embroidery

tips on filling spaces with backstitch

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This week has been full of packing kits and posting but I found time in between for a little stitching of Kitty.

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for the first stitching I decided to use quite muted wintry colours for her hat and scarf with my favourite gold (Anchor 874) for her hair.  

I outlined her hair in stem stitch and then filled it with back stitch.  I follow the lines of the outlines and create rows of back stitch.  There will be a few gaps using this method so once I've finished I go back in and pop single stitches in to fill the gaps. 

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the dress is also outlined in stem stitch.  I've used a darker colour to give definition to the edge of the dress, in particular her sleeve which crosses the dress.

I use bigger stitches if I'm covering a larger area and again follow the lines of the outline.  If you look at the sleeve all the stitch lines move across the dress in the direction of the arm whereas the main dress stitching goes down the dress.

I did trace the decoration on the dress as I hadn't made my mind up before I started tracing.  You don't need to trace the decoration as you will need to add it after you have stitched the dress using the pattern image for reference.

Lilipopo embroidery Kitty dress

Again I filled any gaps afterwards with single stitches.  Once I finished stitching I added the embellishments, v stitches and snowflakes

Lilipopo embroidery Kitty full

I used two strands of thread when I was filling the hair as the area was small but for bigger areas such as the cat and the dress I used three strands.

For the cat I stitched the facial features first and then I filled in with ecru thread.  It is fiddlier to do it this way but it means you can use the traced lines for the face if you are not confident about copying it from the pattern image afterwards.

As always my main tip for stitching is to take it slowly and go back and undo mistakes straight away.  A magnifying lamp certainly helps if your eyes (like mine) are not as good as they could be for close work.

Please feel free to share any tips you have for filling in larger areas with stitching in the comments below.

I will be away for a week so Kitty won't be in my shop until the end of October.

Have a lovely week

x


cute kittens in amongst the flowers

Lilipopo kitten embroidery pattern

Over the last few weeks I have been having fun sketching kittens and cats and girls with cats. 

This little kitten pattern is a simple pretty pattern.  I've stitched her up in my favourite pinks and reds (although of course you could use your own favourite happy colours).  I even added a little lilac.

Full hoop close up

She is very simple to stitch. You can frame her in a hoop with her flower garden around her and butterflies floating nearby.

Kitten cushion full

or she can be stitched up as a little hanging cushion lightly filled with toy stuffing and lavender.  A lovely gift to pop on a child's pillow to help her sleep.

Stitching up picture 1

there is even a pretty little backing to stitch for the cushion with flowers and ferns.

The pattern for this little kitten is in my Etsy shop  and as always comes with a simple stitch guide and pattern transfer instructions.

There are instructions for making the little cushion included in the pattern.

I hope you have a lovely weekend with a little bit of stitchy time

x

 


caravans and colour

Finished first caravan

I have been working on a new caravan pattern, one that fits into a hoop to be framed but could still work as a cushion centre or in a square picture frame.  Last weekend I would have loved to have had this little caravan as we danced in the mud and rain at WOMAD.  Our little tents kept us dry but I think this caravan might have been a little more luxurious!  

WOMAD was absolutely fabulous despite the rain, it's hard to complain about a bit of rain when there are musicians from Syria along with the Survivors of the Khmer Rouge making the most beautiful music.  It really is such a positive festival that reminds you that we are all just people striving to be as happy as we can be, no matter where we are from.  Music always seems to me to be the best art form for crossing boundaries and bringing people together.

Since getting back my youngest has turned 17!  I can't quite believe that next year all my children will be adults.  

Colour and pattern

And so now I can get back to a little bit of stitching.  I've been choosing the colours for the final version of the caravan.  I had to change a few small details, the cups and saucers were just too tiny to see properly once stitched so we are drinking tea out of mugs.  And my original handwritten 'happiness' was a little messy so that has been adapted along with a few other details.

I am leaning towards a palette with a lot of pinks, reds and peaches although I think the main outline colour will still be blue and I might add a little purple if I can find the right one.  Choosing the colours is always my favourite part, although I do sometimes change or add to them as I go along if something isn't working or something else is needed.  I have been known to unpick a lot of stitching because a colour that looks beautiful on the bobbin simply doesn't work in the embroidery.

