31 December 2009

palestrina stitch

Palestrina stitch, which is also called old English knot, double knot stitch, and tied coral stitch, creates a line of raised knots that is useful for creating outlines and borders. The secret is to keep your knots evenly spaced and fairly close together. Here's how to do it:

Draw a straight line on your fabric to use as a guide in keeping your stitched line straight. Take a short straight stitch from top to bottom on the line. After pulling your thread through, come up again just to the left of the bottom.

30 December 2009

blanket stitch

Today we’re talking about Blanket Stitch and (no surprise here) it’s traditionally used to edge blankets. It also makes a great edging for tea towels, dinner napkins, and baby sacques, which are little flannel kimono-type garments that are open in the front and tie at the neck with ribbon. Here’s an example:



The top stitch in the second picture is called feather stitch and you'll find instructions for this stitch in the stitches list in the lefthand sidebar. Blanket stitch can also be used for attaching appliqu├ęd pieces of fabric to a base. Here’s an example from a vintage baby quilt—


And here’s a holiday ornament I made from felt. The cardinal’s body is attached to the underlayer with tiny blanket stitches and the two circles are bound together at the edges with larger blanket stitches. Blanket stitch works very well around curves!


feather stitch

Feather Stitch is a little more advanced than some of the stitches we’ve been doing but I think you guys can handle it. It’s a delicate-looking stitch and is often used on baby and children’s clothing, like the flannel sacque shown here:


It’s also a common stitch for embroidering crazy quilts. This example is done with two colors of thread—pink and brown.


It will help a lot when doing this stitch (at least at first) if you mark your fabric with four parallel guidelines. I like to use one of those fade out quilt markers that make a purple line that disappears in a couple of days. You can also use the blue ones that will wash out. If you’re just practicing use a pencil or thin marker.

cross stitch

Cross Stitch is probably the oldest and best known of the embroidery stitches. It's essentially two straight stitches worked on the diagonal with one placed crosswise over the top of the other. You use an even weave fabric like linen, coarse cotton, or Aida cloth and you count the threads to keep your stitches the same size and evenly spaced. You'll sometimes hear this referred to as counted cross stitch and that's why. I'm using linen for my examples but will also show you an example of Aida below. Personally, I don't like the stiffness or look of Aida, but you may find it easier to work with at first—at least the holes are easier to see.

Cross stitch is done in a row, with the first half of the stitches worked in one direction and then completed on the way back across the row. Most people probably won't be able to tell if you haven't kept your stitches all in the same direction, but it makes for a neater and more professional look.

To start, bring your thread up in the space between threads in your fabric. Count up a certain number of threads (I used four) then to the right the same number. Take your needle to the back and pull the thread through.


25 December 2009

stem and outline stitches

We may as well start at the beginning with the most common and widely-used embroidery stitches—the stem (sometimes called crewel) and the outline. Both are used primarily for (you guessed it) stems and outlining and they are very similar in how they are worked. For stem stitch the thread is always kept below the needle; for outline it’s always kept above. They look pretty similar when completed, too.


lazy daisy

Lazy Daisy is the common name for the detached chain stitch, which is a looped stitch that can be worked alone or in groups. Once you master it, you can combine the individual stitches in a length (this is called chain stitch) or in clusters to make flowers and leaves. You can even get ambitious and try something like this: