Hummingbird & Flower by Trish Burr

13th March 2020

In almost all parts of the world where needlework has been practiced throughout history, a form of threadpainting exists. Although it is called by many different names – needle painting, silk shading, long and short stitch – ultimately the technique seeks to ‘paint’ with thread.

The goal is to achieve the same verisimilitude as the artist working in oils on canvas, within the limits of what can be done with a strand of cotton or silk and a needle.

Threadpainting is an incredibly freeing technique, contrary to the fears which are so often expressed about it. 

Trish Burr, designer of the piece ‘Hummingbird & Flower’ from Inspirations issue #105, is the first to say that she doesn’t want to create a ‘paint by numbers’ project when she designs threadpainting. Instead, she encourages everyone to let go of the need to make your project look exactly like hers or anyone else’s and let your stitches flow.

Hummingbird & Flower is worked using brilliant, jewel-like colours which encourage your heart to sing before you’ve even threaded your needle. Drawing on the enormous number of shades offered within the DMC range, Trish has created this little bird, rich with greens and purples, perched alertly on a beautifully shaded pink flower which seems to sparkle in the imagined sun.

However, threadpainting is not oil painting and as needleworkers using this technique, we don’t have the ability to smooth our colours together to achieve a photographic finish. Stitches are necessarily straight, so texture and dimension are achieved through shading and stitch direction. Trish believes that a threadpainted piece is more like a beautifully coloured pen drawing which carries the illusion of brushwork.

Look closely and you can see the stitches. Stand back and the magnificence of the whole takes over.

Although you can work Hummingbird & Flower using the close-up photographs in the magazine as a guide, Trish encourages you to make the project your own. Assess your stitches for what they are and how they look on the fabric rather than on how close they are to Trish’s model.

No two finished projects will ever be exactly alike, and that is precisely how it should be.

Trish’s Hummingbird & Flower is worked using her tried and trusted method of threadpainting – where your first row will consist of long and short stitches, with your following rows being long stitches, all of which split back into the previous rows.

What makes this particular project stand out is how Trish has used darker outlines on many of the elements. This provides a perfect edge while highlighting each detail, especially in the wings and tail of the cheeky little hummingbird. 

The only rule in this project is that you must enjoy yourself. Allow your inner artist’s eye – which all embroiderer’s have, no matter what you think – to direct your hand and direct your stitches.

Enjoy the colours and how the picture emerges from beneath your needle. So many of us wish we could paint. Well, we argue, with Trish Burr’s Hummingbird & Flower project, now we all can.

Make Your Own Hummingbird & Flower

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Hummingbird & Flower by Trish Burr is a jewel-coloured hummingbird resting on a floral sprig captured in threadpainting.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 105

Digital Patterns

Hummingbird & Flower – i105 Digital

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Hummingbird & Flower includes everything you need to re-create this delightful bird: Fabric (unprinted), embroidery threads and needle.


Hummingbird & Flower – i105 Kit

Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.

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