T-shirt with Hungarian embroidery: free pattern+tutorial
Here is a sweet little free embroidery pattern for you, and a tutorial for how to embellish a t-shirt with Hungarian embroidery. Or any other t-shirt, really. The pattern is called Little Berry Burst, and here's the completed design on my t-shirt:
The Little Berry Burst design is also inspired by Matyó embroidery, like the Faraway Garden and Cabbage Rose Fancy designs, as well as the last motif of the Hungarian Sampler. Read on to find out how I stitched it up!
First, grab a t-shirt (or make one), then download and print the embroidery pattern. It's formatted to print correctly on either US letter or A4 paper, and I included two handy nested test squares (1" by 1" and 2cm by 2cm) to double-check the size. So, go print it! Now, get yourself some stabilizer. Some good ones are Sulky's Totally Stable Iron-On Tear-Away Stabilizer, or Sublime Stitching's T-Shirt Stabilizer, also iron-on and tear-away, basically the same thing as the Sulky, but if you're like me, you'll get sucked in by Sublime Stitching's much prettier packaging:
Cut off a piece of stabilizer an inch or two (3-5 cm) larger than the embroidery design:
Figure out how you want to position the embroidery on the t-shirt, and iron the stabilizer onto that area, on the OUTSIDE of the t-shirt, like this:
Use a medium-hot iron but NO STEAM. You may need to pass the iron over the stabilizer multiple times to really get it to adhere to the t-shirt. Oh, and make sure the side of the stabilizer with the adhesive faces down towards the t-shirt and not up towards your iron. You will curse heavily if that's not how you do it. Ask me how I know. When you're done, it's time to copy the pattern onto the stabilizer. You'll need your favorite transfer method - I'm using carbon paper and a pencil. Also, take a small board, like a small rotary cutting mat or kitchen cutting board, and place it inside the t-shirt to give yourself a nice firm surface to trace the embroidery pattern over. Kind of like this:
You can't see the stabilizer in the photo because the carbon paper is much larger. I always use a pencil to trace that actually makes a mark on the pattern I'm tracing because otherwise I can't always remember which lines I've already traced off, and which ones I still need to trace. Then, get some thread in really bright colors and start stitching! I used #8 perle cotton. If you want to do a fairly traditional take on this design, use satin stitch for the petals, leaves, and berries, and stem stitch for the stems and vines. I think this design would also look really nice just outlined with a split stitch, stem stitch, back stitch, chain stitch... anything you can think of.
You can see that in Hungarian embroidery the satin stitch is never outlined or padded. You might find you don't need to use an embroidery hoop because the stabilizer will keep your stitching plenty stable enough. But if you prefer to use one, there's nothing wrong with that! Here it is once I was done stitching:
It came out quite nicely, don't you think? Now it's time to remove the stabilizer. Peel off as much as you can, pulling the fabric away from the stabilizer to loosen it:
There will be some bits of stabilizer left inside your motifs and in corners and crevices. Use tweezers to pull these out:
Then, if you prefer, give the embroidery a quick press. This is completely the opposite of what embroiderers in the US will tell you to do, but Hungarians prefer to press their embroidery flat. Put your iron right on those stitches, don't be scared! Here's my finished embroidery, on a t-shirt that's now a favorite: