"I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living."


- Djuna in Anais Nin's The Four-Chambered Heart (1950)

I wanted to start another embroidery project, but was feeling uninspired. I looked on Etsy for a pattern and found quite a few I liked. But then I thought, "Wait, why pay for a pattern? Surely there's some fun free patterns online. To Google Image!"

I scrolled and scrolled until I saw this drawing:


Well, that was it! I was inspired! Normally I would have gone to the craft store to pick floss colors, but I had quite a few left over and/or unused at home. I decided to pick colors directly from my current collection, which bred some creativity.

First I blew up the size of the photo using my work scanner. (Then about 6 hours later I remembered I left the original print-out in the copier and raced back to work before we opened to retrieve it. 'Cause boobs!)  Then I made her hair shorter, because short hair is great. NOT because I wanted her boobs to be more visible, though that didn't bother me. Areolas for everyone!

When I get going on a project I rarely feel like stopping to take phase photos, so you get to see the almost finished product. The only thing missing from these photos is a fish I added later. Maybe this weekend I'll take a picture so you can see it. It's to the left of the mermaid's head (her right) to balance out the scene a bit.

Close up:


I wasn't sure I wanted to do freehand scales on her tale, but decided to just go for it, and I like how it turned out, even with its inconsistencies. As you might have seen, the scales are made up of 4 different colors of green floss. I just started a new color whenever the previous one ran out!

I confess I love doing the satin stitch, which is what I used for filling out her hair and fins. It's so easy to cover up mistakes and the payoff is gorgeous. I considered doing the whole tail in satin stitch, but then her torso would be the one thing not in satin stitch, and doing her skin in it too would feel like a waste of floss.

I also played around with the idea of giving her tattoos and/or glasses and making her look more modern, but I was worried it might ruin the look. So I'm saving those for the next attempt. I think if I could change anything, I would wish for her face to look less cutesy. The drawing of her face felt too doll-like to me, but my attempts to change it were pretty minor. I need more practice doing faces.


jonathan edmund said...


loverstreet said...

that is amazing! way to go maryann!

Allie said...

I think it's perfect the way it is. How did you learn embroidery? It's something I really want to try my hand at but I've always sucked at crafts involving needles.

Linda said...

You are such a Renaissance woman! What can't you do?

Super nifty design for a Pisces, too.

Maryann said...

Thanks, Jonathan and Lindsey!! :)

Allie I watched a little video on youtube showing me the different kinds of stitches--I mostly just use two of them but I should branch out. Anyway, I hold the pattern under the fabric in the hoop in front of a bright light, then lightly trace the pattern onto the fabric using a pencil. From there, I just pick colors and go for it! I'd love to have you over some night to embroider together! It's super easy, and your watercoloring skills make you more than a natural for it.

And Linda, I didn't even think of it as a pisces thing--that's awesome. Oh, and my domestic goddessnicity ends when I get to the kitchen. Frozen pizza tonight for dinner.

Kj said...

I had no idea you could do this/were sooooo good at this

LaLa said...

oh i love her so.

also: "Areolas for everyone!" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!