My Primitive Tools for Paper Embroidery

DIY Tools for Paper Embroidery

During a recent studio purge, I ran across some of the patterns and tools I used in my very early days of paper embroidery, early 2000s, I’d say. I know I should be happy at how far I’ve come but for some reason, seeing these makes me sad. Not sure why I’m all “Bless her heart, she tried so hard”, when I should be, “Goshdarnit, she figured out how to do what she wanted, come hell or high water.”

My DIY Scallop

This first one shows how I made my own scalloped circle. You can see the layers of circles I used to make sure subsequent circles were centered as perfectly as I could get them by eye. See the pen scribbles the yellow arrow points to? That indicates the starting point for punching the stitching holes. I did that because if I lost track and punched a hole a second time, even if it was off by the tiniest amount, that would be visible and look sloppy. Can’t live with sloppy.

Craft Punches

DIY Tools for Paper Embroidery

Then I graduated to craft punches. That was better and more accurate but offered a rather limiting selection of suitable punches for this particular use. Don’t get me wrong, over time I ended up a ton of craft punches. I still have most of them but don’t use them as much any more as my style has changed.

Poking the Holes

Poking Tool for Paper Embroidery Stitching HolesThe first tool I used was a push pin, which was strong & sturdy but hard on my hands. Then my dad turned the above handle on his lathe and he glued a thumbtack to it. My hero!

I was able to lay the paper template over cardstock circles and punch three at a time. Of course the harder I pushed on the tool to go through the paper, the larger the hole became, to some degree. I never liked the holes being so visible. I thought they distracted from the stitching. Not sure anyone else noticed that but me.

Needle Tool
Cool Tools


If you’re wondering about a needle tool – the “needle” part is too long, not stable enough for fairly firm pressure.

Spirelli Enters My World

DIY Tools for Paper Embroidery

I’m a little fuzzy on this one, but I think I bought a brass template that was sold for making Spirelli.

Mary Everest Boole is credited with inventing the “curve stitch” in the 1800s, to make mathematical ideas more accessible to children.

Mary would tutor students with new methods; using natural objects, such as sticks or stones, in addition to the use of sewing cards, which she discovered as a form of amusement as a child. This helped to encourage the connections of mathematical concepts to outside sources. (Wikipedia)

Mary and I have several things in common. We’re both self-taught, love the spirelli design – and were born on March 11 . . .  124 years part.

I traced around the brass template on heavy cardstock and cut it out. This post on Lady Rain’s Random Buzz page gives you an idea of what I was doing and examples of Spirelli designs.

Later and Much Later

Groove-e Computerized Cutting Machine

A few years ater I bought my Klic-n-Kut Groove-e computerized cutting machine. It was life changing!

It’s on its last legs now (and long obsolete) but I still use that same software to design the files that I email to my laser cutting vendor, the beautifully artistic and fun to work with, Smidgens.

From using what I have to make my own DIY stitching templates to having other people laser cut them. That’s my journey.

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