Autumn 2022: Google ended its email subscription service last year. I believe I've found a replacement, but haven't had time to test it. Given current demands on my time. I won't be posting again until I have a replacement. (I have been stitching a little bit and look forward to sharing my newest projects when the subscription service is active again.)

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!