hints and tips

free princess and unicorn embroidery pattern

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Here is the completed free unicorn and princess embroidery pattern along with a colouring page for anyone who would like to do a bit of colouring in.

princess and unicorn embroidery pattern

I used a white linen but you can also use cotton.  If your fabric feels a little flimsy then once you have traced the design put a second piece of fabric behind it and stitch through both layers.  I am using a 7" embroidery hoop but you can use whatever you have.

I have tried to keep the stitching fairly basic but you can try out other stitches.

If you have never transferred a pattern before please head over here to find out how

transferring a pattern

If you don't have a frixion pen (or other embroidery pen) you can use a pencil just make sure it is sharp and that your lines are very light so you will cover them with your stitching.

You don't have to trace everything.  I tend to trace the main lines and shapes and add the details by copying the design rather than tracing every single line.  So for example for the ferns on the unicorn's legs I would just trace the main lines not all the little leaf lines.

I have used quite bright pastels so that the stitching shows up well for the photographs but you can use whatever colours you have.  I think it would look great stitched in blacks and greys.

I have a tutorial for backstitch


and french knots 


There is a fabulous sublime stitching video for 5 basic stitches (including backstitch and stem stitch)


I'm sorry for all the links but hopefully they will all work!  Tomorrow I will be back with stitching notes for the princess riding the unicorn.

I also have a colouring page of the unicorn and princess that has more detail in it

unicorn and princess colouring page

There is also this colouring page from a few years ago

garden girl colouring page

I hope these help pass a little time and maybe help with a little bit of destressing too.


wintering and split stitch

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January is a month for dreaming and planning, warm winter woollies and hot coffee.  This inspired the newest lilipopo embroidery pattern 'winter coffee'. 

I love the winter months for drawing and stitching, once the dog walk is done I can make myself a coffee and cosy up on the sofa and sketch or stitch the day away.  At least for some of the days of the week.  The computer part of pattern making is a little less romantic!

For this pattern I have used my usual back stitch but I have also introduced quite a bit of split stitch.  I have been loving split stitch recently, it gives such a nice texture to things like hair

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and butterfly wings (the kits I am working on at the moment)

Split stitch finished

It's a nice simple stitch to do and I find it quite therapeutic once I get a rhythm going.  

I have tended to use two strands, you can use as many as you like but I do prefer an even number.

Follow the lines of the shape you are stitching.  I like to make a few separate rows of split stitch and then fill in between them.

You begin with a stitch

Split stitch fill 1

Now you are going to bring your needle up between the two strands of that stitch about half way along

Split stitch 2

now take your needle down about half a stitch length from the end of the first stitch

Split stitch 3Split stitch 4

Now you are going to bring your needle up between the two strands of that stitch about half way (at the end of the previous stitch)

Split stitch 5

and you continue in this way...

Split stitch 6

I like to leave a gap and create a few separate lines and then fill in between them keeping them very close.

Here is a link to Jenny Hart's fab video for 5 basic stitches including split stitch


My winter coffee embroidery pattern can be found here 

The spring  moth kits should be ready for March and spring (once the storms are over)


a purple unicorn


I recently stitched up my unicorn pattern in purples and pinks and had quite a few requests for the colour palette.  I was trying out some of the lovely etoile threads from DMC.  They have a subtle glittery effect but are so much easier to stitch with than either the glitter or satin threads.  I loved using them.  The threads are marked with a 'c' before the number and the colours correspond to colours that already exist.  So, for example I used 603, a pink thread and c603, the equivalent etoile thread in the same colour.


So here is the colour palette

The main body of the unicorn is stitched using backstitch and DMC 209

The hooves are backstitched using DMC 603

The mane and tail are stitched using stem stitch and a mix (one thread of each) of DMC 210 and DMC 26

The horn is stitched using stem stitch and DMC c603 (an etoile thread)


The fern braiding is stitched using fern stitch and DMC 603 (plain not etoile)

The french knots on the braiding are stitched using etoile blanc (white)

the stars on the unicorn are stitched using c603

The stars in the sky are a mix of DMC 3350, DMC c603 

The flower heads  are stitched using a mix of DMC 3350 and DMC 603 (plain threads)

The ferns are stitched using DMC 503 and fern stitch

Finally the flower stalks were stitched using a single strand of DMC 3052 or DMC 471 (I did a few stalks in each)

I also added a few little stitches to the stalks as leaves.


this is the colour list

etoile threads

DMC c603

DMC etoile blanc (white)

Normal DMC threads

DMC 603 pink

DMC 600 pink

DMC 3350 red pink

DMC 209 purple

DMC 210 purple

DMC 26 light purple

I used 2 strands apart from the flower stalks.

