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work from right to left or top to bottom. Pull the thread through. the easier it gets! Whipped running stitch The “whipped” part of this stitch is demonstrated in red. If you are using one fine strand of floss or thread. can be used for delicate vines and lines. You can create a light fill with running stitch. Go down at B. For left-handers. all of which will give a different effect. You can “whip” a stitch with a contrasting color.Embroidery Stitch Types Running stitch This is perhaps the most basic “sewing” stitch. using your fingers on your non-dominant hand (the one that’s not holding the needle!) behind the fabric. Direction: For right-handers. and try to keep your stitches straight and even! The more you practice. close running stitches. passing between the stitch and the fabric. and even though it seems really basic. Secure the thread in the usual way (by running it under the backs of your stitches) and snip. and it can be used well for decorative effects in embroidery. for the rest of your stitches. The weight of the thread also determines the effect. forming a kind of “brick” effect. when worked very small and very close together in fine thread on fine fabric. Bring the needle to the front of the fabric at A. encourage the needle to come up again at C. and. your stitch will be very delicate. Direction: Bring the needle up at the point where you began your running stitches. This is the first stitch I teach in my embroidery classes. you can work them more quickly if you “run” them on the top of the fabric. you should stitch a row of tiny. take the needle to the back of the fabric at the same point where you ended your running stitches. with smaller spaces between them. and pull the thread through.” running stitches need to be evenly spaced and of even length – though the space between the stitches does not always have to equal the length of the stitch! You can create different effects by using longer stitches. by alternating the spacing in parallel lines. with the same color. The running stitch. work from left to right. Now. To look “nice. or top to bottom. It can also be “whipped” (explained below) to make a solid line with a rope-like effect. it makes for a good exercise in judging stitch length and spacing. Work to the end of the line or curve in this manner. without picking up any fabric. or with a shade of the same color. Take your needle down through each running stitch. without taking your hand to the back. When you reach the end of the running stitch foundation. And there you have it! . In this case.
” I prefer the stem stitch (below) to the outline stitch. and keep the thread below the needle. whip the needle and working thread in and out of the stitches formed to secure it. thus forming your final stitch. the stitches twist together. Direction: Left-handers: you’re going to work left to right. Right-handers: work right to left. Take your needle back to B. Outline Stitch This stitch is a lot like the stem stitch in technique. the stem stitch seems to work better for that than the outline stitch does. the individual stitches remain quite distinct. tight-looking. Direction: For left-handed stitchers. by bringing the needle up into the fabric at the beginning of the line to be covered. so it’s great for curly-q’s. At the end of the line. pointing the needle back towards the beginning of the line and keeping the thread ABOVE the needle. This stitch is commonly used in counted cross stitch. .Back Stitch Back Stitch: This is another easy outline stitch which can be used to good effect on delicate or heavy lines. On the underside of your fabric. They kind of “twist together” and make a smoother looking “rope. but the outcome looks slightly different. The back stitch can be further decorated by whipping it. especially if I’m using it as a filling. Pull the thread through. while in outline stitch. bringing your thread up at A. In stem stitch (below). Put the needle into the fabric at the point that determines the length of the stitch. determining the length of your stitch between A and the starting point of your line. take the needle down at the end of the second to the last stitch. Without pulling through. fine outlines. For right-handed stitchers: outline stitch is worked from left to right. forming a solid line without clear distinction in the stitches. The outline stitch is great for nice. Continue working in a backwards-forewards motion until you have completed the line. just like the running stitch above. by working rows close to each other. you will stitch in the opposite direction. Pull through. insert and encourage it up at C (using a finger of your other hand under your work). But for some reason. It takes curves well. and you can achieve a nice shaded effect by switching to lighter shades as you go along. push the tip of your needle through the fabric about halfway down the length of the stitch. You can use both of them as filling. The key to good looking back stitches – just like running stitches – is even stitches.
