Paper embroidery patterns & techniques

Written by nancy susanna breen
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Paper embroidery patterns & techniques
A needle and embroidery thread are used to embroider on paper. (needle and spools image by Marina Bartel from Fotolia.com)

Paper embroidery, also known as embroidery on paper, is popular with fans of both needlework and paper crafts. Stitching is done on sturdy paper or card stock by inserting a needle and thread through holes that the embroiderer has pierced along the design according to a pattern. Patterns for paper embroidery are available in different formats from a variety of sources.

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Downloading Patterns

Enter "paper embroidery patterns" into an internet search engine for sites that offer patterns for download, both for sale and for free. Usually the download consists of a PDF with a design outlined in black dots. These dots indicate where holes should be pierced in the paper you want to embroider. Sometimes the dots are labelled with numbers or letters to indicate the order of the stitches, and additional instructions might accompany the pattern.

Paper embroidery patterns & techniques
Pattern designs are pierced into sturdy paper or card stock. (colour paper sample #44 image by stassad from Fotolia.com)

Patterns From Books

Books with paper embroidery patterns and projects are available from booksellers, retailers who specialise in needlework or paper crafts, or possibly the library. Again, patterns usually appear as designs outlined with black dots to show where holes should be pierced. Patterns can be photocopied or scanned; never pierce a pattern directly from a book page.

Patterns on Brass Templates

Brass templates produced for paper embroidery offer flowers, swirls, medallions and other designs. Pattern lines are printed or etched on the surface of the template and pierced with pre-measured holes. Brass templates for paper embroidery are available through needlework and paper craft retailers.

Patterns on Stickers

Combine stitchery and stickers with peel-and-stick embroidery templates. The designs, embossed in silver or gold, include medallions, corners, butterflies, flowers and seasonal motifs. Apply the desired sticker to the paper you want to embroider, pierce through the pre-marked dots and enhance the sticker design with your stitches. Sticker templates for embroidery on paper are also available through needlework and paper craft retailers.

Patterns From Other Sources

Create your own paper embroidery pattern from line art. Colouring books and vintage embroidery transfers are good sources, or doodle a simple flower or other motif yourself. A good design requires clean lines and little detail.

Paper embroidery patterns & techniques
The outlines of a simple drawing can be used to create a pattern. (fiore da ricostruire image by Grafos from Fotolia.com)

Transferring a Pattern

Once you've chosen a pattern, here's how to transfer it: Lay paper or card stock right side up on a pricking pad (manufactured for this purpose) or on a piece of felt, heavy wool, a folded dishtowel or even a thick sock. Place the embroidery pattern over the paper. Use painter's tape, which comes off cleanly, to hold the pattern in place if you wish. Follow the dots on the pattern to punch through the card stock with a piercing tool (a sharp instrument for pricking paper for embroidery, or use a push pin, stylus or your embroidery needle). If your pattern has no pre-printed dots (for instance, if you're using a colouring book illustration), mark the pattern lines with dots first or pierce directly through the pattern, spacing the holes evenly as you go. When you've perforated the entire design, lift the pattern from the card stock (unless you're using stickers), but keep the pattern handy for reference while you're stitching.

Paper embroidery patterns & techniques
Substitute a push pin if you don't have a piercing tool. (red push pin image by sonya etchison from Fotolia.com)

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