I stitched the unicorn on a pre-printed panel (no transferring required).  It is available in my Etsy shop 

If you are happy to transfer the pattern yourself it is available here

It's a very easy pattern to stitch and suitable for a child or beginner.



Pink mermaid colourway


It's been a while since I was last here but I have been working on a pink version of the mermaid pattern in order to create a kit so I thought I would add the colour guide here for anyone who has bought the mermaid pattern in the past and would like to stitch her in pink

The colours I used

DMC 3733 dark pink     DMC 3047 pale yellow

DMC 761 mid pink     DMC 945 pale orange

DMC 225 pale pink     DMC 922 burnt orange

DMC ecru     DMC 598 light blue

DMC 451 brown      DMC 3849 turquoise


Stitch the first six rows of the tail using 2 strands of DMC 3733 .  Back stitch the outline of the same area using the same thread.  Stitch the next seven rows using 2 strands of DMC 761.  Outline the same area of the tail using backstitch and the same thread.  Now stitch the last six rows using 2 strands of DMC 225 and outline the same area using back stitch and the same thread.

For the French knots on the tail use 3 strands of thread.  For the lowest six rows use ecru.  For the middle seven rows use DMC 225. For the top six rows use DMC 761.

For the tail fin use 2 strands of DMC 3733 and back stitch.  For the side fins use 2 strands of DMC 761 and backstitch.


For the hair I used chainstitch, but you could also use back stitch or stem stitch if you prefer.  The chains are very small, about 2mm long.

I used 2 strands of thread for the hair.  I alternated between

DMC 761, DMC 3047 and DMC 945.

Stitch the hair over the top of the tail where shown.  You can add French knots to her hair for embellishments I used 3 strands DMC 922.


The plants in her hand were stitched using 2 strands of backstitch.  The large leaves are DMC 922.  The smaller leaf in the middle is DMC 3733.  The stems are DMC 598.


The green blue plant stems are backstitched using 2 strands of DMC 3849.  The branches are backstitched using 2 strands of DMC 598.

The Pink plants are outlined using 2 strands of DMC 3733 and stem stitch.  Next fill the leaves with satin stitch using 2 strands of DMC 761.

Finally the star fish are stitched using 2 strands of DMC 922 and backstitch then filled with tiny seed stitches in the same thread.


If you haven't bought the pattern before it now includes the pink colourway.  There will be kits and printed panels available by the end of August.

I will be back next week




a simple flower embroidery tutorial

Lilipopo rose tutorial extra 2

My sketchbooks tend to be filled with drawings of flowers and my camera is filled with photographs of flowers at this time of year so it's no surprise that my stitch play has been just a little inspired by flowers too.

These woven roses are some of the simplest and most satisfying stitching I have done recently.  I love the way you can play with them.  You can use one colour or an array of colours.  You can use two strands or all six strands.  Your base stitches can be simple long straight stitches like spokes or detached chain stitches to create leaves underneath the flowers.

Best of all they are so very simple to stitch, in fact really they are woven.

Lilipopo lavender bag tutorial

For this little rose lavender bag I used

Robert Kauffman essex linen in natural (use doubled if you are worried about knots showing through)

a number 7 crewel needle (or larger, ie a lower number)

a 3" wooden hoop

DMC stranded cotton in

 DMC 760, DMC  761 and DMC 502

Lilipopo tutorial 1 

Begin by drawing a circle about 2.5cm (1") diameter using a removable pen and segment it with 5 lines roughly equal distance apart as above.  Now you take 3 strands of DMC 502 and create 5 large detached chain stitches from the centre out to the edge as above.

Lilipopo tutorial 3

this is the base of your flower.  You could use straight stitches if you prefer but I like the leaf effect of the detached chain stitches.

Now you are going to weave your rose.

Lilipopo tutorial 5

now take 6 strands of DMC 760, and bring it up through the fabric very close to the centre just to the left of the top leaf as shown above.  (I tied a knot at the back as there won't really be anything to anchor the back to).

Lilipopo tutorial 7

And now the fun part you simply weave the thread over and under the leaves in a circle pulling it into the centre as you go.  You don't go through the fabric, you are simply weaving over and under your green leaves.

Lilipopo tutorial 8

You just keep going round until you are happy with the centre of the flower.  You can push your stitches closer to the centre to stop the green showing through as you go.

Lilipopo tutorial 9

Lilipopo tutorial 11

When you want to change colour just go down through your fabric with the needle just after an under stitch and tie a knot to fasten it in place.  Then come up with the new colour just after the under stitch and continue in the same way

Lilipopo tutorial 12

Keep going until just the tips of the leaves are left showing.  Take your needle down through the fabric and tie the thread off.

