How to hand embroider a rainbow with scrap materials

In this post, I'll show you how I hand embroider rainbows using scrap materials from past projects. In today's example, I'll be using scrap yarn, roving, macrame cord, and embroidery floss - but you can also follow this same tutorial even if all you have are extra pieces of embroidery floss!


Photo of an embroidery hoop with mustard, pink, white, and olive strands of yarn, roving, and macrame cord stitched onto a dark green fabric.
Hand embroidered rainbow hoop made from scraps!

This post includes step-by-step written and photo instructions; should a video tutorial be easier for you to follow, I have one at the end of this post (feel free to jump ahead!).


Step 1: Gather your supplies.


For this project, you'll need: two embroidery hoops (one for stitching, and a smaller one to use as a guide for your "pattern"; a transfer method (such as a pencil or transfer pen); fabric; scraps of yarn, roving, macrame cord, and/or embroidery floss measuring between 12-24" (depending on how long you want your "tails" to be); embroidery floss for couching down your scraps; and a needle (you'll only be threading your embroidery floss, not any of your scraps).



One of my favorite things about this project is how much fun it is to pick out different color combinations from my piles of scraps and supplies - use whatever colors you like best to create your project!


Step 2: Create your "pattern" using the inside portion of your smaller hoop as a guide.


Our "pattern" for this project is a simple arch, which we'll draw using our smaller hoop as a guide. Don't worry if you place this arch too high or too low on your fabric, as you can always balance it out by adding to the top or bottom of your project when you start stitching.



Step 3: Couch your first piece of material to your fabric, using your arch as a guide.


To help keep your scrap material centered, fold it in half and place your first stitch at the center of your arch. (I have a more thorough tutorial for the couching stitch itself on the blog, should that be useful to you!)



Continue couching your first piece of material to your fabric until you have covered the entire arch. How far apart you make these stitches is totally up to you and your own aesthetic preferences!



Step 4: Using your first stitched arch as a guide, add additional lines to your rainbow.


You'll couch additional pieces of material to your fabric, doing your best to keep each additional line as close to your last as possible. The goal is to have no gaps in between each line of stitching.



How many more lines of stitching should you do? Should you work your way up, down, or both? It totally depends! Add lines in the colors and materials that make sense to you in the moment - you can always unstitch anything you're not happy with and start over.


Step 5: If needed, trim and/or fluff the ends of your "tails" once you've finished stitching.


Trimming is an optional step, and totally depends on your own preferences for what you'd like your finished piece to look like. Fluffing is also optional; if you've used something divisible (like embroidery floss) to create your arches, you can use an eyebrow brush to gently brush out the tails.


Final result


Once you've backed your hoop, you're done!




Video tutorial


Here's a video tutorial, should that be more useful to you!



I hope this was fun, and I can't wait to see what you make! If you'd like to share your work with me, you can always tag me on your social media accounts (@hopebroidery on Instagram and Twitter, @hope.broidery on TikTok). If you don't have public social accounts, but still want to share, consider emailing me a few pictures (hope@hopebroidery.com), I would love the chance to tell you how much I love your work!


Happy stitching!