Details

I'm also having a bit of fun with stitches in this pattern, trying to fit a few more in.  I love couching and am really happy with the way the knots turned out at the end, there's also a bit of satin stitch using quite long stitches.  Satin stitch is not a stitch I use very much so I'm challenging myself to include it more as it's a great filler for certain kinds of areas.  I will be adding some stitch tutorials to the blog as I go along over the next month or two.

I also have a winter sampler plan in my head but at the moment it is only in my head!  I'm feeling quite excited about the idea of working with more stitches and I love old samplers so hopefully more of that to come.

Finally I have a couple of fab resources for you.  

Marna Lunt is an English embroiderer and tutor (as well as a snow globe collector)  I love her style of stitching and she has the most fabulous free introduction to stitching course.  It is packed with videos of lots of stitches and she is just lovely.  You just need to sign up to her newsletter to have access to the course.  She also has more advanced courses that you can pay for and she does workshops.

The other thing I have been having some fun with is Creative Bug I think you can try it for free for a couple of weeks then it costs about £3.50 (it's in dollars so it changes) a month and there are just so many art and craft videos.  There is a lovely embroidery sampler tutorial by Rebecca Ringquist that is lots of fun to do.  I particularly love all the 31 day drawing challenges as I am not particularly good at making sure I draw every day but there are all sorts of classes on there.

Now I'm going to plan a party to celebrate my and my friends big birthday.  We are having a Hawaii theme due to the particular age that we have reached...  I will leave you to work it out!

Have a fabulous weekend

x


How many strands?

How many strands title

One of the questions I get asked the most about embroidery is 'how many strands?'.  I use stranded embroidery thread for all my patterns, mainly DMC but sometimes a little bit of Anchor.  The only reason I try to focus on DMC threads is that they are more widely available globally, I love Anchor threads too.  The patterns do contain notes on the number of threads I've used in various areas of the stitching but it's not necessary to follow them exactly depending on the effect you want to create.

Pen drawing

when I draw with micron pens I have a range of different nib sizes and I swap pens according to the thickness of line that I want.  I do exactly the same thing with embroidery threads.   However I do have a go to number of threads, if in doubt I will automatically stitch with 2 strands.  A lot of the pattern stitching will use 2 strands of threads.

Back stitch strands

Above you can see backstitch created using varying numbers of threads.  As a rule I don't go above three strands for backstitch.  This is mainly because a lot of my designs are quite delicate and anything thicker can look a little heavy.  But I will occasionally couch six strands of thread with two strands of another colour, this makes a nice outline or decorative effect.  I especially love the effect of a single strand of thread

Catching wishes detail1

my 'catching wishes' design was stitched using a single strand because I really wanted to keep the sketchy ethereal feeling of the original drawing which was done in pen and ink, so quite scratchy and fine.  It helps to have a magnifying lamp (or very good eyesight) for stitching with a single thread.

Long socks tut 3

another place I almost always use a single strand is for stripes on socks, sleeves etc.  It stops the legs looking too heavy and the tights or socks from looking too thick

Stripes different strands

Stripes to fill a larger area are a perfect place to play around with numbers of strands.  In the image above I used 4 strands of blue and 2 strands of green.  I find it more interesting to look at than even stripes of two strands each.  If I use an even number of strands I will often use three colours rather than two (for example I would use blue green and perhaps an orange if I were using two strands for each of the colours) which again makes it more interesting.

French knots strands

Another place where the number of strands you use can make all the difference is in french knots.  In the past I would wrap the thread around twice if I wanted a bigger knot but a lovely embroiderer told me that she had been taught to increase the number of threads rather than the number of wraps to create a larger knot.  This method is much more satisfying and keeps the knot clearer.  So above you can see a range of knots from two strands to six strands.  It's worth just messing around with numbers of strands to see which you like the best.  I do love three strands personally.

