Today it is 11 below Fahrenheit in my garden. But inside it is warm and cozy and I dream of summer and flowers.
The rooftop garden on my Whimsy Lane quilt hosts a variety of pinks or dianthus flowers (a genus of about 34 species in the family Caryophyllaceae). Not only are my pinks pink but the edges are cut with a pinking blade making them pinked pinks.
The skinny stems are decorated with straight stitches placed across each one. Don’t you love how the size 12 Peas in a Pod thread stripes add a little whimsy to the flower stems?
Flower petal shapes are stitched with a size 8 Lettuce thread. It takes 3 types of embroidery stitches to finish each pink petal: the stem stitch around the yellow dot, the back stitch around the petal edges, and the fly stitch for the pinked edges. Add an orange French knot to the center of each flower and call the pinks a distant cousin of the Caryophyllaceae family.
One can never have enough pattern in a design. And the easiest way to build pattern when making a fused art quilt is to cut a bunch of small elements (see wacky squares above) and use them to decorate your background fabric.
What Was I Thinking!
I sure loved cutting those blue squares with a pinking blade. And I sure loved building the checkerboard pattern on the pink background fabric. So much fun! And then it came time to stitch it.
What was I thinking! Each little square has to be stitched with fly stitches and straight stitches to outline the edges. Lucky I enjoy stitching with this size 8 Butter thread. Notice how that warm buttery color repeats the color of the house? Yum!
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!