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How to do Paper Embroidery or Prick & Stitch

Hello, my name is Sue and I have over 10 years continuous experience in paper embroidery and I am passionate about sharing my skills.

Paper Embroidery or Prick & Stitch

I started paper embroidery about 10 years ago. It was listed as a workshop in my local craft shop and I went along out of curiosity. I had always been into embroidery in one form or another but this was new to me and I was hooked from day one.

Paper embroidery is exactly what the title says, it's embroidery using paper to embroider your design on but it is quicker than embroidery in the traditional way on fabric.

To start this craft you will need the following basic tool kit:

A piercing pad

A pricking tool Can be one designed for paper pricking or just a dressmakers pin.

A Prick & Stitch pattern. This company, Form-A-Lines, has a large variety to choose from

Double sided sticky tape

Thread. Can be metallic or stranded cotton (just 1 strand at a time). Whatever thread you use make sure it's not too thick or it will distort your card

Paper/Card. Available in many weights from parchment to card-stock. If you are a beginner I would choose a medium weight card. In the UK blank greeting cards are widely available in packs from places like The Range, The Works & Hobbycraft or online.

A Needle. A number 10 embroidery needle is ideal.



Place your pricking pad on a firm surface, a table or a tray if you work on your lap.

Place your card on the pricking pad. If you are using a double fold card (a card with three panels) then make sure you pierce/prick your pattern on the middle panel.

Place your pattern on top of the card (the right side of the card should face upwards towards you). Make sure it it is held firmly in place, you don't want it to move while you are pricking.

Your pattern will be formed of lots of little dots and your next step is to pierce/prick each one, going through your pattern and card.

Before you remove the pattern from your card pick it up,careful not to move the pattern from the card and hold up to the light. It will highlight where any dots have been missed.

Once you are satisfied your pattern has been completely pierced/pricked remove it. You are now ready to stitch.

You will see the pricked holes on your card in the shape of your chosen pattern.

Scroll to Continue

Thread your needle with your chosen thread. I would suggest no longer than 14 inches.

Following the instructions in your pattern bring your threaded needle from the back to the front of the first hole. Pull your thread through until there is about half an inch left on the back of your card. Tape this half inch of thread down with a small piece of your double sided sticky tape being careful not to tape over any of the holes. Double sided sticky tape usually comes with a cover. It is a good idea to leave this on until you are finished.

Keep following the instructions from your pattern until it is completed. Remember to tape down all of the new thread starts in the same way as mentioned in the previous paragraph.

You may find it useful to watch my embedded video below as a visual aid

Once you have finished stitching your card turn it over with the right side facing down. Using the handle of your scissors, gently rub over all of the holes. This will close the holes a little making for a neater finish.

If you have used a double fold card then place it face down on your table/tray. Remove the covering on the double sided sticky tape used to secure your thread on the back of your card. Add some double sided sticky tape around the outer edge of the back of your stitched pattern. Fold the left panel of your double fold card across to cover the back of your work. Press firmly to secure.

You could also stitch your pattern on a two fold card but you would have to find a pretty paper insert to cover the back of your stitching as I did in my second photo.

Or, you could stitch your pattern on a single piece of card and use it as a card topper.

Other ideas.

Perforated paper is readily available in many craft outlets, including online and gives you a different perspective of this craft.. You could have a go at embroidering your own design on a piece of perforated paper and send in a hand made envelope to a loved one or a new baby or a get well soon piece, or even use them in scrap-booking or journalling. The possibilities and the variations in paper embroidery are endless.

A brief history of paper embroidery

Paper embroidery seems to have been around since the 1700's. Sheets of perforated paper started to be produced around 1820 hence the enormous popularity of paper embroidery during the Victorian era.

The version I have given you in this article looks to me like a modern take of the String Art pictures popular in the 1970's and first created by Pierre Bezier.

Denys Fisher, the inventor of the Spirograph in the 1960's is another contributor to the pattern concepts of this type of paper embroidery.

Further supplies of patterns and tools.

Another excellent supplier of paper embroidery supplies and kits is Add Some Sparkle and can be found here.

Completed paper embroidery card & tools required to get started

Completed paper embroidery card

Completed paper embroidery card

Inside of completed card

Inside of completed card

Tools required to get started with paper embroidery

Tools required to get started with paper embroidery

How To Do Prick & Stitch Paper Embroidery

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Sue Creftor

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