Welcome to my blog. You can read about my adventures in different types of needlework, and I also offer some free
cross stitch patterns. Please, come back often. :)


PLEASE, NOTE: The designs on this site are copyrighted to Agnes Palko. They are for your personal use only. They may not be distributed or reproduced without permission.
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9 things you should know about biscornu

9 things you should know about biscornu - and my own crazy ideas to add.

I love biscornus. Do you also? Of course, you do :D

I have collected some facts and links about biscornus, and added some of my own ideas. (And I have to admit, I have long wanted to write one of those posts that start like "X things you need to know…" Silly, right?)

1. A biscornu is a - usually small - cushion that is formed by two squares sewn together. Its distinctive shape is given by the fact that each corner is sewn to the middle of one side, making it really interesting.

(The pattern for my Easter biscornu you can find here.)

2. The name comes from French. Some say it means quirky, irregular, others say it means two-horned. Where the thing itself comes is unclear, at least I could not find any information about who made the first one. If you know, please share it in the comments.

3. A biscornu is usually embroidered in cross stitch or blackwork, but I have seen other embroidery on them, too. I love this hardanger biscornu by The Victoria Sampler, I am planning to make it one day.

4. The embroidery pattern is usually designed so that one side is dominant, and the other side (the backside) has just a small motif. But there are also two-sided biscornus, like the Easter-biscornu above.

(The patterns for these are here and here.)

5. The embroidered design is framed with a line of backstitch, which is then used to sew the two pieces together: you whipstitch going only under the thread, and not in the fabric, making one whipstitch in each backstitch. That's why it is important to have the exact number of stitches in the backstitched lines.
I simply love the look of this whipstitching, and was using it in other finishes as well. See, for example the sides of this bookmark.

If you need more detailed instructions on how to make them, look here and here, for example.

6. A biscornu is usually quite small, between 5-10 cm but there is nothing to stop you from making smaller or bigger ones. I have made a big one, and a few very small ones.

This one was about 15 cm across.

These are really tiny:

7. A biscornu usually has a button in the middle, that is sewn so that the two sides are pulled together, as you can see in some of the pictures above.

But it is not compulsory, you can omit it or substitute with something else, like beads, ribbons, a charm etc.

Here is an example where I used a tiny ribbon bow:

And here is one where I did not pull the middle together, so the biscornu has a rounder shape, and I like this as well.



The pattern for the snowflake biscornu you can find here.

8. A biscornu is usually used as a pincushion, but it is also perfect for a hanging decoration, Christmas ornament etc, you just need to add a cord.

9. There are many variations, the most interesting is perhaps the 15-sided biscornu. I have never made one (it is also on my "to try one day" list), but you can find a really good tutorial here.

I hope you like this little summary.

Please, come back in a few days to read about variations on the biscornu (and other shaped pincushions) that I have come up with. COMING SOON!


New biscornu pattern

Hello, friends,

I have been doodling a bit - and all of a sudden it became a biscornu pattern.

I added a little narrow band as well, this way you can choose whether you want to sew it together as a biscornu or as a small pillow with a side.

I hope you like it. Happy stitching.


Patchwork to save birds - and the environment. Tutorial.

It is spring - although it is still really cold here in Sweden. But the birds have already come back. The area next to my house is full of starlings, they nest in holes in the trees.

This reminded me of a sad thing that happened three years ago, my first spring in this flat. One of the starlings flew into the window and died.

I checked what we can do to keep them away from flying into the glass, and found that a black silhouette of a hawk is the usual solution. But who wants to look at a dark shape all day? So I made a shape, made it dark on one side and nice and colourful on the other. It was actually one of my first attempts at patchwork. It is hanging in my window ever since and we had no more accidents, thank God.

I though I would like to make one or two more, and that I can perhaps make a tutorial while I am at it. But please, don't expect something very precise, it is more a description of my own experimenting, that you can follow and make your own, if you want.

I made two pieces, using the method known as "quilt as you go". I used a very thin, iron-on batting (Vlieselin X50) on one bird, and on the other one something that is more an interfacing for bags to make them a bit sturdier - sorry, don't remember what it is. But I don't think it is very important what kind of batting or interfacing you use. It can also be something else, a piece of felt, for example, or perhaps some sturdy leftover fabric sprayed with starch. For the back, that needs to be dark, I used some old jeans, this way this also became a recycling project!

I am not very good at drawing but luckily there are thousands of such silhouettes on the internet to download and use. I used this one. I printed it on an A4 page, then enlarged with the photocopier to an A3 size (140 %).
(Later I realised that it was silly of me: I should have drawn a line around the bird, and only photocopy and enlarge the drawing - it was a waste of ink to print all that black.)

So, draw your shape or find one on the net you like and make it as big as you wish.

Cut around the shape and put it on the material you want to use as the base of your work: batting, interfacing, felt etc.

Draw around it and cut out the shape from the batting. Also gather some small pieces of fabric scraps, mostly strips. Make it randomly colourful as I did, or choose a colour scheme that suits your home.

Choose a piece of fabric that is long enough to cover one section of the bird. Put it down right side UP. I started in the middle, but I think it would work just as well starting at one of the wind tips, too.

