Stitch Tip #6: Combine the Fly and French Knot Stitches

I had a little balance problem when making this house for the Painting the Town project in Playful Free-Form Embroidery.

Here’s what I mean. See the roof tiles on the house? The tiles are made with stacked rows of fly stitches that slowly decrease in number up to the peak of the house.

I had intended to stop working on the roof there. But the house design looks out of balance. The roof looks lightweight and unfinished. It needs more texture or weight to compete with the solid mass of thread that makes up the base of the house.

Today’s Stitch Tip: Fill the Fly with French Knots

What’s the solution? Why the French knot of course! Using a variegated thread, Lettuce in size 8, I’ve filled in the shapes of the fly-stitched tiles with French knots to give a festive texture to the rooftop.

By giving the roof tiles more prominence I was able to counter the weight of that solid blue of the house. Top the roof off with a sprouting flower and balance is achieved.

Stitch Tip #5: Box Your Blanket Stitches

The Nut House by Laura Wasilowski

You’d think that something as staid as hand embroidery would be soothing and calming. But for this hand embroiderer, it is full of drama and suspense!

The suspense is in venturing into the unknown and trying new stitch combinations. The drama is the discovery that the stitch combination is perfect for a specific embroidery challenge. Hand embroidery provides such cheap thrills to this stitcher!

What’s the thrilling stitch combo found in The Nut House project from Playful Free-Form Embroidery? First, take a look at the sidewalk in the Nut House.

Today’s Stitch Tip: Box Your Blanket Stitches

How do you create a brick sidewalk with hand embroidery? After a few attempts, this became my solution.

I made the sidewalk in the Nut House project with rows of blanket stitches running horizontally and stacked on top of each other. This creates a set of boxes.

And what do you do with boxes? Why you put something in the box like a straight stitch. The straight stitches going from corner to corner in each box are made with a size 8 thread called Asters. The variegated colors of the Asters thread change as you stitch, adding, you guessed it, drama! Now wasn’t that a cheap thrill?

Stitch Tip #4: Use Variegated Threads

Painting the Town (detail) by Laura Wasilowski

Ever have a great idea and no idea how to execute that great idea?

That was my dilemma when creating this embroidery, Painting the Town, a project in my book, Playful Free-Form Embroidery.

Today’s Stitch Tip: Use Variegated Thread


For days I agonized over how to add multiple colors to the paintbrush bristles in the design. Should I use 6 different thread colors and change out the thread every few rows? After all, the theme of the design is a paintbrush madly slapping paint on every building in this tiny village. That means lots of colors!

And then a lightbulb dimly glowed in the distance.

You would think as a thread dyer that the answer to how to add lots of colors when stitching would be obvious.

But, no!

So it slowly dawned on me to use a variegated thread to create a colorful set of bristles. This is the thread colorway that solved my dilemma: size 8 thread, Rainbow Rich.

Variegated threads add spark to your embroidery. Colors flash in and out changing with each stitch and livening up a design. There is a surprise in every inch!

So glad that lightbulb went on.