Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Put a bird on it


In the last few weeks my stitching endeavours have followed a different path from my normal clothing makes. One of my ambitions for this year has been to explore embroidery and incorporate some into my clothing.

I’m really a novice in this area. I do enjoy the learning experience though and as usual I felt the irresistible pull to just dive in and create something from scratch, with my own design and choice of supplies. But I thought I’d give myself an easier ride, for a change, and use a kit for my first attempt at some serious embroidery. This way I could concentrate on my stitching techniques and not worry about design and supplies.

I found Trish Burr’s designs on Etsy and ordered this beautiful kit featuring a kingfisher. The kit comes with two needles and the kingfisher design printed on linen. A useful booklet containing instructions is also supplied.

The booklet is very instructive and guides you through the embroidery in stages. It lists a full list of the embroidery threads required, from both DMC and Anchor. The back page has a handy appendix of the stitch types needed for the project.

When the kit arrived I was flabbergasted at how small the design was. For some reason I hadn’t expected it to be so intricate. I started work on it, working the design with long and short stitch with a single strand of the embroidery floss. It does take a long time for the design to take form. Perhaps, because I have been on holiday in the middle, makes this feeling worse, but I feel like I have been stitching on a minute scale for ages!

My main problem with the project was that when I started sewing this, it was still reasonably cold and sitting at the desk with a lamp in the most chilled part of the house did make me a bit grumpy. I now totally understand all those period dramas where you see ladies sitting in window seats so they can see their embroidery. I imagine it was also too cold to sit there in winter!

Window seat sewing

By the way, how does Verity in Poldark do her embroidery by the light of the fire and a few beeswax candles? I have been wondering this for the last week. Either a.) she has fantastic eyesight. I’m sure it can’t be any better than mine as I went to the Opticians on Friday and mine, with the aid of contact lenses is perfectly good, b.) beeswax candles give off more light than my halogen-bulbed daylight lamp – unlikely! c.) her embroidery is really awful – thankfully she doesn’t have to earn her living sewing, now she’s married and no longer relying on her useless brother for welfare.

Anyway, moving on from Poldark, reluctantly in my case, have you seen the photos of Aidan Turner in the link above? My stitching has got better as the project progressed. With the long and short stitch and the satin stitch the most important thing is to make sure that the stitches are angled in exactly the same way. Trish has added plenty of additional lines to guide the direction of the stitches in the kingfisher design and this proved very useful. They are definitely something that I need to add when I come to make my own designs.

Kingfisher Sepals Outlined


Here’s the finished design:


And a close up of the kingfisher’s head:

IMG_0172- head close-up

I’m planning to use it to make a fabric-covered box in which to store my newly acquired embroidery supplies ….. once I’ve figured out how to make one.


Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

11 thoughts on “Put a bird on it

  1. A blogger friend of mine make these beautiful fabric boxes, see here.

    She is putting together a tutorial for the hexagon ones but meanwhile has a tutorial for a square one here

    Your kingfisher well deserves such treatment, he’s beautiful.
    As for Aiden Turner, well………

    • Thanks Lucie. This is just what I’m after. I’ve just looked at the Etsy shop and realised that your blogging friend accepts Etsy vouchers. I still have one from Christmas that I haven’t spent, most of my fave shops don’t seem accept them.

  2. Wow this is so beautiful! I love the colors of the bird, the shading you can do with thread is amazing.

  3. Pingback: Put a Kingfisher on it | The Monthly Stitch

  4. It’s gorgeous, you’ve done an amazing piece of embroidery!

  5. Very pretty! The bird almost looks like its made of feathers!

  6. I agree, I think that feathers look just like feathers. I think butterflies look good with silk shading too. Now there’s an idea for a future project!

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