Put on your sunglasses and take a gander at my background fabric for the Silk Stitch Along. This 14 momme hand-dyed silk is a blinding gradation of yellow to orange. Sure, it is not your average sky and ground color scheme found in the typical garden. But it is entertaining… and a challenge to stitch.
Whatever your choice for background color, I hope you are more sensible than I. For now, let’s set aside my eccentricities and start stitching!
Here are the first stitching steps:
- Place the background fabric (with the batting attached) vertically or in the portrait orientation.
- Use a Size 12 pearl cotton thread and a Size 5 or 7 embroidery needle.
- Stitch Straight Stitches across the fabric to make an sloping horizon line. The stitches should resemble fine blades of grass.
- This horizon line gives us a starting point for the composition. It may be removed or changed later if necessary.
You can always access information on the Silk Stitch Along for later reference under the Tutorials Page of this website. Directions are added as the Stitch Along progresses. Here it is so far.
Before we start stitching our silk, we need to have a talk. For the Silk Stitch Along we are creating a free-form embroidered garden. That means you are free to chose any color of background fabric or thread you desire for the garden. It also means that you’ll have to choose thread colors and sizes as you go. It’s improvisation at its scariest!
Here are a few tips about thread:
- Pearl cotton thread is suggested for your embroidery. It has a sheen or gloss that enhances the glow of silk fabric. The thread has dimension (it doesn’t flatten out) and the high twist helps it hold up for stitching. Use it as a single with the appropriate sized embroidery needle.
- Fine fabrics, like silk, are best stitched with finer threads such as Sizes 8 or 12 pearl cotton. Size 8 makes bold, dense shapes on the fabric. Size 12 makes delicate, detailed shapes.
- Thread colors enliven your design. Colors contrasting with the background fabric in hue or value make shapes prominent. Colors analogous to the background fabric blend and create soft texture.
- If your garden reflects nature’s colors, than you’ll need a variety of green threads from light to dark in both thread sizes. There is no need to copy nature however. Maybe this is a garden on Pluto.
- Variegated threads offer changes in color without changing threads. They add texture and spark to the work.
- And here’s the best news: if you don’t like a thread color or size, you can always remove it.
I hope you are all prepared for the Silk Stitch Along. We begin soon. But know that you can always access information on the Silk Stitch Along for later reference under the Tutorials Page of this website. Directions are added as the Stitch Along progresses. Here it is so far.
Let’s face it: most silk fabric is floppy. That’s why for our Silk Stitch Along we are going to give it some body. By fusing the silk to a wool batting, the fabric becomes easier to handle and is a convenient way to hide knots. (I don’t use a hoop when stitching so the batting gives me something to grip. You may use a hoop if you like.)
Fusing Silk to Wool Batting:
- Cut a light weight fusible like Misty Fuse the size of the silk fabric. (Misty Fuse is recommended because it is very fine and doesn’t sink into the fabric changing the color of the silk.)
- Place the fusible web onto the wrong side of the silk. Cover the web with a large piece of parchment paper. Glide a hot iron across the paper to fuse the web to the silk.
- Let the fabric cool, then remove the parchment paper.
- Cut the wool batting to measure 1’’ smaller than the silk on each edge. (This fabric on the edge is wrapped to the back of the embroidery after you are finished stitching.)
- Center the batting onto the fused side of the silk. Flip the fabric and batting over and place them on the parchment paper.
- Fuse the batting to the fabric by gliding the iron across the fabric for about 3 seconds in each spot.
Ready to begin a new free-form embroidery this new year? For the next few weeks I’ll show you how to make an embroidered garden on silk. (You can also use wool, cotton, or felt.) But silk is such a handsome fabric! We really must try it.
Silk in a variety of weaves and colors including a recycled kimono fabric, former silk scarf, and hand-dyed silk sateen and jacquard.
Our goal for this Silk Stitch Along is to try new stitches, improvise as we go, and generally to have fun. Ready? Your first step is to gather these materials and tools:
- Silk measuring about 11” x 8 1/2’’ in any weave or color. (A heavier silk like a 12 or 14 momme sateen or jacquard is recommended.)
- Wool batting measuring 9’’ x 6 1/2’’ (Wool is much easier to work with than cotton.)
- Misty Fuse fusible web: 11” x 8 1/2’’
- Felt for the backing: 8’’ x 5 1/2’’
- Parchment paper: 12’’ x 10’’
- Size 12 pearl cotton threads in a variety of colors
- Size 8 pearl cotton threads in a variety of colors
- Size 3, 4, and 5 embroidery needles. (Size 7 is optional.)
- Thread Heaven thread conditioner (Highly recommended.)
Many of you are about to leave the house to attend a wild party. I know, I know. I’m not your mother. But think about this after welcoming in the New Year in with a bang: Why not have some good clean fun too?
And by good clean fun, I mean hand embroidery. Join my Silk Stitch Along this new year. It’s absolutely monetarily free and alcohol free. I’ll show you step-by-step how to make a free-form embroidered garden on silk. We start tomorrow January 1.
Think of it as my gift to you to enjoy in your sobriety.
In the olden days, I hated the dark months of winter. Where was the sunshine, the greenery, the warmth of the great outdoors? But not any more. Now I treasure the quiet days of winter.
My favorite days are the days when I’m snowed in and dare not leave the house. On those days (after shoveling the walks, ha!) I play in my studio and make new art work.
The quiet is an opportunity to exercise my art making brain. The challenge of improvising a design from fused fabric scraps keeps me warm.
It’s also a time for me to reflect on what it’s like to be one of my students. In several of my classes I demand that they make up a design on the spot. “This is hard!” they say.
I know. I have the same problem. But like any exercise, it is worth it in the end.Save