How To Make Folk Art Embroidery

how to make folk art embroidery designs

In this post, I’ll walk you through how to create simple folk art embroidery that looks great in a circular hoop. What I love about folk art is that it doesn’t have to be “perfect” to look really interesting and beautiful. In fact, I find that making the shapes and lines somewhat irregular and simple adds a lot of character to it.

Embroidery lends itself really well to this style of art because there are many decorative outline and fill stitches that add even more interest and texture into an already unique design. Embroidery done by hand also pairs well with this style of art since the craft of embroidery is somewhat “folky” in and of itself!

This post will walk you through how to create a simple folk art design, but if you aren’t interested in designing it yourself, I have a few PDF patterns available for purchase.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase an item.

Supplies You’ll Need

folk art embroidery design and embroidery supplies

Creating the Folk Art Embroidery Design

Folk art designs can be as simple or as complex as you’d like them to be. I personally like to keep them relatively simple because I enjoy the meditative practice of stitching and not having to think super hard while I work. It’s a great way to relax and unwind!

The design I created is inspired by a mixture of nature and Scandinavian folk art, like the beautiful art technique of Rosemaling. I incorporated flower and leaf shapes into my design, and I decided to make it across 6 lines of symmetry. You don’t have to make your design symmetrical, but I find that this composition frames nicely in a circular embroidery hoop.

preparing the tracing paper

Trace the inner ring of your embroidery hoop.

Then cut out the circle you traced. It doesn’t have to be perfect; you can leave about a 1/4 or 1/2 inch of extra paper around the circle.

Fold the paper in half 2- 3 times, depending on how many lines of symmetry you’d like to draw your designs on.

how to make a folk art embroidery design

Open the circle back up and trace the creased lines.

I started in the center and drew a smaller flower shape.

Then, you can start drawing on each line. Draw simple shapes along one side of the line. If you’re unsure of what to draw, this tutorial for drawing folk florals may spark some inspiration!

folding the paper in half to trace symmetrical designs

To get the shapes symmetrical on both sides, simply fold the paper along the line and trace the shapes onto the other side of the line.

tracing the design to the other half of the design

Once you’ve designed half of the design, you can fold the paper in half and copy the designs you made onto the other side of the design.

There isn’t an exact science to it though, you can design different designs along each of the lines if you feel so inclined!

Transferring The Design To The Fabric

Once you’re happy with the design, you’ll want to trace over it with a darker pen if you are tracing it onto the fabric with a marker.

However, if you are using a darker fabric like I am, I chose to use Saral chalk transfer paper so that I could more clearly see the design. I don’t *love* this paper because you have to be careful to not handle the fabric too much or the lines will fade, but it does the trick to transfer the design over to dark fabrics! You can also go back in with a white water soluble pen which is what I did after I transferred the design over to get it to stay a little bit better.

transferring the design to fabric using chalk paper

I placed the chalk paper over top of the fabric and then the design on top.

Using a pen, I firmly traced over the design to transfer it to the fabric.

stitching the design

Choosing Colors and Embroidery Stitches

Next is the fun part, choosing the stitches and colors!

I kept the color palette very simple: a pale yellow and baby blue. You can create a simple mock up before you stitch the design and add a diagram for the stitches you want to use, or you can trust the process and just go for it.

If you’re unsure of what stitches you’d like to use, check out this page that is full of hand embroidery stitches.

Outline and Stems

For the stems and lines, I chose a few different outline stitches to use including:

  • stem stitch
  • chain stitch
  • split stitch
  • back stitch
embroidering a folk art design

Leaves, Shapes, And Flowers

For the leaves and little flowers I chose a couple of different fill stitches. A few great ones to use are:

  • fishbone
  • fly stitch
  • French knot
  • satin stitch
  • long and short stitch

Another thing you can get creative with is varying how many strands of thread you use to make the lines thinner or thicker, or the filled areas flatter or fluffier.

folk art embroidery design

And here’s how it turned out! It was very fun and only took a couple of hours to stitch.

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