Stitching a Monogram on Vintage Linen

Stitching a Monogram on Vintage Linen

Hello there!  I’m Wendy, the newest guest embroidery/stitchery contributor for Patchwork Posse.  I’m a patchwork and predominantly stitchery designer who faced a forced early retirement from primary school (elementary) teaching a couple of years ago.

A sporting injury in my mid-teens required me to have a knee replacement and they just don’t make ’em to last forever therefore, upon the recommendation of my surgeon, I retired, giving me a chance to make both my hobby and passion into my new career!

I have had a love for craft my entire life (well, as long as I can remember anyways), but particularly quilting and stitching, which I’ve been developing over the past 15 or so years.  I have an uber-supportive husband and nearly 21-year old son, along with an ever inspirational pooch and pussycato named Ralph and Charlie.

I have a love of words and positive quotes so these feature quite a bit in my stitcheries.
Stitching a monogram

In fact, I thought for my first tutorial, I’d start with a simple and quick stitchery that you can utilise in a number of ideas….a Monogram, which I have stitched on a vintage napkin but would look equally as good on a bookmark, journal cover or anything you’d like to personalise.

Of course, you don’t HAVE to use vintage linen, it’s just something I had sitting around and wanted to ‘pretty up’ a bit…..and it had the most adorable lace!  Also, it’s something you can pick up at your local Charity Store for just a little small change….it’s a win-win!

Well… goes……

A Stitched Monogram

You’ll need :

  • a plain linen napkin (vintage or not,size is not important as the stitchery is approximately 3 1/2 inches square).
  • 1 skein of 6-stranded cotton embroidery thread – DMC  826 (MED Blue)
  • I skein of each of the following 6 stranded cotton embroidery threads – Cottage Garden Thread 609 (Passion Flower), Cosmo “Seasons” 8022 Variegated Green (or any variegated threads you’d like to use)
  • a 4 in square of fusible light interfacing
  • no 9 crewel needle
  • a 6 in embroidery hoop
  • Stitchery design
  • 0.1 brown Pigma or Zig Millenium Pen
  • lightbox (optional)
  • adhesive tape/sticky tape

Stitches Used:   Backstitch, Chain Stitch, Cross Stitch, French Knot


Download stitchery design and print off.  Make sure your stitchery is printed with no scaling.  This means you have to check the box that says “No scaling” when you’re in the print settings so that the design will be printed out at the exact size as I’ve made it.

Take your image and place it on your lightbox or  tape it against a brightly lit window.  Position your napkin against the design where you would like the stitchery to be (I chose to position mine in a corner), with right side facing towards you and tape in position.   This makes it easier to trace your design without it moving.   Using your Zig Millenium or Pigma Pen, carefully trace the design onto your fabric.  In marking the positions of the crosses around the border, to ensure the pen doesn’t show after stitching, just mark each end with a dot and stitch from dot to dot.

Take your square of fusible interfacing and centre it to the reverse side of the design on the napkin and using a warm-hot iron, fuse from the front.  This is to ensure you don’t melt your interfacing if your iron is too hot.  Also ensure that the fusible side is facing the fabric.  You can easily tell the fusible side as it has a rougher texture with small dots, which are the dots of glue. There is nothing worse than a sticky base plate.  What is it they say, check twice, press once??

Fuse from the front You can tell the fusible side as it is the rougher side with small dots, which are the mini blobs of glue to fuse to your fabric

The reason we do this is to stabilise the fabric and to ensure the embroidery cottons don’t ‘shadow’ through the napkin as you travel across the back from stitch to stitch…..the interfacing does a great job at hiding the cotton.

Place your fabric in your embroidery hoop and tension the fabric so it is taut but not tight.  Some people prefer not to do this but honestly, it makes a difference to how neat your stitching is (unless you’ve had LOADS of practice!).  *NOTE:  If you have had enough stitching for the day, remove your stitching from the hoop until you begin stitching again.  If you leave your stitching in the hoop for long periods of time, the crease left behind by the hoop is much harder, and  sometimes impossible, to remove!

