Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Enjoying some simple hand stitching

What follows is information presented at Fiber Art Fusion last night. Many lovely magic feathers were created by these fiber artists.

Resources & Credits:

Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials:

Some Stitches
  1. Stab stitch – stab from the top and pull thread through, then flip the fabric and stab from the other side. Most of us started stitching with this stitch but it still comes in handy with thick textiles like leather or when you need to be very precise in the placement of the needle.
  2. Running stitch (sashiko) – Sashiko is an example of the running stitch, a uniform stitch with contrasting thread and very few rules which can be known and then ignored at will. The main goal is a uniform stitch, not a small stitch. The running stitch is zen for me – very calming.
  3. Whipped or interlaced running stitch – Make a running stitch with one color of thread. Then thread a new color and pass back through the same line of stitching, simply thread the second color of thread through the first set of stitches. This produces a twisted effect – especially nice with high contrast in color. See Sarah’s embroidery web site for some lovely simple variations to this.
  4. Stitching beads – just stitch in place until a bead-effect is achieved, softer than a real bead, more durable than a French knot, and easy. Jude Hill introduced me to this stitch. She uses it to good effect.
  5. French knot – a French knot is lovely and, in my world, somewhat unpredictable. If you use a quilter’s knot when you thread a needle, you already know the basics of a French knot. There are many resources on the web for this stitch, but I've include another below (*).
  6. Wrap Stitch (The Magic Feather) – This is a great filler stitch. The thread is wrapped to fill in a space such as a drawn feather. It looks almost the same on the back and the front. The main goal is to keep the stitches relaxed as in when you are enjoying a cup of green tea. If the stitches are allowed to be relaxed, the fabric won’t bunch up and the thread will spread slightly to fill in the space. My mood is evident in this stitch.
The magic feather project was created by Jude Hill and much, much more can be learned from her. This simply describes my experience in using her process. A feather is created by first sketching it with permanent marker on your fabric. See example above. Sew the center line or spine using an interlaced running stitch, same color thread in both passes. Then sew the feathered portion with the wrap stitch. I prefer to have my needle exit the fabric at the spine, re-enter the fabric at the edge.

(*) My French knots are made like this - note that lefties need to reverse references to left/right. 

    • Pull your thread to the right side of the fabric. Call this point A.
    • Hold the needle and thread in the air and grab the middle of the thread in your left hand.
    • Place point of needle close to point A but still in the air. Wrap thread twice.
    • Poke needle back thru fabric close to point A but not in point A.
    • Anchor needle on the fabric back with left forefinger and left middle finger, while holding the thread taunt on the fabric right side with thumb a short space away from the wraps. This will keep the wraps steady while you finish the stitch.
    • Use right hand to pull thread through fabric.

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