Join Spoonflower Ambassador Robert Mahar to learn how you can take an already gorgeous wall hanging and make it extra special with the art of embroidery. Start off with Spoonflower’s ready-to-go wall hangings, or even construct your own using a fat quarter of fabric.
Robert: As we approach the end of summer and begin to think about the beginning of a new school year, it feels like the perfect time to tackle a project utilizing old-school educational diagrams.
I reworked an image from a vintage French textbook and Spoonflower transformed it into a beautifully printed wall hanging for you and I to embellish with embroidery. The end result is an A+ addition to your study area, homeschool classroom or anywhere that could use a little bit of hand-stitched happiness.
It’s no secret that I love vintage instructional charts and illustrations, and use them often in my embroidery work. For this project, I’ve selected a colorful illustration from an old botany primer that details a selection of flowering plants (“plantes a fleurs” in French). I love the composition of whole flowering plants alongside dissections of their respective blooms—which strikes that wonderful balance of being pretty enough to hang in my home, but also nerdy enough to keep me interested.
There are a couple of ways you can tackle this project:
Start With a Wall Hanging
1. Order a Wall Hanging from Spoonflower
Order your design as a Spoonflower Wall Hanging and it will arrive neatly hemmed and ready to display as a 16” x 24” (40 x 61 cm) fabric tapestry. The big bonus is that Spoonflower wall hangings are accompanied by beautifully finished beech wood frames that use strong countersunk magnets to secure the top and bottom edges of your fabric panel. You can then hang it from its white cotton cord or mount it using foam tape squares (both included)!
2. Make Your Own
For a more DIY approach, order the design on a fat quarter of fabric and double hem the edges with your sewing machine. I would recommend selecting Linen Cotton Canvas—it’s the perfect weight substrate for a wall hanging and embroiders wonderfully.
When considering ways to display your fabric panel, you may opt to sew a pole pocket along the top through which you can insert a length of dowel and then attach a hanging cord. You can also create your own hanging frame, like the one I demonstrate in this quick video.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are creating your own frame, rather than using the magnetic tape I use in the video to hang a paper poster, you’ll need to utilize extra strong magnets to securely hold and display your fabric panel.
Stitching Embroidery On Your Wall Hanging
Now! Let’s add extra color and texture to our wall hanging by embellishing it with embroidery. Stitching on a beautifully printed textile sets you up for success because:
- You can embroider as much or as little as you’d like and the end result always feels complete
- The colorful imagery can disguise imperfections in your stitches resulting in a low-pressure project
This really is a choose your own adventure style project, meaning the color palette, selection of embroidery stitches and their placement is entirely up to you. Let me walk you through a few of the stitches I selected to use for my wall hanging.
The Fly Stitch
A single fly stitch can resemble the letter V or Y, but when stitched in a chain it creates a barbed line that resembles a feather or the veining of a leaf. When you don’t work the fly stitch perfectly symmetrical, it feels more organic, highlighting the structure of foliage in a beautiful way. Click here for a video tutorial!
The French Knot
This highly versatile stitch creates a lovely knot that sits on the surface of the fabric. Use it to punctuate the edges of a blossom, create a polka dot effect or stitch them en masse to fill the center of flower or the cap of an acorn with dense texture. Click here for a video tutorial!
The Chain Stitch
As the name implies, this embroidery all-star combines a series of links to create the appearance of a chain. Individual links are known as the Detached Chain Stitch or Lazy Daisy and resemble a tiny petal or tear drop. Click here for a video tutorial!
The Whipped Back Stitch
Take your standard back stitch to the next level by weaving a second strand of embroidery floss through its stitches. When you use the same color floss for both, it results in a strong monochromatic line perfect for bold, stand out typography. Use a different color floss to whip the back stitch and the result is a charming candy cane style striping. Click here for a video tutorial!
Once you’ve finished stitching your wall hanging, odds are that it’s fairly wrinkled from being handled. I recommend hand washing your work in a sink or basin filled with cool water and mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly, roll your fabric in a bath towel and press it with your hands to expel any water. Lay it flat to dry (in the sunshine, if possible).
Finally, to remove any remaining wrinkles—place a dry bath towel on your ironing board, place your wall hanging on the bath towel, embroidery side down and steam iron. The towel provides just enough cushioning so that all of your beautiful stitches are not ironed flat.
All that’s left to do is sandwich the top and bottom edges of your fabric between the magnetic frame bars and hang it on your wall!
Hang around a bit longer!
Robert Mahar is a Los Angeles-based artist, designer, maker and embroidery enthusiast who teaches clever do-it-yourself projects and develops imaginative craft inspired products. He’s also a proud alumni of the inaugural season of NBC’s crafting competition show Making It with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. With an education in studio arts and art history, he has worked in a variety of creative fields including 13 years as an appraiser of modern and contemporary art. Learn more about Robert, explore his video tutorial archive and shop his collection of curious embroidery samplers at robert-mahar.comMore About Robert Mahar
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