Crewel design – Jacobean Flower to stitch

The finished flower
The finished flower

This is the beginning of a series of designs in various stitch styles. They will all use the basic 4X4 inch design and adapt it for the different styles of embroidery.

Crewel is one of my favorite embroidery styles. There is just something about the softness of the wool and the variety of stitch texture that makes me smile as I’m stitching. It doesn’t hurt that once you get familiar with the stitches, crewel wool covers the ground fabric quite quickly and is therefore very quick to work, relatively speaking.  (I am VERY slow when it comes to counted work, so it is a pleasant change to embroidery something I can finish easily.)


  • Linen or cotton twill or cotton canvas (NOT needlepoint canvas).
  • 6 inch embroidery hoop or 8 inch Q-Snaps — something to stabilize your work.
  • Paternayan tapestry wool in the following colors — your choice of shades:
    • green
    • red
    • blue
    • gold or mustard
  • Chenille needle, size 20


Note: Since this is such a small design, work everything with one strand of wool unless otherwise noted. Links are to Sharon Boggin’s online stitch dictionary, which has the best instructions for stitches that I’ve ever found on the web.

Click on any of the images for a larger view.

  1. Pattern - click for full-sized printable version
    Pattern - click for full-sized printable version

    Transfer Design to center of fabric. Use your favorite transfer method.  I used a heat transfer pencil, which reversed the design, something I wasn’t worried about. Note, though, that these work better on fabric that has a bit of polyester in them… Since mine was 100% cotton, it took a lot longer to transfer, and wasn’t completely clear.

  2. Center design in hoop.
  3. Begin stitching the stem of the flower at the end furthest from the flower. Work in Reverse chain stitch with green wool. If you prefer, start at the flower end and use chain stitch. I prefer reverse chain stitch in this type of design area because it’s easier for me to judge how large the stitches are and make them even.
  4. Whip the chain stitch from the flower back to the stem.
  5. Whipping the chain stitch
    Whipping the chain stitch
  6. Work the tendril in outline stitch or stem stitch with of green.
  7. Work the large petals in laid filling work in red. Work outline stitch around the outside area (that isn’t part of the small petals).
  8. Laid filling stitch – lay long stitches in a grid across the petal and then “tie” them down where they cross with a small diagonal stitch. The direction you lay the grid and how uniform you make it is up to you, and can help define the character of the embroidery.

    Laying the grid
    Laying the grid
    Tye the grid at the intersections and stitch an outline stitch around the outside edge.
    Tye the grid at the intersections and stitch an outline stitch around the outside edge.
    Finished laid work.
    Finished laid work.
  9. Work the smaller petals in satin stitch, radiating from the sepals out to the point in blue.
  10. Blue petals added.
    Blue petals added.
  11. Fill the flower center with French knots worked with two strands of gold. I used one wrap on the knots, rather than the two I usually use. You could probably get the same effect with one strand and two wraps.
  12. Center finished.
    Center finished.
  13. With green, outline the top leaf with buttonhole stitch. Because of the curved edges, the lines will bend toward each other on the inside of the leaf.
  14. Buttonhole stitch around leaf.
    Buttonhole stitch around leaf.
  15. Again with green, outline the bottom leaf with four rows of outline (crewel) stitch.
  16. Stem stitched leaf - 4 rows of stem stitch around outline.
    Stem stitched leaf - 4 rows of stem stitch around outline.

All done! And ready for a frame, to be made into a pillow, or used as part of a quilt block. I’m considering using all the different samples of this series each as the center of its own crazy quilt block… a sampler of sorts.  Hopefully similar colors and the design will unify them. We’ll see.

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13 Responses to Crewel design – Jacobean Flower to stitch

  1. Oh, a Very Nice Tutorial! Beautiful job! Like you, I enjoy the various stitches and textures of crewel work – and OH – the fact that it does cover the ground fabric fairly quickly. And the designs typical of crewel work are fantastic, too.

    I’ll be excited to see how this progresses and what you do with it!

  2. Dear Romily,
    Thanks SO MUCH for presenting a “starter” jacobian crewel. I’ve always been drawn to crewel…it looks so lush and tactile. And thanks so much for your archives. I definitely want to keep up with your website. I’m 70 years old and I live alone so no one is here to laugh at me when I do the “shimmy” with the TV series. I especially liked your photos in the March archive. It motivates me to continue doing my “Granny does the Shimmy” practicing and now I can work on my own costumes with your help. Thanks so much. Granny does the Shimmmy…Judy in Pittsburgh

  3. Mary put me on to your web site through her website Needle ‘n Thread. I have been wanting to try my hand at crewel embroidery again, it’s been awhile and this little pattern is just the thing. Thank you for sharing your ideas and your tutorial. Your work is lovely.

  4. Hi
    It is very beautiful design you had send me. Firstly I was very much interested in embrodiery, but as I am working I was not having enough time for class but made me to learn through your service through internet. I am very much pleased about you and thank you for sending

  5. very nice tutorial! beautiful work . I enjoyed the method of yours and various stitches and hope you would share your jobs in future. thanks

  6. […] Yea!!! Romilly of Stitching with a Shimmy has started a new instructional series on crewelwork. Crewel — embroidery with wool — had a resurgence of popularity during the 1970s, but I haven’t been hearing much about it lately. I love the texture of crewel, and I can’t wait to stitch up Romilly’s first free pattern. See the post. […]

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