern for Cecile’s heart or go with the flow and create your own special piece just enjoy the process, it really is a wonderful, mindful craft.
I’ll be sharing this embroidery pattern at some of these link ups
You might also be interested in these other embroidery ideas: