A few years ago I remember seeing at Pottery Barn a pillow with branches and red berries embroidered on it creating a red berry wreath on the front of the pillow. Instead of purchasing that one… I decided to create my own version of a red berry wreath pillow. I changed it up a bit from the original inspiration, using fabric paint markers for the branches and chunky french knots for the berries. Then with a few finishing touches, I have a fun pillow for winter.
If you’ve never embroidered or done needlework, this is a super simple stitch to learn, it’s so forgiving, hard to make a mistake. Plus, I find it so relaxing to work on needlework.
Here’s how I did it:
First, here is the finished project:
For the welting around the outside edge, I actually had an old flannel shirt that I made welting from. (if you are unfamiliar with how to make your own welting, I give a little tutorial here in this rocking chair re-do I wrote)
For the back of the pillow, I used a scrap of fabric I had leftover from these Christmas cones I made a few years ago. (see, you never know when you might need that scrap fabric… that’s why it’s hard for me to just throw the extra away when I’m done with a project)
The front of the french knot red berry wreath pillow is made from a canvas type material.
Once I sketched out the wreath on the pillow with chalk, I used permanent fabric markers in multiple colors, lime green, brown, gray to draw in the branch details.
Then it was time to start the french knot red berries…
(By the way, using this thicker canvas fabric is great, especially if you’re just starting out with embroidering, because it’s super strong and durable)
Here’s how I did the knots…
I want to point out that I used all 6 strands of the embroidery floss at a time. (sometimes for finer work, an embroidery project might call for the floss to be split so you’d maybe only use 2 or 3 strands at a time) but I wanted the berries to be chunky, so I used all the strands.
After I cut a workable length, (about 24-30″ long) and knotted one end of it, (the other end of the floss is loose by the eye of the needle) and brought the needle up through the canvas from the back, gently pulling the knot on the back snug up to the canvas…
I then held the needle close to the canvas where I brought it through from the back and holding the thread with my left hand, I wound the thread around the needle tip 5 times…
All the while, pulling the slack on the thread tight with my left hand, as I moved the needle tip to re-enter the canvas from the top.
The tip of the needle needs to go into the canvas next to where the thread came up from the back. (but not in the same hole as it was brought out from the bottom with, or it’ll fall through)
Once the needle was through the canvas, I had to ever so lightly loosen the slack of the thread I was holding with my left hand, so that the width of the needle eye could fit through the 5 loops. But I let it loosen just ever so lightly… I still held the slack taut. (if you try this knot, you’ll get what I mean. You need to hold the thread tight to control where it knots, but the eye of the needle with the extra layer of thread is wider and will get more difficult to pull through.)
I continued to hold the thread taut until the very end of pulling the needle and thread through from the back. In this picture above, the thread is almost all the way through, and I could finally leave go from holding the slack with my left hand.
Once the the thread and needle have pulled all the extra thread back through the back of the canvas, these are the cute little round french knots I had.
I think when I was a young girl and my grandma taught me to embroider, a true french knot was only 1 wrap around the needle… over the years I’ve used this chunkier knot when I did more of a candlewicking style of embroidery. (even a true candlewicking knot is different than this too) I’m not totally sure if I evolved this knot or I learned it somewhere… But I like it, and on this canvas, it’s sturdy.
On the original Pottery Barn red berry wreath pillow, they had large monogrammed letters in the center of the wreath. I’m not much into monogramming, but a little monogrammed signature was a fun touch I thought I’d add… who knows, maybe someday this pillow might be still around long after I’m not and one of my grandchildren or great grandchildren will love to have this piece with a bit of a signature on it?!
Oh I don’t know…
Something like 10,000 knots later, the wreath was finished and I could at that time finish sewing the pillow with the flannel welting and backing I told you about at the beginning of this post.
Trust me, if you’ve never done needlework like this before, you get the hang pretty quick when there’s this many knots to do, and pretty soon you can make french knot after french knot without even thinking. Your hands just seem to know what to do.
So, will you try it? Would you make a french knot berry wreath pillow, or something similar?
Thinking about starting a self-hosted blog? I am thrilled to use BlueHost for my self-hosted blog, and I totally recommend them for your self-hosted blog. Their customer service is awesome!
Love tutorials and want to see more that I’ve written?
Yay!! This post was featured here:
This post is linked up at the following sites: