Alright, so I love this DIY because it’s perfect for someone looking for an intricate art piece or for something quick and easy. The best part about this project is it’s very customizable to your current decor, time, and skill set.
I should mention I have no embroidery skill set and found a lot of tutorials and the stitches I picked out to be very easy to follow and understand. So if you are nervous that your level of stitching skills will be a problem, don’t be.
I was first inspired by this project from Mr. Kate. She is a very talented home designer and will do easy, quick, and cheap DIY’s to perfect a space. If you would like to look at the original inspiration, you can find her project here. I took this idea and changed it into something a bit more intricate as I thought that is what my space needed more. Again, this project is very customizable to your space.
First, you’ll want to pick out your colors. My living room is gray with pops of red and blue. Based on the current decor, I decided I wanted a bigger pop of red and made the painted section red. Since I have several different colors of blue in the living room, I decided to get three different colors of embroidery floss to create a gradient.
After deciding your color palette, pick how you want to paint and stitch. If your home is more minimal, you could do a simple brush stroke and a regular running stitch with one color of embroidery thread. If your home is more modern, you could tape off a square and paint inside, and just run the thread across the canvas in one straight line. You can be as creative as you want in order to make this project work perfect in your space.
I put together some the painting ideas I considered while planning my piece. You could use a palette knife like I did to get the same effect. There are several other palette knife effects you could use. You could do a simple brush stroke, paint splatter, a clean square (or another shape), several lines of paint to mimic the horizontal threads, spray paint, use paint texture gesso for a cool effect. The possibilities are endless!
Additionally, you can customize the thread arrangement, it can be in the top half like mine, on the bottom, down the center. You could also paint more towards the middle and have your thread “avoid” the paint and popping up on the other side. There are also several different stitching methods you can use. For mine, I did a gradient in both sizes (thick to thin) and in color (darkest to lightest). You could use all the same thickness but with different stitches, all the same stitch, different colors with all the same stitch, or completely random stitch and color pattern. Whatever floats your boat.
For this DIY, I will explain the way I created mine. You can follow me, or get inspiration on how to tackle your own.
- Canvas (any size)
- Palette Knife
- Embroidery Thread
- Embroidery Needles (I used 22)
- Pencil with Eraser
- Paint your canvas – I am working with a 20″ x 16″ prepared canvas (most canvases that you will find are already primed, if yours is not, follow these instructions here). I picked out my paint and put a glob on the canvas and swiped downward while holding the palette knife parallel to the canvas. You can find more detailed instructions for this technique here. I did several swipes like this to get a layered effect and to square off the top of my paint.
- Leave it to dry – Let your canvas completely dry overnight before starting your next step.
- Start outlining your stitch placement – Decide where you want your string to start and end. I wanted a bit of uniformity in the piece and decided to have the string start as close to the edge and end as close to the edge as possible similar to the paint going from top to bottom (the wood holding the canvas prevents from starting the string at the very edge). I then chose to start the string slightly down from the top of the red paint so there was a fair bit of overlap. Mark this spot lightly with a pencil. I measured from the top of the canvas down to the spot I marked lightly with a pencil and made a dot the same length down on the other side. I then took my ruler and matched up the dots on either end and lightly drew a line. You want to draw a line lightly because pencil can be pretty tricky to get off a canvas. You could do this on the back of the canvas where it won’t matter how dark the pencil gets, but I had trouble visualizing the design from the back. Your choice. After I got my straight line, I decided, based on my first stitch, how frequently I would have to put holes and marked with a little tick down the horizontal pencil line. I outlined below how far apart each hole was, the stitch I used, and how many threads.
- Start poking holes – Since canvas is made with small bits of strings creating a grid-like pattern, you may want to flip your canvas over to the back and look at it up against some light (so you can see your pencil marking and the strings creating the grid. Then, you can see what grid line you first poked on and follow that down with your tick marks, this way all your stitches will be perfectly spaced. OR, you can just poke wherever you tick marks overlap your horizontal line and call it good. I did about half and half.
- Erase pencil marks – After your holes are all poked, erase your pencil markings. It is much easier to erase now than when there is a string in your way. You can place your hand or something else hard against the back of the canvas to give you something to push and erase on. Don’t worry about stretching your canvas too much, a little time or a light spritz of water on the back will tighten it right back up.
