It’s hard to believe that it’s been over seven long years since Arrested Development went off the air, but with the revival of the show coming later this year, I stitched up a little homage to Mr. Tobias Fünke. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to embroider an Arrested Development themed piece and how to frame it in an embroidery hoop. Put your denim cut-offs on and make this fun tribute to nevernudes everywhere (there are dozens of us!).
- Cotton fabric, approximately 23 x 23 cm (8 x 8 inches). You’ll be transferring the pattern directly on to this and depending on what technique you use, lighter-coloured fabric is generally much easier to use.
- Black embroidery thread.
- Embroidery needle – use whatever size you like.
- Transfer pen.
- Iron-on denim fabric and red-coloured fabric. I found these at my local fabric store, but you could alternatively use regular denim and red fabric and applique it on or use fusible web, a type of material that bonds two pieces of fabric together when ironed.
- 15.25-cm (6-inch) hoop.
- Glue gun.
Click on the photo above to download the full pattern (also includes a reverse image if you're using a different method of transfer).
1. Prepare Your Project
To begin your project, you first need to transfer the downloadable pattern in this tutorial on to your fabric. There are many different ways of doing this, from printing out the pattern onto iron-on paper (make sure you choose the reverse image if you go this route) to using carbon transfer paper.
I use the old-school method of a window, some tape and a transfer pen. Tape your pattern onto a window, tape the fabric on over top, centered over the image, and carefully trace the pattern using a transfer pen. I use a fine-tipped washout pen, so that I can easily redo any mistakes I might make while tracing over the design. There is no need to trace the circle surrounding the pattern; that’s just to show you the approximate placement inside the embroidery hoop.
Now you need to cut the shorts and underwear out so you can attach them to the fabric. You can do this one of two ways: cut out the shape templates included in the pattern, place them over the red and denim fabrics and cut around them; or wing it like I did. If you choose the latter option, cut pieces a bit larger than you might need and then snip them down as needed.
To fray the denim, just pull at the end of one side of the denim until a few rows of threads unravel. Fluff up the ends of the threads to give it a frayed appearance just like real cut-off jeans.
Now you need to attach the fabric pieces. If you’re using an iron-on denim patch, simply place the frayed piece you’ve cut out over the correct spot on your transferred image. Following the instructions that came with the patch, iron the patch on. I used an iron on the 'cotton' setting, and simply pressed it down on the patch for about 10 seconds. Your piece will probably never be washed, so it just needs to adhere well enough to be hung on a wall.
Repeat with the red fabric, centering it over the denim and ironing it in the same way (or using fusible web if fabric isn’t iron-on). Now place your embroidery in a hoop (you’ll be reframing it later after ironing it flat again, so don’t worry about perfect placement, and feel free to use a smaller hoop if it feels more comfortable in your hand).
2. Start Stitching
Cut a piece of black embroidery floss to 45cm (18 inches). Gently separate the threads into two-strand segments. Thread the two-strand floss through the needle and pull it halfway up the length of floss.
Start stitching. I used backstitch for this entire project, with the exception of French knots for the dots over the letter ‘i’ and at the bottom of the question mark, and for the belly button.
Backstitch is a really simple embroidery stitch that’s great for outlining, and probably the easiest stitch to learn! Pick a place to begin – I started on the outline of the body. You’ll be working from right to left. Leaving about a 2.5-cm (1-inch) tail, bring the needle up to the left of the end of the transferred line and then make a small stitch down, to the right of where you brought it up. Bring it back out to the left of this stitch, coming back down as close to the first point of entry as possible.
You want your stitches to be approximately the same size, but don’t get too fanatical about it. The beauty of this stitch is that it all blends together nicely. Continue stitching in this method until you’ve finished the area you’re working on.
To secure your thread properly, you can hold down the end of the floss at the back and make your stitches over it, “catching” it as you stitch.
Alternatively, make a small knot and bring the thread up until the knot bumps up against the back of the fabric. This is a little less smooth, but for a piece like this that’s just hanging on the wall, no one will be able to tell.
When you reach the end of one section (or the end of a word), or if you’re running out of embroidery floss, complete your last stitch, and then run the needle through a few of the stitches on the back of the piece. Cut the threads close to the back of the piece, then re-thread your needle and keep going.
French knots can seem a bit tricky at first, but just practice on some scrap fabric and you’ll get the hang of them quickly. I also do them in an non-traditional way, so if this isn’t making sense to you, there are tons of great tutorials and videos out there! Begin the stitch by bring the needle up from back to front, then gather a few threads of fabric right next to where you brought the needle out.
Bring the tip of your needle out – the stitch will be gathered on the needle – and wrap the floss around the needle two or three times. Using your thumb to push the embroidery floss down, continue bringing your needle out until the thread is taut, then bring the needle back down right next to the little knot you’ve created, and pull the floss all the way down.
To secure the stitch, just gather a few threads on the back and snip the floss close to the fabric.
3. Prepare Your Project for Framing
After you’ve completed all your stitching, remove the fabric from the embroidery hoop, and, if you’ve used a water-soluble pen, rinse it under a tap until the marks have disappeared, then let it air-dry completely before ironing.
Now it’s time to iron your piece. Turn the piece over and iron the back, so as not to crush any of your stitches. I usually cover the fabric with a tea-towel, then lightly spray the towel with water and iron on the cotton setting until the piece is nice and smooth.
4. Frame Your Project
Once your piece is ironed and ready to go, lay the bottom piece of the embroidery hoop (the one without a screw) down and centre your fabric over it. Loosen the screw on the top part of the hoop and press it down over the fabric and bottom hoop, making sure the screw is centered at the top. Once the fabric is taut and centered, tighten the screw to secure the frame.
Now you need to get rid of some of that excess fabric. Cut around the perimeter of the piece, leaving about half an inch of excess fabric.
It’s time to secure the fabric to the back of the frame. Using a glue gun, apply a thin line of glue to the inside of the back of the hoop. Just do a few centimeters at a time, and be careful of the hot glue! As soon as you’ve applied the glue, use your fingers to smooth the excess fabric down, pressing on it until it’s secure. Repeat all the way around the edge of the hoop.
There are so many ways to display your project – I simply hung mine from the screw at the top of the hoop, but you could loop some ribbon or twine around the screw and then hang it, or display it on a plate stand. Play around and find the best solution for your space.
Congratulations! You're done.
In this tutorial you’ve learned how to transfer an embroidery pattern, a couple of basic stitches, and how to finish your piece in an embroidery hoop. This is a great jumping-off point for many embroidery projects – with just these two stitches you can embroider countless images, words or song lyrics. I also love the look of fabric framed in an embroidery hoop – it’s such a quick and easy way to add colour to any room. Get creative and have fun!
Do you have any suggestions for other projects mixing embroidery and applique? What are other ways you could display this? Leave your ideas in the comments below.