Like many of you, I learned how to embroider as a youngster using a hoop to hold the fabric. But those days are long gone and I’ve been hoopless, totally hoopless for years. In fact, all the projects in my new book, Joyful Stitching, are made hooplessly.
There are several reasons I don’t use a hoop for hand embroidery. First, clamping a hoop on my fused art quilts while stitching will fray the raw edges of the fabric. The quilt top is fused to batting for stability and is easy to grip.
Second reason? It’s easier on my stiff old hands. By gripping the fabric rather than a hoop I can twist and turn it while stitching.
Third reason, I like the “folk art” imprecise look of hand stitching. If things are too perfect, the embroidery looks machine made to me. Handmade tells me you spent a lot of time loving what you do. So call me hoopless! I don’t care.
The Sheaf Stitch is another embroidery stitch that heaps thread on the surface of fabric.(Here you see it being used in the Silk Stitch Along Tutorial .) A tidy bundle, long stitches of thread are cinched together and look like sheaves of wheat.
But my wheat sheaving days are over so I like to top the Sheaf Stitch with a French Knot or a Bullion Knot to make a flower. Here are directions for making the Sheaf Stitch. Have fun!
It was a near miss. Machine quilting near hand embroidery is a challenge. It’s those dang French Knots and Pistil Stitches sticking up that catch on the machine foot.
But I managed to complete Pretty Planet #16 without bad words being spoken. I must confess: machine quilting is not my favorite part of creating art work. Designing and hand stitching the pieces float my boat. But after finishing this little quilt, I realize that free-motion machine work really adds another layer of texture to the piece.
There’s a lot of bulk in a Bullion Knot. And on small pieces of artwork it, has many uses. For instance, it takes a Bullion Knot to make cattails growing by the swamp next door.
It also takes a large coil of thread like a Bullion Knot to crown the crest of a fancy bird. These concentrated hits of thread lift off the fabric creating texture and dimension to your work. Check out these directions on how to make the Bullion Knot.
In celebration of having a new book almost published (Joyful Stitching comes out in February), I’d like to get you warmed up for embroidery with a free tutorial on making this Wooly Bird. Sadly, he didn’t make the cut for the book but you’ll find his free pattern and stitch directions on the Wooly Bird Stitch Along.
And in further celebration! (Cause I’m such a party gal.) I’ll be giving away a free swatch of wool along with a free pattern for the bird with every order placed on the Artfabrik Store. This offer is good now through the end of the year. It’s our choice of color but the wool is just the right size and weight for your Wooly Bird project.
It’s been a windy, chilly week here in Illinois. How can you tell? Because the trees are turning blue. And, when stitching a sky, your Running Stitches curve and sweep across the fabric like the wind on a blustery day. It takes the humble Running Stitch to make this a blustery or calm day.
The Running Stitch, the most basic of embroidery stitches, is often under rated by the embroidery raters. But after reading these directions for making the Running Stitch, you’ll find a few inventive ways to use it, including a tip on marking the fabric for stitching.