September 30, 2017

Book Review and giveaway: The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki

Book Review of The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki, reviewed by floresita for Feeling Stitchy

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing The Embroidered Garden: Stitching through the Seasons of a Flower Garden, a beautiful book by embroidery artist Kazuko Aoki. Overall, this book is a wonderful advanced addition to your embroidery library - if you are a beginner, this book is a great way to expand your skills and hone your attention to detail.

Just so you know, the book link above is an Amazon Affiliate link - clicking through the link and buying is one way to support our volunteer reviews - we use funds in our Amazon account for new giveaways and reviews.

This book review has been long in the making, as any of you who follow me on Instagram have seen. I am embarassed to say I received this book more than a year ago from the publisher, stitched up my project, then life took over and I never posted my review. Well, this is a beautiful book, so not another fall will go by without me posting my review!

What's in the book

As a gardener, Kazuko Aoki has created wonderfully organic designs incorporating the flowers that inspire her into each season - Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. There are 4 large wreath designs for each season, and 4 smaller band-size designs, as well as a series of small projects for each season - about 29 patterns total.

You will quickly learn that nothing in this book can be categorized as "easy", every line counts - and what looks simple has an underlying attention to detail that results in something quite extraordinary.

Here's a brief peek through the book:

A peek through the pages of The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki

A peek through the pages of The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki

Spring wreath
Spring pattern

Garden diary
Garden diary project

Butterfly brooches in The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki, reviewed by floresita on Feeling Stitchy
Butterfly brooches

Summer wreath in The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki, reviewed by floresita on Feeling Stitchy
Summer wreath

Autumn wreath in The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki, reviewed by floresita on Feeling Stitchy
Autumn wreath

Winter wreath in The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki, reviewed by floresita on Feeling Stitchy
Winter wreath

Extra techniques in The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki, reviewed by floresita on Feeling Stitchy

This tips and techniques section is very helpful - but you may need to whip out your magnifying glass - the pictures and text are teeny-tiny!

example of a pattern page in The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki, reviewed by floresita on Feeling Stitchy

The pattern pages are very complex, and depending on the stitcher, somewhat overwhelming. They are scaled smaller than the finished project, which will necessitate a trip to the copier. My approach to the patterns was to use them as a general guide to stitches and color, but not to follow them too religiously.

My Project

Tip: If you trace directly over the wreath pattern image it will fit perfectly into an 8 inch embroidery hoop.

Planning a book review for Feeling Stitchy

I had a wedding to go to, and I wanted to have a present that was unique and extraordinary - I found just that in the Winter Wreath pattern.

Although the pattern was undeniably gorgeous as is, I really wanted to approach this in a unique way, and tailor the project to the bride's wedding colors, which were navy blue and gold.

re-tracing over pattern - book review by floresita for Feeling Stitchy

I was very fortunate to find some beautiful navy blue linen in my mother's fabric stash, and chose that as my background. Of course the dark fabric produced a series of challenges - I initially used white carbon paper to transfer the image, and yellow chalk pencil to refine the lines.

When those lines faded, I traced the image, and stitched directly onto the tracing paper:
Using tracing paper and a micron pen - book review by floresita for Feeling Stitchy

Couching the stems - book review by floresita for Feeling Stitchy

Both techniques worked well, and both had their drawbacks - my advice if you are stitching on dark fabric is to be open to trying out a new technique, and see what works best for you!

I used as many types of floss as I could handle for my piece:
gathering threads - book review by floresita for Feeling Stitchy

6 strand DMC embroidery floss, vintage floss, gold metallic floss and thread, white DMC pearlescent effects floss, and rayon floss. Everything worked out really well and added to the overall sheen of the piece.

Almost finished - book review by floresita for Feeling Stitchy

What I loved about this project was all the new things I learned - like using split stitch to fill an entire shape. I had never thought of doing that before, and I loved the organic texture it created. I also found myself relying on (and developing) my drawing and tracing skills. Visit my personal blog if you'd like to see even more process photos!

In patterns as complex as these, you must ultimately accept that reproducing it exactly is neither possible nor advisable - the magic of these patterns is what you bring to them yourself.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to lovers of Japanese craft books, and stitchers looking for an added challenge, but there are projects suitable for beginners as well.


