Monday, January 11, 2021

Pulled Thread Tangram

Pulled Thread Tangram by Tricia Elvin-Jensen

As a child did you ever play with the shapes of a Tangram puzzle and see what designs you could make with those seven pieces? (Click here for instructions on how to draw your own Tangram shapes.)

Imagine using those shapes to design an embroidery. The Embroiderers' Guild of New South Wales in Australia issued a challenge to their members to do just that - create an embroidery based on the Tangram. 

Oceans away and through the Cape Embroiderers' Guild in Cape Town, my stitching friend Tricia Elvin-Jensen heard about the 'Yellow Envelop Challenge'.  Although not a member of the NSW Guild and therefore not officially able to take part, she nevertheless set to work using her favourite techniques of drawn thread and pulled thread embroidery. And, she challenged herself in another way too and created this beautiful embroidery.  

Tricia-Elvin Jensen

Taking the Challenge  requirements into consideration and with careful measurement, Tricia was able to adapt a UFO she'd started previously. The edge picot row, the outer drawn row and the flower meander row had already been worked.  The grid of the top border and the drawn thread strip at the bottom had also already been prepared, and she decided to fill those drawn areas and the side borders with geometric designs to echo the shapes of the Tangram.

So far so good, but things didn't quite all go as planned. While embroidering the new central Tangram design, Tricia said she mistook her central marking line as a division in the medium triangle and ended up with two smaller triangles - each filled with a different pulled thread stitch pattern. At that stage she said, 'there was NO ways I was going to undo either of those areas'. I think we can all identify and sympathize with that. 

Tricia Elvin-Jensen

Besides taking part, completing the challenge and finishing a UFO, the project proved to be a great incentive for getting Tricia back into embroidery after having had back and eye problems. It also helped her over the very strict lockdown rules of Covid19 in her retirement village.

With kind permission of the New South Wales Embroidery Guild and to inspire you even further, below are the three winning entries of the Yellow Envelop Challenge stitched by their Guild members. Congratulations! 

1. Sue Slattery

2. Frances James

3. Denise Pennell
'Till next time, I hope you find much to inspire your stitching. Perhaps you too can take a UFO, change your original intentions and complete a beautiful piece of embroidery.



  1. Such beautiful work based on the same shapes.

    1. Yes, beautiful embroidery and interesting to see how very different the pieces are.