lucky fish : slow stitch project

slow stitch scrap fish diy

Who doesn’t need some luck? Plus these very simple fish are pulling me out of slushy, stubborn stuckness.

One thing leads to another, if you let it, but first you need to start. Where I really started was ironing, ironing scraps. It went on my to do list because it was an easy win (I felt like doing it). And I had saved a couple bundles of scraps, each sent by a friend, to sort and iron pre-move.

slow stitch fabric fish diy

As I ironed and sorted by color the wheels started to turn and I felt a strong and persistent spiritual directive to slow stitch some fish.

Maybe you feel like stitching some fish too. Let it be a meandering process, try stuff. Let one thing lead to another.


You will also need:

  • fabric scraps – light cotton or linen
  • little scraps, buttons lace for embellishing
  • stuffing
  • a basic sewing kit
  • pencil

cutting out fabric fish shape

1. Pin the pattern to 2 layers of light cotton fabric – right sides of the fabric together – and cut out. Be sure to clip out the little triangle notches.

2. Mark the seam line lightly in pencil.

3. Stitch the seam by hand or machine, leaving open between the notches. Find hand sewing tips here. 

4.  Clip notches around the curves and clip off the points at the nose and tail. Be careful not to clip the seam.

5. Use a chopstick to turn the fish right side out.

6.  Pro tip: use a plastic mechanical pencil to push out the corners – retract the lead first.

7. Stuff your fish.

closing after stuffing

8. Fold in the edges of the opening and stitch it closed. I used a whip stitch to close –  you can find another method here – scroll to the end of the post.

adding details to stitched fish

The fun part! – adding details and features:

I’ve got little buttons and lots of scraps of fabric and lace and embroidery thread. You might find this tip on hiding your knots and thread tails helpful.

I think it’s good to embrace the idea that these little fish are not concerned with perfection, they are a place to experiment and meander.  Each one surprises me.  Sometimes I borrow details from real fish and some are abstract.

adding fins to stitched fish


adding stitch details to fish

Use buttons for eyes or just a couple stitches. Experiment with stitches and mark making.  Make a bunch, be playful and try stuff.

I’m still making fish because I’m still having fun and getting ideas.  I plan to give most of them away – I love something extra added to wrapping.  I’ll add strings to some for ornaments and  I’m making a necklace for a small friend.  You could also stuff them with lavender or lemon verbena –  I sure do love nice smell.

If you make fish I’d love to see! Use #annwoodpattern on instagram or send photos to me at : info at ann wood handmade dot com.



PS – Regarding scraps: I’m considering an emergency supplemental scrap festival and swap in October. Things being the way they are in the world we might need it. What do you think? Let me know in the comments – if there is interest I’ll figure it out. **update this swap has ended 


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slow stitch scrap fish diy


  1. Mary Collins

    I’m in for the emergency scrap festival! I loved the spring one and am still in touch with my partner! Thanks for all you do!

  2. Kerry Livingston

    I’d love to know more about how a scrap swap works! I love scraps!

  3. While you’re making fish, make a couple of plain ones and stuff them with catnip…my little housemate would love them! I have to be very careful where any small cloth dolls or other projects get placed…because he thinks they are all cat toys! Top shelf? No problem…it just makes the adventure of retrieving them more fun! Little snowmen, birds, hearts…he’s not fussy!

    • Love this idea! I love the idea of a scrap swap. I have so many scraps. I also love the fish idea. I think you could apply this idea to lots of animals. I think we’d probably do little ducks in our house.

    • I was thinking this would make an ideal cat toy with catnip – loved your description of what happens 😀 x

  4. Melissa DuPree

    I haven’t participated in a previous scrap swap but I would be very interested!
    Thanks for asking!

  5. Oh Ann these are perfect for the weekend trip I’m leaving for today I have just enough time to print the template and add buttons to my sewing kit. So nice to see you getting your groove back after your move.

    Please do scrap festival again, that was great!

  6. Interested in a scrap swap too! Need something , however small to look forward too- love your inspiration

    • I would enjoy being part of a scrap swap. I’ve never done that before. I don’t have much fabric to speak of, but I have a huge variety of embroidery threads (cotton, rayon, silk) if anyone else might enjoy that.

      • I would really love to trade you something for the silk embroidery thread. I have made several of Anns projects and have recently gotten back into embroidery that my Great Gram started me on…..several decades ago. Mary B.

