Starting to Stitch without a plan

An embroidered map in space

I usually have some kind of idea when I start an embroidery, but for this ATC I thought I’d start without a plan – and see where it led me. You almost need to trick your brain to without any image in your mind. We are so used to always planning and knowing what we do will become and how it will be used. Can you create something – without a plan?

Without the intention to plan you are free to blindly pick a thread colour, stick down your needle somewhere in the middle and start stitching.

How I did not plan

This time I started with a black thread line. It formed a space or container though I tried not to think about what it could become. When it was closed, it looked empty. So I then started to fill it out with french knots and other stitches.

I thought it started to look like a map, an island map of unknown origin, floating in space… An embroidered map in space? The above image is vignetted in Photoshop.

When you start without a plan, it’s easier to look at your work with fresh eyes. Move the fabric around and see if it might become something else. When you turn the motif around and look at it upside down or from an angle a new image might reveal itself…

So finally, this is what came out in the end:


Baby monster ATC

A tiny baby monster was born. Isn’t he cute?

Let me know how your non-planning goes!

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8 Responses to Starting to Stitch without a plan

  1. Andria says:

    Sometimes the non-planning feels like such freedom, and other times it’s just plain intimidating. But a person can end up with the best results that way! I was right there on your wavelength with this creation–from map to cute little creature. Embroidery is not something I do, but I always enjoy seeing your projects.

  2. Laila says:

    I like the result of your intuitive work! Most times that’s the way I prefer to work, with too much planning my inner critic always gets annoying. You know, right and left brainhalf.

    • iHanna says:

      I know all about the IC (inner critic guy), he thinks he is my best friend right now. I have a post planned about the IC. Stay tuned.

  3. Raine says:

    Oh, my! I can see the little baby monster!!! What a hoot.

  4. Carin says:

    Such a cute map-turned monster!

    Being a cross-stitcher, I live on plans and patterns. Couldn’t do them any other way. And going in without one seems scary. But ATC size seem less daunting and much more doable. I may give this a try. Btw, is that paint splattered on top, or was it on the fabric already. It’s hard to tell from the pics.

    • iHanna says:

      Thanks Carina, cross stitch is something very different and not something I would or could wing either. This is more like slow drawing. Super fun!

      About the fabric, it’s one that I dyed myself, so it looked like this when I started to stitch. I like the look.

  5. Tammy says:

    Hanna, I like your analogy of unplanned stitching (stitching without a map?) to slow drawing. One stitch or line at a time and the work just evolves, very calming. I did a bunch of freeform embroidery doodles (for lack of a better word) last year and it was really fun to just go with it, just seeing only one step ahead at a time.

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