Simple Stitches that Surprise: Running Stitch

One of the easiest of embroidery stitches is combined here with one of the most frustrating. The Running Stitch is a linear stitch used to create dashed lines on fabric. Here I’m using a size 8 pearl cotton thread called Oranges to make rows of Running Stitches. Easy peasy!

And then comes those frustrating French Knots scattered between the rows. Why do I find them frustrating? Because I have to carefully and slowly draw the thread through the knot to finish it correctly. How am I supposed to do that and watch a movie at the same time?

Despite my tiff with French Knots, I do love how they pop off the surface of the fabric and add pizzazz to our humble Running Stitches. They are the swiftest means of texturing fabric or adding fleece to a sheep. More on French Knots later.

A Note about Batting

The piece I am working on in this series is fused to wool batting using Misty Fuse fusible web. I am stitching just through the quilt top and the wool batting. Later, the backing fabric is added. Why use wool batting?

  • Wool batting gives body to the work so you have something to grip while adding lots of embroidery stitches.
  • It does not have a scrim so you don’t have to worry about the quilt rippling. (Learn more about scrim in my class, Fusing 101.)
  • Wool batting is much easier to stitch into than cotton or polyester batting.
  • It lets you carry threads behind the quilt surface without tying them off and it conceals the carried thread.
  • Wood batting adds dimension to the quilt surface which is what quilting is all about!

Simple Stitches that Surprise: Blanket Stitch

The Blanket Stitch is a working stitch typically used to hold one fabric shape onto another fabric. It works to conceal the edge of the fabric shape and bites into both fabrics to secure the shape into place.

Here you see the Blanket Stitch used on the tree top fabrics that are fused into place. I’m using a variegated size 8 pearl cotton called Lime Frappe. Notice that without the blanket stitch, the two green fabrics appear flat.

But add the Blanket Stitch and the tree top becomes full of juicy healthy leaves. Your basic Blanket Stitch is not only a working stitch, it excels as a decorative stitch. It boldly outlines a shape giving it a defined edge. It livens up fabric shapes giving them extra texture. It is a simple stitch that can surprise you!

A Note About Variegated Threads

The threads I am using in this embroidery are my hand-dyed pearl cotton threads that are variegated in color.  I love using them! Whether using threads with obvious color changes like Lime Frappe (5th from the top) or subtle changes in color like Sprouts (the top thread), variegation adds movement and interest to the design.

Simple Stitches that Surprise: Stem Stitch

It doesn’t take an exotic embroidery stitch to make my day. I have found that simple stitches give surprising results.

Here is a good example. To create the bark on this tree, I’m stitching short wavy lines of your basic Stem Stitch with a size 12 pearl cotton thread. The thread is a variegated blue called True Blues. But before I stitch the bark lines, I use True Blues to stitch around the tree trunk with a Chain Stitch. This gives it a finished edge. Chain Stitches are placed right next to the tree shape so I’m actually stitching into the background fabric to outline the tree.

As I continue up the tree trunk to the branches, I swirl the Stem Stitches to make knots and to add echoing lines around the knots. The combination of wavy lines and variegated thread color gives you the feeling that the tree is alive.

A Note about the Fabric

The shapes in this design are made with fused silk fabrics placed on a fused silk background. The silk fabrics are hand-dyed or over-dyed and have Misty Fuse Fusible Web on the back. Why use silk? Silk is easy to stitch through, and although it has a tighter weave, it doesn’t fray as much as cotton fabrics. Also, it has a lovely glow about it.