Finish This Pillowcase

Pillow 3 HummingBirds 10Here are the gradual steps that are taken to finish this pillowcase with 3 hummingbird iron-on patterns. Three different arrangements of birds, flowers, and foliage across this single bed linen.

On the left side is the close-up of the side view of a hummingbird hovering over a satin-stitched orange/yellow blossom on the pillowcase. I start off stitching him by using green threads on his main body with some white area around random short stitches which makes a cool feathery pattern.
Pillow 3 HummingBirds 03

I add horizontal feather stitches on the wings and tail in a deep purple. Then add random red stitching for his head cap area. Black lines emphasize the underside of his body shape, his beak and eye, and the individual feathers. Then turquoise blue is used to outline his upper body shape and wing tops. This hummingbird flying toward us is showing his underside to us with flowers behind. His wings and tail feathers begin in blue stitching.Pillow 3 HummingBirds 06 He is satin stitched in greens on his body and the wing tops along with a light amount of yellow highlight. His chest is a brilliant yellow and the underside of his throat is left white. Dark royal blue is used to outline the feathers on his outstretched wings.Pillow 3 HummingBirds 07

The third guy is a side view hummer sticking his beak into some pink and orange honeysuckle blossoms. His body is done in dark green with a small under-the-neck area of red. his wings are done in medium green with light green tops. Black is outlining his body shape and between his wing feathers. This has been a fun project for early spring as I wait for the real hummingbirds to arrive.

Pillow 3 HummingBirds 09

Brown & White Tablecloth

Brown White Table Cloth 05This is a simple brown & white tablecloth with off-white embroidery to embellish the edge and corners. The reason I chose this kit was, that I had just completed a tablecloth that had many different colored flosses throughout. I thought having only a single color would simplify and speed things up. I would not be stopping to change colors all the time. Ha, ha.

Brown White Table Cloth 01You can see that this table spread does only have embroidery on the edges and at each corner so the center of the table is plain. Consequently, I select this cloth whenever I want the food to be the star on a table or if I have a decorative doily or runner in the middle.

Brown White Table Cloth 04What I failed to take into account was the complex type of stitches utilized in this particular pattern. There is a lot of satin stitch and curvey outline along with mucho chain stitch. The most difficult stitch for me on this tablecloth was the “fishnet”. The fishnet starts with laying down thread then tacking it down at all of the intersecting points. It is a bit tricky and took a while for me to get comfortable with it.

Brown White Table Cloth 02All the edges of the tablecloth have a border of flower blossoms on curved stems with two leaves. The corners have a larger blossom arrangement with seven different shapes. Each blossom has 3 petals and a base filled with solid satin stitch. There are two lower petals in fishnet and outline stitches. There are 3 french knots inside of each flower. The curved stems connecting the flowers are done with a chain stitch. There are two leaves on the stem, one combines the fishnet with satin stitch, and the other is all satin stitch.

Embroidery Guides

There are many free embroidery guides on the internet if you search. I look them up whenever I find myself wondering about how to do a specific unfamiliar stitch. Two of the most complete and clear articles I have found recently are below.

Better Homes and Gardens

Good diagrams. Backstitch, Outline stitch, Blanket stitch, Chain stitch, Circular Couching stitch, Cross-stitch, Fly-stitch, French Knot, Lazy Daisy stitch, Offset Backstitch, Crossed Straight stitch, Pinwheel stitch, Running stitch, Satin stitch, Split stitch, Star stitch, Stem stitch, Straight stitch, Whipstitch. Seed stitch.


Our family does needlework including sewing, embroidery, and crocheting together in the evenings. Three generations sitting around the living room or on Grandma’s porch, joking and chatting while we stitched together (or we were snapping green beans). Our household produced beautiful pieces with Scottish tatting, eyelet, embroidery, and crochet pieces.

Scottish Tatting

Sedilla Oxendine 1908My Great-Grandmother did Scottish tatting and embroidery on elegant dish towels, quilts, doilies, pillowcases, and dresses. Her name was Sedilla and everyone called her Dillie. Her mother was half Scottish, she is in the center of the front row . The three sisters were left to right, Beulah, Sedilla, and Bernice.


Opal Kilpatrik 50Sedilla had a daughter named Opal who was my Grandma. She did embroidery in colored flosses making days-of-the-week dishtowels, flowers, herbs, quilts, table cloths, and napkins. My Grandma taught me how to do embroidery stitches on small things like pillowcases and napkins. After I learned how to do all the basic embroidery stitches sufficiently, I graduated from her 101 courses and slipped into the real world of embroidery from there.

