Thursday, May 16, 2019

The May Stitch-a-long - finally here

I know I'm SOOOOOOO late with the May stitch-a-long. Between getting the garden going and talking care of the newest members of the family I haven't had time or energy for crafting. The new members are 9 chicks! They are getting so big so we're building a coop next to the ducks (10 of those).

This is my birthday month so I wanted to do a may pole. It's pretty simple since I didn't embroider the children. I know a PDF is easier for you but I decided to put the directions up here. I'll offer all the patterns as a large PDF at my Etsy store when the year is done.

For this pattern I decided to do simple embroidery but you can do whatever you like. Brazilian, silk ribbon, and bullion stitch embroideries would also work. I also decided not to embroider or color in the children but go ahead if you want to!
This is a hard pattern to trace. You’ll find directions for printing on fabric using your computer. You’ll also find tips. Ok, let’s get started :-)

The stitches you need to know-
I don’t give directions on how to make the embroidery stitches. There are many books, web sites, and videos where you can learn how to make them if you are a beginner.

couching - the pole
outline - the ribbons
lazy daisy - the leaves
French knots - the flowers
blanket stitch - for attaching the fabric corners

Materials List -
Here’s what I used but of course you can make your own substitutions.

DMC embroidery floss:
310 black - for fabric corners
597 blue - for may pole ribbons
522 green - leaves
743 yellow - flowers
3733 pink - flowers

embroidery needles
5” hoop

2½” x 5½” print fabric for corners
100% cotton fabric to trace or print the photo on - see inside for more on this, I used muslin

optional - acrylic spray
coloring :
color pencils

I don’t include complete directions for the small quilt I made using the embroidery as the center piece.  I found the directions in a quilting magazine.

Getting the pattern on fabric-

Right click the drawing above to save it to your computer. You cn then print the picture the correct size. Don't forget where you saved it !

1. You have a choice to make. Will you trace the pattern on the fabric or use your printer to print directly on the fabric?

 ----- For this pattern it’s best to print it rather than try to trace the children.

I printed on the fabric by cutting a piece of freezer paper the same size as the paper I use in the printer. I then ironed it onto the fabric, let it cool, then cut the fabric along the edge of the paper. Next I put it in the paper tray, making sure I had the correct side up, and printed the pattern. I have a Canon printer and have had no trouble printing on fabric. There are packages of fabric ready to be printed on but I prefer to do it myself.

-----Make sure the edges of the fabric are ironed to the paper. If they aren't you’ll be dealing with a paper jam. Also make sure everything is flat. No slightly turned up ends, no fabric strings, and especially make sure you’ve trimmed the fabric right to the edge of the paper.

One thing I do because I’ve found the ink will run out into the fabric when wet is to spray the printed fabric with an acrylic spray. I learned this the hard way when I decided to put lightweight interfacing on the back of the fabric. It had to be steamed to get it to stick and the steam caused the ink to creep into the fabric.

Now I always lightly spray the fabric. Another bonus is that the fabric becomes a little stiff so no need for the interfacing.
Tip: You may want to make 2 or more sheets for printing in case of mistakes.

If you decide to trace the pattern onto your fabric I suggest you use a fine tip permanent marker like the Micron pigma pens. Don’t use one that will run if wet. There are pens that wash away and ones that fade but I’ve never had any luck with these so I can’t suggest any brands. Don’t bother to trace the flowers and leaves. You can even skip the ‘ribbons’ and embroider them where you want.

When I trace patterns I tape the pattern to a window then tape the fabric over it. I don’t have a light box so this is an easy substitution.

2. Now you need to decide what size you want the picture to be. Hopefully your printer has a setting that allows you to choose the size. Make it a size that will fit what you plan on doing with it.

3. I printed 2 of the pictures on one sheet of fabric. I like that I don’t have much waste fabric but this leaves me with the problem of it being too small for the embroidery hoop I like to use.

My solution is to baste strips of fabric around the edges to widen the piece. Removal is easy if you use long basting stitches. You can see the added fabric in the picture below.

More Tips -
1. I use a round 5” hoop but use what works for you. Stretcher bars would be great, too. No hoop marks.
Don’t leave the fabric in the hoop if you don’t do all the embroidery at one time. This can make the hoop marks harder to iron out and stretch the fabric.

