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Bayeux Stitch

Bayeux Stitch

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Published by IrisGuiang

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Published by: IrisGuiang on Mar 19, 2012
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ayeux stitch, which takes its namefrom the famous tapestry on which itis used, is an Anglo-Saxon variationof an ancient technique known as laidwork.In this stitch, originally for reasons of economy, threads are laid across the surfaceof the fabric and then held down withanother laid thread and a couching stitch,leaving a minimum of threads on the reverseside.This technique is surprisingly easy tolearn and, once the basic method has beenmastered, lends itself to a huge variety of developments with which Anglo-Saxon
This Anglo-Saxontechnique issurprisingly easy tolearn and can bedeveloped in numerous ways
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This stitchedpiece was worked as anexperiment inshading, usingonly finecrewel wools inthe traditionaltechnique,includingoutlines (alsosee page 16).
 
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embroiderers, all women at that time, wouldnot have been familiar.The original materials, linen and wool,were all hand-made and dyed with plantdyes. Nowadays we have a far greater rangeof fabrics and threads at our disposal and soexperiments with the technique can produceexciting and unusual results. In learning how to develop a technique, first identify itscomponents and then decide how they canbe changed.0n the Bayeux Tapestry, only one colourwas used for the three elements: the threadslaid on the surface, the second set of threadslaid at intervals across them, and the tiny couching stitch used to hold the two layerstogether.Not only can we use a different colour foreach part but we can also use differentthread thicknesses, fibres, random-dyed andmetal threads. We can also work in differentdirections and on a huge variety of fabricsnot known to the Anglo-Saxons.
Using a frame
The use of a frame is essential when working Bayeux stitch developments because the laidthreads require an even tension over larger-than-usual areas. Any kind of frame will doas long as the fabric stays drum-tightthroughout. If it slackens, tighten it.
Background fabrics
Because of the way the stitch is made, coarsefabrics create problems where the needle may emerge through the same hole as it wentdown, and vice versa. So choose medium-weight fabrics that are fairly closely wovenrather than open-weave ones. Calico is ideal,as are other cottons, linen, silk and somesynthetic fibres.To give the background extra body, Irecommend an under-layer of fine cotton-calico which is framed-up with the top layerand treated as one piece. This makes it easierto place the stitches very close together, tohide the beginnings and ends of the threads,and for finishing-off the ends of a stitch.
Threads
Originally, the same kind of thread was usedfor each part of the stitch and for theoutlining. However, the laid threads on thebottom layer will cover the shape moreefficiently and quickly when they are thickerthan the couching thread and holding stitch. All the threads must at some stage bepulled through the fabric, even the couchedthreads that are laid on the top, so smooththreads are best. The thickness of the toplaid thread will produce different results, asit will either mask the colour of thelower laid thread or allow it to showthrough. Generally speaking, I usedoubled or thick threads for the bottomlayer and finer ones on top.The colour and type of fibre being used,whether it is shiny or matt, plain or variegated, whether it reflects the light wellor absorbs it, all affect the look of thefinished piece. Light reflection is importantas the stitch has a strong directional elementand the colour of the threads changesaccording to the direction of the light on it.Be aware of this and use it to advantage.Make use of wools, linens, cottons(stranded and single), synthetics, silks, andany combination of these. Matt and shiny threads are equally useful, as are random-dyed (variegated) threads and metallicthreads, in skeins or on reels, whether forhand or machine embroidery. Remember thatdifferent threads can be mixed together inthe needle.Ultimately, the thickness and type of thread will depend upon the scale of thework: fine threads for small-scale pieces,coarser threads (and fabric) for large-scalepieces. Experiment to see what works best.
Needles
Use whatever size crewel needle isappropriate for the thread; keep a range of sizes handy for different thicknesses andpurposes.
The outline
Traditionally, each shape was outlined witha variation of stem stitch called ‘outlinestitch’. The outline can be worked eitherbefore or after the filling, thoughtraditionally the outlines were always madefirst. Today, either stem or outline stitch may be used, or even no outline at all.
Outline stitch
Outline stitch is made in thesame way as stem stitchexcept that here the thread isheld to the left instead of tothe right, creating a twist tothe stitch in the oppositedirection. The point of theneedle comes out at the headof the previous stitch, not atan angle to it.
 
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To finish off a thread, run the needlebetween the two layers of fabric, eitheronto a part of the design that has not yetbeen filled or beneath a filled part. Bring the thread up and snip the end off close tothe surface, being careful not to snip any surrounding stitches. Press the cut endwith a finger to make it disappearthrough to the back. A backstitch on thereverse side will also help to secure it.
Note:
leave enough room at the sides for thetop threads to tighten up as the stab stitchesare worked, otherwise the shape may becomedistorted.
Bayeux stitch
To begin, work a fewrunning stitches towardsthe point where the firststitch will start (thesestitches will be covered by the laid threads).
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Bring the needle up fromthe reverse side to thesurface and take thethread across to the otherside of the shape, asshown. This makes thefirst stitch, which shouldlie firmly – withoutlooking pulled – uponthe fabric. Now bring the needle up againas close aspossible to theplace where itwent down,not acrossthe back of the fabric.Unlike satin stitch, allthe stitches lie on thesurface, not on thereverse side.
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Insert the needle at theother side of the shape,keeping the stitches soclose that no fabricshows between them.
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Bring the needle upagain close to where itwent down, ready tomake the next stitch.
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When the shape iscovered, bring the needleup at the side of theshape ready to lay threads across in theopposite direction to thestitches, and at intervals, as shown. Eachtop laid thread is now couched (i.e. helddown) by tiny stab stitches in which theneedle enters and emerges at the sameplace. Couch each thread down as soon asit is laid, returning to the same side of theshape each time, ready to begin the nextline. Continue in this way until the wholeshape is couched down with cross-wisethreads.
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1234Bayeux stitch
Curves
One way to deal with curves is to work thelaid stitches in sections, as shown. The toplaid thread and couching stitch should beplaced in slightly radiating lines so that the joins between the sections are covered.
Direction
 As long as the bottom threads are close andparallel to each other, they can be laid in any direction. The top laid threads should be evenly spaced at right-angles to these, and thecouching stitches arranged equally apart. Thetop laid threads generally dictate the directionunless the top thread is very fine or the bottomlayer is striped. Experiment.

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