“When Robins Appear, Loved Ones Are Near” – How to Make a Folk Embroidery Robin

When Robins Appear, Loved Ones are Near

When robins are seen, many people believe that their loved ones are at peace – or that lost loved ones are visiting them. So this Christmas, let’s get together and make ourselves a Folk Embroidery Robin …

What is Folk Embroidery?

Folk embroidery is a traditional type of needlework which is usually created by hand often using very simple designs, a limited colour palette and just a few basic embroidery stitches. 

Though the designs are simple, your finished embroidery will have great charm appeal.  The fact that your design has been hand stitched, with love and patience, will shine through your little work of art.

Slow stitching by hand is a great meditative practice. As you stitch out these little robins, you can think about the person you are making them for and what you love about them.  Or – you can make them for your own tree and think about the joy they will give you when you hang them up each year.   However you choose to use the pattern, making a Folk Embroidery Robin is a great way to relax and unwind this Advent.

Folk Embroidery Robin - Finished Robin

How to Make a Folk Embroidery Robin

Step-by-Step Instructions

What You Will Need

The great thing about hand embroidery is that it is so portable – you really can take it anywhere.  If you are stuck in a waiting room or on a long journey, it is a great way to make the hours wizz by.

For this project, all you will need is:

  • Red and Brown felt, cut to shape to make the two halves of your Folk Embroidery Robin.
  • A few strands of embroidery floss.  This is an ideal way to use up left over threads from any previous projects.    You will need black, brown, red, green and white.
  • A 16cm piece of ribbon
  • A small amount of stuffing.
  • An embroidery needle.
  • Sharp scissors

Folk Embroidery Ribbon General Instructions

Your kit contains felt cut outs sufficient to make one robin.  The left and right hand sides are identical.  You will sew them together and stuff them to create one finished Folk Embroidery Robin.

Embroidery floss contains 6 threads.  Pull out just a single strand at a time from your embroidery floss to avoid knotting, then combine the strands as required to work your embroidery stitches.

All the embroidery is worked using 2 strands of thread.

Folk Embroidery Robin - Getting Started

Folk Embroidery Robin - Felt Assembly
Folk Embroidery Robin - Getting Started
  1. First, assemble your felt pieces as shown.  The red circle forms your robin’s cheerful red breast and the brown felt heart gives him a little wing.
  2. Place your red circle breast to leave enough room to sew your robin’s eye and to stitch a blanket stitch all around the edge.
  3. Attach the breast to the body using 2 threads of red embroidery silk and a Whip Stitch all around the edge.
  4. Now attach your heart wing using a single strand of brown embroidery silk and Whip Stitch around the curves of the heart, leaving the wing tips free to flap in the breeze.

Folk Embroidery Robin - Embroidery

  1. You are going to complete two identical halves, working your embroidery in a mirror fashion so that your robin can be sewn together at the end.
  2. First, form an eye using 2 strands of black embroidery thread and 4 wraps around the needle.
  3. Next, embroider the red breast using:  lazy daisy stitch for the green leaves, infilled with a single straight stitch in black thread; backstitch for the green stems, 2 wrap French knots for the white berries.
  4. These are just suggestions – like us humans, no two robins are the same and their two halves aren’t necessary identical either.  You could use different embroidery stitches if you wanted?  You could vary the number of threads and wraps as you please too.  Play around – it’s your robin!
Folk Embroidery Robin - Embroidery

Folk Embroidery Robin - Assembly

  1. To make the hanging loop, cut the ribbon into a length of 16 cm.
  2. Fold the ribbon in half to form a loop and overlap the ends inside the centre of one of your robin’s heads.
  3. Hold the ribbon with a few small stitches.
  4. Now, sandwich the two halves together, trapping the ribbon in between and lining up the tail, wing and beak.
  5. Using 2 strands of brown embroidery thread and Blanket Stitch, sew all the way around the edge, adding your stuffing inside before closing completely.
  6. How fat you want to make your robin is up to you, but there is something rather lovely about a plump Christmas robin isn’t there?  Just looking at him makes you feel so much better about enjoying all those delicious festive treats, so go on – be generous with your stuffing?!
  7. So – you are all done.  Time to have a nice cup of tea, stand back and admire your work.