Chain stitch strands

In the past I haven't used a lot of chain stitch but recently I've been quite drawn to it.  It's a little more involved than backstitch and I find I have to concentrate more,  I don't find it as easy to get into a rhythm but it creates beautiful hair and chains for bunting.  I tend to use 2 strands, I find 3 strands is a little too bulky and needs a bigger stitch but it would make a great outline stitch if you wanted a bold slightly frilled edge.  I do like the delicacy of the single strand chain, it feels loose and would make a great chain for your bunting.

Stitching up little samples of basic stitches using different numbers of strands of threads is a fun thing to do.  You could keep it in a stitch notebook or file for future reference, noting the numbers of threads that you used.

Now back to stitching up my new caravan embroidery design (designed to fit inside a hoop) ready for the end of the month.

I hope you are managing to find little pockets of time to do a little stitching in the summer months (unless of course you are in the depths of winter and cosy by the fire)

x


Stitching printed fabric panels

Flower gardener

Last week I finally managed to stock up on all of the printed fabric panels!  These panels are printed in light grey onto a white 195gsm (medium) weight cotton.  And at the moment I am stitching a flower gardener panel in soft peaches and pinks.

The panels that are available in my shop are

wonky shed

friends

in the garden

night night

unicorn

winter dream

flower gardener

Unicorn

I also have the unicorn panel hooped up ready for stitching.  I quite like flitting between projects sometimes for a change of colour.  I'm going to use this as a cushion panel and so I thought it might be nice to back it with something

Batting

I searched through my fabric stash and found some cotton batting for quilting which I thought would pad it out nicely.  I've been stitching since the photo above and it stitches nicely and gives a nice backing, especially for those naughty moments when a thread might get carried across the back because I'm feeling a little lazy!

Unicorn close up

This is the print for the panels, a nice fine line that is easy to see but also easy to cover with 2 strands of thread.

I do also have some lavender girl kits and friends kits in stock in the shop at the moment.

My own stitching is still limited due to this pesky shoulder!  but I have started working on a new design, and I may be able to show a sneaky peak next week...

Have a lovely stitchy weekend

x

 


in the garden - in the pink

Full warmer

I really don't know what happened to last week's post!  One minute it was Monday and then the next minute it seemed to be a week later with no blog post!  I think the sun coming out must have addled my brain a little.  But I'm here now (having got used to seeing sun again!)

Recently a customer pointed out that I didn't have an image of the actual sampler of 'in the garden' stitched up.  I realized she was right!  The samples in my images were stitched up on linen so I decided it was a good excuse to stitch up another one in pinks!

So this 'in the garden' is the actual sampler stitched up all in pinks with a touch of purple and red.  Anyone who buys the sampler or pattern will receive the pinks colour guide along with the original guides but for anyone who has bought the pattern before I thought I would pop the list of colours that I used here on my blog.

Hair stitching warmer

 

DMC 779 dark brown

DMC 451 mid brown

DMC 326 red

DMC 961 bright pink

DMC 761 paler pink

DMC 754 peach

DMC 3042 purple

The garland is pale pink and the hearts are peach

Dress stitching

The sleeves of the dress and the underskirt are outlined in peach.  The sleeves are striped with peach and pale pink.  The fern stitch and the petals on the underskirt are pale pink.  The back stitch stripes are peach.  The outline of the overdress is bright pink.

Lower dress and plants

The boots are red and the plants are purple and pink with peach butterflies

I think this is my favourite colour version of my 'in the garden' pattern so far!  I think the Spring is making me a little pink happy

Ballet dancer

This week I also got my dancer pattern into my Etsy shop.  I have stitched quite a few versions of this dancing girl and finally decided on one girl with a longer dress and ribbon shoes

Short dress dancers cover

and a second girl with the same hair but with a shorter dress, stripy stockings and plain pumps.  I've given instructions for her to have an embroidered dress or an appliqued dress.  You could easily applique the longer dress too if you wished.

I've really enjoyed stitching lots of versions of her and I think I will be stitching some to sell in the shop as well.

I hope you are enjoying all your stitching and (at least in the UK) enjoying the spring sunshine 

x

 

 


on my work table

Spring bunnies small

Earlier this week it was actually sunny!  And to top that I saw my first mini eggs in the shop.  So I have been practicing my photography with eastery goodness and pretty flowers.  What a perfect excuse to buy lovely local spring flowers and to eat all of the mini eggs (after the photographs of course).

