A closer look – Christmas Woodland Friends

It’s September!  I can hardly believe it – where did the summer go?  And for me, like so many other stitchers I’m certain, September sees the beginning of my Christmas stitching.  In this month’s issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine you’ll find my first Christmas patterns for 2014.  One of these is the first part of my set of Woodland Friends …. little animals peeping out of 3″ hoops …..

The first three designs feature an owl in ear muffs, robin in a hat and a cute reindeer with Christmas baubles dangling from his antlers.  I thought it might be fun to take a closer look at the materials I’ve used to create these little friends – especially if you’re planning to make your own set for Christmas.

It was important to me that the friends would very clearly be a set so I used the same background fabric for them all (and will continue for the second three friends coming in October’s issue).  I like a medium weight fabric – rather like a Cath Kidston cotton duck for applique work as it’s nice and substantial to take all the stitching – and any loose ends won’t show through.  For these friends I chose Blue Dotty from Clarke & Clarke.  I thought it looked a bit like a snowy sky perhaps?  Above you can see the beginnings of the applique.  I’ve transferred my designs to the fabric and marked where the hoop will be with my temporary fabric marker pen.  I love these pens and personally haven’t experienced any problems with erased lines reappearing, though I know others have reported this on their blogs.

Here’s a closer look at the reindeer beginning to take shape.  I’ve used scraps of vintage linen for all the animal bodies – again this will help the feeling that they belong together – and some tiny pieces of Tilda fabric for the deer’s head marking, owl’s wings and the branch the robin is perching on.  Similarly the owl’s eyes and robin’s hat are the same green – only the robin’s red breast is a unique fabric to that particular hoop. I ALWAYS work with natural fibres – and must admit I’m even a bit sniffy about mixes such as poly-cottons.  I think natural fibres simply look and feel nicer and are much easier to work with too.  Just look at the texture of the linen in the deer’s head below.

Although natural fibres can be more expensive, you only need very small quantities for these designs, and may well find you have suitable scraps left over from other projects.  You can save a little too when mounting them as there’s no need to purchase the more expensive Elbessee hoops to mount your work – cheap craft hoops will work absolutely fine.  I painted my hoops with some leftover chalk paint as I thought this worked well for a light – possibly feeling a bit snowy, Christmassy feel.

I’ve used the same colours of embroidery floss for all three animals for a harmonious set of designs.  I simply can’t stress enough how important it is to choose a good quality floss for your work.  You just won’t achieve nice results with that awful cheap floss that gets sold in huge quantities on eBay or similar.  It tangles and breaks and is incredibly frustrating to work with.  I always use DMC or Anchor flosses, both of which are widely available internationally.   I hope you like my little animals and be sure to look out for the final three Woodland Friends in the October issue of the Magazine!

And finally … I nearly forgot to mention – the September issue is now available in paperback from Amazon.

CLICK HERE to see it on Amazon.co.uk and CLICK HERE to see it on Amazon.com


Oh these little animals are so cute. Totally agree with you about embroidery thread! Years and years ago I had amassed a huge collection of DMC threads in every colour possible then, after not doing any embroidery for over a year, I gave it all away 🙁 Now I am going to have to start another collection! xxx


I loved ‘ Woodland Friends’ in the September issue of Bustle & Sew Magazine and am looking forward to October already with the final three promised. Very cute and festive!
XX Linda


Thanks Linda. It’s hard to believe it’s time for Christmas projects already, doesn’t seem any time at all since I was taking the decorations down last year. xx


Yes – where has the last eight months gone………..? I Love the decorations.
I absolutely agree with you, use good quality threads it makes all the difference
Julie xxxxxxx,


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