Folk Embroidery Robin - How to Work the Embroidery Stitches


Folk Embroidery Robin Whip Stitch
Folk Embroidery Robin Whip Stitch

Bring the thread up at A and down at B, then up again at C, keeping the spacing even.

Back Stitch

Folk Embroidery Robin Back Stitch
Folk Embroidery Robin Back Stitch

Work from right to left (if right handed).

Bring needle up at A and down at B.  Then, bring needle up at C and back down at D and so on, keeping the stitch length even.

The stitch can also be stabbed – each element worked in a separate movement

French Knot Stitch

Folk Embroidery Robin French Knot Stitch
Folk Embroidery Robin French Knot Stitch

Bring the thread to the front at A.  Hold the thread firmly with your opposite hand and wrap the thread around the needle once, twice or three times, depending on the size of knot you want to make. 

Keep the thread taut in the opposite hand, reinsert the needle back into the fabric close to where the thread emerged at B (not the same hole or you will lose the thread!). 

Pull until the thread disappears and the knot is formed.  You can use varying numbers of threads and twists/wraps to achieve a wide range of different effects. 

Some people prefer to use a milliner’s needle for French knots.

Lazy Daisy Stitch

Folk Embroidery Robin Lazy Daisy Stitch

Bring the needle up from the back through the fabric at A. Take the needle down through the same point (B), but don’t bring it down completely. Leave a roomy loop behind to make the petal of the flower. 

After making a loop of desirable size, push up the needle from the top of the petal, on the inner edge. Pull out the thread gently, but tightly. 

Poke down your needlepoint on the outside of the top edge of the petal, keeping it close to the perforation point. 

Now bring your needle up through the starting point of the petal and repeat, making another petal of the daisy.

A single stitch worked inside the lazy daisy loop gives an attractive decorative finish.

Embroidery Folk Robin Straight Stitch inside Daisy Stitch
Straight Stitch inside Daisy Stitch

Blanket/Buttonhole Stitch

Folk Embroidery Robin Buttonhole/Blanket Stitch

Work Blanket/Buttonhole Stitch from left to right (for right handers).

Bring the needle out through A. Now, pass the needle through B over the thread, as shown. Come out from C. Loop the remaining part of the thread behind the needle as shown.

Pull out the needle towards you to direct the knot towards the bottom. This creates a stitch with the knot on point B. Continue the process, keeping the stitch width and length even.

Pull out the needle towards you to direct the knot towards the bottom. This creates a stitch with the knot on point B. Continue the process.

Folk Embroidery Robin - Tips and Tricks

You could string your robins together as a garland. Instead of cutting the ribbon, keep it as one length and place inside each robinas you sew them. Be sure to stitch into the ribbon so that the birds stay in place.  You could either make a vertical garland or some horizontal bunting.

Folk Embroidery Robin Kit

We will have 10 Folk Embroidery Robin Kits for sale at our Craft Sale/Coffee Morning on 25th November 2024.  For just £5, you can buy yourself a kit with everything you need to make your own robin.  All you need to do is follow the instructions on this post to bring your little robin to life.

The simplicity of Folk Embroidery means that this is an easy project for a complete beginner.  Why not give the gift of a new skill to someone you love this Christmas?

Come early to make sure you can get your hands on one!  All profits from the event will support Birmingham Hospice.

Craft Sale Coffee Morning Flyer 25th November 2024 Birmingham Hospice
Come along and buy a Folk Embroidery Robin Kit
Folk Embroidery Robin - Embroidery Kits
Folk Embroidery Robin - Embroidery Kits

Join a Folk Embroidery Robin Workshop

If you are local to Birmingham, have you visited the new Hospice Shop on Harborne High Street yet?  “Reloved Revolution” is a charity shop like no other.  We will be helping to bring the community room there to life in the new year with a series of “Have a Go at …” Workshops – perfect for complete beginners.

A Folk Embroidery Robin Workshop is something we would like to run next year, if there is sufficient interest.  If you want to join the waitlist, please contact me.

To keep in touch with news on future workshops, be sure to sign up for a free newsletter – link in sidebar.

Happy Stitching – Magic is Something you Make!

Contact me for a pdf version these instructions – available free to subscribers only.

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