Free hand embroidery patterns are available on this site. The one described below is of the Dogwood blossom and is quite quite lovely, as you can see. Victorian women found this flower to be very versatile. I think you'll agree.
Since I did leave the instructions, with very little editing, as it was written, you will find mention of materials that are no longer available or methods that can be replaced with much easier processes discussed. You will need to, obviously, substitute materials and methods available today for those that are no longer obtainable.
The picture above gives you an idea of what an embroidered Dogwood blossom will look like, although it is not the finished product of the diagram below.
Click on image for more details.
You may copy the larger image and enlarge or reduce it as you see fit.
This graceful design of Dogwood blossoms is well adapted to the greatest variety of decorative purposes: bracket-drapes, wall banners, sofa cushions, and plush mirror frames. It is very effective if worked on garnet or dark blue plush or felt. While any colored felt or plush is in taste, yet it will be readily understood by those who have studied decorative effect, why a dark tone is preferred - one does not weary of it, as would be the case with a light tint.
The flowers are a creamy white, with yellowish-brown centers, and little reddish-brown markings in the notches on the outside edge of the petals. The leaves are a medium shade of rather a warm, yellowish green. These features we must, of course, try and imitate in our needle-work.
The perforated pattern is made from the accompanying design. If it be worked on plush, the French indelible stamping should be used, instead of the powdered process. We will now suppose that the design is stamped and the material placed in a good sized embroidery frame, when you will begin working the stems in olive green embroidery floss, in the same manner described and illustrated for the Poppy design, giving it the upward slant.
The leaves are worked in three shades of green arrasene. Select shades that partake of a yellowish-green cast, and as you near the top of the spray, use more of the lighter shades. The method of working and shading with arrasene is clearly illustrated and explained in the Fuchsia design, and the directions that follow. The sepals, that show on the back of some of the blossoms and buds, are also worked in green arrasene. The veins are put in after the leaves are finished, using darker shade of embroidery floss, or veining chenille. The petals may be worked in two shades of cream white arrasene, or in two shades of white ribbosene, using the darker shade near the center, (Ribbosene was a new material created for embroidery. It was a cross between arrasene and ribbon, and yet unlike either. It was in fact similar to narrow ribbon, but is all silk and more elastic being crimped or waved. It was used only in making flowers).
Begin at the outside of the flowers, and work the stitches in the same way as shown in the illustrated Poppy design. The anthers, near the center of the flowers, are made with a number of French knots in dark yellow embroidery floss, having some knots made with seal brown floss. The knot stitch is made in the following manner: Thread a common needle with yellow floss, and bring it up through the material, from the under side, at the point where the knot is wanted. Now catch the floss with your left hand, about two inches from the material upon which yon embroider; then hold the needle in your right hand, (quite close to the material, and with the left hand wind the floss twice around the point of the needle. Now insert the needle at about the same place it came up. Draw the floss down towards the point of the needle, and hold it tightly with the left hand as you take the needle back through the material at about the same point it came up. This forms the knot. You then bring the needle up where the next knot is wanted, and repeat the operation. See illustration of Knot Stitch in Poppy design). Yellow floss is also used for the stamens (the thread-like portions that run from the center out to the knots, or anthers), taking but one stitch for each stamen.
The veins in the petals are put in in the same way, using a lighter shade of yellow floss, and worked in the same direction as shown by the vein lines in the design, If the work presents a drawn appearance when finished, this can be remedied by steaming the back of it and then stretching it over a board for a short time.
Victorian free hand embroidery patterns of this nature were very common during the 1800's to early 1900's. Sometimes the books that published these patterns would have a color plate showing the executed stitching which was, I am sure, very helpful. However, not all free hand embroidery patterns published supplied colored pictures and it was up to the embroiderer to learn the proper colors and shading of that specific object before starting the embroidering project.
Here are some other free hand embroidery patterns you may like to try:
The Last and Best Book of Art Needlework
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Priscilla Bead Work Book
Make Beautiful Victorian Beaded Purses, Jewelry & Accessories - Starting