Sugar skull monkey finally framed

framed version

Above: experimental no mat version

Below: original matted version

About 11" high, including the white border.

I often just start stitching without a plan, then have to figure ways to fix misteaks.

Not this time! I made a meticulous plan and followed it. Up to a point.

The plan was a simple, kind of realistic monkey; I couldn’t find a single image I liked, so I cobbled together several, making my own frankenmonkey.

I didn’t have a background fabric I liked, so I paint-dyed a fat quarter of beige to a nice jungle green.

I often embroider over applied felt, but wanted some pattern, so I used my new pack of iron on applique stuff. Oh, my. Very difficult to stitch through, so I started over, including paint-dyeing a new piece of background fabric.

I’d seen some coloring pages with animals filled with flowers, and decided to floralize my monkey.

Partway through, I got the idea of revealing bones and skull, and ripped out a bunch of stitches I wasn’t happy with anyway.

I started with very muted shades of green, coral, and gold, but added brighter tones and pink when it felt too dull.
Stitches used:
Chain, outline
Lazy daisy
French knots
Spiderweb roses
Bullion stitch and bullion roses
Satin stitch
Fill stitch
Sheaf stitch for the tailbones.

I’m not thrilled with the brown mat, any suggestions? The color is a good match for the outline stitching (more paint-dyeing), but overall it’s blah.


LOVE! Having the light, solid border in an oval shape fits well with the British Colonial India style of wildlife art and decoration (I don’t know what the style was actually called). So then it’s delightfully unexpected that the monkey itself is done up in a totally different style (which looks great and is nicely done!) The skeleton stitches work so well! And the mottled effect on the painted fabric too.
And I just noticed the banana!!


Omg I LOVE this! He looks amazing. I love the skull stuff showing from under the flowers. Its just really excellent.


This is super cool. I love the bones and skull peeping through all the flowers.


Thanks, guys!
@calluna I think that’s called British Colonial or Raj style. I didn’t think of it that way, it’s a nice interpretation. Maybe I’ll add that gold leaf frame to finish it off.

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This is awesome!!! Love the process shots and the finished piece! Excellent stitching.


This is really inventive and well done!


This is way cool!


My jaw dropped. This is so incredible. I love all the different flowers and your color palette is perfection. This is phenomenal from top to bottom. The skeleton part is amazing too. Love, love, love this!!!

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Sugar Skull Monkey; where have you been my whole life?! Fantastic piece!


Congrats! Your Sugar Skull Monkey is one of this week’s featured projects! You are awesome!


Thank you!

Love everything about this…from your concept to your finish…dyeing the fabric and then having to rip out stitches…wonderful idea and execution…

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Your winding path led you to a wonderful finished project! WOW!

I keep seeing a mat more in a color from the green background… let the monkey be the star.

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I tried green, it just gave me a big field of green with the monkey stranded in the middle.
I tried her mounted on an oval board but didn’t like that, but maybe if it was padded and included the white border it would look more finished and focused. You give good advice, it makes me think in new ways.

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Since posting that, it occurred to me that a fabric “mat” sewn to it might be nice and also give you more variance in colors/tones so blend a bit more.

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I did sew a fabric mat to it, the unbleached muslin with bone embroidery. The white overwhelmed the embroidery, so I tried various dark mats to tone it down. But here’s the muslin reduced to just a narrow border.

Against my white wall*
Against a medium green background with better lighting

*I’m kind of embarrassed that my walls are all still white after living here two years, but we keep the windows covered during the hot desert summer and white walls make the gloom feel airier.


Oh! I was thinking that was more of a trim than a mat so I meant something the same shape and size of the brown piece, but in fabric and sewn to the piece to avoid a shadow line. It’s pretty fab just like it is, lady!

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Super gorgeous! The bones are so delicate looking adding to the mystery of the piece. I like how you continued the bone around the border. It pulls it all together and looks fabulous!

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This falls under my category of creepy-cute. Wow, look at that stitching!

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