Stitch Tip #3: Redesign Your Embroidery

My fingers have gotten a lot of exercise! (Sadly, nothing else has.)

In writing Playful Free-Form Embroidery, I made dozens of step-outs for the photos in the book. I stitched each stage showing how to create a project making up to 40 different step-outs for a single project.

No wonder my fingers are so lithe!

Over the course of a year, I completed the step-outs for 6 projects and wrote directions on how to make the design at the same time. This project, Natural Gardening, was one of the easiest for me to illustrate, having only 14 step-outs.

Today’s Stitch Tip: Redesign Your Embroidery Project

Now, after all a year of work, I can’t just toss those step-outs away!

How can I recycle or use the step-outs to trigger a new design? Maybe by looking at those partial versions of a project in a different way.

Here is one example of a redesign of a Natural Gardening step-out. Most of the background black fabric was trimmed away from the stitchery. The silhouette of the design is stitched onto a turquoise felt fabric using black thread. Even more hand embroidery is added to the surface of all the fabrics.

One of the joys of rescuing my step-outs is that I can improvise designs. I don’t have to write directions. Yipee! And I can create more complex embroideries.

Take a look at your embroidery projects. Is there a way to redesign them? Is there a way to add more excitement to your stitching time?

Stitch Tip #2 Tiny Thread for Tiny Shapes

A Friend’s House (detail) by Laura Wasilowski

Here we have good friends meeting up for a chat in A Friend’s House from Playful Free-Form Embroidery. You’ll notice that the sheep and his bird friend in this design are created in 2 different ways.

The blue sheep (and why not blue, I ask you?) is made with felt fabric and stitched legs. But the bird is entirely created with embroidery stitches on the wool background fabric.

And that bird is tiny, about 1 inch in length.

Today’s Stitch Tip: Tiny Thread for Tiny Shapes

So how do you stitch a tiny object on wool?

You use tiny or thin thread.

Our little bird’s body is stitched entirely with a size 12 pearl cotton thread called Lettuce. The thread, when stitching solid shapes, is just large enough to lift off the nap of the wool fabric. And is fine enough to stitch close tiny stitches.

Next time you embroider a small shape on wool fabric, give size 12 a try!

Stitch Tip #1: Show Off Your Tail

Thank you so much for joining me in my monthlong giveaway to celebrate the release of my new book Playful Free-Form Embroidery! The winner of our final giveaway, a copy of the book, is Karen S. May your stitching be playful and fun, Karen!

What’s Next? Stitch Tips!

Would you like to see some of the stitch tips and stitch combinations used in the book projects?

Some of these tips were learned the hard way- by making mistake after mistake! By showing you these tips, I hope to help you along your stitch journey when you create your next embroidery.

My first tip comes from the book project, On Pins and Needles.

Tip #1 Show Off Your Tail

Sometimes when stitching you think you are finished with an area and move on to the next bit of stitching. But after completing the embroidery on the bird in On Pins and Needles, I realized my tail was not holding up its end. The tail on the bird was overwhelmed by the pattern of the interior stitches.

Example of how to whip stitch a blanket stitch.

To balance out the shape I decided to outline the tail shape. Using the whip stitch, I drew a size 8 pearl cotton thread through the outside edge of the blanket stitches surrounding the tail.

And here is our adventurous bird with an enhanced tail. The moral of the story? Watch your tail!