2. I used DMC embroidery floss because it’s what I have. Pearl cotton would be great to use. Have fun with the pattern and do what you like. I used colors that matched the fabric in the photos. These are 2 of the ones I’ll be using when I make my wall hanging.

3. The pattern has 2 scalloped areas at the top. I did this so you can sew on fabric like I did, sew on trims, or embroider on them.

4. You can color in the children or not. I suggest you use colored pencils. Think about what you plan to use and if you will want to be able to wash it. You may want to print the drawing, color the children, then spray with an acrylic spray to seal in the ink and pencils.

5. Instead of the yellow floss to make French knots you could use small beads. Sew some clear ones among the flowers to look like dew.

Let’s Embroider!

1. Start with the pole. Use 6 strands of DMC 310 black and couch it with 3 strands of DMC 597 blue.  Notice that I stitched at an angle for the couching on the pole. I wanted it to look like it was ribbon wrapped around the pole. Don’t forget the small section of the pole at the bottom.

2. Use 3 strands of DMC 597 blue to stitch the ribbons. I did an outline stitch but a back stitch or more couching could be substituted.
Stitch thru the flowers.
Instead of embroidery floss use thin cord, baker’s twine, or narrow ribbon.

 3. For the leaves use 2 strands of green DMC 522 floss. Make lazy daisy stitches about ¼” long. Scatter them along the ribbon, at the bottom row,  and in the girl’s hair and baskets.

 Try to make the leaves slightly different sizes.

4. The next step is to stitch the flowers. Use 2 strands of DMC 3733 pink to make 4-6 wrap French knots. Fill in around the leaves following the drawing leaving small areas for the yellow knots.

Using 2 strands of DMC 743 yellow make some French knots the same as the pink. Make as many as you like or skip the yellow and just fill in with the pink.

I prefer to use 2 strands but use the amount you like. With 3 or more you won’t need to wrap the needle more than 3 times, unless you want larger knots.


5. This step is where you’ll either sew on fabric like I did or embroider the scallops. If you plan on embroidering the lines yu could repeat the leaves and flowers to make swags.

Start by printing a paper copy of the pattern. Make sure it’s the size you printing the original one you embroidered!
Cut off the corners. These are now your patterns for cutting out the fabric. You can mark the right and left so when you cut out the fabric you’ll know which will be for which side. This may be important if you want to place certain designs in the fabric in certain areas.

Before cutting out the corners  from your fabric you need to decide if your embroidery needs to be trimmed. Make sure it’s the size you want.  I trimmed off excess fabric from the sides but not the top or bottom. Make this change to your paper corners, too.

Cut out the corners and pin to the embroidery matching up the cut scallops.
I sewed them along this edge by doing a blanket stitch with 2 strands of DMC 310 black floss.

6. Now that the corners are done what’s next? I added a border of black fabric to set of the outlines in the floral fabric. This is also when I was able to add a little extra to the top and bottom borders to make the piece come out square.

If this is all you are planning for this piece you could just use wide bias tape, then sew it to whatever you have planned for it. It would be cute on a small tote bag.

7. I decided I wanted to make a small wall hanging so I went thru my large library of quilting magazines until I found a design that I liked for this embroidery. I really like how the same floral print is used for the scallops and for the triangles around the black border.

I’ll be adding another black border, then a print border that matches the other fabrics. The binding will also be black.

Optional is to add seed beads, charms, or other beads to embellish the finished piece. I think I'll be adding yo-yo flowers with beads or buttons in the centers.

I'm starting the June embroidery so I'm hpoing to get it done by the end of the month. It will all depend on that chicken coop. Hope you'll come back!


I have edited the copyright free drawing of the May pole. It is from a Dover Publication book. I recommend their books for copyright free drawings and pictures. I’ve found some pictures on the net that say they are copyright free but after doing some research find they aren’t. Dover makes them safe to use at a good price.

So this means that although the original drawing is copyright free, what I’ve done with it is not. The embroidery design is my own. I have not knowingly copied anyone else's work.


© Billie Jo Heisler 2019
All rights reserved
No part of this pattern may be reproduced or
sold without written permission of the author. 
You have permission to print it for your own use.