Try to keep your stitches even. curves. keeping the thread above the needle (opposite of the diagram). But it doesn’t have to be used only for goldwork! I teach my 10 – 14 . Take your needle down at B (which will determine the length of the rest of your stitches). Unlike the outline stitch. going forward. Encourage the needle back up about halfway back along the stitch line. and curly-q’s. This way. Couching is basically the stitching down of a thicker thread that is laid on the fabric. Direction: For left-handers. the emerging point of the needle (C) will be at the end of the previous stitch. It is an essential technique in most goldwork. the stem stitch can be whipped. and elongate your stitches. the stem stitch produces a line of more defined invidual stitches. work this stitch right to left. stem stitch can be used to outline delicate lines. You can reduce this distance. Like the running stitch. you can avoid taking your hand to the back of the fabric. as well as simple outlines on any design. Stem stitch makes great stems (of course!) on leaves and flowers. You can also stitch on more of an angle (as shown in the diagram) to achieve a wider line. bring the needle up where you finished the last stitch. and. Right-handers: Bring the needle and the thread through the fabric at your starting point (A). You can add shading to your filling by changing the shade of the thread. and just nudge your thread over as you come up. Stem stitch can also be used as a thick filler. As you take the second stitch. User the fingers on your non-stitching hand to encourage the needle back into the fabric. as well as to fill an area. Stem Stitch Like the outline stitch. but always pointing the needle back towards the beginning of your work. by working rows next to each other. for subsequent stitches. using usually a finer thread. Couching another great way to achieve a neat line.Continue in this “back and forth” manner. and only go back half the space (or even less). You can work directly on your stitch line. and pull the thread through.
Direction: Lay your thicker thread (the thread to be couched) on your design. It can be delicate or heavy depending on the thread you use. you usually alternate the placement of your stitches. it can be “checkered. I prefer working from right to left with it. Left-handers may find that left to right is easier. When you fill a pattern. you take the couched thread ends to the back of the fabric later. and evenly spaced.” and on and on. you still get a kind of pleasing pattern. it can be doubled. you will want to wax your thread first. NOTE: Don’t take your needle down outside the loop. Once you know the basic stitch. you take your needle back down into the loop you just created.year olds couching by having them fill in an area between two parallel lines with #3 or #5 perle cotton – usually in a nice. They love the effect! Couching is used in the technique “Or Nue” (a goldwork technique) in such a way that the placement of the couching stitches determines the shading of the figure being embroidered. If you are couching down gold or other metalics. bring the needle and thread through the fabric. Make sure the working thread is under the needle as you pull it and the thread through the fabric. In other cases. when considering horizontal direction. I have some links to examples of Or Nue on this page. and then encourage it up again a short distance away (the length of the stitch). Thread your needle with a fine thread. Chain stitch can be worked from top to bottom or bottom to top – it doesn’t really matter – but as a right-hander. On subsequent stitches. Pull firmly enough to take the loop of the thread to the “throat” of the working thread. Catch the fabric in the back at each stitch. or not at all. you can thread a larger needle with your thicker thread and bring it up through your fabric. alternating the placement of the couching thread in each line). use a similar color if you do not want your stitches to be seen. There are lots of variations on chain stitch: it can be whipped. as you would for a detached chain! Take it down inside the loop! . Take small stitches over the laid thread. even if the couching thread is a similar color to the laid thread. Chain Stitch This is a great stitch for lines and curves. perpendicular to it. experiment! It’s a very versatile stitch. In some cases. Direction: To begin. it can be twisted. but not so firmly that your stitch stretches too straight and your working thread gets pulled backwards! It’s best if you pull the thread through going forwards. bright color – which is couched down with a contrasting bright color in a brick pattern (that is. and encourage it up a stitch-length later. Take the needle back down at the same spot you emerged. so that. Use a contrasting color if you want your stitches to be seen.
