Hello there!  I’ve been very excited to have finally made time to create a hand embroidered French Dot Constellation Table Runner by Miniature Rhino (a free download on Design*Sponge).  This is a hand embroidered linen table runner utilizing sequins and embroidery knots to mimic stars and constellations in the night sky.  

I wanted to note up front that the Design*Sponge website is going to be archived in September of 2020.  At that point, the website is supposed to be available as a full archive in the future through the Library of Congress (linked in the future).  If your interested to create this project yourself, go now and check out the link now while the pattern download is still on the Design*Sponge website and save a copy of the pattern for your own future reference (just in case there’s a delay between the archive process through the Library of Congress).  Knowing the September 2020 date is coming in the near future motivated me to create this project for this post (and I’m so glad I did).

For the fabric, I picked a really nice dark navy linen from Minerva.  I mimicked the fabric used in the sample and love that aspect of recreating the night sky.  When I washed and dried the fabric, it did bleed a bit onto a lighter fabric that I washed with it.  I didn’t notice any fading but I wouldn’t wash this fabric with light colors on a warm temperature setting in the washing machine.    

Supplies

Miniature Rhino’s Constellation pattern on Design Sponge

1.8m, Honduras Plain Pure Linen Dress Fabric, Navy

2, DMC Stranded Cotton Embroidery Thread, 3866

1, Craft Factory Round Cup Sequins, Silver, 5mm

1, Craft Factory Round Cup Sequins, Silver, 8mm

90/14 Universal needle

Beeswax

Embroidery needle

Embroidery scissors

Embroidery hoop (pattern recommends 12” size)

Marking stylus

Clover Tracing Carbon Paper Chacopy

Clover cutting mat

Iron / Sewing pins

Fabric Edges:

The pattern calls for a length of fabric that is 15” x 72”.  I debated on sewing a backing to the table runner or leaving the back unfinished.  With the time involved to stitch the embroidery pattern I decided to quickly serge the edges of the fabric for a quick finishing option.  If I need to fix something that needs repair in the design in the future, with the back unfinished I can easily make repairs.

I had two smaller cuts of fabric that I serged together.  I sewed a straight line on top of the seam to reinforce the serged seam.  The seam is hidden in the design and allowed me to use two smaller pieces of fabric for the 72” length.  

With the width of the table runner only being 15”, you will have fabric leftover for another project.

To download and print the Constellation Template pattern:

  1. Click the Constellation Template link on the Design*Sponge website

  2. Save the file (the file is a .jpg photo)

  3. Using Apple Preview (or another photo viewing program), open the .jpg file 

  4. Convert the .jpg file to a .pdf

  5. Open the .pdf file in Adobe Reader

  6. Go to File, print

  7. Click Poster

  8. Change scale to 600%, 0.75” overlap

  9. Click Print

Marking the fabric:

I had a few experiments that I tried for the process of marking the pattern onto fabric.

My initial thought was to use a printable embroidery paper that is water soluble.  The paper that I tried was by Gutermann from Minerva.  I liked that you can print the pattern directly onto this paper, stitch the embroidery and then the paper dissolves when soaked in water.  

After I printed out the pattern onto the solvy paper I flipped over the stack of paper as I took it off the printer.  In the photo below, the white stack of fabric is the pattern printed on computer paper and the cream stack of paper is the solvy paper (flipped over).

I layed the stack of papers out on the fabric, referencing the overlap of the pages.  

I trimmed off the bottom and left side edges of the pattern with a paper trimmer (as I would do when cutting and taping together a PDF pattern).

With my initial plan to dissolve the finished pattern pieces in water, I bastee the pattern sheets together on the sewing machine (instead of gluing or taping them together).

The fabric that I received for this post was in two separate cuts of fabric.  The two added up to 75 ¾” long.  Initially I thought I’d leave the table runner at the 75 ¾” length and center the design in between the extra spacing between the two ends.  

I trimmed the extra paper along the top and bottom of the pattern.

Then I basted the pattern to the fabric along the top and bottom of the pattern.  I rolled up the fabric to make it easier to manage the long length while stitching.

I started stitching but I found some issues.  The solvy paper was intended for machine embroidery not hand embroidery.  