First Real Project

When I was in high school, Grandma gave me my first real embroidery project as my Christmas present. It was a full tablecloth kit made by Bucilla who’s name has changed to “plaid on” now. This tablecloth kit was a rose & flower pattern that had the thread, cloth, needles, and hoop in it with instructions similar to a paint-by-number set. Put this color floss here, using this stitch. This first tablecloth was a daisy and rose pattern with vines and leaves taking me an entire year to finish. Seems like maybe, there were a million times where I needed to change the thread colors. I threaded a different color into my needle so many times, that it truly became second nature. Many times I thought that maybe it would be impossible to finish. But each evening I stitched on it some more and finally, it was done.

It would not surprise me, to find out that my family had placed bets on whether I would finish it or not. Probably the most significant result has been the creation of a lifelong habit that I dearly love.

Opal Kilpatrick 89Grandma was also responsible for many of my best recipes. Her name was Opal (Canniff) Kilpatrick. Being half Scottish and half Indian she had beautiful white hair just like her Mom. Here is a picture of her pausing for a photo for me in the Lihue, Kauai HI airport before we walked over to the gate for her to climb up the stairs to catch her flight.

She had come to visit me and my kids before moving away to the mainland to live with her sister in Oklahoma. I snapped this photograph with one of those old Kodak 110 film cameras, little did I know, this would be the last time I’d see her in person before she passed away. I still miss her and keep this picture in my wallet. Whenever I spread my rose and daisy tablecloth on the dining room table for a special occasion, I hear Grandma’s voice.

Stitch Needle Art

Hummingbird embroidery stitch in hoop
A hummingbird being embroidered on a diningroom tablecloth.

In my spare time, I stitch needle art.

  • Embroidery
  • Sewing

Since early childhood, I have been stitching on heirloom tablecloths, blankets, and pillowcases. Embroidery feels like coloring with a thread in rhythm on cloth, in an otherwise mundane surrounding.

Winding-down we watch TV and I do embroidery, as a welcome distraction. When I hold something in my hands and stitch, I don’t have to watch commercials or be bored. I’d probably go crazy if I had to watch every minute of TV, but I am thankful that this rhythm in and out, stitching bright colors onto cloth, is probably responsible for maintaining my sanity.

If you are interested in learning about how I was taught to embroider check out this page for that story.

If you are interested in learning this embroidery hobby I found a good example of instructions to learn the basic stitches here by Mollie Johansen;

Molly Makes, Stitch Library Guide to Embroidery Stitches

Your best way to learn is to jump on in,

Here are some embroidery basics;

  • embroidery needles
  • pin cushion or (bar of soap)
  • small scissors
  • hoop
  • embroidery floss
  • iron-on stamp pattern
Pinching Pennies as You Stitch

Keep a sharp eye out

Many times it is quite economical to buy needlework or sewing supplies in large quantities at thrift stores, and estate or garage sales. An easy initial project is a couple of pillowcases, that you apply an iron-on stamp pattern for traditional embroidery. Most sewing outlets, hobby outlets, and Walmart carry them. You can locate learning or first kits that include everything you need in them too. The website of the firm based in Georgia that took over the Bucilla brand is here;

As mentioned earlier, I continue to do anywhere from 3-6 pillowcases and 1-3 table cloths each year depending on the difficulty of my designs. Each is a one-of-a-kind design utilizing a handmade or drawn theme. It is not necessary for me to purchase a stamp pattern to work from anymore since I am able to draw what I want myself. I have quite a stock of every color of floss in my sewing kit sitting by the recliner, that I restock as needed.  Typical themes of my work include birds and bees, butterflies, flowers, leaves, vines and animals, hummingbirds or cherry vines with baskets, or daisies. The list goes on and on.

Let me know if you’d like to purchase any of the work I share here, or if you’d like a special order made, as I probably could be persuaded to part with heirlooms if the price is right.

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Humming Birds 4 & 5

A busy moment frozen in mid-flight just as he reaches into a blossom for nectar …

Tablecloth Corner 4-5Humming birds 4 & 5 were just finished on this “tablecloth embroidery project”.

Humming Bird 04bFour is a green-capped dude with a green neck and black on his wings and tail feathers. He has an orange body with yellow highlights. He is busy but frozen in mid-flight just as he reaches into a blossom full of nectar.

Humming Bird 04c_05

Here are both 4 & 5 before the foliage is added between them.Humming Bird 05c Hummingbird number 05 is another orange guy with green and teal highlights on his wings. His tail feathers are orange outlines. When the foliage gets drawn he is perched on a limb ready to reach into a nectar-filled blossom.