Thursday, October 24, 2019

Butterfly Wings and Trilliums

Yesterday, on our social media pages (Instagram and Facebook), I (Teri) posted this flower center with the caption "Guess the flower!" We didn't get a lot of guesses, but that wasn't too surprising to me. When we decided to add this particular flower to our new Woodland Reverie quilt designs, I confess that I had to do some research, as it is a flower I don't know very well. But Google is a wonderful resource, and I was able to find some excellent photos to use as models for my flower. 

But first, let's look at some butterfly wings. 

One of my favorite parts of the entire process is choosing colors and materials. We love to try new fibers or learn a new technique to create a flower, or whatever design element we are stitching. One of the new blocks in our new design includes a butterfly. I thought it might be fun to create one with dimensional wings, but with fabric rather than using stumpwork to make the wings. Thus, my quest for a fun fabric to fussy-cut for wing designs.

This Jinny Beyer border print was my first try. I created window templates cut out of paper to audition fabrics. The hard part was to find prints with symmetry, so that the wings could be flipped to make mirror images.

I really liked this design, but it was a bit too dark for my overall block design.

This Jo Morton fabric was the one that I finally settled on using. Once I had the wings traced, my next task was to determine how to embroider them to enhance the print. I had a vision, but I wasn't loving the wings I was stitching. And I learned that some threads unstitch easier than others. So I started playing with similar areas on my fabric to experiment, as I hate reverse stitching!

My initial idea was to use a #4 metallic braid by Painters Threads to fill in the negative space with a feather stitch. After several attempts, I wasn't pleased with the look and decided to attempt to outline the paisley. I practiced with the backstitch and switched to an outline stitch, neither of which was giving me that "Ah-ha" moment I was seeking. Finally, I remembered that I had recently purchased some tiny beads that matched my fabric perfectly, so I used the seed beads—rather than a seed stitch—to fill in the negative space. 

I used a matching piece of fabric for the back of the wing and then used that metallic braid around the edge to give it the hint of shimmer that I wanted. 

For days, I just stared at these wings trying to figure out how to embellish them. Sometimes, it just takes time to let those creative ideas bubble around in my head before the right solution comes to me. 

My butterfly now has wings (shown above from the back and the front), but his body is still bouncing around in my head. Some possible threads for his body are being auditioned here, but I'm not sure how he will be stitched yet. Time will tell!  

As its name would suggest, a trillium has three petals, with three leaves behind those petals. Often, they are white, but I found this stunning red one, which I knew would be perfect for my color palette. This photo, found on the American Meadows garden website, served as my model. I knew I wanted to use wired ombré ribbon, but I had to play with the ribbon to get the right measurements and colors. 

My first attempt was close, but I had to overlap the petals in the center to size it correctly, which would have precluded embroidery in the center. And I wanted a warmer color for the petals.

I adjusted the size a bit and manipulated the ribbons and was more pleased with the results. I pondered the center for days before determining how to do the center. 

And here is my trillium. I may have to order some (real ones, not ribbon) and plant them in my garden—I think they are rather lovely!

Sometimes, I find that creativity comes easily, and then there are those times when I just have to puzzle and ponder awhile, until the right stitch or fiber jumps into my mind. But that is the fun of it, isn't it? The sense of satisfaction when you are happy with your butterfly wings and trillium—or whatever it is you are stitching!



  1. I love the fussy cut butterfly, now I have to look through my fabrics and give it a try! Thanks for inspiring us! I like the trillium too although I don't do instagram and didn't get on facebook yesterday!

    1. Thanks, Carlie. Hope you'll share your butterfly wings with us. Have fun!

  2. Love seeing how you make a butterfly wing template and then go hunting for the fabric!!!! Learned something new today. The flower is a beauty as well.

  3. Oh those wings!! Gorgeous! And, Trillium is one of my favorite flowers mainly because it is one of the first to appear in the woods in the Spring. We have mostly white Trillium, but you have captured the magenta ones perfectly!