Sunday, 26 April 2015

Basic Hand Embroidery Stitches

The appearance of spring sunshine very quickly turns my thoughts to hand stitching - what a compelling combination!  Even if you don't have oodles of time or patience, it's really rewarding to have a little hand stitching that you can sit and do anywhere.  I really enjoy crazy patchwork and I find combining colours with fabrics and threads gives me a great creative fix!  If you are a stitcher who has yet to try hand embroidery, keep on reading!


Now I have a mind that cross stitch is a hand stitch known even by non-stitchers!  A cross is such a simple mark and has often been attributed with great meaning.  My way of stitching by hand is to create a row of forward diagonals first and then to go back on myself to create the cross.


A button hole or blanket stitch is equally well known and was used to edge button holes and blankets in times past.  It's created by looping the thread around the top of the needle after it is pushed through the fabric and before pulling through. 


Chain stitch is perhaps a little lesser known.  It's created by pushing the needle through the fabric, often in a line, and similarly looping the thread around the top of the needle before pulling  the needle through. This stitch can be used in lines like a chain or stitched in a spiral to create flowers.


My favourite stitch for crazy patchwork is herringbone stitch.  Along the lines of a cross stitch, it takes a little more thinking to create crosses on a parallel as you stitch.


Feather stitch is another traditional stitch for crazy patchwork and is created by making branch like stitches left and right of a central position. 


And finally, knowing how to make a french knot often comes in handy.  Basically you wind the thread around the needle multiple times and pull the thread through to create the knot.  Keeping the needle against the fabric as you pull the thread through is important.  The more times you wind the thread around the needle, the larger the knot.


Oh and a little tip to prevent stitching tangles using a traditional beeswax product.  This Prym version costs all of around £1.50 and could save you lots of grief.  Run the thread strands through the channels in the plastic cover a couple of times - test first though that it doesn't stain the fabric you're stitching.



After mastering just a few hand embroidery stitches, these can quickly be put to good effect - as shown by this crazy patchwork needle case I made a few summers ago and is available to make at my Pick & Stitch Workshops in and around Somerset.


1 comment:

  1. Just picked up a 1933 published primer on embroidery stitching between the wars.. Jx

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