Now you’ve done the prep work, you’re ready to start.

Stitching a Monogram:

Using two strands of  the MED Blue DMC thread, backstitch the letter.  Some people find backstitch rather difficult but truly, it’s easy!  The easiest way is to stab and stitch so I’ll explain.  Referring to the diagrams….

  1.  Bring your needle up through the fabric, following the printed design, approximately 1/8 inch in front of your last stitch,
  2.  pull the thread through without pulling too taut and
  3. ‘stab’ the needle back into the last hole you made from your previous stitch.

If you continue to do this consistently (and yes, it does take practice), you are guaranteed a beautifully neat backstitch.  It’s that easy!  *NOTE:  Be prepared to ‘reverse stitch’ aka remove your needle and take a stitch or two out and do them again if you’re not happy with them…..I STILL do it often!

The leaves and vines are also stitched in a backstitch.  I’ve used two strands of Cosmo ‘Seasons’ 8022 but you can use any variegated green threads you have or can get a hold of.  Just be careful as you go around those smaller, tighter curves…….the stitches become smaller to ensure it remains a nice smooth curve.  Don’t be tempted to increase the size of your stitch so you finish it quicker….you will be disappointed!

Now, if you like, you could leave it at that, especially if you wanted to add more letters to the first to make a word, such as someone’s name, or a label.  But as mine is a Monogram, we’re going to create a frame for our letter using Chain Stitch.  Another simple stitch which creates a bolder line, nice for decorating  and making certain features stand out.  I love variegated threads because if gives more interest to smaller or more simple designs.  Cottage Garden Threads are an Australian product and I know they are difficult to get overseas, so you can use any variegated thread that incorporates a similar colour family as previously used.  Mine is called ‘Passion Flower’….if you can get your hands on some, it’s beautiful!

We’ll follow the diagrams again so using the two strands of thread…..

  1. take a stitch through the fabric, coming up about 1/8 inch in front of where the needle went in.  Wrap your thread around the front of the needle.  You’ll notice I’ve gone from the right side to the left….that’s because I’m left handed…..if you’re right handed, you would go from the left and wrap it around the front of the needle to the right….it doesn’t really matter as long as you are consistent. Do what feels comfortable!
  2. Pull your thread through, taut but not tight, holding your thread so that it doesn’t tangle and knot.
  3. Poke your needle back through the middle of your last stitch and then up again about an 1/8 of an inch in front (remember…..consistency).
  4. Pull thread through again.  Repeat until finished.  Your last stitch will end to close the circle then poke needle down through the centre of the very first stitch to the back and secure it by stitching through the last stitch and making a figure 8 with the thread around the needle and pulling taut to form a knot.

Using the same two strands of variegated thread, make a cross by bringing your needle up through the fabric at the end of the cross and pulling the thread through.

  1. Poke the needle back down through the opposite end of that line of the cross and then back up through the nearest end of the other line of the cross.  Pull your thread taut but not tight.
  2. Poke the needle back down through the opposite end of that line and travel across to the next stitch (or if you prefer, you can end your stitch there if you don’t like your thread traveling along the back.

To create a French Knot, bring your needle up through the fabric from the back, pulling your thread through.  Wind the thread twice around your needle and poke your needle through to the back, right next to where your needle came out.  Hold your thread taut right to the end so as not to tangle or knot your thread and to ensure your Knot sits proudly against the fabric.  If you let your thread loose, it might knot too early and leave a bit of a ‘bobble’ thread.

Once you have finished, remove your hoop and place napkin face down on a soft towel and press with a warm-hot iron.  This removes the creases from the hoop and ensures your stitches don’t flatten.

Your napkin is now ready for use, or to gift to someone special.


I hope you’ve enjoyed my first tutorial for Patchwork Posse.  I’d love it if you left a comment telling me what you’d like to see in future.  In the meantime, you can pop on over to my blog and see what else I get up to.  You can also visit me on Pinterest,  Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

xox Sugary Hugs :o)

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  1. Jill Werschin

    30 June

    Love your first post….looking forward to more!

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