We sometimes underestimate the value of little things.
Charles W. Chesnutt
LONG POST GET A BEVERAGE AND A SNACK
I am so glad and grateful to be sitting here writing this post. If I told you the details of my last 6 weeks you would be bored to tears and shocked that I am even writing this blog, We have had a run of major health issues and other stuff, all is very well and I am anxious to get this Christmas tutorial going! As promised last month we will talk about embroidery today. Christmas is coming can you hear those bells? Let’s sew. Embroidery, for me, equals relaxation, peace, kind of return to the womb thing! Here we go let’s break it down.
Embroidery is not limited to specific fabrics, cotton, linen, batiste,wool, textured, hand dyed you name it you can stitch on it. In my book Handmade Christmas Cheer I used a bed sheet, wool, tea towels, pre-made linen napkins and cottons. The sky is the limit! If I know I am going to embroider a fabric I generally will prewash the fabric (not wool). I cut my fabric 1″ larger on all sides which is just a precaution against the fabric shrinking in as I stitch.
In most cases, I like to use a very fine WOVEN fusible inner facing on the backside of my fabric. It adds a tiny bit of body to the piece and can help to hide any errant threads. The product that I like the most is by Staple Sewing Aids. I like this product because it is so very light and it comes in 45″ wide sections so I can use it on large embroidery projects. Not expensive either. Simply press to the wrong side of your fabric and you are good to go. I will be adding this product on to the shopping section of my website in the next few days (if the sky stops falling).
MARKING THE DESIGN
I use a light box. If you do a lot of embroidery I would recommend upgrading to an LED light pad. You can see the light on the surface of the moon. It is the 25th of August time to write Santa a wish list..right? They have them in most big craft stores and here. They also come in different sizes and brands mine is by Artograph. After I have prepped my fabric I fold the piece in half vertically and press, then I fold it horizontally and press again. This will give me the exact center of my fabric. I will mark the center with a small stitched X or with a pen that washes out or disappears with the heat of an iron. In my book the centers of the motifs are marked with a red + . I trace my designs with different pens, I most commonly use a .o5 pigma pen. I like the light brown color. Sometimes I will use a FriXion pen which disappear with the heat of ironing, a blue Clover marker which disappears with water, and a White Clover marker that works great on dark fabrics and disappears with an iron. Whichever choice you make your line should be very thin. This is true especially if you know you will be embroidering with 1 strand of thread.
If you will be embroidering on a dark fabric and are unable use your light box, you may need to use a water-soluble product for tracing the motifs by hand or print from a computer. I use Transfer Eze. There are others on the market that work fine in this category. Follow manufacturers directions for tracing and ironing to the front of your work. Stitch, Dunk finished product in water and…Voilá all gone!
To open this topic is like jumping down a rabbit hole! There are so many wonderful threads out there I could write a whole blog post on just this subject. For the purpose of getting us ready for Christmas I will stick to the basics of what I used for my book. Today is embroidery day so I will keep it simple. More on the subject in a later Jingle Bell post.
For the most part, I use floss when I embroider. Aurifil, DMC, Cosmo, are a few of the top choices for me. I would say, in ALMOST EVERY CASE my choices are determined by COLOR. I mix brands all the time but I find the best color for what I am stitching. It is as simple as that! Here is an example. In my Long Winters Nap sheet header I had a very long very detailed pine bough to stitch. I knew I wanted to use a variegated thread. I went straight to COSMO Seasons Thread. The colors/shades change in shorter increments so I knew I would get lots of changes in the greens. It was perfect! I used DMC and Aurfil for some of the colors in the typography and lights. Number of strands? Most of the time I will use 1 or 2 strands. There are cases when I will use all 3-6 strands but that is primarily in the case of embellishing or highlighting in special stitches and projects.
Several projects in my book I used metallic threads I used Kreinik, DMC, Cosmo, Anchor and others, again the choice was made by color. These threads have a mind of their own! You MUST work with very small sections of thread or you will lose your mind. Ask me how I know this. I also find stab stitching from top to underside and back up works best too. One stitch at a time. Metallic threads add so much to the look of a project especially for holiday projects. Don’t be afraid..jump in there.
TO HOOP OR NOT
To use a hoop or not is purely a matter of choice. There are people who love a hoop and there are a zillion different hoops on the market. Then there are those who do not use a hoop at all. I fall in the no hoop category with exceptions. The times I reach for my hoop are when I am working with metallic threads or when I know I will be stab stitching, meaning not stitching from the top. I like to use it when making French or Colonial knots as well. I like to say the fabric and the design talks to me and tells me when to get out the hoop.
We love our toys for sewing right? Come on you can admit it I won’t tell anyone! Here are a few more to add to the above mentioned.
I love the Clover Embroidery Threader! I think I have one in every room of the house and in my purse! It is so great for embroidery floss, wool threads and specialty threads. A must have in my opinion.
In the needle category I like Richard Hemming Chenille and Clover Gold Eye Embroidery Needles. I probably use chenille needles the most #18 #20 and #24 (smallest). Nice sharp points and easily threaded.
Scissors. I love my Karen K Buckley scissors but I don’t cut metallic thread or anything sticky with them. They are micro serrated and can get ruined.
Organization! I like to keep my sewing and threads organized. My floss is wound on cards and stored by color not by number I do mark the number as a future reference.
Whew! I thought I would never get here. As I said above, for the purpose of this blog we are covering just basic embroidery stitches. More later when we take our stitching up a notch or 10!
Don’t limit yourself to ONE stitch type..learn and use others you will surprise yourself how much fun it is! Don’t let anyone tell you THAT YOU MUST…DO THIS OR THAT. no no no. Your project… your learning…. and your fun. Use the technics that work best for you.
For the most part I don’t knot my thread when I begin stitching I use a waste knot or I hold the end of the thread and catch the end in the first inch or sew in my sewing thus weaving the thread into the back of the piece. As I end a piece of thread, I weave the end back through the stitches on the back side making it very secure. Cut the end of the thread very close to the stitches. See waste knot diagram. There are very detailed stitch instructions in Handmade Christmas Cheer.
Start with two basic stitches. The easiest and most basic stitch is the Back Stitch. practice making small even stitches and you will be fine. This stitch gives a nice result very quickly.
In most cases, I love to use a Stem Stitch. It takes a tiny bit of practice but brings the most beautiful results. Honestly it is not that hard.
French Knots are lovely as are colonia knots They have different looks and can be used to create different looks.
? French Knot Colonial Knot ?
Long and Short stitches are great for filling in areas of your projects too. Beautiful when you mix shades and colors too!
Here are some of the embroidery projects in my book Handmade Christmas Cheer. Enjoy
I know this blog post is long but you waited a whole month for it! I hope you found it helpful! Next post glorious wool and embellishing. OH WOW! as my grandsons say. See you on my blog and for sure on September 25th.
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Photos courtesy of Google Images. I am NOT a graphic artist.