Succulent Spool by Julie Kniedl

3rd May 2019

Succulents come in a wonderful variety of small shapes and are a perfect subject for exploring the possibilities of recreating botanicals in three-dimensional embroidery. Wool threads are ideal for shading the soft colours of these hardy plants, and a handful of techniques can be used to create the fleshy leaves and stems in any shape or size.

Julie Kniedl recreated four varieties of succulents for a fabulous display that we first saw at the needlework convention, Beating Around the Bush, in 2014, when it was awarded the grand prize in the Stitch Your Heart Out competition. We initially published Succulent Spool in Inspirations issue #85, and it is such an amazing piece it that certainly needed to be included in the book dedicated to Julie’s stitching passion.

The pink-tipped, jade green leaves of Kalanchoe luciae, also known as the paddle plant, are relatively thin for succulents. Eight wired leaves are worked on a wired, fabric base, enabling the slender forms to be shaped once assembled. The leaves are shaded to resemble the progression of growth, with the younger leaves being green from base to tip, and the older leaves blushed with rose pink at the tip in increasing depth. The leaves are wrapped to a central wire stem and the stem tip is also covered with thread so that it resembles a budding leaf. The finishing touch is to curve the leaves upwards in the same manner as a living paddle plant.

The fleshier, blue-grey leaves of Echeveria laui call for padded felt shapes. Julie has made this much simpler than it may at first appear. Rather than making nine individual felt shapes and securing them to a central stem, the process is more like layering a three-tier cake. There are three layers for this plant, a large four-leaf shape, a medium four-leaf shape and a single leaf. The felt shapes for each layer are stitched together around the outer edge and filled with stuffing to form the base for the embroidery. To assemble the plant, simply stitch the single leaf to the centre of the medium layer and then the medium layer to the large layer, with the leaves offset. Such an elegant construction solution!

It’s easy to see how Senecio rowleyanus received its common name, string of pearls. The long stems of spherical leaves certainly do bring strings of beads to mind! How to make bead-like leaves? Wrapped beads. Perfect. Each bead is given a wire stem that is wrapped, and these stems are then wrapped together, beginning at the tip with smaller beads, with larger beads positioned towards the base of the main stem. Three strings of pearls are included in the grouping of succulents.

The remaining plant is not some unusual variety of pear as many may think! Even we did a classic double-take when we first saw it, promptly followed by some quick research to find out about this shapely succulent. It is in fact, Euphorbia trichadenia, and has a large rootstock above ground, a woody stem and thin, narrow leaves. The embroidered plant has a stuffed fabric shape as the base of the rootstock, with a wrapped wire stem and wired leaves.

The four succulents are pleasingly arranged on a large, decorative wooden spool however they would look fantastic displayed in any way you find to suit your home. Try a selection of small pots, a bed of pebbles in a terracotta saucer, or find something that can be repurposed for your succulent display. A quick internet search is good way to find creative ideas for your succulents. We’d love to see what you come up with… email us at

Make Your Own Succulent Spool

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Stunning succulents displayed on a wooden spool by Julie Kniedl from Botanica.

Printed Books

Botanica | The three-dimensional embroidery of Julie Kniedl

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Succulent Spool includes everything you need to recreate this wonderful collection of succulents: Fabrics (unprinted), wool felt, wires, beads, embroidery threads and needles. NOTE: Kit does not include wooden spool.

Digital Patterns

Succulent Spool

Fallen in Love with Julie Knield’s Designs?

It’s ok… you’re not alone. We know how you feel, and we even have help available for you. You can now purchase every project from Julie’s book Botanica as a Ready-to-Stitch kit.

Set yourself free and embrace your passion for three-dimensional embroidery with a kit from Botanica today.


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