Spring 2024: Google ended its email subscription service in 2021. I believe I've found a replacement, but haven't had time to test it. I have been stitching a little bit here and there and have some posts ready for when the email subscription is active again. Fingers crossed, I'll have time to rouse this blog out of its dormancy sometime this year.

20 October 2017

A Starter Bird

When it comes to thread painting it seems to me that most designs/kits are floral-oriented. I would venture a guess that the second most common theme is birds.

I have stitched a handful of birds over the years and I definitely have more planned for the future. I find that birds can be a bit more tricky to stitch than flowers, but once you embroider a few birds they become easier. I wouldn't, however, start with a bird as my first thread painting project, a simple flower is probably a better choice.

Robin on Blossom Branch (by Tanja Berlin): Detail of thread painted head

The first bird I stitched was Robin on Blossom Branch which is a kit of an American robin designed by Tanja Berlin. I had thought about starting with a bluebird by Trish Burr, but didn't think I was quite ready. I wanted a simpler bird.

Robin on Blossom Branch (by Tanja Berlin): Tanja's original
Tanja Berlin's Original
The kit comes with the design drawn on good quality Southern Belle muslin/calico fabric, DMC threads, needle, and instructions. It's listed as an 'Intermediate-Advanced' design, but I think it's suitable for experienced embroiderers who are thread painting beginners.

Tanja's robin was perfect for my purposes. It didn't have a lot of colours and the shade changes were marked with dashed lines so I didn't have to figure anything out. (I love mindless stitching!)

Many thread painting designs instruct the stitcher to put certain colours in a particular area on the design. This method is fine for experienced stitchers and I generally prefer that level of direction at this point in my stitching life. However, I think it's kinder to beginners, especially, to provide some 'training wheels', i.e., shading lines (the dashed lines in the photo below).

Robin on Blossom Branch (by Tanja Berlin): Shading guidelines

Tanja's kits provide very detailed instructions and she offers online consultation. If you are a beginner to thread painting, Tanja Berlin's kits are a great place to start.

Now, on to the stitching! The first area worked on the project is the branch and foliage.

Robin on Blossom Branch (by Tanja Berlin): Detail of thread painted branch and foliage

Next comes the bird, working from tail to head. The reason I think birds are just a bit more difficult than flowers--and it depends upon the flower--is that you can end up stitching in very small areas (feathers); you aren't necessarily blending in quite the same way you do on flowers because you are stitching feathers which are not always gradients of colour; and stitch direction is crucial. I find floral stitching a bit more forgiving. However, the differences make birds a lot of fun to embroider.

Robin on Blossom Branch (by Tanja Berlin): Bottom of thread painted robin

Robin on Blossom Branch (by Tanja Berlin): Thread painted bird completed except for the head

The final result.

Robin on Blossom Branch (by Tanja Berlin): Thread painted robin completed

It was such a nice project and a terrific starter bird.



  1. Tanja does such a great job of her kits doesn’t she. This little birdie looks lovely and is one you can be proud of. Now to Trish Burr!