  7. Would LOVE to part of a scrap swap. Love these wee fish 🙂 Thank you!

  8. I would be interested in a scrap swap. I’ve never done anything like this before. Sounds exciting.

  9. Susan Hoyland

    I love your fish, thanks for the pattern.
    It would be so much fun to exchange scraps, count me in please.


  10. I love your fish, thanks for the pattern.
    It would be so much fun to exchange scraps, count me in please.


  11. Michele Unger

    ‘D participate in a scrap exchange! Sounds like fun! LOVE the fish!

  12. Yes, please, for a scrap swap. I have lots of quilting cotton scraps to trade.

  13. Paulette Martin

    I would love to participate in a scrap swap! Never been part of one, but I really would like to be part it.

  14. Peggy Lison

    Oh yes, I have plenty to share when it comes to a swap. Yea to that:))

  15. missed the other scrap event… would love to be included if another option arose….

  16. Cheryl Novy

    I love the fish! I will need to make some just for me!
    I love the idea of a scrap swap….please!
    Keep all your creative ideas coming Ann…I look forward to them.

  17. JoAnn Conroy

    hope you make it the second half of October because I’m moving in to new place on the 15th and would love to participate!

  18. I would love to take part in a scrap swap. Great way to get some different scraps. Love the fish will definitely have a go at this.

  19. Julie Pietras

    I would love a swap. It would be my first and I would need info and process.

  20. I participated in your last scrap swap and had a ton of fun! My swapper was so very generous and it was totally fun waiting for the package and then opening the box from New York. I live in MN so it traveled some to arrive in my post. I would definitely sign up again, and again. Thanks for coordinating another. Love the fish… a perfect project for scraps!

  21. I have lots of scraps. I have never done a swap but am very interested in that idea.

  22. Sarah Bechler

    Swapping scraps???? Yes!!! Would love to be a part of that Ann!

  23. Sandie ardent Fisher

    Well Ann, I for one think a scrappy fabric swap would be a good deal of fun to help us play and stitch through this coming winter. Hope you can figure out the logistics.
    I’ve been needing a little inspiration and these relaxed little fish will be just the idea needed to get the juices flowing. Thank you for yout ideas, your pattetns and your generosity! A true teacher!
    Sandie FISHer

  24. Oh, yes to scraps swap! Must remember to keep Mr. Socks from the fish. Then of course it would create a sweet story if Mr. Socks went fishing and gave his finds to Miss Thistle who now would need a wee stove,,,

  25. I have always wanted to sew this kind of fish!! Thank you so much for the template and the detailed instructions.

    I’m wondering if there are any UK-based scrap swappers I could partner with? 🙂

  26. There was a project to make & embroider small fish just like this in support of a fishing village in Japan that hd bn devastated by the huge tsunami a few years back. It was beautiful what was created. Small projects are always excellent for practising new techniques, easy treasures always well-received and getting past a slump. Thanks for your continuing inspiration!

  27. Hope the swap could extend to far & wide. All names into a (virtual) hat?

  28. Love your fish- know exactly what you mean about waiting for the spiritual-like inspiration of an idea. It’s like finding a little jewel. The simpler the better! All about satisfying that creative need in us , especially after a busy week thinking about other people or work. I’ve discovered over the last few months that I need time to myself to create and play with ideas.

  29. I’m from Canada and I would love to adopt a few scraps. Mine aren’t as interesting, but will send them on. Mailing would be an affordable option. Less for the land fill, more handmade beauty in the world.

  30. I have sooo many scraps leftover from making all the face masks. Would love to trade with others. Can’t wait to dig in and make some fish this weekend. Thanks for all the great ideas and inspiration.

  31. I joined the fabric swap last year! Please sign me up again! I love the slow stitch fish. I’m starting this afternoon! Thank you!

  32. I would love to swop scraps but I am in the Uk. It sounds so much fun, I love scraps!

  33. Patricia Jacobs

    Love your little fish, Ann. I have bits and pieces of lace that would be perfect for this project. Thank you always for sharing all your great tips and ideas!

  34. I would love to join a scrap swap. I joined a few and it’s fun to get a surprise. My favorite was limited to salvaged scraps and buttons. I love wandering through thrift shops for these things and usually end up throwing much of it away for lack of space.