I enjoyed this book so much that we are doing a giveaway from our own small funds, so I will need to limit the giveaway to US only - so sorry!

Please leave a comment on this post to enter - and tell me - what is your favorite season and why? I'll leave comments open through Saturday, October 7, when I'll choose one random winner!

Edit: 10/9/17 - We have our winner! Sarah posted the random winning comment, please see below! Thank you all for joining in! :)

September 29, 2017

Freebie Friday - Fall and October

Free October pattern by Q is for Quilter, featured on Feeling Stitchy

There are LOTS of free resources for embroidery patterns out there - I thought I'd take you for a walk around them and explore all the lovely seasonal patterns! This lovely October pattern is in a set of monthly vintage patterns scanned by Q is For Quilter.

Free Autumn Embroidery pattern by Mollie Johanson for The Spruce, featured on Feeling Stitchy

I'm also loving this free Autumn pattern designed by Mollie Johanson for The Spruce. Those teeny maple leaves are adorable, aren't they? I'd love to see them even bigger. :)

September 27, 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #50: Cinder and Honey

Wonderful Wednesday 50 - Cinder and Honey, a pattern feature by floresita for Feeling Stitchy

I am truly taken aback by the delicate loveliness of this Butterfly Embroidery Pattern by Cinder and Honey. The beauty of this piece is undoubtedly in the masterful stitching, and yet it's encouraging to see that the stitches themselves are not difficult ones to try. Lovely!

September 19, 2017

Stitchy Snippets - Cosmic Cross Stitch

Cross stitch planet patterns by Navid Baraty, featured by Julia on Feeling Stitchy

Photographer Navid Baraty has embroidered a stunning collection of planets which include: Earth, Jupiter, Neptune and Mars. Baraty's love for astronomy led him to create this embroidery project. Using actual planetary images, for his source of inspiration, Baraty designed each cross stitch pattern. I would love to get the entire set! Navid Baraty has an Etsy shop for his patterns here. Or perhaps you feel inspired to create your own? I didn't find Venus on the list.

Cross stitch planet patterns by Navid Baraty, featured by Julia on Feeling Stitchy
Cross stitch planet patterns by Navid Baraty, featured by Julia on Feeling Stitchy
Cross stitch planet patterns by Navid Baraty, featured by Julia on Feeling Stitchy

September 16, 2017

Embroidering Fur: Bustle and Sew Tutorial and Giveaway!

Embroidering Fur- Bustle and Sew Guest Tutorial on Feeling Stitchy

Download the Free PDF Tutorial

Boy, do we have a treat for you all today! Helen and Rosie of Bustle and Sew have written a guest tutorial and free pattern on embroidering fur, for all our Feeling Stitchy readers! And, as a special treat for our readers, they are also doing a giveaway of a copy of their upcoming Bustle and Sew magazine to 1 lucky winner!

The free pattern shares all the stitches and colors you'll need to complete this cute "Bear in a Hat" design. It would make a wonderful ornament if you're looking to get started on your Christmas stitching, or simply a good way to practice stitching fur.

From Helen and Rosie:
I do hope you’ve enjoyed this short tutorial and found it useful. An expanded version, together with another furry pattern - this time for two little sleepy foxes - will appear in the October issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine.

Giveaway Time!

This giveaway is open to ALL of our Feeling Stitchy readers! To enter to win a free copy of the October Bustle and Sew Magazine - please leave a comment on this post and answer this question: what are you most afraid of stitching? As for me - it's probably fur, hence the question - do you agree, or is there something even "hairier" (pun intended) that you haven't brought yourself to try yet?

I'll leave the comments open until Saturday, September 23, 9 PM CST, after which I will close them and draw 1 random winner. Good luck, and thanks to the wonderful ladies at Bustle and Sew for sharing this tutorial and making this giveaway possible!

Edit 9/24/17:
We have our winner! See below in our comments - thanks all for entering the giveaway!!!

