Japanese Flower Embroidery


Latest posts by Madeline Scharpf

Nuido It Yourself - Japanese Embroidery with Madeline Scharpf

In my world, there’s nothing better than a Japanese craft book. The first one I tried many years ago was a cute crochet book, full of adorable sweets shaped cozies. What kind of person doesn’t need a chocolate cake tissue box cozy?!

Crochet on Mr. X?! Say it ain't so!
Crochet on Mr. X?! Say it ain’t so!

This would be my first experience with crochet charts. I know we aren’t in a knitting circle here at Mr. X but the point is, these books have universal charts so anyone can use them. Be it beading, yarn, thread, needle felting or sewing, you don’t need to know an ounce of Japanese to be able to use these fabulous books. They’re a rarely tapped resource of creativity and I’m going to dispel your worries about the language barrier.

Simpler than it looks!
Simpler than it looks!

The book I want to show you today is Ayako Otsuka’s Flower Embroidery. I picked up my copy at a Tokyo bookstore but you can order one from Etsy, where you can see more photos. This book uses textures beautifully to create realistic looking flowers. While flipping through this book, I felt as if the flowers were magnificently complicated but the book uses basic stitches, and you’re probably familiar with all of them. In the back you’ll see she includes a clear tutorial with some familiar English.

All you have to worry about is the part that comes before the 'S'.
All you have to worry about is the part that comes before the ‘S’.

To follow the instructions, just match up the Japanese with the English. This book offers translation for all 15 stitches used. For example, both the stem and the leaf of the Cornflower use アウトラインS. The ‘S’ part tells me this is the name of a Stitch. Look at the back pages for the same series of characters and you’ll see, ‘Outline Stitch’. アウトライン = Outline ステッチ = Stitch

Detailed instructions and English for each stitch.
Detailed instructions and English for each stitch.

The Cornflower uses a stitch that hadn’t tried before, the Smyrna Stitch. Have you tried it? I hadn’t tried it before and after consulting Google Sensei, I discovered this is related to a rug stitch called the ghiordes knot.

It's a loop and a back stitch.
It’s a loop and a back stitch.

After a little trial and error, I think I’ve got. If you’ve never tried a certain stitch before, I recommend that you try a go ahead with a test swatch.

Once again, I’m embellishing the old denim jacket that I used for my Boro article.

Jacket collaredit

Trim and fluff. I had really enjoyed this project and decided to add the little bee, also. I have many Japanese books and they all contain some English and lots of pictures making them usable for anyone, no matter your language. So why don’t you try a Japanese embroidery book?

See Also
Box-It Front View

Finished jacketedit

Are you on Pinterest? I keep a Nuido It Yourself board with references to everything that I write about here. If you need more Japanese Embroidery, check it out!


Madeline Scharpf

When she’s not gallivanting overseas (usually to Japan) Madeline is making things at home in the Oregon countryside where she lives with four dogs, a pig and her human family. You can keep up with Madeline’s endless fiber projects and find her travel blog at www.madelinewonderland.com as well as visit her Etsy shop.

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