Tools of the Trade Stitch Along #1


Tools of the Trade by Laura Wasilowski

Please join me for my latest stitch along called Tools of the Trade. In this Tutorial you’ll find directions from start to finish on how to make this small -free-form embroidery. Every few days I’ll give you the next steps for making the design here on the blog. Those steps will be added to the Tools of the Trade Stitch Along page as we go. It’s all free and you can join at anytime.

And now to get started.

This version of Tools of the Trade is embroidered on black wool but you can use any fabric you like as your canvas. Thank you for joining me!

Step #1
Click here for a Tools of the Trade Stitch Kit or assemble the following items:

  • Black wool (or other fabric of your choice) measuring 6″ x 9″
  • Sewing thread for transferring the pattern shapes (or used the light blue size 12 below)
  • Size 8 pearl cotton threads in these variegated colors: turquoise, pea green, orange, and red (these are the Artfabrik thread colorways used: Aquamarine, Peas in a Pod, Oranges, Red Hots)
  • Size 12 pearl cotton threads in these variegated colors: red, medium greens, yellow, turquoise, light blue, orange, rainbow (these are the Artfabrik thread colorways used: Red Hots, Lettuce, Butter, Aquamarine, Forget Me Knots, Oranges, Rainbow Bright)
  • Size 3 and 5 hand embroidery needles
  • Red felt (or other color of your choice) for backing measuring 7″ x 9″
  • Download and print out this Word document of the Tools of the Trade pattern.

Step #2


  • Complete the directions below. Or follow the directions on the printed Tools of the Trade pattern to transfer the shapes to the fabric.
  • Place tracing paper on the drawing and trace it with a black marker.


  • Place the fabric vertically so it is 6″ across by 9″ high.
  • Position the tracing paper about 2″ up from the bottom of the fabric.
  • Pin the tracing paper into place.


  • Follow the black marker lines on the tracing and stitch the outline of the shapes in the design using Running Stitches. Stitch with a sewing thread (40 or 50 weight) or a size 12 pearl cotton in a color contrasting to the background fabric and a sewing needle or size 5 embroidery needle. 


  • After stitching the outline, remove the paper using the tip of a pin to score the paper next to the stitches. Gently rip away the paper.


  • The Running Stitches define the edges of the design and will be removed after stitching the shapes with permanent stitches.

 (Note that directions will be added to the Tools of the Trade Stitch Along page as we go.)

Sharing Work: 2 Guest Artists

Bloomers quilt by Sharon

Bloomers quilt by Sharon

It’s always a privilege to share the beautiful art work of others on my blog. Especially if they were kind enough to take one of my classes. This quilt is by Sharon who participated in my workshop in Arkansas. She says that the quilt, ” …happily hangs in our kitchen now. ” She also mentioned that taking the class  “…really made me think differently about fusing.” Thank you, Sharon! My mission in life is to spread the word that fusing is fun. 


Exotically Pollinated by Karen

And speaking of fun, here you see a sweet quilt by Karen. She says she, “started this project in a class you taught in Green Bay, WI last year for the Evergreen Quilt Guild.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  The three flowers were something I pulled out of your scrap pile and I wove the basket in class.” The quilt will be in the upcoming Evergreen Art Show in Women Who Run With Scissors Exhibit. The theme of the show was “exotic pollinators“ but she turned it around to be “Exotically Pollinated”. Thank you, Karen! I love your sense of humor.

On the Edge?


In these interesting times many of us find ourselves on the edge. And by “on the edge” I mean the fear of how to finish the edges of fabric shapes while attaching them to a background fabric at the same time. So I’ve come up with a few suggestions to alleviate your fears. edgestitching1Luckily, there are several ways of attaching fabric shapes to a background fabric. The Blanket Stitch, seen in the first shape, is your basic attachment. It gives a sense of stability along with a jolly little decorative feature. Then there is the Fern Stitch, Running Stitch, and novel Pistil Stitch. All delightful ways to anchor a piece into place.


But wait, there’s more! Place a heavy thread like the Size 3 around the fabric shape and couch or hold it into place with Lazy Daisy, Pistil, or plain old Straight Stitches. The ever popular Fly Stitch gives you a pointy edge and the heavy duty Chain Stitch firmly echoes the circular shape in our last example.

I hope this alleviates some of your fears. Remember, hand embroider is meant to soothe in troubling times. It is a quiet pursuit that gives you something to do with your hands rather than wringing them.  Have fun!

Favorite Thread for Machine Quilting



My favorite thread for machine quilting on my BERNINA is Isacord. I do free motion quilting on my art quilts and this thread seems to work best on my machine. (Your machine may prefer a different brand.)


I love to visit my local quilt shop and browse through the vast number of thread colors they offer. The colors are so enticing and each spool has a color number on the label. You’d think I’d keep track of what colors I have, but often find I’ve purchased the same beautiful colors over and over again. Aaaarrrrgh! 

isacord1Isacord also has this handy way of holding the thread end so it doesn’t spool off. Pop the plastic base of the spool open, slip the thread end into the slot at the base, and snap it closed to pinch the end into place. For those of us who are neat and tidy (ha!), this little mechanism for corralling thread ends is a big help.


A Tip on Joining Fabrics and Give-Away Winners


Here’s a little tip for you. Remember, when making a fused art quilt, fabrics are not joined by sewing them together. To join fabrics, you overlap and iron or fused the fabrics together. The overlap only needs to be about 1/4.


When joining the fabrics, overlap the darker value fabric on top of the lighter value fabric. As you can see above, if the light yellow fabric overlaps the dark purple fabric, a shadow is cast. This looks bad. And I should know having done it many times.


And now for the winners of the fat quarter give-away. You know they know their overlap tips. Winners are: Nancy S and Mary H. Congratulations!

Stay tuned for more give-aways next week.

Give-Away and a Guest Artist


Kennette and her pillow

Recently I met up with the Hinsdale Embroiderer’s Guild to teach a class on wool embroidery. And much to my delight, this lovely lady, Kennette, was my hostess. I also discovered that Kennette is on my “special newsletter” mailing list.


Kennette gets a “special newsletter” from me about once a month. That means she has purchased something from the Artfabrik website in the past year or so. In the newsletter I give away stuff like the pattern for this house design she used on her pillow. Thank you Kennette for sharing your work with us. You are truly special!


And you are special too! Please leave a comment below and you may be a lucky winner of a fat quarter of hand dyed fabric that I’m giving away. (Please note that at some point I cut off the comment section, usually just before announcing the winners.)