Sweet Succulents by Ana Mallah

18th December 2020

Many embroiderers love their gardens and are as clever with their needles as they are with their plants. It is little wonder that plants feature so prominently in so many embroidery projects as they offer no end of inspiration in terms of colour, texture and variety.

The plant world can be captured in needle and thread in so many ways, but there really is something magical about recreating, in three-dimensions, a series of delicate succulents with absolute perfection.

You will remember Ana Mallah for all of the fabulous projects she has created for us, not least the delicate Flower Pots which appeared in A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII. Those beautiful, three-dimensional flowers were so popular that Ana simply had to follow up with a sequel.

The result is Sweet Succulents, three tiny little succulents so realistic, you need to look twice to realise that they have actually been worked in cotton thread and wire.

Ana describes embroidery as a treasure and there is no doubt that these projects are precious. At first sight, it appears that you have three little plants, displaying a riot of pinks and greens, growing beautifully on your shelf. However, each plant actually sits atop a perfect little treasure pot which can contain all sorts of delights, from stitching accessories to jewellery, from a tiny keepsake to a precious memory.

What makes Sweet Succulents from our book A Passion for Needlework | Blakiston Creamery so special is the care which Ana has taken in matching colour and texture to the real thing. Nature blends pinks into greens and greens into blues just as Ana has done. Nature forms the leaves in interesting and unusual shapes, just has Ana has done. And nature smooths the leaves and plumps them up, just as Ana has done.

The clever and subtle colouration of the leaves comes from blending carefully selected, solid DMC colours for the most part, rather than using variegated thread. Each detached element is stitched by working very close blanket stitch over the wire forming a neat, textured edge. Then the leaf is filled with long and short stitch, following the shape and contours of the real plant to give a perfect re-creation of the beauty of nature.

As with all stumpwork and three-dimensional embroidery, it is best to work all of your detached elements together before you start any cutting out. This way, your fabric remains taut in your hoop allowing you to achieve the right tension. You can imagine that if you cut out and then try to re-tension the fabric, you’ll find the hole you’ve cut can make things somewhat difficult. 

So, as tempting as it might be to have your perfect leaf emerge from your ground fabric, patience is the key. Stitch first, then cut, then get the pleasure of putting it all together as if you were Mother Nature herself.

The joy you will gain from stitching these pots will easily match the joy that will arise when you gift them as a set to someone you love, secreting something special away inside each pot. Or you may simply want to arrange them on your own mantlepiece, dressing table or stitching table, reserving them for very special items or the most precious of treasures. 

Whatever you decide to do with them, you’ll love every aspect of Ana Mallah’s project and you’ll continue to admire them for years to come.

Make Your Own Sweet Succulents

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Sweet Succulents by Ana Mallah from the book A Passion for Needlework | Blakiston Creamery is three handmade trinket pots, each topped with a lifelike, stumpwork succulent.

Printed Books

A Passion for Needlework 3 | Blakiston Creamery

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kits for Sweet Succulents include everything* you need to re-create these charming pots: Fabrics (unprinted), wool felts, wadding, wire, card, string, embroidery threads and needles.


Sweet Succulents: Pot 1 – APFN3 Kit


Sweet Succulents: Pot 2 – APFN3 Kit


Sweet Succulents: Pot 3 – APFN3 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 book.

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