The solvy paper does not have an adhesive backing so there is a gap behind the back of the paper and the fabric. I checked the back side of the paper as I stitched and found the knots were not flush against the fabric (there was a gap that would make the knots hang off the fabric instead of being flush to the fabric).

I decided to snip off all of the stitches that I had made, seam ripped the basted pattern off of the fabric, and tried a different marking method.

I then tried marking the paper with Dritz wax paper and a mechanical pencil.  I wasn’t happy with the image that I saw with this method (it was very hard to see the pattern transferring onto the fabric).

I then tried poking holes with an awl through the constellation dots on the pattern and then used various marking utensils to mark the design onto the fabric.  I wasn’t happy with the visibility of these marking methods as well (water soluble ink, water dissolvable pencil, Dritz mechanical chalk pencil).

The last method I tried (that I was happiest with) was Clover Chacopy paper, a cutting mat, and a stylus.  You can see on the white transfer paper in the photo below the indentations of the pattern.

The cutting mat was helpful to protect the table.  I marked the dashes and dots along the length of the pattern before starting the embroidery. 

I felt like the stylus was also a very important tool to use with this process.  It held pressure to transfer the image without tearing or puncturing the paper. 

I saw a big improvement in the visibility in the transfer process with the Clover transfer paper.  I did spend more time marking each dot and dash with this final process.  The more time I spent marking on top of each dot, the clearer it was to see the pattern transferred.

Portability:

I love working on hand embroidery during the summer.  Although I always enjoy sitting at a sewing machine, it is quite fun to have a travel sewing project to bring outdoors (and to sew around other people).  I have a purple bin that I used to carry around this project.  It kept all of the supplies together, was handy to quickly pick up and put down, and later I used this same bin to soak the finished project in soap and water.

Stitching the pattern:

I used three threads for the embroidery (as suggested in the pattern).  This pattern calls for a French knot to be used for the embroidery stitches.  I have found that I enjoy stitching the Colonial knot more than a French knot.  I like how pronounced a Colonial knot is above the fabric and I find it easier to keep the tension of the knot before finishing the stitch.  The following is a link to a Colonial knot, for reference.  I also like to apply beeswax along the thread before embroidering knots.

I wanted to note that I used two full skeins of embroidery floss for this project.  I did have to cut off stitches that I made on top of the solvy paper.  You should be fine with two skeins of embroidery thread (but if you want to experiment more with the stitches, you may want to purchase three skeins).

Finishing:

I decided to save tying the end knots along the back side of the fabric until the very end (batch knotting, if you will).  As the end of each thread came close to 2” in length, I stopped stitching and started a new thread.  I saved tying all of the knots until the end, to save time.

Testing a swatch:

When I started this project, I centered the pattern onto the fabric (with extra spacing along the left and right edges of the fabric).  As I tried different marking methods, I shifted the pattern to the right side of the fabric.  After finishing the stitching, I had 3 ¾” of extra fabric along the left side of the fabric.  I decided that I wanted to make an embroidery swatch to test hand washing the fabric, stitches, sequins and markings on the fabric.  I wanted to test if the silver tone on the sequins would wash off during hand washing.   

To make the swatch, I thought it would be fun to use sewing pins to quickly mark the fabric to stitch.  Using sewing pins made it easy to move the design around before stitching.  I wanted to stitch the big and little dipper.  I marked the Polaris (the north star) with a red sewing pin.  I wanted to use a large sequin to mark Polaris, just for fun. 

Final thoughts:

This project was SO FUN!  I love the finished piece and am so glad to have this finished table runner to enjoy.  I love how the sequins mimic the stars, sparkling in the sunlight.  

With the amount of stitching and the length of the fabric, this project did take some time.  I worked on this during quarantine for Covid-19, which made this such a fun distraction to focus on.

I worked on this project during little moments of time.  When I stitched at night, I used a bright lamp (to more easily see the pattern on the dark navy fabric).  

I stitched on this at the dinner table while my kids finished eating.  I enjoyed taking the little purple bin outside to work in stitches while I sat outside.  When you can find little moments of time here and there, they really do add up.

Happy stitching to you and thank you so much for reading this post.

Rachel (@oakbluedesigns)