Stitch up your backpack


I added some hand embroidery to my canvas backpack recently and thought I would share what I learnt in case anyone else would like to do something similar.

I applied an iron-on embroidered patch of the Wonder Woman logo on the pocket and added a few stitches around the points and corners for some extra security.

I used size 6 embroidery needles and DMC embroidery floss for the stitching.  I used two strands of floss folded over and knotted together (i.e. four strands going through the fabric in total) for the outlines of the red stars on the pockets.  I soon realised that half the thickness (i.e. one strand folded and knotted, or two strands going through the fabric in total) was much easier to pull through the fabric, and used this thickness for the rest of the stitching.

The canvas was too thick to get through an embroidery hoop, so I just held the fabric in my left hand to control tension while stitching with my right hand.  I use the sewing method of stitching (as opposed to the stabbing method) wherever possible, just because it feels more natural to me and I came to embroidery from hand-quilting and hand-piecing.  Stitching up the backpack was no exception, so if you try a similar project you should be able to stab or sew according to your preference.

I used Sulky Solvy to transfer my patterns to the fabric, which I discovered through Rebecca Ringquist‘s brilliant Creativebug class on embroidery transfer techniques.  I think it added an extra layer of stability considering I didn’t use a hoop, but you could easily use a different transfer method.

I would definitely recommend all of Rebecca’s classes as well as her Embroidery Workshop book, by the way.  Her classes are what inspired and taught me how to embroider, and I love her ‘bend the rules’ approach – which also shines through her book.

The rose and bee patterns on the top of the bag are taken from the Little Blooms sheet by Jenny Hart at Sublime Stitching.  I love the simplicity and style of her patterns.

I ended up using a thimble on my middle finger to help push the needle through the fabric – I use an open sided metal one from Clover that I first bought for hand-quilting.  It probably would have helped to use a few band-aids or ‘thimblettes‘ for my pointer and thumb to help grip the needle as it came out the front of the fabric, because my fingertips were a bit sore afterwards.

I think that’s about it. Give me a shout in the comments or on instagram if you have any questions.

Here are some detail shots: