Stitch this roar-some little lion using iron on embroidery transfers

Create a cute big cat to gift to a little one to play with or let him sit happily on a desk or a shelf. This project uses our 'Friendly Faces' iron on embroidery transfers and the lion is just one of the 10 cute designs included with the pattern, so once you get the hang of it you can stitch the whole gang!

We'll will take you through the process step-by-step and show you how to make a cute stuffed lion.

close up of hand embroidered sweater sleeve with leaves

Difficulty Level: Medium

Project Length: Medium

To stitch your own embroidered lion:


  • 'Friendly Faces' embroidery iron on embroidery transfers
  • A 5" embroidery hoop
  • 25cm by 25cm cream cotton drill fabric.
  • 25cm by 25cm yellow gingham cotton 
  • Thread in the following colours: 
    • Black in DMC - 895 or Madeira - 1405
    • Brown in DMC - 368 or Madeira - 1310
  • Toy stuffing
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Iron, Needle, Scissors, Pencil


Cut out the lion design from your sheet of iron on embroidery transfers and follow the pack instructions to iron the transfer on your cream cotton drill fabric.

Iron your fabric first so it is warm when you apply the transfer. 

Now mount the fabric in your embroidery hoop. Make sure the fabric is tight and the screw is secure. 

If you are not sure how to set up your hoop you can find a full guide here.

Now you are ready to start stitching!

lion iron on embroidery transfer applied to fabric

Stitching Notes:

Step One:

To begin cut an arm's length of the brown embroidery thread, thread your needle with all 6 strands and tie a knot in the other end.

Now begin to stitching around the outer edge of the lions mane using split stitch. You can see the steps for split stitch below (a-d) or click here for a full guide to split stitch. 

Continue stitching until you have covered the outline of the mane completely.

lions mane stitch with split stitch hand embroidery

Split Stitch:

illustration of split stitch

Step two:

Once you have covered the outline of the mane create a new row of split stitch just inside the outline and stitch all the way round again.

Continue making new rows of split stitch until the entire mane is stitched, as shown. 

This wont take long as you are stitching will all 6 strands of thread and don't worry about being too neat as you are trying to create the effect of fur.

close up of the embroidery stitch split stitch

Step three:

Next stitch the feet and tail, again you will be using all 6 strands of brown thread and split stitch. Fill the tail in in exactly the same way as the mane, starting with the outline and then filling in the centre.

The feet are not filling in, so simply stitch over the outline using 6 strands of brown thread and split stitch.

close up of leaves embroidered feet and tail of a lion

Step four:


Now stitch the remaining details. Starting with the black outlines of the body and face, you will be covering all but the eyes, whiskers and in fill of the nose with back stitch.

finished hand embroidered lion

To begin cut an arm's length of the black thread and separate 2 of the six strands by untwisting the thread (if you are new to embroidery and have not done this before you will find more instructions in our 'How to separate embroidery thread' guide).

Thread your needle with the 2 strands and tie a knot in the other end.

Now begin to stitch the body of the lion working your way around all of the outlines covering them with back stitch.

You can see the steps for back stitch below (a-d) or click here for a full guide to back stitch. 

Once you have completed the body, stitch the face, ears nose and mouth outlines in the same way.

Back stitch:

illustration of back stitch

Step five:

Each of the lions whiskers is stitched with a single strand of black thread and a single simple stitch.

Use two strands of brown thread to place a running stitch down the lions nose as shown. 

The nose is filled with satin stitch, using 2 strands of black thread. You can see the steps for satin stitch below (a-c) or click here for a full guide to satin stitch. 

back of embroidery with interfacing

Satin stitch:

how to do satin stitch

Finally, each of the eyes is stitched with a French knot. Using two stands of black thread.

French knots are easy when you know how, you will find a detailed step-by-step guide to french knots here

Congratulations, your cute lion is done. Now on to the assembly...

This project was made with:

Lisa Neal