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Alphabet Embroidery Sampler Project

An ABC alphabet embroidery sampler - a long-term project I finally finished, with some reflections on what I learned while making it.

I love my new alphabet embroidery sampler! This is such a fun baby nursery embroidery project or beginner embroidery project because you get to try so many different embroidery stitches. I started this project back in May of 2015 (thanks to Instagram for making it easy to track that down!) and finished it last month, so it took just over a year to finish. I’ve never had a project run that long, happily, – I am usually either powering through in one fell swoop or feeling guilty that I haven’t finished something. It was nice to just have a consistent work-in-progress to visit off and on but not stress over.

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Overwhelmed with what to buy when learning how to embroider? Check out this list of best hand embroidery tools! What you need vs. what's nice to have, this list will have you ready to start embroidering! #embroidery #handsewing

If you’re new to embroidery, check out my post of favorite embroidery tools! If you’re wondering how I transferred this intricate pattern, you’ll want to check out the easiest way to transfer an embroidery pattern too.

Modern alphabet embroidery sampler

abc 1

The alphabet embroidery sampler pattern is from the “Mollie Makes Embroidery: Adorable Stitched Projects Plus Tips & Tricks”* book that I reviewed in a past post, and it is designed by Wendi Gratz of It is a sampler, which means that each letter introduces a new type of stitch. I really enjoyed trying such a wide variety, several stitches I’d never seen before or heard of – like the T and the U!

abc 2

There was some overlap, but overall I think it had a great variety. There are a few that I don’t think I’ll ever use again (scroll stitch, for one, the blue outlining the Y – it just looks sloppy to me!) but I’ll definitely be revisiting the sampler for creative inspiration.

abc embroidery

In reflecting on the alphabet embroidery sampler project, there are 3 main things that I wish I’d done differently:

1- Interfacing! Why did I not use interfacing. It would’ve taken me two seconds, and eliminated all of that puckering and waviness. Interfacing all of my embroidery from here on out. (Wendi has a tutorial on ironing embroidery, here!)

2-Sketch out the colors ahead of time. This is a lesson that I could apply to sewing as well; I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and make things up as I go along. I would’ve spaced some of the colors out better and not used some of the darker/drab-er ones. It didn’t occur to me until I was almost done, but coloring the letters in on a piece of paper would have been wise.

3- Not rushed to finish. I finished stitching that Z and suddenly felt like it had to be done, NOW! Instead of letting it mellow for a night, I rinsed off the Fabri-solvy*, blotted it, and sewed it up. Once it fully dried all the way, the bottom hem looks a little wonky and I’m wishing I’d thought of other ways to hang it instead of the easiest/ most basic (Wendi shows another way to ‘frame’ embroidery, here). I’m not sure why I was comfortable with letting it go at a slow pace for over a year and then felt completely pressured to finish it ASAP.

girls gallery wall

You can see how the alphabet embroidery sampler fits into my daughter’s gallery wall! I love it! The ‘Stay Wild’ sign is from my Adventure Flags pattern, the little squirrel is from the same embroidery book, and the rest are prints or postcards I purchased. I need some ideas for that top open frame still!

q detail

Some of you may be totally cringing at some of the stitching… I did pull out and re-do some of them as I went along, but several I left alone even though I knew they were wonky. Why? Because they evoke what I was doing when I was working on them! That Q is what I was stitching on our way down to visit my parents this summer, our first family road trip. Once we hit the hills in the Ozarks, I kept getting lulled to sleep and then jerking awake and realizing I was still embroidering! That Q makes me think of the whole week – the cousin craziness, the dry heat, watching my sister & brother get to know my kids. So, wonky stitches will stay!

z detail

That Z? It slowly got skinnier and skinnier on the inside because my kids kept squeezing in my lap as I tried to stitch. The bottom row will always make me think of sitting in the backyard, watching them dig in the sandbox, and refereeing their wrestling match to sit on my lap.

So, that’s it! I really enjoyed this as a “slow sewing” project and would love to start another one soon – maybe some EPP? You can see what I’ve started stitching now, on Instagram, but it’s definitely a quick and easy one. I almost want to start another ABC sampler now, and take my own advice about what I’d do differently, but I’m not sure where I’d put it. Do you have any long-running WIPs?

Check out this alphabet ABC embroidery sampler! Learn different stitches while making a beautiful embroidery piece for a nursery or play room.

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Tuesday 27th of March 2018

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Thursday 25th of August 2016

So neat, maybe you would have been more content if you had outlined the Y in yellow, the Q looks more complete in the same color. Did you have a pattern or just start out. I would be super neat for a child's room

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 2nd of September 2016

Hi Barb! Thanks! This is from a pattern, from the Mollie Makes embroidery book, there is a link in the post :) It is now in my daughter's room!


Thursday 25th of August 2016

I think your sampler turned out great! And I especially love the stories behind some of the letters. That makes it such a keepsake! Since you mentioned maybe doing another something similar in the future, I've got a couple of tips that might help with the things you mentioned.

1. I hear you on the interfacing - but I almost always forget to use it. This is how I iron mine and it really helps get things smooth - without smooshing the stitches.

2. I really like how you finished yours banner-style. If you ever want to try a more traditional stretch (also a sneaky way to get it smooth when you don't use interfacing) I've got a video here showing how.

Congratulations on finishing! And I can't wait to see what you pick next. I also just finished a big, ongoing, low-pressure project and I'm leaning toward an EPP project for next. :-)

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 2nd of September 2016

Wendi, you're the best! I linked those two tutorials in the post, now. Looking forward to seeing your EPP project! I miss EPP and really want to do another project, but every time I do my kids steal all my paper templates. For now, embroidery is the easiest to do when they are awake, ha! Thanks for commenting :)

Dee Adams

Thursday 25th of August 2016

I love your ABC sampler! The little wonkiness just adds to the charm.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 2nd of September 2016

Thank you so much Dee! I like to think it adds charm too, but I tell myself that about my own flaws so I'm unreliable ;)

Pam @Threading My Way

Wednesday 24th of August 2016

Your alphabet embroidery looks great, Stephanie, and I love how you've left things such as the Q, because of the memories. From where I'm sitting, all the letters look great. I can totally relate to a rushed finish after pacing your sewing over a long time. For me, I think it's because the end is in site and I want to make sure it's finished now. My long term project is sewing hexies - lots of them, with the aim of one day making a quilt. We'll see if I ever make that many.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Wednesday 24th of August 2016

Thank you so much Pam! I'm going to email you a picture of my Mom's hexie quilt - she just finished up the top and it is stunning! I think you're right about the end being in sight - I need to maintain my patience :)

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