Use needle and thread to create greeting cards

Everyone sends greeting cards to loved ones on special occasions, or “just because.” Buying cards can be expensive, but one way to save some money is to make your own with what you have on hand and the skills you possess. For those of us with an artsy turn of mind, making cards is a great way to have fun and to exercise creativity.

Recently, I used embroidery in a card-making endeavor. I had on hand everything I needed — cardstock, floss and scraps of cream-color linen. I also had several plastic stencils intended for use with paint. But elements of the stencils — a heart, a sailboat, a small flower — could serve as embroidery designs, it seemed to me. So, armed with a fine-point marking pencil, I traced the stencil designs to small squares of linen.

Tracing stencil designs to fabric requires patience. Even if the fabric is taped down it will shift a bit from the pressure of the pen. Mark the lines slowly and don’t get miffed if some of the lines in the resulting image are a bit out of kilter. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The embroidery stitches will cover most glitches.

If you don’t have stencils, draw your own design on the fabric — a simple flower, a rustic bird, a lopsided heart. Or start stitching freehand and see what happens. Something will and you will like it.

Over the course of the next week I spent pleasant time stitching the designs. When they were finished, I fringed the edges by removing threads on all four sides. Then I sewed each piece to a card using a cross stitch in each corner, or with running stitches or small buttons.

The first card I made, bearing an embroidered image of a sailboat, I sent to a cousin who was celebrating a birthday. Inside, I wrote, “Sail away to a happy birthday.”

Another card I made has a small bird embroidered in blue. I’m saving that one to send to a bride and groom — a “bluebird of happiness.” Every pair of newlyweds ought to be attended by flocks of bluebirds showering happiness upon them. And new mothers and fathers, too.

I’ve also started a few pieces that will come in handy when Christmas season rolls around again — a reindeer, a shooting star, an evergreen tree composed of lazy daisy stitches, a holly leaf, a wreath done in French knots.

Although I used linen, unbleached muslin also would work. I’m thinking tea-dyed, with a row of flowers outlined with simple running and straight stitches with a bead here and there or buttons for the flower heads. Since muslin is lightweight, it might be wise, after the stitching is done, to back it with iron-on interfacing to give it body.

But whatever you do, have fun thinking up ideas, enjoy searching your stores of supplies for fabric, threads and embellishments. No matter what you do, the card will be lovely and its recipient will know that it came directly from your heart. How good is that?

If you don’t have stencils to trace or embroidery transfers, go to Google and type in embroidery design images. You will be inspired.


Inspired by a recently donated friendship quilt from the Brooksville area, the Wilson Museum in Castine has invited Lynne Bassett to give a lecture, “The Romantic Era: Understanding Friendship Quilts,” at 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, at the museum, 120 Perkins St. The friendship quilt fashion was at its height between about 1840 and 1865. Bassett will describe the religious fervor, sentimentality and social stresses of the era to provide an understanding of the significance of the quilts.

Bassett is an independent museum consultant and author specializing in New England’s historic costumes and textiles. A former curator of textiles and fine arts at Old Sturbridge Village, she consults and lectures at historical societies and museums.

The Wilson Museum is creating its own friendship quilt with signatures from its membership. Call 326-9247 or visit for more information about the program or about becoming a member.

Love mysteries and like to quilt? Join the staff of the Wilson Museum 1-4 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, in the Meeting Room at 112 Perkins St. in Castine for a Mystery Table Runner Workshop.

The mystery story is in seven chapters and begins with a prologue including a list of squares and triangles to cut and bring to the workshop as well as a list of supplies and equipment needed. Each succeeding chapter will offer clues and instructions for creating a table runner. The project is small enough to complete in an afternoon, easy enough for beginners and mysterious enough for experienced quilters.

The cost of the workshop is $15 per person. For information, to register or to receive the prologue and materials list, call 326-9247 or email

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153, or email