Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Project - Bullion Stitch Embroidery

This all began with blackberries. . .  I love late summer in the Northwest when the air just smells sweet with the ripe purple berries.  When we lived there, we had a love/hate relationship with the vines - they're really quite invasive!  But it was always nothing but love for the fruit.  There's nothing better than homemade blackberry jam on fresh biscuits - yum!

I've been embroidering on denim jumpers and overalls for little c and came up with the idea of designing a blackberry vine with blossoms and fruit.  I thought I would make the fruit from french knots, but they just didn't look right, so I began thumbing through my embroidery books.  I know I tend to use the same embroidery stitches over and over - it was time for something new!

The bullion stitch (also called a bullion knot) looked like a good candidate.  I have to admit, the first few I attempted were pretty bad looking - I got better with practice!  I think the other problem was sketchy instructions.  This is not a hard stitch, but the instructions I had were hard to make sense of.  I've put together a photo tutorial that I hope will be more helpful.

1. Bring your needle up through the fabric.

2.  Insert the needle a short distance to the right of the spot you first came up and then bring the needle out right next to where you first came up.  This distance (the piece of fabric on the needle) will be the length of your bullion stitch.

3.  Wrap the thread around the needle anywhere from 3 to 5 or 6 times.  More wraps equals a plumper bullion knot.  You're going to bring the needle through these, so don't wrap real tightly.

4.  Hold your left thumb tightly against the wrapped needle and pull the needle through.  You want to keep holding the wrapped thread down so it keeps its coils.  This is one of the places that took a little bit of practice - hold it tight enough but not so tightly that you can't pull the needle through!  A few times and you'll get it.

5.  Keeping your thumb on the thread coils, put the needle through the fabric at the second spot you inserted it - it's at the end of the thread you see when you peek under your thumb. 

Going back to the photo from step 2, you're putting your needle down through the fabric at the arrow.

6.  This is what you'll end up with - the stitches in the photo on the right had 5 wraps, 4 wraps, and 3 wraps (from left to right).  This is the second tricky spot you may have.  You have to pull the thread through tightly to get the coils to lay down right - and I had to push threads around with my thumb a bit and repull on a few of them.

I'm still working on the complete design and will post it when finished - here's a preview.

I think the bullion stitches were a good choice for blackberries!

Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. wow that is pretty! omg if I only had the patience. I'm going to get some supplies this week to try this ^^

  2. Those are great looking blackberries! So speaking of great sewing tips, have you checked out yet? Great tips, free projects, and links to other great blogs from sewers, quilters and crafters. Happy stitching!

  3. I am working on a Princess Christmas stocking for my granddaughter. I'm almost done and find out I need to know this stitch to finish the hair!!! Looks like a very fun stitch for somebody like me who LOVES french knots !!

    1. Once I got the hang of it, this stitch became one of my favorites. It's so versatile! And I'm with you - I love french knots!