  35. MaryElizabeth Calais

    Scrap swap sounds great! Tks for the possibility. My mushroom that I made with you at Squam Lake hangs beautifully on a lamp key in my Gathering Room. Still loving it 🙂 Liz from Louisiana

  36. Jane knight

    I can see this fish on the Christmas tree at house on river! Love them

  37. Justine Singleton

    Scraps swap sounds lovely (as long as we UK folk are allowed!) Are there any ‘rules’ about amounts, fabric types, colours etc (sorry… once a teacher…!). I like the idea about including buttons and embellishments too. Love the fish. Thanks for your great ideas.

  38. Jan Pendergast

    Thank you Ann , for this lovely fishy , scrappy interlude before I start my day here in Brisbane , Australia .
    You inspire me so much !

  39. Katy Carlin

    Looks like the scrap swap is a “go” if you can handle all who are interested. No idea what it’s about but excited to find out. Printed out the fish pattern already!! Thanks SO much.

  40. Please count me in! My house just burned down in the wildfires so I am in need of uplifting mail (and supplies, lol). My daughter has lots of scraps she said I can use for the exchange.
    Thank you♡

    • Carol Douglass

      I live in California, as you may as well. I am sooo sorry to hear that you’ve lost your home in the fires. This time in our lives is already stressful; I can’t imagine adding the loss of a home.
      Yes yes to the scrap fair. Doing things with others, especially when generosity, fun, and creativeness is involved.
      Best of luck to you.

      • Carol Douglass

        Oops—I see I forgot to finish my last sentence…I meant to say that it’s “comforting.”

    • Hi Sarita,
      I’m so sorry to hear it. There will be a scrap swap in October but I’d love to send you some uplifting mail right now. I’ll email this message as well – please respond with your mailing address – sending uplifting snail mail is one of my great pleasures in life.
      wishing you well,

  41. Gosh, forgot to say…thank you for this pattern and inspiration. A timely project to occupy my hands and mind, and also perfect because I live(d) by the river!
    I love everything you make and share. Your kindness and generosity of sharing how-tos for your project is so appreciated ♡

  42. Sue Duquemin

    I would love to be in the scrap swap but would us ladies from the UK be able to take
    part. Love the fish Ann and thanks for sharing with us.

  43. Would love to participate in a scrap swap! Never done one of these but it sounds like fun in the midst of the doldrums of the pandemic.

  44. Sheila Iskin

    I’d love to participate in a scrap swap! What are the guidelines? Doesn’t really matter. Count me in, it sounds like fun!

  45. Yes, I would be interested in participating. Thank you for organizing such a fun, thoughtful event.

  46. Donna Funnell

    I’m in for a scrap swap! Still working on my hexie for sanity quilt!

  47. Thanks Ann for another wonderful pattern. I am thinking a scrap swap sounds fun

  48. Janet L Millner

    A scrap swap–what a wonderful idea! Please include me. I have a multitude of scraps.

  49. Yes, sounds great! Something to get the creative juices flowing!

  50. I am intrigued by the scrap swap – I have questions (how many scraps? A minimum or maximum sized piece?) but love the idea.

  51. Eileen Chisari

    I’m in for the scrap swap, plus expanding it to trims and small buttons for decorating the scraps!

  52. Hi Ann, a scraps-swap sounds lovely to me! I’m working on a squares quilt and I’ve already sewn in fabric from 7 countries! If you’d make it work?! Could swapping to The Netherlands/Europe also be involved? I’d love it! Greetings! Marianne Tove

  53. Susan Auburn

    Thank you for the fish pattern. I have an old fish stringer of my Dad’s that they will look charming on. Please include me in the scrap swap.

  54. Susan Auburn

    Thank you for the fish pattern. I have an old fish stringer of my Dad’s they will look charming on.
    Please include me in the scrap swap.

  55. Anne, Thank you for sharing your great ideas. I am interested in the scrap swap also. I have never did one and would need some directions. It would be something to look forward to for sure. Jess I wouldn’t mind embroidery threads at all, I like to be sure everyone is included. Sarita, I too am sorry for the loss of your home. Sounds like lots of interest from lots of countries. This is exciting.

    • Hi Debra – it’s happening for sure – I’m working out the details now and look for signups and directions in early October. So much fun!

      • I just checked back today to see if there was any news about the emergency swap, and low and behold there was! How exciting! I hope it is not too much work for you Ann! So many interested in it, is there anything I could do to help you in some small way? I’m not tech savvy but maybe something simple to help out. Thank you for responding to so many of us. You must enjoy doing it or you wouldn’t. Stay safe, Debbie S.