Then make lots more

Lilipopo rose tutorial extra 3

You can experiment with size of circle, number of spokes, colours and thread tension for different effects.  You could use different numbers of threads, perhaps even doubling the six strands over so you are working with 12 strands.


you can also experiment with using straight stitches for the base and wrapping the flower thread around each strand as you go.  For the purple flower I wrapped the thread around each spoke instead of weaving over and under.

Next week we are off to WOMAD for a few days of dancing, music and (fingers crossed after last year) sunshine so the lilipopo shop will be closed from Thursday to Monday evening and there will be no blog post.

I hope you have a lovely week filling scraps of fabric with woven roses.



remembering my threads

Lilipopo thread folder fullI have a terrible habit of absolutely loving a particular colour, coming to the end of it and then completely forgetting what it was.  I probably should have been keeping a record of my colours before now but there we go!

So this week I gradually started wrapping some of my favourite colours around card and labeling them.  

Lilipopo thread folderThey are not in any particular order, although it might have been nicer to have them all graded.  But I have a card for each colour group (or I will have when they are finished)  and then I keep all the cards in a folder in my Midori notebook.

At first I just snipped a small piece and taping it down but you don't get such a clear idea of the colour so I started again and wrapped each colour around the card 5 times which is much better.

Lilipopo liberty fabrics

and it's not just thread colours that I forget!  Liberty have a habit of discontinuing their fabrics sometimes.  When this happens I have to go on a trawl around the internet to see if I can find another stockist who still has some left.  The only trouble is I can never remember the name of the fabric so I have to look through all the liberty fabrics (such a chore ;)) to find the one I want.  Not any more!  Now I am keeping swatches with names in my Midori.  Again I would recommend keeping quite large snips of the fabric as some of the prints can be very similar, especially if you are looking at photos online, so it's good to be able to see as much of the pattern as possible.

I'm actually enjoying wrapping the threads, it's quite meditative and allows me a little time to think about colour.

On another note I will have my princess pattern available on Friday 

  Lilipopo princess embroidery pattern I have loved working on this little princess, surrounding myself in pink for a while.  

The pattern also has a version with an embroidered dress and one to fit an oval hoop.  I will share more pictures on Friday

I would love to hear if you have methods for remembering your favourite threads and fabrics.

Have a lovely week



how long should my stitches be?

Lilipopo blog stitch length copyA question I get asked quite a lot is how long my stitches are.  The first time I was asked I took a ruler and measured, a fairly consistent 3mm.  But this morning I was a little distracted while I was stitching this first draft of a princess and listening to podcasts and when I looked down I noticed something strange.  I had naturally stitched much smaller stitches on the inside curve of the dress.  I expected my stitches to be the same size throughout as I do such a lot of back stitch but my subconscious had decided that the waist of the dress would be better with smaller stitches.  The funny thing is I think it does look better, it adds to the sense of the dress pulling in tightly around the waist then billowing out into the full skirt.

Door and borderI do know that the backstitch on my little caravan door is bigger than 3mm probably because it's a longer straighter line.  I've realized that I often don't think too much about the stitch size.  It seems to happen naturally.  There are occasions when I might deliberately use a tiny stitch or a much longer stitch for a particular effect but usually I just start stitching.

In the past I haven't included a suggested stitch length in the pattern but now I'm thinking it might be helpful for beginner stitchers to have a sense of how big the stitches should be.  After all I have no idea if other people's back stitch is the same length as mine or not.

Lilipopo chain stitch hairMy stitch length and tension are something I have been paying more attention to recently because I have been playing around with chain stitch.  Chain stitch changes so completely according to the stitch length and tension so you can create really different effects.  A tight tension and smaller stitch makes beautiful hair (this would work on the ballet dancers hair too) whereas a looser chain with bigger stitches looks completely different.

I will share more of my chain stitching explorations soon.

Today is a beautiful sunny day but I am stuck indoors waiting for a parcel for my son hoping the sunshine will last for the weekend.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend no matter what the weather





hints for stitching to frame in a hoop

Recently I've been using ivory essex linen for my stitching which is a lot lighter than the natural colour.  I do try to keep the backs of my embroideries very neat, avoiding knots and carried threads, but sometimes (almost always) there is a place where I just have to carry a thread.  If I then want to frame the finished embroidery in a hoop there is a risk of it shadowing on the front of the embroidery.

Lilipopo on the wall

I originally framed this fairy in a flexi hoop temporarily but liked her so much she has stayed in the hoop with no backing.  She was stitched on the natural essex linen and there is no shadowing coming through despite using black threads

Lilipopo light

As you can see, if I hold her up to the light then the shadowing is clear (all those carried threads!!).  With the lighter colour Essex linen I was worried that this would show through.  I normally back the hoop with felt but I would hate to put all that work in only to turn it over and realize there was a shadow of a thread showing through.

