Don’t leave your herb garden at home! Take it with you with these seven free printable botanical keychain embroidery designs.
Last week’s backpack makeover left me with embroidery on my mind, but I wasn’t up for another huge project. Instead, I made miniature keychain embroidery designs.
I found 1 inch decorative embroidery hoops online that would make adorable keychains. All I had to do was decide what to embroider to put inside.
Herb Garden Inspriation
Summer is almost here and my garden has been in full bloom. I have prioritized growing a permanent herb garden for the past couple of years. This year my perennial herbs have become established and the few annual herbs I added to the mix are thriving.
I went around my herb garden with my camera and photographed a bunch of herbs to embroider.
I found seven beautiful herbs that I thought would be fun to embroider:
What you’ll need
- Tight weave fabric pieces in a solid color
- Embroidery floss in assorted colors
- You won’t need a lot of any one color, but having a variety of colors to select from is very helpful
- Embroidery hoop
- I used a 6 inch hoop and was able to fit all 7 designs, but you could use a larger or smaller hoop
- Water soluble ink pen (or another erasable marking tool)
- Embroidery needles
- Thimble (optional but highly encouraged)
- 1 inch decorative embroidery hoops
- Key rings with chain
- Strong glue
Embroidering the designs
I started by tracing seven circles onto my fabric using the smaller wood circle from the decorative one inch embroidery hoops with a water-soluble ink pen. This makes it easy to remove the marks when the embroidery is done. Be sure to leave enough room between each circle so you can cut at least half an inch around each circle. This will leave enough extra fabric to pull around to the back of the wood disc when the keychains are assembled.
I planned out the position for each herb embroidery design and labeled them so I could remember what I was working on. I didn’t want to repeat last week’s mistake and forget what I should be embroidering. As I worked on each key fob design I free sketched where I wanted to place the plants. I had a lot of fun trying to work out what aspect of each plant to highlight and how to display each one best. I even had my friend guess which herbs I had embroidered just by looking at the finished items. Luckily, she was able to name all seven!
I used a variety of embroidery stitches to bring the different herbs to life on fabric. I almost exclusively worked with three strands of embroidery floss, unless I particularly wanted a feature to stand out. Then I might use four or six strands.
Whenever I hand sew or work on an embroidery project, I always use my thimble. It has gotten to the point where if I pick up a needle and I am not wearing my thimble something feels wrong. If you are not a thimble user I highly encourage you to give it a try! Using a thimble regularly has vastly increased my skill, speed, and endurance for hand sewing.
Chive keychain embroidery design
The first herb I embroidered was chives. Mine were in full bloom and the purple puffballs were the perfect focus.
I started with embroidering some random chives across the background in a vine stitch. A back stitch made quick work of the stalks for the two flowers. An array of purple straight stitches made the flowers and completed the design.
Oregano keychain embroidery design
Oregano was my next target. My plant has a beautiful gradient down each sprig, starting yellow at the top and working down to a bright green.
I used a long and short stitch in the leaves so I could use two colors on the way down. Using a lighter color on the edge of the leaves and a darker color in the middle helped to smooth the gradient. I don’t have much experience with a long and short stitch, so I’m not sure I did it exactly right. Regardless of my technique, I love how the finished item turned out.
Rosemary keychain embroidery design
Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs to cook with and luckily it does very well in my growing zone. I planted this shrub about two years ago and now I have more rosemary than even I can cook through.
This was a quick design to work up. I used a detached chain stitch to form the leaves, the pointed end forming the tips. Using a variety of shades of green and different leaf lengths added dimension to this design.
Sage keychain embroidery design
When I planted my sage I was worried that I lived in too wet of a climate for it to be successful, but this is the second year since planting and my sage is thriving.
Sage has a lot of varietals. My particular plant has beautiful purple leaves, which made for a nice break from all the green thread I had been using.
Sage leaves are a classic leaf shape. I used the fishbone embroidery stitch to fill in the leaves and varied the color for each leaf. I used a grey straight stitch to make quick stalks.
Tarragon keychain embroidery design
I thought my tarragon plant had died last year. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few sprigs of tarragon peaking from the ground a few weeks ago. Even though this herb doesn’t get used as much in my kitchen as the other herbs, its resilience earned it its own design.
I used a backstitch for the stem. Each leaf is formed by spiraling a vine stitch. This created a bit of texture on the leaves but was easy to stick to the distinctive long tarragon leaves.
Thyme keychain embroidery design
I have grown several thyme plants from seed over the years. The mistake I always made was to plant them in containers. I can keep them alive that way for a while, but inevitably I over or under water them.
This time I bought an already established thyme plant and planted it into the ground, instead of trying to keep it alive in a pot. So far, this has been a successful choice.
Just like in previous designs, I used a backstitch for the stem. I like the strong line this stitch gives and I place the line breaks between individual back stitches so that they look like the natural bumps in a stem where leaves sprout from.
I used short detached chain stitches for the leaves and small pink French knots for the tiny thyme flowers.
This ended up being one of my favorite of the seven keychain embroidery designs.
Basil keychain embroidery design
Basil is one of the few annual plants I bother to grow. These particular plants were purchased from a local farm that was selling a variety of herb and vegetable starts at the beginning of spring. I love supporting local businesses whenever possible.
I used the same stitch for the leaves that I used for the sage embroidery. Backstitches formed the stem, and fishbone stitches filled in the leaves. Using different shades of green kept the design from being too one-dimensional.
Backing the embroidery
This is when things get sticky! If you don’t want dried glue on your fingertips for days, be sure to wear disposable gloves.
Once all of the embroidery has been completed you can cut out each design. Be sure to leave at least half an inch of extra fabric around each design. I turned my fabric over and then cut out each circle from the back to make sure I didn’t accidentally cut away an important thread and have something unravel.
If you used water soluable ink to mark out your embroidery design, now is a great time to dip the fabric circles into water and let the ink wash away. If you do this step, be sure to let them dry out completely before assembling the keychains.
To put the keychains together you will need some sort of glue to keep everything from coming apart. I settled on gel Gorilla Glue to hold everything together because it is super strong and dries quickly. You can use whatever glue you think would work best.
Start by putting a small dab of glue on the back of the fabric where the embroidery is thickest. Then quickly press the small wooden circle of the one inch embroidery hoop to the glue, making sure the circle is lined up with the embroidery design.
Be careful with how much glue you use on the back, it can bleed through the fabric to the front of the design.
After the glue dries you can secure the loose edges of fabric to the back of the wood disc. I worked in segments around the edge of the circle until all of the fabric was secure.
Adding the embroidery hoop
When the glue is dry and the fabric is secure you can place the keychain embroidery design into the outer ring of the embroidery hoop. Make sure the embroidery design is lined up exactly how you want it before tightening down the screw or gluing on the back piece.
The next step, once the embroidery design is placed just right, is threading the tiny screw and nut to the top of the embroidery hoop and tightening it down.
Turn the hoop over and place some glue on the back of the design, right on the edge so some glue is on the edge of the design and some is on the edge of the hoop. Then place the back piece over the glue placement line and press until the glue sets.
After the glue is dry, remove the screw from the top, then rethread it with your key ring in the middle and re-tighten the nut.
You’ve finished your very own botanical embroidered key chain!
Free printable designs
I hope you have as much fun sewing with these keychain embroidery designs as I did! I love being able to carry a piece of my garden with me wherever I go. The finished product is so cute and whimsical.
While I’ve added the thyme keychain to my own set of keys, I can wait to give some of the others to my friends.
Which herb design did you like the best? Let me know in the comments below!
If you want to see more embroidery projects, click here.