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.
If you wish to use my patterns to stitch for charity, please, let me know.


Pressed flower - free cross stitch pattern

It is the summer holidays, so what can a girl do but… doing the big cleaning. I was sorting out my books and old notebooks and found some pressed flowers. Or rather some petals. I am sure the flowers were important to me when I pressed them, but I can't remember them. Probably got them from someone precious. I am ashamed that I forgot.

I tried to make a pattern out of them. First I just drew one petal, tried to capture the shading and the gradual change of colours. It is not easy if you are not willing to go huge. Then I put the petals together and made them into a flower. I really wish my program could turn pattern elements in different angles, not only 90°. But as it is, it had to become a four-petal flower.

For once I did not believe the colours my screen showed me (I have made that mistake more often than I care to admit), instead I looked at my threads and put them together in a row. I don´t have the full DMC set, so I had one missing. I hope I managed to find the right colour for that using the DMC colour chart.

I think the pattern is just the right size for a card. My fingers are itching… :)

Let me know what you think.

Click on the picture bellow to get the pdf file.

Happy summer, happy stitching.


Blackwork biscornu pattern

I am continuing with the folk art inspired motifs. This time I made a blackwork pattern in blue, for a small biscornu or pincushion.

I am going to Hungary soon, so I probably won´t have time to stitch this, and anyway, I am full of half-finished projects, so I should not start something new. But knowing myself, I can´t promise anything :)

Hope you like this little pattern. Let us see if you make it!

Happy stitching


Biscornu and bookmark inspired by folk patterns

I was reading a book about the folk art of Kászon - now in Romania, originally a Hungarian area. I was, of course, inspired by the many beautiful pictures and patterns.

The following biscornu and bookmark are using elements that are traditional in Kászon, but are also present in many other areas. However, I tried to create a new design using the old motifs, added my own interpretation.

The biscornu can also be made as a mattress pincushion, so I added a piece for the sides.

I hope you like and stitch them.


More about biscornu - my own ideas

As promised, here come some more ideas and experiments with the biscornu and its variations, as well as some other types of pincushions.

1. Cross stitch (or any embroidery) on one side, backing fabric on the other.

The big biscornu I showed you last time, was made from a cross stitched square and a piece of fabric on the backside (unfortunately it does not show in the picture, and since it was a gift to someone, I cannot take more photos). I did not do the backstitched border and the whipstitching on this, I simply sewed the two squares right sides together, one corner matched to the centre of the other square. I sewed by hand, as I did not have a sewing machine back then.

I was wondering if it was possible to do it "properly", I mean with backstitch and whipstitch, even when you have another type of fabric on one side. The key would be to make backstitches on the other fabric the same size as on the Aida, then it should work. Need to try one day. Has anyone done this?

2. Biscornu made of felt, with blanket stitch.

I often do embroidery on a piece of felt when I sit in the classroom with my year 5 classes. When they have started their sewing and they don´t need my help so often, I sit down at the table with them and doodle with a piece of felt and some leftover thread pieces. They like to see that I sew for my own pleasure and often get inspired by what I do. This little embroidered piece was the product of such lessons. I then put it together with another square the same size and sewed them together with blanket stitch. It turned out OK, although it was much more difficult to match the corners than with Aida. It is not easy to be exact with the blanket stitch, and the felt stretched out a little as I was sewing. Some corners are not perfect, but all in all, I like the result.

I think it probably works with any other fabric plus blanket stitch - felt is just easier because it does not fray.

3. Biscornu with no sharp corners

Another variation that I came up with is what I call "the wavy biscornu". I designed the pattern so that I cut off the corners of the squares, and the biscurnu becomes softer in appearance, the corners are not so pronounced. I really like the effect.

Here and here you can see how the pattern looks like for such a biscornu. I marked with arrows on the pattern how the squares should be put together.

4. A cube pincushion

Here is another shape I came up with: it looks like a cross shaped pattern when embroidered, but then it comes together to a little cube. For a long time this was my most popular pattern on the blog. :)


5. Then, of course, there is the more traditional pillow-shaped pincushion, that can also be done with a button in the middle:




6. A variation on this is the so called mattress pin cushion, when you sew a narrow rectangle on all the four sides between the two squares. This is what I did with my latest pattern:

If you need detailed instructions for this type of pincushion, you can find one on this blog.

If you find a biscornu (or any square) pattern that you like, it is easy to turn it into a mattress pincushion. Design the small rectangles yourself: they should be the same width as the squares, and only 10-12 stitches high. Then find a small element in the original pattern that you can put in these rectangles.

7. Bi-biscornu

I have also come up with another shape that I called the "bi-biscornu". It is a cross between a biscornu and a mattress pincushion.

I have promised to write how it is made but never did, so perhaps it is time to do it.

Here is the pattern. It was made before I got my cross stitch program, it is not a pdf file, just a picture. Right click to download.

As you see, the pattern has exactly the same pieces as for the mattress pincushion. To sew together, match a corner of a small rectangle to the middle of a square. Start whipstitching together. Then add the next rectangle and the next. Then sew the other square the same way: the middle of the square meets the corners of the rectangles. I hope it makes sense.

8. And finally, some unusual shapes I have experimented with, that also use the backstitched line + whipstitching method.

These are patterns for sale, you can find them here.

I hope you can find inspiration for pincushions and biscornus in these posts. Please, send a picture if you make one of these, I would be happy to post them on the blog.

Happy stitching!


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.

Edit: do you want to see how it looks stitched? Here it is, in this post. Just scroll down.


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.