I am so pleased to introduce my bluebird of happiness design as my very first hoj.nz embroidery sampler shown here.
The legacy dove and bluebird of happiness are such treasured, long time recurring motifs of mine that I even write blogposts about them, so I am delighted that they translate so well to embroidery samplers. These birds have been with me through thick and thin, from the time in the late 80s where I painted a commissioned wall hanging as a backdrop for a Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom conference held in Australia in the late 1980s, to more recent times as gift wrap, fabric and wallpaper. Then when I began creating my samplers for other people to enjoy, naturally my first thought was to share the gift of stitching happiness into ones life, so my bluebird of happiness is perfect.
This is a design that means so much to me, yet it is so simple.
I create all my designs to be so simple that anyone (from beginner to advanced) can do them, as the number of threads used is mostly the same for each different stitch type plus there are not a huge amount of stitches to remember, but I also want each stitcher to be able to do them their way, with their own choice of thread colour or different stitches if they think they will look better. The bluebird of happiness is so simple that you can easily trace it from the PDF to a hoop as a whole design or even as part of the design, for example, the bluebird on its own, as a white dove on the pair of jeans from a charity shop, or even just the message “I wish you every happiness” within a hoop as a unique message of encouragement.
During these difficult times, with a global pandemic causing lockdowns, quarantines, self-isolation and uncertainty, I am looking for things to occupy my time and lift my spirits and I am sure I am not alone. Life is difficult for some and because we don’t know how long this situation will last, I especially feel for younger children. My own daughter and her peers were teenagers during the Christchurch earthquakes and the aftermath, lasting years, where schools were destroyed, families moved away and there is post traumatic stress disorder within our youth. Sometimes it is difficult to stay positive, but I personally find that during downtime a meditative pastime like embroidery, which can be picked up and put down easily, is much more emotionally beneficial than turning to my phone or social media to wile away spare minutes.
I had to “make do with what I had” during lockdown, such as using the calico from the back of an old curtain to stitch the sampler on, not ideal but one does ones best.
As my preferred supplier of DMC thread was closed during lockdown, I was unable to put together this design as a kit for my students – but this has a silver lining, lockdown made me embrace creatively making do, so I also created DIY kits, which are reusable kits with a 3in design, lucky dip thread colours from the stashes of various ladies who stitch (unbranded) and wound on portable swatches of cardboard, calico to practise with, a 3 inch hoop, a needle and a design printed on paper which to use over and over. My tutorial videos include tracing a design onto fabric from paper. I used this design multiple times, including parts of the design onto calico and even a pair of jeans (see nearby image).
Links to tutorials
If you are a new stitcher, even though you don’t have to use the same stitches or thread colours as I chose, you will want to know what you are doing. Video tutorials for the various stitches (links below) are available on youtube; there is a wealth of resources included in my stitch tutorial playlist from the basic – how to put the fabric on the hoop to the only slightly more complex – my super easy way to back a finished embroidery hoop. Embroidery need not be complicated, life is too short – actually it can be as complicated as you want it to be. This design is suitable for beginners, can be embroidered onto clothing (like those cool jeans above), used with different colours (yellow to create a canary, white for a dove, black for a raven, even green and blue for a budgie in flight), and uses the most basic of stitches: running stitch, back stitch, seed stitch, whipped stitch and long and short stitch (and maybe even the star stitch to add some final pizazz).
The DMC thread colours I used only for the pre-printed samplers (which you definitely do not have to stick to) are included here only for your reference. They are: 310, 518, 601, 973. Even if you have my pre-printed sampler, there is no law that says you have to use the same colours as me. Obviously I did for my pre-printed sampler as it has to be literally a sample of the finished product, but I also think it could be fun to use contrasting colours – this is the great thing about embroidery, you can unpick at any time if you don’t like it. In my holidays, I think I might give contrasting colours a try.
This design can be used multiple ways for many different purposes.
I used the I wish you every happiness design (which is a 6in/15cm design), for my DIY embroidery sampler at 4 inches (see image) with a variety of random unbranded coloured threads from my stash: purple, baby blue, orange.
Watch my video where I demonstrate how I colourised the embroidery fabric, in this case calico, with the part of the design which features the text, I wish you every happiness. The colourised part has the gold background in the middle.
The stitch-along producing the sampler above was a fun and satisfying project as a gift for a loved-one and I was really happy with the result.
You will see for yourself that the design has been used several ways and with several different parts of the design. I hope you are inspired and enjoy the process of creating something beautiful for yourself or someone else. Happy stitching!