Year of the Stitch: Herringbone Bark

In this next Year of the Stitch quilt, the tree gets the royal texture treatment. It takes me a moment but soon I get the rhythm of the herringbone stitch that makes this delicious texture on the tree shape

Crisscrossing the tree shape with the herringbone stitch adds that tree bark texture that covers many of the trees in my back yard. (I’m pretty sure Mother Nature was an embroiderer.)

The size 12 Blueberries thread I’m using changes color along the length from navy to royal blue to purple. The progression of color adds even more interest to the shape and entertains me as I stitch. I bet Mother Nature likes this colorway too.

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.