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.

09 November 2018

Remembering...with a Burr Red Poppy

I was rummaging through some old photos of embroidery projects, and came across this Trish Burr red poppy that I stitched about ten years ago. I believe this is my first Burr effort.

With Armistice Day and the centenary of the end of World War I approaching on 11 November, it seemed like an appropriate project to share. Red poppies are used as a symbol of remembrance.

Close-up of thread paintined red poppy centre

When I stitched the poppy, I was fairly new to Trish Burr, fine shaded work, and taking photos of my projects. I had some experience with shading, but I wanted more challenging projects so I could improve my technique. This was a nice piece with which to begin my Burr journey. It wasn't particularly difficult, but was immensely satisfying!

The poppy was stitched with a #10 crewel needle in single strand DMC cotton floss on cotton satin fabric. I bought a kit from Trish so the design was pre-printed on the fabric. The pattern is currently available in Trish's book Needle Painting Embroidery: Fresh Ideas for Beginners.

This project introduced me to my first Burr stem/vein in split stitch. I remember being intrigued by the use of adjacent split stitch and the colours used to achieve a rounded 3-D look. Prior to this, I hadn't seen such sophisticated and beautifully designed stems.

I had to figure our which colour went where on the flower, so I made a colour copy of the instructions and marked it according to how I thought the shades should be placed. When I look at this ten years on, I think it's overkill, but it was helpful to me at the time. If I was stitching this poppy today, I would analyse the finished petal to get a general idea of light and dark placement, lay out the colours required for that petal from light to dark, and stitch! I don't try to copy or replicate the original. I only use the original as a guide.

Copy of poppy from instructions showing my shading annotations

Here, the poppy is nearly finished. You can see the shading and directional lines that I've marked on the unfinished petal. I still do this when the need arises, but usually with less detail.

Red needlepainted poppy with all but one petal completed

I can see places that could definitely use improvement. Hindsight and many years of experience are wonderful things!

The pink highlight on the bud could be better integrated into the green part. Some of my stitching direction is a bit wonky here and there. I also would love to be able to re-stitch the spines on the stems; they're too regular and need to be more random. I didn't know what I was doing with the flower centre. It turned out better than I thought it would!

Close-up of elements of the poppy project including the bud, leaf, stem, petals, and centre

Overall, though, I think the poppy turned out fine, especially for a first serious thread painting project.

Completed thread painting of red poppy designed by Trish Burr

At least, I think I can say that I've improved with time. That's good!



  1. Replies
    1. Looks very professional to me- beautiful!

  2. Thanks for remembering those men and women who fought for our freedom.

  3. It's gorgeous, and a lovey symbol of remembrance. Thank you very much for showing your shading line method; I'm just getting into needlepainting and it seems like a good idea to me. I also like the idea of using the original as a guide. Very interesting post, thank you 😊

  4. It is beautifully stitched!

  5. Such a beautiful piece, and what a wonderful way to be able to look back and see how your stitching has improved and developed over subsequent projects. I’m itching to do more silk shading, I think I need to do quite a bit to get into the real hang of it, but I’m determined!

    1. I know you can do it, Catherine! It just takes a bit of practice.