- Begin your stitch – Now that your holes are all marked, start to stitch your way down the line using the premade holes to keep it evenly spaced and in a straight line. I would precut my string and then tape the end to the wood near the first hole to keep the string taut and in place. If you misguess the length, you can always just start a new string through a new hole on the back, taping it near the hole it is beginning and moving on.
- Repeat – Repeat steps 3-6 for the rest of your stitches.
If you happen to misplace a hole (or several), you can take your needle and dip it in a little paint (I used titanium white) and insert the very tip into the hole until the hole is filled with a bit of paint. Then, you can run your finger over it to take off any excess. Let it dry, and it should cover the holes enough to not be noticeable on the wall!
Here is a complete breakdown of how I completed my stitches. Click the name of the stitch to be directed to a tutorial on how to complete each of the stitches. I used two-ply thread, which means each strand has two cords that make it up. In total, my embroidery floss had 6 strands. By strand, I mean the initial separation of the floss into 6 and not the separation of the two cords that make up each strand.
- Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch – I used the floss as it comes with all six strands. I placed my holes 3mm apart. I used only my darkest blue floss.
- Simple Modern String Stitch – I found this picture and came up with this design. I used three pieces of floss with 6 strands each of my darkest blue. I used three strands of my medium blue that I wrapped around the dark blue. I poked one hole on the very left and right side of my design (what would be your first and last hole), these two holes are for my darkest blue. I then poked the holes I would be using for my medium blue to wrap around the darkest blue. The first medium blue hole was 25mm from the first darkest blue hole. The holes then progressed like so: 25mm, 5mm, 25mm, 25mm, 5mm, 25mm, 25mm, 5mm, etc. I then strung the darkest blue threads through the first and last holes and taped them to the backside of my canvas. Then, I took a small piece of my medium blue threads and pushed it through the hole through the back of the canvas to the front, wrapped it around the darkest blue and passed it back through the hole it came out of to return it to the back, then I knotted the thread. I did this for the remainder of the medium blue holes.
- Whipped Back Stitch – I used 6 strands of my darkest blue floss, and 6 strands of my medium blue floss. My holes were 5mm apart.
- Simple Modern String Stitch II – I used the same technique as the second stitch, but used less string and had the tie backs closer together. I used 6 strands of my medium blue floss and 5 strands of my darkest blue floss. I spaced my tiebacks like so: 25mm, 2mm, 25mm, 2mm, etc.
- Cable Chain Stitch – I used 3 strands of my medium blue floss. I spaced my holes 3mm apart.
- Simple Twirled Stitch – This is another one I came up with and I’m not sure the official name. I used three strands of my medium blue floss and one thread of my lightest blue floss. I only had two holes, my first and last hole. I strung the medium blue floss across the canvas taping it down on the backside (the same way I did the darkest blue floss in stitch #2). Then I took the lightest blue and had it come through the same hole as the medium blue, wrapped the lightest blue around the medium blue, went back down the same hole as the end of the medium blue floss and taped it down.
- Overlapped Running Stitch – This is another stitch I kinda came up with after failing at a scroll stitch. If you know the official name of this stitch, please let me know. I used 4 strands of my lightest and darkest blue. I spaced my holes 3mm apart. For this stitch, you will put the medium blue through the first hole, then skip a hole and go down the next hole. Basically, you are skipping every other hole. Then do the same with the lightest blue but with the opposite holes.
- Running Stitch – I used three strands each of my lightest and medium blue. I placed my holes 3mm, 5mm, 3mm, 5mm, etc. The string will be showing for 3mm and there should be a blank space for 5mm. I patterned my colors to be the lightest blue, lightest blue, medium blue, lightest blue, lightest blue, medium blue, etc.
- Running Stitch – I used two strands of my lightest blue and spaced my holes 2mm, 10mm, 2mm, 10mm, etc. The thread will be showing for 2mm and there should be a blank space for 10mm.
I know this process can be confusing, so leave me a comment if you have any questions! Plus, send me pictures of your project on any social media or here!
*I am not affiliated with any of the links that I have used, I just found them helpful.