Take your next piece and put it on top of the first one, matching one edge, right side facing DOWN. As you see, my fabric edges are not very straight, and it does not really matter.

Sew a 6 mm - 1/4 inch - seam allowance.

Flip the second piece up, and finger press well. This is one of the disadvantages of using an iron-on batting or interfacing: you cannot iron your pieces as you open them. (I did have some creases on my work because of that - but luckily they are not very visible.)
If you are using something that is not sticky, go ahead and iron your pieces as you go.

Continue in the same manner. I think it looks nicer if not all your fabric pieces are of the same width, and you slant them a little as you go. You don't even need to cut the fabric pieces in advance - just sew them and clip the seam allowance afterwards.

Soon you will have the whole shape covered with fabric pieces.

Cut around the shape, leaving about 1 cm of the fabric pieces overhanging the base.

Put it face down on a piece of denim - preferably (for the environment) from some old, worn jeans.

Pin, and sew around, trying to sew right next to your base shape. Leave a hole for turning it inside out!

Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of the next few steps. But it is not very difficult. :)

Cut around the shape once again, this time cutting the jeans. Clip the corners and curves. Turn it inside out, fold in the seam allowance of the opening, iron well, and topstitch all around - this way closing the hole, too.
I forgot to add a piece of ribbon before sewing them together, so I sewed it on from the outside - not very elegant.

Here it is all ready to hang:

With the ironing the batting got glued to the denim, so I did not need any quilting lines - this is why I chose them for the base. But if you want to use something that is not iron-on, you can add a few quilting lines to keep all the three layers together.

The second bird was made almost exactly the same way - only with the interfacing. I made the shape just a bit bigger, and planned my lines a bit more carefully in advance. I drew the lines I wanted to follow on the paper pattern, but not on the interfacing. I tried to follow them as good as I could just eyeballing it, without stressing too much about it.

This is what it looks like halfway done.

Put it on the denim face down, the same way as the first one, and sewed around. Only this time it was really hard. The interfacing did not want to move under the presser foot, it got stuck all the time. It was not my best sewing experience. Perhaps I should have got a teflon coated presser foot or something.

Anyway, I managed. Turned it inside out, folded in the seam allowance on the opening and ironed it well. Sewed a piece of ribbon on the tip of a wing to hang it with - this time remembered to do it from the inside. Then topstitched around the bird.

As you can see, the topstitching did not go very smooth either, it got stuck under the machine a few times. Luckily, it only shows on the denim side - and that side is only for the birds to see. I hope they will not complain. :)

Make some patchwork birds! Hang them in your windows, help the birds stay alive and at the same time create something cheerful for yourselves too look at.

Now I am thinking that this would look lovely in a kid's room, too, in any shape, not only birds. Hm…

I hope you guys will find this tutorial helpful. Happy sewing.


Happy Easter!

Wishing you all a very happy Easter. Boldog húsvéti ünnepeket kívánok! Glad Påsk!


Spring bird freebie - and some more sewing progress.

Hello, everyone, I hope spring has finally arrived at your doorstep - we are still waiting. And waiting… But it cannot be long now :)

Here are a few pictures of my further sewing experiments.
Tried to make a CosPlay costume, for the anime character called Shirayuki Mizore. This was an assignment for the university course. The course is not only about textiles but also about the pedagogy of teaching textile crafts and I like it a lot. We had to choose a topic that would be interesting for our students, so that´s how I ended up with the anime. I myself didn´t know anything about it before.
Anyway, this is what I came up with. The colours are not really good, I was working after a picture from the net, and only found a description of her clothes with all the colours when it was too late.

I sewed the pleated skirt (again, not perfect but perhaps not too bad), and I also made a very simple A-line mini-skirt. We had to think about our students, and I believe the pleated skirt, even the Simplicity skirt with the plaid fabric (see my previous post) would be too difficult. The jumper I made following a simple hoodie pattern, just made a little change at the neck.

Oh, and we practiced fashion sketches, it was really cool. :)

I am in Umeå right now, at the university. We are going to learn pattern making this time, which I really look forward to.

And now, cross stitch. I have created a spring bird cross stitch pattern for you. And for myself, actually - I don´t always stitch my patterns, or rather, haven´t yet, but I am going to do this one as soon as I get home. Just can´t decide which version. I think they would make lovely decoration on an easter basket or pillow…

Hope you will have fun stitching the bird, let me know if you do.

Happy stitching


Bookmark for St. Patrick's Day

Hello there,

I have another St. Patrick's Day pattern for you. There is still enough time to stitch it if you want to make a statement or a gift. I hope you like it.

If you are interested in St. Patrick's Day patterns, why not take a look at my other freebies here, here and here?

If you want to see what I have been up to lately, here are some pictures.

I have been sewing for my university assignment. First a simple skirt, (Simplicity 2655) that I made more complicated for myself by having to match the checked fabric. Did not turn out to be perfect but not too bad either, I think.

I also started a pleated version but haven't finished it yet, still need to do the waistband and add a zipper.

And I finally found a way to use my bird appliqué pieces that I made a while ago. They have become the centre for two free patchwork pieces. I am turning them into covers for some old and battered ring binders. One is finished with some hand quilting, the other is waiting for me trying my hand in free motion quilting.