Primitive stitchery is embroidery styled to compliment primitive decorating. While there are many, many stitches in embroidery, primitive stitchery uses only a few of them. The designs are simpler, too. Embroidery patterns can vary from a simple small group of flowers to a complicated design that can 100’s of hours to complete. Prim stitching patterns feature simple lines and not a lot of filled in areas. Therefore, projects to make a stitched picture, pillow, or other prim needful, goes more quickly. Some common designs include pip berry vines, an ever popular item for primitive decorating, hearts, farm animals, crows, gingerbread, Raggedy Ann dolls, and sayings.
Primitive Stitchery: A Great Beginner Craft
Primitive embroidery is a great beginner craft. It doesn’t take you a lot of expensive supplies. And, it’s very forgiving in that your stitches don’t have to be perfect. Once you get hunting for patterns you’ll see how the outlines of the patterns aren’t usually perfect; imperfect to make them look more primitive. A few things I would recommend is using a brand name embroidery floss. Cheap floss can tangle and break. Plus, its colors may run, staining your fabric. Use a good muslin, not the cheapest fabric. You want your primitive home decor project to last. The better the fabric the easier it is a stitch.
- muslin fabric
- warm and natural batting
- pencil (or disappearing seamstress pen)
- pattern (Visit our Free Patterns Page or check below for some of my favorite pattern shops)
- bright window or well-lit room
- embroidery needle
- embroidery floss in assorted colors
- fabric or a frame depending on how you want to finish your work of art
- coffee or tea mixture and a spray bottle
- colored pencils, paints, or crayons (optional)
Trace pattern onto muslin using your pencil and a bright window if necessary. Lay muslin over warm and natural and pin together.
I use 2 strands of floss and a back-stitch for most of my stitching. This is an example of how to do the backstitch. Treasurie also has a video.
I use French knots to dot i’s and to make “eyes” usually…they are tricky, but so fun once you get the hang of it!
Bring the needle up at 1. Wrap floss once around the needle and insert the needle at 2, holding the end of floss with non-stitching fingers. Tighten the knot, then pull the needle through the fabric, holding floss until it must be released. For a larger knot, wrap floss around the needle more times.
I have been using a stem stitch quite a bit lately too since I finally got it figured out. It adds a bit more dimension.
The needle comes up an “A” and goes down at “B.” Come up again at “C,” exactly halfway between “A” and “B.” (Diagram 1) To continue, the needle goes down at “D” and comes up at “B,” in the same hole made by the thread going down at “B.” (Diagram 2) Continue by repeating Diagram 2. The thread may be held on either side of the needle, right or left, but should remain on the same side once the row of stitches is begun.
Snowman and Annie’s noses always look great done with a satin stitch.
Bring the needle up at odd numbers and go down at even numbers with stitches touching but not overlapping.
Most patterns will tell you what stitches to use. Finish up your stitching and then on to distressing the project.
My staining method
I put about 1/4 cup of instant coffee to about 2 cups hot water. Stir it up to dissolve the coffee. You can also add a few drops of fragrance oil and/or some vanilla. Put in a spray bottle and spray to soak your stitchery. Place on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven at 200 for about 10 minutes. In warmer weather I usually hang them on the clothesline, spray and let them dry in the sun! I usually do this 2-3 times, but I like things a bit darker. It’s totally up to you.
Some people even prefer to use muslin that has been stained BEFORE they stitch, but I like the way the coffee pulls away from the stitches and darkens up and such. Keep an eye though, you don’t want it to burn. You can also color in parts of your design if you like, for example…putting a bit of “blush” on Annie’s cheeks, whitening up a snowman, whatever. This is done with either a dry paintbrush with very little paint on it to avoid overdoing it. Test it on a piece of paper first. I’ve used real makeup blush for coloring cheeks, also.
The more you stitch the more you will figure out what you like…experiment, experiment, experiment!! And my favorite part of prim is…anything goes!! Even if you burn it, there is probably someone out there who will love it!
Now you can frame it…sew it into a pillow…or if it’s small enough, blanket-stitch some homespun to the back and tie a jute hanger to it for a prim ornie!
HOW TO MAKE A PILLOW:
Cut 4 strips of homespun about 2-3 inches wide and 2-34 inches longer than finished stitchery width/length. Sew to edges of stitchery leaving about 1/4 to a half-inch or so space from stitching. Lay on chosen backing fabric right sides together and cut backing fabric to fit. Sew together leaving an opening about 3 inches for turning and stuffing. Turn and stuff firm and stitch closed. There you go!! Finished and ready for compliments!!
Favorite Pattern Shops
I have a couple of favorite shops to buy primitive stitchery. Primitive Stitches specializes in patterns for primitive stitching. She has 100’s of patterns! I have several of them. You can purchase both printed and digital (that you print yourself). Her printed one comes on sturdy card stock paper. The drawing is easy to trace. She includes color suggestions for the embroidery floss. Also, many of her designs are featured as finished pieces. That way you can see what the design looks like completed and you can the patterns work well.
Here are some other pattern shops you’ll find that carry stitchery patterns:
- JoAnn’s Country Corner
- Primitive Stitchin – includes primitive cross stitch designs
- Search Etsy for all patterns available.