Embroidering My Bomber Jacket

peacock feathers embroidered

Ideas, stemming from unknown places, out of my control, seem to be taking over my head. My last project, a jacket and backpack, came from a fabric obsession that took over my waking and sleeping thoughts. This project grew from a desire, nay, a need to embroider a piece of clothing.  I have plenty of handwork projects going right now – several shawls I’m knitting for my wedding, a needlepoint organ that’s languishing on the shelf – but a burning need create my own textile through embroidery arose from the creative miasma and demanded attention.

vintage peacock embroidery design


I first thought that I would embroider a floral motif, western shirt style, to the back yoke of a jacket. I went poking through a Flickr group of vintage embroidery patterns and found several ideas (and pinned a few of them). I decided on a jacket pattern, decided on a lovely length of wool from my stash, and then I went to buy the ribbing for the jacket. And the ribbing I found and liked was somewhere between sapphire and cerulean. Out went the floral ideas and -bam- I knew I was embroidering peacock feathers.

traced design onto wool

I started by roughly sketching down the the back of the jacket using dressmakers chalk where I wanted to place the peacock feathers. I dug through my giant stash of DMC floss and picked out several colors that I thought went together nicely and looked peacocky (that’s a real adjective, I swear). DMC comes in 6 strands twisted together. I separated the strands and worked with 3 strands for my embroidery. I usually work with 2, but really wanted the design to read bold and strong on the garment.

long and short embroidery in progress

I decided to use long-and-short stitch to fill in the peacock centers in stripes, like the illustration. I started with purple and stitched the top stripe until I ran out. I then went ahead and stitched one entire feather center to make sure that the color and shape looked good once stitched. Satisfied, I pressed on and filled out the long and short stitching on all the feathers.

peacock feather embroidery in progress

I then went back to each feather with the dark blue and added stem stitch lines to the top and bottom, again freehanding them and adding wiggles to give them organic movement. The final touch that made them start looking like artistic peacock feathers was to add green stem stitch outlines (like the top picture).

laisy daisies on sleeve

Since the inspiration design has little flowers, I though I would cover a sleeve with bold lazy daisy stitches. I had just enough of the purple and dark blue floss to stitch a flower each, and filled in the rest of the sleeve in raw sienna lazy daisies until I ran out of that thread too. I really felt like I was creating my own textile and loved the process of free-handing every detail, not planning ahead, adding in more stitching as I went. And the disparate embroideries look phenomenal together in the garment – it’s like matching bold patterns in the easiest way. Stay tuned for the finished jacket very soon!

gold laisy daisy embroidery on wool



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