September 15, 2017

Freebie Friday - Free DMC patterns

Inside the Greenhouse free pattern by Baobap on DMC site
Inside the Greenhouse - free pattern by Baobap on DMC site

Hi all! In for a quick post to share some wonderful free patterns I found on the newly redesigned DMC site! The free patterns are a wonderful selection of many artists you may be familiar with on Etsy and Instagram (and possibly this blog)!

The free pattern pages do a great job of describing Level - from Beginner to Intermediate to Advanced and give you an estimate of the amount of time it may take you to stitch them:

free pattern on DMC site

(This part is most valuable to me, as I seek to work wonders with an hour here and there!) You can also buy complete kits with all the DMC threads you need to complete the design.

The downloadable PDFs are really detailed and list all the colors and stitches you'll need to complete the design:

free pattern on DMC site

I really fell in love with these free patterns by Baobap - Floral Bouquet and Desert Landscape.

Floral Bouquet free pattern by Baobap on DMC site

Desert Landscape free pattern by Baobap on DMC site

Lovely colors and they are just so gorgeously stitched! You can find more of Baobap on Instagram: @_.baobap._

Also love this Fractal pattern by Srta. Lylo, who is also on Instagram: @srtalylo

Fractal free pattern by Srta. Lylo on DMC site

Beautiful Floral Wreath pattern by Thread Honey @threadhoney on Instagram:
Floral Wreath free pattern by Thread Honey on DMC site

And these gorgeous foliage patterns by Sew and Saunders, @sewandsaunders on Instagram: Triple Fern, Rubber Plants, and Tropical Branch
Triple Fern free pattern by Sew and Saunders on DMC site

Rubber plants free pattern by Sew and Saunders on DMC site

Tropical Branch free pattern by Sew and Saunders on DMC site

I wanted to share a bit of inspiration and joy with you today, as so much of the world is filled with stress and fear and worry. Hope you enjoyed this bit of bright color to bring some hope and much-needed cheer to your day!

September 13, 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #49 : Oh Sew Bootiful

Wonderful Wednesday 49 - Oh Sew Bootiful a feature by floresita for Feeling Stitchy
This is quite a lovely Hibiscus Embroidery Kit by Etsy seller Oh Sew Bootiful! I love the bold colors and the beauty of the design - this kit includes, according to the Etsy description: a 6 inch hoop, pre-printed cotton fabric, padding, how-to guide, illustrated stitch instructions, embroidery thread, 2 needles, and a paper pattern.

If you'd like to go it your own way in terms of threads, Oh Sew Bootiful also sells the pre-printed fabric on its own:

To find more of Oh Sew Bootiful's embroidery patterns - follow her on Twitter: @ohsewbootiful and on Instagram: @ohsewbootiful.

September 5, 2017

Stitchy Snippets - Fabrics of Sound

Innovative textile artist Nadia-Anne Ricketts incorporates digital technology, music and craft in her BeatWoven series. Nadia-Anne uses her unique audio technology to translate music into a woven piece of textile, transforming the intangible into a stunning solid form.

This fantastic video gives us an insight into the concept of Nadia-Anne's woven textiles 'BeatWoven'.

September 2, 2017

Giveaway: Rosie's House Plants Embroidery Kit

Rosie's House Plants Emmbroidery Kit by Bustle and Sew

We were recently contacted by the lovely ladies at Bustle and Sew, who have a treat to share with our readers - they are giving away 1 free embroidery kit of their newest design called "Rosie's House Plants." If you're not familiar with Bustle and Sew, they have been publishing a digital embroidery magazine for some time now, filled with lots of crafty patterns and tips.

This kit couldn't have come at a more perfect time for me - since I, like many others in the crafting world, have suddenly become crazy for plants.

This embroidery kit contains:

cotton panel pre-printed with the design to fit a 9" hoop
pink, green and black floss
a needle
full instructions for working the design, including stitch diagrams and photographs

How to Win

You'll be happy to know ALL of our readers can enter to win, including our international readers! To win, simply leave a comment on this post, and answer this question: Are you better at embroidering plants, or raising plants? (I know what my answer is, as do my plants. :)

I'll leave the comments open through Saturday, Sept. 9, 9 PM CST, when I will close the comments and choose 1 random winner.

Edit: 9/11/17 - Our winner is Silvia! Congrats, Silvia!