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Jane’s Journal

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Making Embroidered Pillowcases -

cactus embroidered pillowcase

Making things for people I love is very important to me.

I love the process, sitting and quietly thinking of the person, the joy they bring to my life, happy times, sad times.

I also have a bit of a problem with works in progress - my creative eyes are too big for the time available, reproachful bags of half finished projects are stuffed into all my cupboards.

I remember, as a teenager, reading a magazine article about the actress Jane Seymour who - flying home from the States to visit her father who had been admitted to hospital - spent the flight embroidering a pillowcase for him.

A practical and emotional mix of meditation and concentration, hands busy, mind free to remember and feel.

A token of love and, in some ways equally important, a project that can be finished in a small amount of time.

Unlikely to join the rest of the unfinished things.

cactus embroidered pillowcase

My eldest daughter is leaving for University in September - she has been living away from home for a couple of years so it isn't exactly flying the nest, but she will be further away.

I won't be able to text her to meet for a coffee, I shall have to book a train.

It gives me such joy to see her grow and thrive, to head out into the world and be independent.

It fills me with terror too - especially this week.

So I have been embroidering pillowcases for her - simple bright cacti and succulents, to fit with her collection of plants - my drawings transformed into thread - a reminder of home.

I suspect it is a in some ways a charm too - a physical embodiment of the loving thoughts that made it - a feeling that it will protect her in the new life that she is soaring into.

The instructions are below -

cactus embroidered pillowcase


  • Cotton pillowcase
  • Saral Wax Free Transfer Paper - Graphite
  • Pencil
  • Threads
  • Needle
  • Simple Line Drawing

Put your pillowcase on a flat surface and put a piece of Saral paper and the drawing on top, wherever you want the motif.

Trace round the drawing with a pencil - press firmly to transfer the design to the pillowcase.

Thread your needle with 2 strands of embroidery thread (the skiens have 6 threads twisted together so you need to split them in three), knot the end and start to follow the lines of the drawing using chain, back or stem stitch.

There are great how to videos on YouTube if you haven't embroidered before - these three stitches are very easy.

You can use an embroidery hoop for this - which will keep the design taut - but I never do. I just iron a little more firmly when I've finished.

When you have finished all the lines make sure the ends of the threads are secure, trim any long threads and iron on the back.

You can also write messages in the same way - just put a piece of paper on top of the Saral and write your message, then follow the line of your writing with thread.

My drawings of cacti are in the Members Area as downloadable PDFs and I also have a very limited number of packs available at cost to members with a square of Saral paper, 3 colours of thread, a needle and a print out of the cactus drawing.

All you would need is your own pillowcase.

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