We had such a strong response to our gorgeous Twelve Days of Christmas wreath at Atlanta Market, we knew we had to include an at-home version of this handmade wonder for our readers to make! In this tutorial, you’ll learn basic embroidery stitches and receive the template for three festive patterns – it’s up to you whether these become gift toppers, ornaments, or holiday decor. Once you learn the stitches and see how the patterns come together, we have no doubt you’ll be making more handmade treasures for the holidays.
Embroidery is one of the oldest decorative arts – people have been stitching thread and yarn onto fabric for centuries! In all that time, the basic supplies have barely changed. You only need the following to get started:
- Colorful embroidery thread
- A yarn or embroidery needle*
- Fabric to stitch on
- Scissors, for finishing
*Embroidery needles come in many sizes, and are often a matter of preference. The only real requirement for this craft is a larger eye on your needle, to make threading easier.
In this tutorial, we’ll be stitching onto felt, which is a soft but sturdy fabric. When working with thinner fabrics, crafters often use an embroidery hoop to keep things in place, but it's not really necessary for this project.
Who’s That Stitch?
To make our ornaments, we will employ three basic stitches: blanket stitch, chain stitch, and French knots. All three of these techniques are great for adding details and decoration to embroidered pieces, while the blanket stitch is also effective for joining two pieces of fabric. Let’s get started!
Blanket stitch is often used to bind two pieces of fabric, and offers a fun decorative edge to your embroidered pieces. Rather than hiding your stitches like in some sewing projects, blanket stitch is often celebrated and done in a contrasting color to really show off your skills. See the illustrations below for a step-by-step guide to this fun stitch.
Chain stitch, as the name suggests, is great for making decorative lines in your work–they look like little chains! The lines can be used for emphasis, outlining, or creating letters like the banner on our wreath. See the illustrations below for a step-by-step to make your projects off the chain.
French knots are a fun way to add dimension to your embroidery. A well done knot makes a little dot that sits on top of your work, allowing you to create patterns like polka dots or add a stippling effect to create shading on your pieces. See the illustrations below for a step-by-step to the perfect knot.
Getting Started: Patterns and Supplies
We have three ornaments to make for various skill levels, so the hardest part will be picking your pattern. If you’ve never embroidered before, we recommend starting with the holly leaves, since they’re the easiest, requiring the fewest stitches and simplest assembly. For more intermediate or advanced stitchers, the pears and the partridge add a little more spice to your crafting routine. All three are outlined below, with necessary materials. Since these ornaments have a folk-inspired look, feel free to play with different color combinations based on what felt or embroidery floss you have – that’s part of the fun! All pattern templates are available below to print!
Once you’ve chosen your ornament, gather materials and print your pattern. Cut out the pieces you need and lay on your felt. Carefully trace each piece to cut with a pen, and cut the number shown on the pattern from your felt. When your pieces are cut, it’s time to start crafting–choose your ornament below for a full guide.
Once your ornaments are complete, it’s time to spread your holiday cheer! While originally used as ornaments, these embroidered crafts make great gift toppers and exuberant tags. We also loved them nestled in a garland – the possibilities are endless! Happy crafting, and be sure to share your finished creations with us; we love seeing what you make!