Tiny, Tiny Stitches

comments: 62











Thank you for all of your sweet birthday wishes! I had such a lovely day and it feels like it has stretched into weeks. I've been lazy and lingering and literally soaking up the blissful, fuzzy, languid blur of January, where I am determined to hibernate, raising my head only when necessary. I must be part bear. I prefer to be swaddled in my cave during these days. I hung a new calendar and have gotten Amelia to school on time and have fed everyone more-or-less successfully but mostly I've spent this month just . . . puttering.

And letting it all settle.

In my head I have a million creative ideas, things I want to make and things I want to try and things I want to develop for Posie. That's generally an uncomfortable place for me, and I try to roll with the feelings and inspirations — I let them all tumble around, falling out of my hands and onto the fabric and onto the page and onto the screen (in the case of new cross-stitch ideas; I design on-screen in a program called PC Stitch) and try to just let myself be loose, to see what sticks without getting tight about it. I almost always have more ideas than I know what to do with. For me, rather than ever feeling particularly "blocked," it can (more likely) be tricky not to follow every impulse I have to make something down the rabbit hole of turning it into a pattern or kit, since turning things into patterns and kits is my job, after all. I come to all my work impulsively, for the most part. The design process is very impulsive, and happens in a burst. But the vast majority of the time after that is anything but impulsive. It's the opposite. It is spent figuring out the details, both the details that are technique-specific to that particular project and the details that are source- and supply-specific — what fabric do we use for this? Is it about to be discontinued? [Of course it is.] What's the alternative? What's the turnaround time to get 55 yards of it? How do we wind 3 grams of lace-weight yarn so that people can use it? What colors of floss do we have on hand so that we don't have to place an order, now that they've changed the minimum ordering amount to $1,000? Will people be able to do this tiny thing that I can't even explain how to do? Can I explain how to do it? How many times does this need to be proofread before I press "send" to the printing guy? How did that typo get in there? How many did we print? Why is it more expensive now than it was six months ago? All the things. I do enjoy figuring that out, for the most part. But: I really love just being in the zone of the primary creative process of making something, because that is the first love. That's the love that knows no bounds.

Thus it was that I found myself stitching away on tiny little botanical specimens, using one ply of six-ply embroidery floss, and finding even it too thick for what I was trying to do (so I started using machine-sewing thread for the roots). Amelia has a penchant for old field guides — it's funny and interesting and Andy and I sort of hold our breath and look at each other wide-eyed with relief every time she comes home from the school library with one of them instead of another Bad Kitty book (which, no offense, but I loathe). I was flipping through one of her field guides, and then I pulled out some of my own old illustrated field guides, and then I found myself ordering "brooch trays" from Etsy and Amazon. . . . It all happens fast. Within about an hour I went from "What's with the whole pin thing? I don't get pins!" to becoming obsessed with pins, and thinking about pins all day and dreaming about pins and wearing a pin on my coat and giving pins to everyone in my family.

The pins and necklaces above are about 1" (2.5cm) (pins) and 1.5"-2" (4-5cm). I stitched them all on regular Kona cotton using mostly hand-dyed floss from Weeks Dye Works and a company called The Gentle Art that I got at my beloved Acorns and Threads. I used, as mentioned, one ply of floss while stitching. I sketched out the basic shape of the plant freehand with this extra-fine chalk pencil. I stretched each little circle of fabric around a tinier circle (or oval) of cardboard and glued it into the brooch tray. The shape of the pin holders was such that I didn't need glue on those. Wild thyme, bog star, sorrel, fern, heather, forget-me-not. Now started, I haven't been able to stop in weeks, and have reordered more settings to make more tiny scenes. I'm going to send some of these to my friends, and maybe I'll sell some eventually, once I get a big enough collection finished. I almost never sell finished items, but that sounds nice right now. Maybe I'll make a pattern and tutorial if I don't get onto something else right away, knowing me. It just feels great to make these while dreaming of spring, and of how all of real little plants are waiting in the ground for it to warm up a bit before they uncurl themselves and gift us with their spirits. Embroidering things this small is a sweet conjuring that feels like magic. You should try it. Should I do a pattern? Maybe I will.


I promised to take care of Foxie today while Meems is at school She got him all tucked in.


I really love these! I like to wear pins on my blazer lapels. I don't see many people doing it, so it feels like a special way to show off something I love, especially at work (I work for an environmental firm so this would fit right in). I've also recently committed to learning deeply about plants, and there are some I love so much, like crimson clover, that would make a great pin! I could also see placing this embroidery on a patch pocket to embellish a pocketless shirt. My 2-year-old is obsessed with "pock"s right now so she'd love that!

I'm really feeling a pull to start some creative business endeavor, but it is intimidating! I take so much inspiration from you. Thanks for sharing your thought process with us.

HI, i ordered the baby bonnet pattern online for immediate download. I still cant access it. Advice? Thanks.

Foxie! This made me laugh out loud and smile. My kids used to do this with “Lamby” and “Bambi” and “Petey”. HA! Your ideas are always so inspiring. Thank you.


Jean Cogdill says: January 29, 2020 at 04:43 AM

Hello there, I'm loving your pretty pins and necklaces... really they are sweet. Before I read that they were pins, I imagined them to be buttons... which would be lovely too. Except they would need to be removed or dry cleaned to clean the clothing they might be on. But still they would be beautiful too.
Happy Belated Birthday... so happy you enjoyed your day.
Take care. Jean

Oh, yes, those Bad Kitty books are awful; as if there could be such a thing! Very, very interesting that she likes those old books, though.

Franny Brown-Petty says: January 31, 2020 at 10:09 AM

Yes please! I would love to purchase a finished product as spare time is little to none over here. But I would settle (love) for buying a kit!!!!!

Yes, yes, make patterns, make kits. Love them all.

RIP, little one! What a beautiful cat. So sorry for your loss. It sounds like she had a wonderful life, so may you take comfort in that. Blessings to you.

Whoops sorry - that comment was meant for the "Goodbye Bee" post! Don't know how it ended up here. My apologies!

Laura Thorne says: February 07, 2020 at 12:22 PM

Yes!! Please do provide a pattern or kit! I would LOVE to make these!❤️

Oh My!! Mini-miniatures! Swoon, these are beyond adorbs. So unique!! I would love to see a tiny mouse, with cheese nibblers! The options are endless! Alicia, I just adore your blog and creativity plus you are so funny! I get you! Also, sweet farewell to Bee. Now sweet clover doesn't have to panic about his cozy patch.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.