Water Tote, a free pattern to help the environment for World Embroidery Day

World Embroidery Day is coming up on 30 July and, as in previous years, I’ve come up with a free embroidery design to encourage and celebrate hand stitching. The difference is that this year’s free pattern will hopefully also help the environment, in particular our oceans.

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We’ve all seen National Geographic’s iconic plastic bag iceberg cover and read about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and Dutch inventor Boyan Slat’s ambitious sea-cleaning system called Wilson. Plastic has captured the public imagination, with plastic drinking straws rapidly being banned around the world and single-use plastic alternatives such as beeswax food wraps becoming more widely available.

Grocery stores remain problematic, filled with plastic packaging, a lot of which many consumers feel is unnecessary. But with plastic-free stores such as Nude Foods and The Refillery opening up around the globe and public pressure on the rise, big retailers are already following suit and will hopefully also start to increase their investment in the science behind more eco-friendly packaging options because, ultimately, plastic has to be reduced at the source.

One way to encourage this as consumers is to reduce demand wherever possible and an easy start is plastic shopping bags. While many grocery buyers have gotten on board by bringing their own canvas shoppers, there are still far too many plastic or plastic-coated bags bearing the names of clothing and other brands being toted around malls and shopping centres. They’re ostensibly made of thicker recyclable plastic, but no plastic is always better and so I’ve come up with a tote bag design that folds up small and won’t weigh you down when shopping.

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The idea behind Water Tote is to make one or two (or more) fabric bags to use when shopping for clothes, toiletries, stationery and the like. Basically, items that don’t spill, drip or leave crumbs and aren’t generally as heavy as groceries. If enough of us decline a plastic or plastic-coated bag at checkout, perhaps retailers will stop offering them altogether or come up with a more environmentally friendly option. It’s a small step that will hopefully lead to bigger change.

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Water Tote is made from lightweight cotton fabric and embellished with embroidered water droplets to remind you why you’re making the effort. You can up your environmental cred by using hemp or linen fabric – even better, upcycle old bed linen, use fabric handed down from your grandmother or embroider a tote you already own. And if you make a few, you can stash them in various places so you always have one to hand or dish them out to family and friends.

The PDF pattern includes instructions for the embroidery as well as how to sew the tote bag, and is available to download for free. And if you need help with the stitches, you’ll find written and illustrated instructions for all the stitches used in the water droplet design in 120 Embroidery Stitches. You can read more about the day dedicated to embroidery on the Täcklebo Embroidery Academy website. Happy #WorldEmbroideryDay.

Anatomical Crab, plus new pattern bundles

A clawed crustacean is the latest design in the growing range of Anatomical creatures available for you to embroider.

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Anatomical Crab is in the familiar style of my other Anatomical designs, with a lifelike shell and claws embroidered using a number of different stitches. It brings the number of creatures now available to eight, alongside eight Anatomical insect patterns.

Although worked in what are instantly recognisable as crab colours, there was a temptation to make this design a blue crab. Less common, it’s nonetheless a nice idea for an alternative colourway.

In addition to being available as an individual PDF pattern, Anatomical Crab is available with three other recent Anatomical designs – a snail, a flying fish and seahorses – as Anatomical Creatures II, as well as bundled into an Anatomical Sea Creatures pattern with the seahorses, lobster, flying fish and turtle. I’ve also updated the original Anatomical Creatures pattern, which includes a bat, frog, lobster and turtle.

The PDF patterns are all available as instant downloads from Etsy, with the bundled patterns priced at a lower rate:

And if you’d like to have a go at making the origami crab in the photo, follow this video tutorial by Craftygami.

Veg Box I, a collection of embroidered vegetables

There’s something about getting a box of fresh produce delivered to your door. Aside from supporting local farmers and eating in season, there’s an element of surprise to it (even if you picked the contents beforehand) and anyone who doesn’t enjoy getting a delivery, well…

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These are the first of what I hope will be many more embroidered vegetables – I can already see them on tea towels and kitchen walls. They actually make good embroidery samplers and beginner projects, too, with just a few different stitches in each design.

The PDF patterns are available individually as instant downloads from Etsy:

There’s also a bundled pattern with all five designs in one at a reduced rate, called Veg Box I.

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Each pattern also includes two different sized printable recipe cards – one 4x6 inch card and another 5x7 inches – with 10 cards featuring five different veggie designs in the bundled pattern. These are standard recipe box sizes, but you can easily resize them to suit your needs when printing them out.

Anatomical Snail, for gardeners and animal lovers

You wouldn’t think a snail would inspire another Anatomical design, but the spiral shell, criss-cross skin and frilly foot were begging to be stitched.

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Adding buttery yellow and soil-rich charcoal to the colour palette gives Anatomical Snail a fresh, modern look. And a variety of stitches to create texture adds depth to the shell.

I think this might be one of my favourites in the growing range of Anatomical creatures designs. The PDF embroidery pattern is available as an instant download from Etsy.

Note: Bluprint is making changes and as a result, I’m not able to upload any new patterns to my Bluprint shop for now.