taking the needle and thread to the back of your fabric. It can be used for edges and oulines. and make another straight stitch opposite to A. Bring the thread out of the fabric at A. and then pass through the base of the straight stitches. It also makes a good outline for delicate curves and lines.” Direction: Bring the needle and thread out at A. This stitch was commonly used for delicate shading on faces and hands. up at D. for right-handers. Bring the needle up on the line below the “V” created by the straight stitches. or from left to right. Go up at C. Make an angled straight stitch. you take the needle through the working thread. which is slightly off the line you are working. This is worked in the same manner as outline stitch or back stitch. It obviously makes great stalks of wheat. by taking it down on the line. only it’s a little finer because you’re splitting a single thread. left to right. and make an angled straight stitch to the base of the loop you just formed. keep looping the thread through the straight stitches. meeting at the line (as shown in the diagram). and as you encourage the needle back up. Bring the needle back up at B. and back down where you just brought the needle up. and forming the last straight stitch. You can fill an area by working split stitches in lines close to each other. work right to left. changing the shade of your thread to create a painted effect. especially effective in crazy quilting techniques and such. but when you come up. Now. If I use it for wheat. I usually finish the very top of a line of stitches with a straight stitch to complete the look of the “wheat. split the working thread. Direction: For left-handers. as shown in the diagram. .Split Stitch Split stitch ends up looking a little like a chain stitch. pointing backwards towards A. or from right to left. Wheat Stitch This stitch is worked from top to bottom as shown. Take the needle back into the fabric close to A. as you continue down the line.
Detached Chain aka “lazy daisy” stitch: This stitch is great for little accent flower petals and leaves. Outlining shapes with French knots can add a nice stippling effect to your embroidery. You can either encourage the needle up at D without having pulled the thread all the way through. In short. Now. Pull your thread through from a forward angle. take your needle down at C. when stitches in a line with regular spaces between the stitches. and bring it up at D. or you can pull your thread through completely when going down at C. French knot Perhaps this is the most “common” knot used in surface embroidery. (See a great sample of textured filling here). Take the needle back down at A. Direction: Bring your needle and thread up at A. Holding the working thread in your left hand. as shown in the diagram. Direction: Bring your needle and thread through at A. which is the beginning point of your next stitch. you can do heaps of things with this stitch! Vary the type and weight of thread for more texture and for interesting effects. It can also be used as an outline stitch. As a very loose or light filling. so that the loop is snug against the “throat” of your thread. which is just outside the loop. wrap it around your needle twice. Don’t let go of the thread! Keeping a bit of tension on the thread. but don’t pull the thread through – instead. It’s uses range from the single center of a little flower (above) to a dense. and wrap the working thread underneath the needle. take the tip of your needle . which should be the point where you want the center of the knot located. textured filling. and then bring the needle back up at D. encourage the tip of the needle up at B (this space between A and B determines the length of your stitch). you could work lines of detached chains in a kind of alternating “brick” pattern.
(If you’re using a frame that is mounted on a stand. as an edging (in crazy quilting. you want to take your needle down again at A. but just enough to keep those coils in place next to the fabric as you pull your needle and thread through them. and then come up for the next stitch. this stitch is a lot easier!) Anyway. I prefer to take my needle and thread straight down through the fabric. You aren’t pulling too tight. Use the tension on the working thread to manipulate the coils a bit. This particular diagram on the top left shows your needle coming up for the next knot – and this is well and fine if you are working in a row of evenly spaced knots. to start a new stitch. Below. Fly Stitch This stitch can be used as individual stitches for accents and for loose filling. and taut. If you are using a hoop. and whatnot). and back down at B. Direction: Bring your thread through and A. but you do not want to loosen the tension on your thread. sampers. anchoring the tip of the V shape. Come up at C. you can enter with your needle at D. However. . which is inside the tip of the V. and encourage it up again right next to B. without pulling it tight – keep it loose and a little bit “looped. releasing it from your left hand as you approach the end of the thread.” Your placement of the needle at B will determine the width of the space between the two tops of the resulting V or Y shape. and go down at D. you can hold the hoop and your working thread in your left hand – holding the thread between your forefinger and thumb. Pull your thread all the way through the coils. you can see an example of it used in a horizontal row. If you’re continuing in a horizontal row. You want to keep them next to the fabric.back through at A. It can also be worked in horizontal or vertical rows. without choking the thread as it passes through. You can also move the working thread so that your knot is betterpositioned. and using the rest of your fingers to balance the hoop.
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