What’s Stitching? Fly Stitch Variations

 windycity18gAs I stitch around the sun in my little Windy City quilt, I meditate on the amazing variations of the Fly Stitch. The Fly Stitch is an open looping stitch that is easy to make and has lots of stitch possibilities. Here’s a few you can try:


  • Extend the center thread of the Fly Stitch to make a Y shape like branches in a tree,
  • Use the Fly Stitch with a pinked fabric and the thread follows the pointy edges and tacks down fabric shapes at the same time,
  • Add a French Knot between lines of Fly Stitches (like those on a pinked fabric edge) to build pattern and add hits of color,
  • Stack Fly Stitches to make leaf like shapes, or
  • Use a French Knot to hold the center of the stitch in place. This is also known by those of us who are fast food connoisseurs as the French Fly.

silkflowers22And finally, surround a group of French Knots with Fly Stitches to make a flower. Ah, the Fly Stitch, so much talent in such a tiny stitch.

What’s Stitching? A Pinked Edge

windycity18fThe embroidery on my little Windy City quilt continues with a favorite stitch, the Fly Stitch, around the light green fabric. Use the Fly Stitch with a pinked fabric like this and the thread follows the pointy edges and tacks down fabric shapes at the same time,

Can you guess why I’m using an Orange size 8 pearl cotton thread? The size 8 is larger than the size 12 threads used on the other parts of the design so it gives a nice bold edge to the fabric shape. The color orange is also in strong contrast to the surrounding fabrics and repeats the orange color found in the design. Two great reasons to use it on this pinked edge.

What’s Stitching? A Knot for Thanksgiving

colonialknot4It’s that time of year again,Thanksgiving. So put on your powdered wig, buckle your shoes, and grab your knickerbockers! We are about to learn the Colonial Knot. (OK, the knickerbockers reference may not be historically correct but grab something.)

Colonial Knots are faster to make than French Knots and you can easily toss them in as a background filler with the Scattered Seed stitches like those above. (It also gives you an excuse to wear knickerbockers.)

colonialknot1Here’s how to make Colonial Knots: Begin the thread on the top of the fabric at A. Form a small loop like a backwards letter C with the thread. With the needle to the right of point A, slip the needle tip under the thread coming out of A. The shaft of the needle will lay on top of the lower end of the thread.

colonialknot2Shift the needle tip in front of point A. Wrap the thread across the needle and slip it under the tip of the needle. It should look like a figure 8 around the needle.

colonialknot3Gently pull the thread around the needle as you scoot the needle tip across the fabric to insert it back into the fabric. Insert the needle tip very close to point A. Draw the needle and thread through the fabric.

Congratulations! You are now an official Colonial Knot Maker! You may now remove your knickerbockers and invite the neighbors over for Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What’s Stitching? Snip Outs

windycity18dMy next stitching challenge for this little Windy City quilt is to tackle the looming purple shrubbery on the horizon. But first let me show you the steps to make looming shrubbery from a fused fabric.


  • Cut the fabric into a shrub shape.
  • Flip the fabric over and cut on the fused side. (This is so the glue does tack to itself when cutting.)
  • Wedge the fabric into the crux of the scissors with your finger tip. Remove your finger tip.
  • Snip out a wedge of fabric.

windycity18eMy stitch choice for the shrubs is the lazy daisy stitch. It replicates the oval shape of the snip out and adds another stitch texture to the quilt surface. I’ve also chosen a light blue size 12 thread so the shrubs look less ominous. Looks safe to go home now.

What’s Stitching? Landscape Shapes

windycity18bHere is the next embroidery stage for my little Windy City quilt. Stitching on the focal point is complete and it is time to move on to the landscape areas around the house. I’ll start with the orange spikes in the foreground. They look like plant life to me.

windycity18cUsing a size 12 variegated pearl cotton thread, I stitch fern stitches down each orange leaf. Why use variegated thread? The shifting of the variegation adds movement to the piece and the green variegation repeats the various green colors in the fabric shapes.

A size 12 thread is also used for the green field. This thread is close in color to the field so it doesn’t draw too much attention from the house. I use it to make scattered seed stitches across the filed creating an active texture. See the pinked edges of the field? Those are outlined with a fly stitch as is the base of the orange spikes. It’s true, the fly stitch and pinked edge were made for each other.

My next challenge is how to stitch those looming purple shapes on the horizon line. Yikes! What have I done! Any ideas?

What’s Stitching? Where to Start?

windycity18aThis hot little number has been on my design wall for months. It’s next in the Windy City series of quilts. And it is ready for hand embroidery.

windycity18bWhen I add the hand embroidery I always start with the focal point. In this case, it’s the little house. My first step is to outline the house and roof using a blanket stitch and size 12 pearl cotton threads that contrast in color with the shapes. This way the shapes pop out, giving them importance like a focal point deserves.

Next I add a chain stitch around the door to highlight that shape. Little windows are made with lazy daisy stitches in blue with a straight stitch of yellow inside the loop.

And to really make the roof pop, I’ve whipped stitches around the edge of the blanket stitch with blue thread.  A yellow thread is slipped under the tines of the blanket stitch to give a neat little pattern.

Now that the focal point is stitched, I can plan other areas to stitch on this small fused art quilt. Can’t wait to see what happens!