Year of the Stitch: Thread Sizes

The threads I use most frequently for hand embroidery are my hand-dyed sizes 8 and 12 pearl cotton threads. Why these threads?

Pearl cotton threads have a slight sheen, are strong, and most importantly sit up on the fabric. They don’t flatten out like a 6 stranded floss. They lift up on the surface to add texture and excitement to your artwork.

Here’s How I Use the 2 Different Thread Sizes

The 2 sizes of thread (8 and 12) are perfect for stitching the flowers sprouting from the top of my Year of the Stitch Whimsy Lane quilt. The stems of the flowers are very skinny, about 1/8 inch wide. To give them strength and texture, I add straight stitches at an angle across each stem. This thread is a fun loving size 12 Peas in a Pod thread.

Size 12 is the finest thread I dye. You can see the difference between a size 12 and a size 8 pearl cotton thread by comparing it to the size 8 Oranges thread on the roof top. For finer elements in a design, I recommend the size 12 pearl cotton.

Next up is a size 8 Lettuce thread for the flowers. I use back stitches to outline the edges of the flower petals and fly stitches to outline flower tips. Notice how the petals appear more prominent when stitched? That is the size 8 giving them vigor, adding life to the flowers, and taking your work from flat to fabulous!

Year of the Stitch: Pinking Blade

A favorite tool for cutting fused fabrics is the pinking blade I use on my 45 mm rotary cutter.

The pinking blade gives fabric shapes a zingy zigzag decorative edge. Zigzag edges that are perfect for adding a favorite hand embroidery stitch, the fly stitch.

Having cut the roof of my Whimsy Lane house using the aforementioned pinking blade, I am good to go. The fly stitch easily follows the zigzag fabric edge to outline the roof. My hand-dyed size 8 Oranges thread contrasts in color with the rooftop and repeats the orange in the house. It’s good to repeat colors in your artwork.

Inside of each V shape made by the fly stitches is a French Knot made with a size 8 Lemons thread. I love how those little hits of yellow decorate the roof top. A fancy rooftop all thanks to the pinking blade!

Year of the Stitch! Name that Quilt

Do you find it helpful to name your quilts as you make them? I feel it gives them a personality and less anonymity like this series of quilts above called Whimsy Lane. Giving them a name lets me relate to the design and add that dash of charm.

So I declare this first Year of the Stitch quilt- Whimsy Lane #10. Already I’m hoping to meet the residents and learn their recipe for meatloaf.

The door of the house is surrounded with blanket stitches and a jaunty French Knot makes the doorknob. Straight stitches outline the windows and define window panes. I’m using a size 12 thread called Aquamarine.

That same beautiful Aquamarine thread is used to stitch stem stitches around the outside of the house. These stitches are actually placed on the background fabrics snugly next to the yellow house.

The next step is the roof of the house. I can’t wait to add more stitching to this Whimsy Lane house the first of the Year of the Stitch!