Here’s an easy beginner embroidery project that celebrates your favorite constellation. Follow along to see how I made this classic constellation and also this glowing version made with LEDs and conductive thread.
For this project, you will need:
- Dark blue fabric, about 10×10 inches
- Embroidery hoop
- White embroidery floss
- Embroidery needle
- Water-soluble marking pen
- LED sewing kit (optional, for light-up version) – Buy on Tindie or Buy on Etsy
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Download Free Patterns
Whether you want to embroider the constellation with or without LEDs, I’ve got you covered with a free PDF pattern for every sign in the zodiac:
Mark Out the Design
I started by putting the dark blue fabric in the hoop by sandwiching it between the inner and outer rings and pulling it taut while tightening the screw. Then I drew the constellation pattern with a water-soluble marking pen. I printed out the pattern and traced it using my USB lightbox, but you could also tape it up to a window or use your laptop screen as a lightbox instead.
Floss Prep and Basic Stitching
Next, I threaded a needle with some white embroidery floss. I used three strands, which I separated from the full thickness. I way I start stitching is from back to front, leaving a few inches of floss tail at the back. Instead of knotting the floss at the back, I like to secure that tail using the future stitches. This keeps the embroidery nice and flat, but it’s also ok to tie a knot in the floss if that’s what you want to do.
For the lines connecting the stars in my constellation, I’m just stitching back and forth between the front and the back wherever I want a line to be. If you skip ahead and stitch back, like I did in this sample, it’s called a backstitch, but I also used a running stitch to make the long lines.
The other type of stitch I’m using is for the stars, and that’s called a french knot. I come up from the back of the fabric and pull the floss all the way tight. Then I’ll take my needle in my dominant hand, and grab the floss near the fabric with the other hand. With the point of the needle facing away from the hole in the fabric, I’ll wrap the floss around the needle a few times, then pierce it through the fabric close to where it originated. All while holding the floss slack snug with my non-dominant hand, I’ll pull the threaded needle through the newly formed knot to the back of the fabric, until the slack neatly tightens to form a knot. The size of the french knot depends on how much floss you’re using, and how many times you wrap it around the needle.
Creating the Constellation
I used a combination of running and back stitches and french knots to follow along the lines I drew on the fabric earlier. To end the floss at the back, I just use the needle to thread it through the backs of some other stitches and cut off any extra. Then I sprayed the whole thing down with water and used a paper towel to lift away the water-soluble pen marks.
Finishing the Embroidery
Before I could hang it on the wall, I wanted to take care of the extra fabric along the edge. I cut it to match the shape of the hoop and then gathered it at the back with a running stitch and some plain thread. But if you didn’t like the wood hoop look, you could also mount this up in a standard picture frame, or even sew it into a pillow cover or quilt.
Adding LEDs (optional)
While this embroidery is perfectly fine on its own, You know I couldn’t resist adding LEDs to this space-themed project to bring it to the next level. I’m using my LED sewing kit, which has everything I need for a project like this.
I’m starting with the same embroidery as before, except I’ve picked three big stars for the LEDs and left those spots blank instead of the usual french knot. Then I pierced the LED legs through the fabric in those spots, and splayed them out at the back. Then I took a pair of pliers and twisted each longer positive LED leg into a loop, so that they are easier to tell apart.
Then I stitched on the battery holder using conductive thread, somewhere towards the middle of the design. I attached it to the backs of the stitches where possible, and just caught a few fibers of the fabric everywhere else, so you won’t be able to see very much conductive thread on the front side of the design.
I attached all the positive LED legs to the positive contacts on the battery holder, and likewise, all the negative contacts connect to ground. The battery holder has plus and minus signs marking which contacts are which. This conductive thread is very thick, so I needed to tie several knots and tuck in the thread ends where they can’t spring apart and touch positive to negative, which would make a short circuit.
The battery holder has a little switch on it, which makes it easy to turn the LEDs on and off.
For more free and excellent beginner embroidery lessons, please visit my friend Jessy’s Embroidery Class.