HOW-TO: ‘A Stitch in Time’ embroidered clock

Tick-tock! Embroidered clock! My goodness what a week it’s been for my little ole embroidered clock. It seems like I really captured something with my Stitch in Time embroidered clock. It’s been amazing!

A Stitch in Time - embroidered clock

First it was featured in’s Weekly Flickr Pool Round-up, then as I was perusing my craft blogs last week I saw that the lovely Hilary had featured it on a CraftBlogUK post. Then last night I found out it had been selected to be in the Sublime Stitching Gallery! Me oh my. Three of my crafting superstars featuring my clock in one week? It’s enough to make your head spin.

So, I thought to myself, people are liking this clock and commenting on it and asking how to do it so I’d better tell them! Now, if you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I like to keep things simple. And really, this embroidered clock is super-simple. Unless of course you don’t know how to embroider. Then you might struggle a bit. Although, Jenny from Sublime Stitching has you covered on that front. She’s got some great How-To’s on her website and she has  just released a series of video tutorials as well, so no excuses that you don’t know how to embroider, ok?!


Step 1: Choose (and stitch) your embroidery

I used the Born to Stitch sampler from Jenny Hart’s (Sublime Stitching) book Embroidered Effects. Initially I was going to make it into a cushion cover but as I was finishing it I realised that a) I didn’t need another cushion cover and b) it would make an awesome clock!

Here’s my assistant Lester putting the finishing touches to the embroidery:

Lester puts the finishing touches to his 'Born to Stitch' embroidery. It's going to be a clock.


Step 2: Mount your embroidery

With hindsight, had I known I was going to make a clock I would have stabilised the fabric as well as making the cardboard back as described next, so you should probably do that. However as it was, once the clock was completed I cut out a circle of cardboard to the size of the smaller embroidery hoop and used it as a backing. You’ll need to cut another hole in the centre of the cardboard circle to accommodate the clock parts too.


First of all I tried using cardboard from an amazon delivery but soon discovered that was too thick. So  I made another backing using manilla cardboard which I use for pattern making. You could also repurpose an old manilla folder which you liberated from the office should you happen to have one of those.

Trim any excess fabric from around the back of your hoop as well so it can sit flush on the wall.

Finally, cut a hole in the middle of your embroidery – EEK! – so you can poke your clock parts through. See how I’ve got all those loose threads and fronds going on there? You’re going to want to put some fray stop or clear nail varnish on those to stop them turning into ladders.


Important: make sure the hole is absolutely dead-centre to your embroidery. Any off-centredness will be seriously annoying when you’re looking at your clock on the wall every day! I did this by folding my embroidery into quarters and using a water-soluable marker to mark the middle point.


Step 3: Gather your clock parts

I bought a quartz clock kit from ebay for a fiver. Unfortunately it didn’t come with any instructions but I was able to work it out myself. You should have an hour hand, a minute hand, a second hand, a washer and nut and the clock mechanism itself (not sure what that bit is called!). Plus you’ll need a battery, in my case an AA.



Step 4: Assemble the clock

Make sure that your cardboard backing hole is lining up with the hole in the centre of your embroidery.


Then poke the centre prong on the clock mechanism through the hole in the middle of your embroidery.


Use the nut to fix the embroidery to the clock mechanism. I sandwiched my embroidery between the clock mechanism and washer on one side and the nut the other side. Now attach the clock hands in the following order: hour, minute, second. Mine just popped onto the prong of the clock mechanism.



Step 5: Hang your clock

Now put in the battery, set the time and find yourself a nice spot of wall to hang your clock!

This is a really good way to make an already awesome embroidery that you made into something even more awesome and useful. Send me a link if you turn any of your embroideries into clocks or leave me a comment if you can think of other crafty ways to make embroideries into unusual and useful items.

Lisa Margreet | Craft educator and writer | image