A Year of Butterflies – let’s get started!

I’ve been promising a butterfly hand embroidery block of the month for a while. I’ve dropped enough hints and shown enough partial pictures so it’s about time?

Let’s get started with a Year of Butterflies!

I’ll upload a line drawing each month, for at least eight months, for you to download and print and then it’s up to you to make it your own. I’ll offer some finishing suggestions in the fall and let’s see what happens?

Here’s my version of January.So what do you need?

I used squares of colored Kona cotton, the good stuff from Robert Kaufman, for the backgrounds. I like deep colors to really make the embroidery pop. Any good quality solid fabric will work. A hand dyed piece might be nice? How about some Cherrywood for a touch of luxury? I’d suggest you cut them at 10″ square to give you enough margin when you come to use your butterflies later on. These ones are actually 8″ because I had them left over from another project! They are OK, but if you want to include the block in a quilt at the end, you might wish you’d cut them bigger. My favorite threads and the ones you’ll be seeing the most are the hand dyed number 8 perle cottons from House of Embroidery. I get mine from Akonye Kena… look under the SHOP button. I have sized the designs so that 3 or 4 colors will be enough for each one. You can get cards of three colors you will need to wind or mini collections with five pre wound colors or a box with sixteen colors which will give you plenty of choices.Of course you can use any embroider threads you like. You might well have a collection of embroidery floss. Two or three strands can be substituted for the number 8 perle cotton.

You’ll need some marking tools. I like an ultra fine tipped marker for the basic outline. That’s a black micron 05 in the picture. I sometimes like to add extra lines as I stitch. That’s where the white chalk mechanical pencil comes in. It shows up well on the colored background and rubs off easily. There are lots of different ones… Fons & Porter, Bohin, Sewline etc.

Also in the photograph are my favorite pair of scissors from Karen Kay Buckley. They have curved tips and serrated blades so you can cut nice and close.You’ll need needles. My favorite are the ones from Tulip. I think they are the best quality you can get but they are pricey! English sewing needles are always good. You’ll need Chenille needles for your basic stitching, #24 for the perle cotton and Milliners or specialist Bullion Knot needles for any wrapped stitches you want to try. If you have problems threading your needles try the Clover Embroidery threader I’ve got in the picture. My students seem to like them when I let them try mine!A nice thing to have is a light box for transferring your designs onto the colored fabrics. Mine from the Daylight Company has a variable light control and is lightweight and portable.So that’s what you need to get started!

All you need now is the design! Down load it from the Year of Butterflies tab at the top. It’s easy to do. Just click on the picture and it’ll come up in a new window as an image you can print at home, no need to adjust the size if you want yours the same as mine!

Here it is ready to go on the light box. The watermark is there just to remind you that although I’m providing the designs free I have done some work to get them ready for you! It shouldn’t get in the way of you using them 🙂

So now you can put your fabric square on top and switch the light on so you can see what you are doing…And ta-da! With just a little care your design is ready to stitch.This is where the fun starts. Of course you can take a close look at mine and try and copy it but it really is more fun if you just go for it and use your favorite stitches. If you have ever taken a class form me you will know that I usually start by chain stitching the outline. Then I’ll use running stitch, cross stitch, satin stitch, fly stitch, french knots… having a colored background means you can start with a knit and even travel across the back from time to time.

I don’t have a book or any videos of mine (yet?) There are lots of tutorials available. Google a stitch and you’ll see!

As the months go by I will be using other stitches. I’ll point them out as we progress. I’ve been trying some wool appliqué too. I’ll add those designs as I get them ready. I’m thinking that a Facebook group would be fun to share our projects? Would you join a group if I started one? The more people stitching along the more fun I think it will be so please share this project. I might even do some give aways?

So that’s it for now. My year is just getting started. I’m off on my travels next week. I’ll have stitching with me in my hotel room. Hand work is a great traveling companion. My calendar is up top for you to check. If I’m coming anywhere near you contact the guild I’m visiting and join the fun. It’s going to be a good year!


  1. ter hein said:

    looks lovely and thank your for sharing… i will be going on the hunt to find some fabric in the stash and get started…. lovely

    January 3, 2018
  2. Thank you Catherine. Your design is inspiring!

    January 3, 2018
  3. Carol said:

    I’m going to give it a try – not my strongest attribute but I’m sure I can improve by taking part. Thank you

    January 3, 2018
  4. Cindy said:

    Let the fun begin! Handwork just in time to take along as hubby has a bunch of medical appts and heart surgery coming this month. A FB group sounds like a fantastic idea. Keep us posted if you start one. Thanks a bunch for sharing your designs.

    January 3, 2018
  5. Jan said:

    Thanks for your pattern to help promote fun and creativity! Can’t wait to start this one and all future butterflies! Appreciate all that you do for the embroidery community!

    January 3, 2018
  6. Sheilah said:

    Thanks Catherine!! I am excited to stitch along with you…

    January 3, 2018
    • Sheilah Mathias said:

      Did you start a facebook group? I haven’t heard….

      January 9, 2018
      • catherineredford said:

        Good question… it’s not up yet, but maybe by next week?

        January 9, 2018
  7. Sherry said:

    Sounds great! Looking forward to it.

    January 4, 2018
  8. Toni Leggate said:

    So exciting! I haven’t seriously hand embroidered for years and with all fingers and both thumbs happily ‘triggering’ whenever I hand sew this could be very slow (and painful) but… I love butterflies; Kona solids and these beautiful threads you are using (shall need to find a supplier here in the UK!) Oh and some new fingerless gloves to help with the triggering!

    Thank you Catherine for the inspiration to ‘try again’…

    January 4, 2018
  9. Kg Jamison said:

    Oh, I am in on this for sure! I used to embroidery (years and years ago) and haven’t known just what I want to do to get back into it ~ ~ and since butterflies are my inspiration over and over again, this will be the activity of choice for me :):)

    and, yes, I think a FB group would be fun. I’m crummy about posting, but maybe this will inspire me to be more “social” !! Thank you thank you thank you!

    January 4, 2018
  10. Susan Earl said:


    January 4, 2018
  11. Kg Jamison said:

    Do you use a hoop, Catherine? I’m almost ready to get started. My granddaughter is tracing the butterfly for me tomorrow.

    January 10, 2018
    • catherineredford said:

      I don’t use a hoop. Some people like them. I find they get in my way, particularly if I have lots of dimensional stitches that would catch when I moved it.

      January 12, 2018
  12. Cathy Sunnquist said:

    I’m going to give it a go. I had a class from you 2years ago at Quilters Quest. It was such fun and now I’m embroidering again! You are an inspiration!

    January 30, 2018
    • catherineredford said:

      Enjoy! The next one is coming soon

      January 30, 2018
  13. […] and giving tips on how I do it. Maybe September is the month for you to begin? Here’s a link to getting started so you don’t need to go […]

    September 1, 2018
  14. Cindi said:

    Hi Catherine, i was in your afternoon class yesterday at Houston Quilt Festival. I’m looking forward to stitching these. Thanks for offering the patterns.

    November 6, 2018

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