  56. Love your red fish with the flower pattern and the black & gold in your demo pics!! Thanks for sharing the fish pattern, think I’ll have to make a few to put in a bowl at my winter place near Lake Okeechobee. They’ll be a perfect unexpected accent, especially since that’s what the area is all about…. fishing! I already have the colors I’d like to use swirling in my head!!
    A scrap swap sounds like a “bundle” of fun!

    • If I showed up at your lake house and you gave me a handmade fish I’d be thrilled – what a nice idea.

  57. vickie fickel

    Joining your scrap swap sounds amazing. Count me in if there is room.

  58. hiya Ann
    i am not a sewer, but love seeing what you create.
    are you going to sell any of these fish? i would love one
    thank you for sharing your patterns too.
    big hugs stay well

    • Hi Lynn – thanks so much. I had not planned too but I keep making them so who knows – I might. Wishing you well too!

  59. I like the fish. Its such a nice little thing.
    I also love your needle book. I#d like to
    see how you did it.

    Best wishes from Gisela

  60. Marcy Mahle

    A scrap swap sounds like fun. I am interested. Love all your sweet projects and wondering how you like your new home.

    • Thanks Marcy- Thanks so much – it’s a huge adjustment – harder than I expected but I’m making solid progress.

  61. Cinzia Beley

    Love the fishies! And I’d love to be part of another scrap swop! The partner you gave me in Feb (this year) and I have become fast friends!

  62. Yes, scrap swap sounds very delightful AND how fun to send and receive surprise mail!!

  63. Thank you for your inspiration. I now have a new hobby to chase away the doldrums. I would love to join the scrap swap!

  64. Hello Ann,
    Thank you for the lovely stuff on your site.
    I am another one in the UK and love the idea of a scrap swap.
    Thanks and best wishes,

  65. I would be interested in swapping scrap fabric- I signed up last time and did not get a notice when it started?
    Do you email people who want to participate?

    • Hi Deb- I will do a swap in October. You were not on the signup spreadsheet for the last one. Sending me an email or leaving a blog post comment doesn’t get you signed up – you have to be on the spreadsheet – I post on my blog etc. when the signup sheet is available. I wish I could take email and blog comment signups but the volume is way too much.

  66. I missed out on the last swap, so I’d participate in one in October! I just love these fish and all you projects!

  67. Hi Ann et al
    Greetings from Australia!!
    Have been following Anne since early March and am inspired by everything you do Ann. Thank you for the inspiration
    I love the idea of a scrap swap and wonder if there are any other fans in Aus that we can do a local swap, international postage being the way it is .
    Keep safe all

  68. I’d love to share some of my fabrics – using smaller portions these days and variety is so much fun!

  69. Martina de Kruiff

    I would be interested in doing a scrap swap.
    Love this site. What you make is amazing.
    Thank you.
    I’m in New Zealand so hope that does not stop me from being included.

  70. YES on SCRAPS! Love the fish – I don’t know why they appeal to me so much, but I also crochet fish that look similar. Sewing is much faster! 🙂

    • Yes, you’re right, sewing fish might be faster. I just knitted a little Tawashi fish . I Love Ann’s scrappy little fish! Maybe one day soon, I will sew one!

      Also, if you read this comment, dear ann wood, I am interested in your scrap swap, as well. Great idea!!

  71. Mariana Stevenson

    I would be interested in a scrap swap. I’ve never done anything like this before. Sounds exciting. I feel we all need a pleasant distraction! Thank you, Ann for doing this. Your posts are always so refreshing!

  72. Nicky Hampton

    Ann, what a simple and beautiful idea, thank you and for the hand sewing tips. I have scraps of course and am in the UK, swapping some sounds fun.

  73. Love these lucky little fish, have been stitching quite a few. Thanks for the free pattern and the idea of a scrap swap – from Vancouver, BC

  74. Dalia Blevins

    I am interested in the scrap swap. How does it work?

  75. I am interested in your scraps swap. Am I too late? Don’t worry, I still love your amazing, beautiful site. I love your fish ! Ty so much for your video on how to create them ❣️

  76. ElaineChicago

    I’m interested in the scrap swap but (gasp!!!) I don’t have hardly a scrap! How much is required to swap? Bring a spinner, knitter, weaver and only sometimes sewing doesn’t give me many scraps. Perhaps I should see a bit more!!

  77. I want to make a school of these fish from my scraps! They are wonderful and would fun displayed in a wooden bowl. Thanks for the pattern and the inspiration.

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