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!

Being Knotty


For a long time, I’ve been a knotty girl. As you can see, I tend to place a knot on the end of my pearl cotton threads before stitching. But no longer! I have mended my unsightly knotty ways. 


Now I neatly start and stop my stitching on the back of the fabric. Here are a few tips on being a neat stitcher:

  • Take a few back stitches concealed in the back of the fabric when beginning a new thread (don’t let the thread appear on the top of the piece). If you use a knot to anchor the thread, be aware that your needle may strike the knot when stitching and stretch previous stitches.
  • To end a thread, run the needle through a few adjacent stitches on the back of the work and snip the thread.
  • Snip ending threads close to the fabric. Long threads on the back may tangle with other threads while stitching.

On the Edge?


In these interesting times many of us find ourselves on the edge. And by “on the edge” I mean the fear of how to finish the edges of fabric shapes while attaching them to a background fabric at the same time. So I’ve come up with a few suggestions to alleviate your fears. edgestitching1Luckily, there are several ways of attaching fabric shapes to a background fabric. The Blanket Stitch, seen in the first shape, is your basic attachment. It gives a sense of stability along with a jolly little decorative feature. Then there is the Fern Stitch, Running Stitch, and novel Pistil Stitch. All delightful ways to anchor a piece into place.


But wait, there’s more! Place a heavy thread like the Size 3 around the fabric shape and couch or hold it into place with Lazy Daisy, Pistil, or plain old Straight Stitches. The ever popular Fly Stitch gives you a pointy edge and the heavy duty Chain Stitch firmly echoes the circular shape in our last example.

I hope this alleviates some of your fears. Remember, hand embroider is meant to soothe in troubling times. It is a quiet pursuit that gives you something to do with your hands rather than wringing them.  Have fun!