Saturday 23 June 2012

Stumpwork Ladybird Tutorial

Today I have a tutorial for you helping you to create a ladybird (ladybug) in raised work. You can also vary the design, as you'll see at the end. The tute appeared in the spring 2012 edition of 'Crazy Quilt Gatherings', but I was disappointed to see that the photos and text got out of sequence in editing, with some text referring to incorrect photo numbers. If you saw that version and were confused, this should help clarify.=) Enjoy!

Cut an oval out of felt just a little smaller than half an inch or about one centimetre in length.  Usually I would use the same colour as the base stitches, but this shows up better for photographic purposes.

Stab stitch the felt oval into place, normally using a matching coloured sewing thread.  If you want to raise the bug’s body higher, then stab stitch a smaller oval underneath this one first.

Begin to cover the whole of the body with a smooth layer of satin stitches in two strands of black cotton.  Note that the stitches go across the body, not from head to ‘tail’.  Below is the completed satin stitch.  

Work three or four satin stitches across the top to form the head and then three or four more from just below the head to the back of the bug, fanning the stitches out very slightly.  You need to work these stitches in black, they are done in green here for clarity on this photo only.

Beginning at the centre next to the long stitches, begin to work satin stitches in two strands of red stranded cotton (or a shinier rayon or silk thread, if you prefer), making sure that they sit smoothly over the body and that they fan out a little in order to cover the whole of the sides too.  Below you can see the complete red thread work on the wings with the slight angle of the stitching showing.  (Sorry  this shot is a little blurred.)

Refasten on your black cotton and, taking care not to pull the stitches tight, work small horizontal seed stitches over some of the red threads (two at a time should be fine) to make the spots on the wings.  Make sure both sides are similar.

Whilst you’re still working with black, and if you need to, work another stitch or two under the head area to cover any felt that may have become visible when stitching the red wings.  I worked two, each going from the outside of the body to the centre forming a shallow ‘V’ shape.

With either plain black sewing thread or one strand of embroidery cotton sew on two black-based, regular sized seed beads for the eyes.  You can use plain black, but I’ve used a slightly iridescent shade here for added interest and sparkle.

Add in the legs and antennae using one strand of a very fine thread working from one back leg around the front and head to the other back leg.  The legs are worked in two straight stitches and one lazy daisy nearest to the body.  I used Kreinik Cord 105C here, which is a silver and black mix.

Here is your completed ladybird/bug!  Remember, you can make yours stand a little higher than mine by adding an extra, smaller oval of felt under the main one.


You can vary your bugs in a number of ways.  The first is a miniature version of much the same bug but just about half the size.  If you want to work one this small, remember to scale everything down including using petite beads for the eyes, one strand for wing spots, the finest thread you can find for legs, which you should also shorten a little, and don’t use extra padding for the body.

Here’s a 14 spot ladybird worked in a light tan stranded cotton and with extra wing spots.

This green leaf beetle’s iridescent wings were worked in two strands of Kreinik blending filament shade 085.  As you might remember from the stumpwork beetle tute (which this whole tute is based on the technique from), you can also get a good effect with DMC Stranded Metallic in the emerald green shade.

This shining flower chafer was worked with Anchor Lamé thread – a 12 stranded, fairly smooth metallic.  The cross-ways stitches from step 3 were worked in the same light tan shade used for the 14 spot ladybird.

Finally, here they all are together.  You can see the difference in size between the regular and mini ladybirds very well in this shot.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.=)  If you work a little bug of your own, please leave a link to it in the comments section below and share your success with everyone.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2012


Lakshmi said...

Thank you Elizabeth for very clear tutorial..will try for sure and link back when done..

Mosaic Magpie said...

Such a great tutorial. Thank you for sharing this with us, it is a real inspiration.

Mánya said...

Such a lovely ladybird! Thank you for the tutorial :)

Silvana said...

che belle coccinelle e che tecnica fantastico

Cynthia Gilbreth said...

Too cute! Thanks for the tutorial, it was very well written and photographed. I love the variations.

Caroline B said...

Thanks for showing how this is done - seems logical to put felt underneath to pad it out but I would never have thought of that. I think I need to embroider a bug on something now....

Suztats said...

Wonderful tute and so cute!

Rachel said...

A very clear and careful tutorial, Elizabeth - well done. And the bugs are much more charming in stitched versions than I ever find them in real life!

JudyC said...

Thank you for the tutorial! judy

M said...

Lovely tutorial, must try this!

Isabelle said...

thanks for sharing this tutorial; your bugs are lovely

O meu pensamento viaja said...

Thank you for sharing, dear.
I love your great blog.

Toca do trico e croche said...

Olá Elisabeth !
Lindo tutorial 1
Amei conhecer seu maravilhoso blog!

Sonia Faria - Brasil

Luiz Vaz said...

Great Tutorial, Elizabeth. thank you for sharing!

JudyC said...

Hello Elizabeth,
願妳有美好的一天!!! judy

Ileanas Lace said...

Vad underbara broderier!Jag har nyss upptäckt din blogg men den blir klart en av minna favoritter!

Kirsi said...

So cute bugs! I must try these soon. Thank you for the tutorial. I have done myself some cross stitch bug pillows for dolls house (pictures at my dollshouse blog I don't know what is it with bugs, just love them :) Only yesterday I asked my friend to make me a ladybird carpet in 1:1 size. It would be nice on the floor beside my daughter's bed.

sewphie said...

Beautiful ladybirds and a great, well written tutorial- I will be giving it a go, thank you!

Unknown said...

i love ladybird!

Mahalakshmi said...

I have just started to try stumpwork with the help of tutes..and this one is really great. The step by step explanation and the photos were very good. I will soon do it and post it in my blog. Thank you so much for sharing this.

CasaERBA said...

Dear Elizabeth, thanks for the tutorial! I love your ladybugs. So cute!!

Sparky said...

I am so looking forward to making some bugs...not really sure why I am so excited but I am ..thank you for a delightful tut.

Okyo said...

Elizabeth-san thank you for your detailed description and photos.

Monica said...

JennyPennyPoppy just sent me over to this tutorial, and it is excellent, thank you! That last photo is priceless. :D

Do you know any tutorials for bees, in about the same scale? I have instructions for bees using bullions, but they don't feel quite right to me. Please let me know if you can think of any. Thanks!

Linda Connors said...

HI, Elizabeth, I would like to ask for your permission to use your ladybird tutorial at the July meeting of our Embroiderers's Guild of America. I live in Georgetown, TX, and have been charged with a beginner stump work project. Your tutorial fits that assignment perfectly--the photos and instructions are very clear and easy to understand and perfect for a beginner project. I would, of course, give you credit. Thank you. Linda Connors (please email me back at

Unknown said...

That was a very good tutorial. I will definitely try it. Thank you.

Vlatka Griner said...

So cute, thanks for sharing! 💕