I wanted to end on a stellar note with one of my favorite subjects and stitches, stars and french knots. Trying to invoke the Spring to finally arrive I made this table runner of stitched spring constellations. Stargazers will find Ursa Major and Minor, Cygnus, Draco, Virgo, Orion, Gemini and lots more. It’s definitely a statement piece that shines and shimmers with the addition of sequins held in place by french knots. One of the things I love about french knots is how three-dimensional they are. The little knots are raised, creating texture and here, stars that you can touch. This project might be large in scale, but the steps are super easy. You can also break up the pattern to make smaller pieces or work on a pre-made runner to keep things simple.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this series! If you’re looking for more embroidery inspiration and how-to, check out my book, Stitched Gifts. Thanks y’all! -Jessica
Photography by Maxwell Tielman
The full how-to continues after the jump!
Constellation Template (download here)
(2) 15 x 72” pieces of linen, washed and ironed (or a pre-made runner)
Saral transfer paper
DMC embroidery thread 3866
4mm Flat Silver Sequins
6mm Flat Silver Sequins
Size 7 embroidery needle
Large embroidery hoop, 12” hoop shown
1. Enlarge template 600% for a 14 x 60 runner, or size to your desired dimensions. Tile print the template. You can do this is in Adobe: Print> Tile All Pages or Poster (depending on which version you have) > enlarge 600%> Overlap .075 with Cut Marks.
2. Trim pages to cut marks and tape template pages together. Trim edges and set aside.
3. Center pattern on fabric and pin the across the top to fabric. Layer a piece of transfer paper face down under the paper pattern and over the fabric. Begin tracing over the pattern with a pen. Apply a fair amount of pressure, but not enough to rip the paper. It helps to have a self-healing mat under your fabric for this step. Transfer section by section moving your transfer paper over as you complete a section. I used one piece of 12 x 15” transfer paper for the entire piece. Check your work as you go, lifting the papers to make sure your marks are coming through.
4. Stitch it! Hoop your fabric loosely and use the french knot for the star points and the backstitch or running stitch for the constellations. As you complete sections move your hoop around. You don’t want to apply too much pressure when hooping the fabric or you could disrupt the previous knots. Jump from stitch to stitch between points, but be careful not to pucker fabric by pulling too much.
The french knot is all about getting the right tension. Come up through the fabric, and hold the thread taut about 1 or 2 inches from the fabric with your non-dominant hand. With your other hand, wrap the thread around the needle once, twice, or three times, for a larger knot. Insert the needle back into the fabric close to, but not in, the original hole. Slide the knot down to meet the fabric and hold the tension as you pull the needle through the knot. Pull slowly trying to keep the tension on the thread all the way as you pull through.
(image of French Knot from Stitched Gifts)
I used 3 ply thread for the entire piece varying between french knots with no sequins and small and large sequins to help create dimension. Adding sequins to the french knots it super easy. After coming up through the fabric with the needle slide a sequin over the needle and down to the fabric. Make a french knot as usual the knot will hold the sequin in place.
5. To finish, without a backing: Fold over edges toward the back of the piece with a .25” seam. Press and then fold over again and pin in place. Sew a straight stitch with your sewing machine around the piece through the center of the fold.
To finish, with a backing: Layer the finished embroidered piece face down over another 15 x 72” linen piece. Pin in place and sew a .5” straight stitch with your sewing machine around the piece leaving a 5” opening. Snip away a small portion of the corner tops above the sewing. Pull the piece inside out, so that the embroidery is now showing. Iron the edges flat and hand sew the gap closed with sewing thread using the slip stitch.