So a simple solution

Lilipopo double fabric

I know there are lots of stabilizers out there but it seemed far simpler to just use a second piece of fabric behind the first and stitch through both.  I like the effect as the fabric feels less translucent and I can still use the lovely Essex linen to stitch and no shadowing.

This works beautifully on the printed fabric panels too.

I do have a tutorial for the way I normally back a hoop over here

It would be lovely to hear about what you use as a stabilizer or backing and how you like to frame or finish your embroideries.


a mermaid tale

Lilipopo mermaid stitch fixed

I have been enjoying a quiet but busy January so far, lots of stitching and even more sketching and painting.  Yesterday I decided it was time to warm up the old computer so I could get on with finishing the mermaid pattern and this morning I have her in my Etsy shop 


I have been having some fun playing around a little with stitches and so I came up with her tail stitch which fills the tail very prettily.  I have also been practicing consistency with my chain stitch (testing my patience a little) but I think I finally have a rhythm going, as long as no-one interrupts me. 

Generally speaking I like to use a hoop as I find I can keep the tension in my stitching more even.  But I found long lines of chain stitch a little easier without the hoop really or at least with a small hoop just covering the area I have to stitch.  An 8" hoop can be a little unwieldy for rhythmic stitching sometimes.  Do you prefer to hoop or not to hoop?

The fish tail stitch is very simple and began with rows of back stitch

Lilipopo mermaid stitch 1

I made sure that my stitches met at the top point of all the half stars.  My star stitches are roughly the same size as my back stitch

Lilipopo mermaid stitch 2

Lilipopo mermaid stitch 3

Once the half star stitches were in place I added french knots in between using 3 strands of thread instead of 2 and a contrasting colour.

Lilipopo mermaid stitch 4

This is such a simple stitch but I love the textural effect.


I think the mermaid would make a nice cushion doll.  Just stitched on her own and then cut out with a seam allowance and backed and stuffed.  This might be my next bit of stitching...

Lilipopo mushroom reader

Another project that I have been busy with this month is creating this girl who has found a quiet spot to do a bit of reading.  I am thinking of creating prints of this and possibly notecards (I have an addiction to notecards!).

I hope you are enjoying a quiet cozy creative January


stems and outlines some tips


Stem stitch is not a stitch I use a great deal for outlining my figures because it tends to create a thicker line than I like but it can make a good outline for clothing or a decorative line but also fabulous hair. 

For the longest time I have been stitching two different stitches under the mistaken impression that they were the same stitch just approached from a different direction.  I thought both stitches were stem stitch but it turns out that one was stem stitch while the other was outline stitch.  I had even seen it referred to as outline stitch but there are quite often different names for the same stitch so I didn't pay too much attention.  It was only when I came to do some research for this post that I realized that they are indeed two stitches.  One, outline stitch, has a smoother edge while the other, stem stitch has a more jaggedy edge


The example above is outline stitch  (it is stitched onto a piece of Robert Kauffman Essex linen in dusty blue).

and I stitched the top straight row using 4 strands of thread.  The second straight row and the curved row were stitched using 2 strands.


To begin make a straight stitch but before you pull the thread all the way through bring your needle up through the fabric about half way along the stitch making sure the loop from the first stitch is above your needle (or further away from you).  This is what makes it an outline stitch.


Pull the whole thing through and you can see that my thread, in the picture above, is  coming from underneath the first stitch.  Now take your needle down about half a stitch length from the end of the first stitch (your actual stitch length goes back to the middle of the previous stitch).  Again don't pull your stitch right through


Now bring your needle up at the end of the previous stitch as shown above.  You will continue in this way until you get to the end of the line.


You can also follow a curved line beautifully.  Making the stitches shorter or longer can also change the way the stitch looks.  I like to use this stitch with more threads to create a thick rope like line, it makes fabulous hair because it curves nicely.


For stem stitch you create your first stitch but pull it through fully then bring your needle just above the middle of the stitch as shown above


Next bring your needle down about half a stitch length from the end of the first stitch as you did for outline stitch and pull through


Bring your needle back up just above the middle of the last stitch and continue in the same way


I'm sorry for the slight blur (fast fading light in winter!)  Hopefully you can see the stem stitched pink line has a more twisted edge than the lower green outlined line.  Both can be used well on curves you just need to decide whether you want a smoother edge or a more decorative edge for your stitching.


A fun use for stem stitch are these little flowers.  I made a french knot using 4 strands of a paler pink (I double wrapped it).


Next I made a small straight stitch along the edge of the knot (you can push it into place with your fingers so it doesn't cover the knot).


Then, using the same stem stitch technique, I brought the needle up just above the centre of the first stitch and made another stitch moving around the french knot centre.  You just continue going round until the flower is as big as you would like it to be.  The stitches should be a little longer on each round.

Have a lovely weekend and I hope you find some time for a little cosy stitching.