How to stitch a thistle flower

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

Thistle flowers are a fun (and surprisingly easy!) stitch for when you're hoping to add a bit of interest and dimension to an otherwise flat floral hoop.


Photo of orange, blue, and pink flowers stitched onto white fabric.
Finished thistle flowers add a fun touch to your projects!

I've seen stitchers create this stitch using loads of different techniques. In this post, I'll be showing you how I stitch the thistle flower with step-by-step written, photo, and video instructions (feel free to skip ahead to the video, if that's your preferred method of learning new-to-you embroidery techniques)!


Step 1: Prepare your "loop" floss.


Start by grabbing about an arm's length of embroidery floss and separating it into six separate strands. Once you've separated your strands, bring them back together - I know this seems a bit strange, but I find that separating the floss before I move onto the next step actually helps me with fluffing the flower later in the process!



Step 2: Wrap your floss around two fingers, about 10-15 times (depending on how fluffy you'd like your flower to be).


You can also wrap your floss around two pens or pencils, a craft dowel, or anything you like! If you'd like your flower to be longer, you can wrap your floss around a wider surface; I tend to default to one to three fingers, but play around and see what works best for you!



Step 3: Bring a new piece of floss through the center of your loop, tying it into a knot to secure.


Make sure to leave enough of a tail on each end of your floss to allow you to thread them in our next step.



Step 4: Attach your loop to your fabric wherever you'd like the base of your flower to be.


The place where you attach your loop will eventually become the bottom of your flower base.


Bring each tail through your fabric, flip your hoop, and tie in a knot to secure the loop to your fabric.



Step 5: Using straight stitches, "couch" your loop to your fabric.


I chose a green color for the base of my flower, but you can use whatever color you like!



Keep adding stitches until your loop is totally covered at the base.


You can use your fingers to help move the stitches to make them more even, should they shift about on top of the loop itself (this is easier to me do in the video tutorial below).



Step 6: Trim your loop into your desired shape.


Keep in mind that if you cut the loop too short, you'll have to start your stitch over again - floss doesn't grow back!



Keep trimming your flower until you're satisfied with its length and shape.



If your fabric is "sticky" (meaning, the floss bits tend to stick to it), try using a piece of tape to remove any leftover cuttings.



This is usually the point at which I'd have to fluff out my flower. If you need to fluff, you can use a needle to gently separate the floss, or even an eyebrow brush! However, because I separated my floss and then rejoined it before creating my loop, I get to skip that step!



I added a straight stitched stem to my flowers, but you can add any sort of stem you like (or no stem at all - it's up to you!).


Video tutorial for hand embroidering thistle flowers



I hope this was helpful! Happy stitching!