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The Joyful Stitching "Missing Chapter"

Posted by Laura Wasilowski on Jan 29th 2018

My new book, Joyful Stitching, has six free-form embroidery projects with step-by-step directions to create the designs. There is even a section on how to make 21 hand embroidery stitches.

But did you know there is one chapter missing from the book?

Sadly, the chapter (with the cheerful title Combinations Rock!) was dropped from the book due to lack of space. Combinations Rock! explored the combining of different embroidery stitches to create texture, pattern, and shape on fabric.

But fear not! I have a few examples of that missing chapter to show you.

The missing chapter, Combinations Rock! , included the merging of embroidery stitches to create texture on fabric. A good example of this texture building is found in the Tasty Apple project in Joyful Stitching. Adjacent rows of blanket stitches create small squares like the green threads above. Each green square is filled in with a red French knot. This is my favorite stitch combination. I love how the bumpy texture created with complementary thread colors really zings.

The French knot is famous for its bulky texture. But combine it with the bullion knot, and your thread leaps off the fabric. In Dyed in the Wool, the stitch combination of French and bullion knots give the sheep a curly fleece you just want to pet.

Embroidery stitch combinations also create pattern. Repeated stitch motifs or patterns are useful for filling in large background areas like the table in Embroidered Pear. This pattern of embroidery begins with rows of linked cross stitches in blue thread. The blue threads make diamond shapes across the fabric. French knots (in yellow thread) fill in the diamond shapes to complete the pattern.

Stitch combinations can also create recognizable shapes like flowers. The spiky yellow blooms in Garden of Flowers are made with five fly stitches placed in a circle with the points facing out. A mound of French knots in turquoise thread fills in each center. Notice how the blue background fabric also plays a role in creating the shape of these sweet little flowers.

Like sketching on fabric, combining a few stitches can suggest a simple leaf shape. The leaves lining the Red Belly Bird’s nest are a combination of the fern stitch and straight stitches. Each branch of fern stitches is trimmed around the edge with straight stitches to make an enclosed leaf shape.

The fern stitch lends itself to many stitch combinations that you’ll find in the Joyful Stitching projects. It evokes the shape of leaves, climbing vines, or even a bird’s tail feathers. In the Rare Songbird project, three vertical lines of fern stitches are outlined in stem stitches using the same orange thread. French knots, in a light blue thread, fill in the spaces between to make a decorative tail for the bird.

I hope these few examples from the lost Combinations Rock! chapter will come in handy and add to your own free-form stitchery arsenal. To learn more about free-form embroidery, please see my book, Joyful Stitching. You will also find the hand-dyed pearl cotton threads used in these examples and free embroidery tutorials on my blog,

May your combinations always rock!


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