Pink and blue lavender girl kits

I have been packing kits so I took advantage of the sunshine to photograph the girls with the mini eggs (I think everything goes with mini eggs really!)  I do have some kits over in the shop now 

Red girl

and then the mini eggs were gone but the flowers remained (and still remain looking beautiful in jam jars around the house)

Ballet shoes blog

I do get quite a lot of requests for a dancer embroidery pattern.  I have stitched dancers for people in the past but somehow a pattern has never materialized.  But now that is being rectified.  This week I have been doing the first stitchings based on my dancer sketch.  One dancer has a longer dress with ballet shoes.  I've been stitching her in two beautiful soft colours DMC 950 which is a blush colour and DMC 224 which is a dusky pink.

Red ballet pumps blog

The second dancer is (as you can see) much brighter!  And has a shorter dress and  back stitched pumps

Dancer head blog

I normally stitch hair using backstitch but I thought stem stitch might give a nice twisted effect and I'm really pleased with the results.  Just rows of stem stitch following the line of her hair and placed very close together.  Then, of course, all of the french knots!

I'm going to be working on this pattern all next week so I'm hoping to have it finished for the beginning of April.  I want to add a few optional flowers around her I think and maybe try one of them with an appliqued dress.

And now for a lovely weekend off with hopes of sunshine tomorrow!

Happy UK mother's day to all of the mothers out there  I hope you have a beautiful day

x


A simple stitch guide

 

Free stitch guide

I have created a simple stitch guide that will be sent out with all my patterns.  It contains the main stitches that I use in the patterns and drawn diagrams of the stitches.

I have added this stitch guide to all my patterns on Etsy but you can grab it for free here 

The guide is a basic stitch guide to the stitches I use most often in the patterns.  For some of the stitches (such as french knots!) it might still be useful to look at video tutorials on youtube and to use the guide as a reminder. 

I hope you find the stitch guide useful


spring stitching on grey days

New cover

Earlier this week I decided to spruce up my spring bunny girl pattern and restitch her.  I've changed the pattern ever so slightly and added extra photos and more instructions.  She really is very simple to stitch, almost completely back stitch with just one thread.

Outlined in grey

in fact I rather liked her at this stage just outlined in grey.  I think you could quite happily just stitch her like this or go in the opposite direction and add an appliqued dress.

So, with Easter on the way and beautiful pink tulips in my workspace (and an awful lot of grey outside!) I decided to do a little spring stitching

Spring stitching

I dived right into pinterest and looked for cute tutorials for my stitchy project.  Needless to say this whiled away quite a bit of time.  I looked at book covers and drawstring bags (all added to my cute tutorials board) and decided on this lovely simple drawstring bag tutorial by S.O.T.A.K handmade  (She also has some beautiful patterns in her shop).

The tutorial was beautifully simple to follow, I made a couple of small changes simply because I wanted a smaller bag.  So my  measurements for the main fabric and the lining pieces were 6" x 7" and my measurements for the casing were 6" x 4".

I used a 1 cm seam allowance (just under half an inch) because it's clearly marked on my sewing machine and I like to make things easy for myself.  I didn't make the tag and just used my embroidered piece (centred and cut down to 6" x 7") as the front of the bag.

Spring stitching bag

and I now have a lovely little drawstring bag to pop mini Easter eggs into or perhaps a cute little sewing bag for my summery outdoor stitching?  

Bunny main pic

after all I could always make another little bag with these little bunnies on for the Easter eggs...

I hope you're enjoying some spring weather and spring stitching

x


ferns and flowers and unicorns

Flowers and ferns

of all the things I love to stitch flowers are probably top of my list!  I love the way the simplest combination of stitches and colours can become something lovely.

My unicorn is frolicking  amongst ferns and flowers in my newest embroidery pattern and I thought I would share a very quick and simple tutorial for both

First the flowers

Flower centre 1 small

First I drew a small circle and eight lines radiating outwards evenly.  Then I filled the centre with two strands of pale pink thread and satin stitch

Flower centre 2

Once the circle is full it's time to add the petals

Flower petals

Just stitch single straight stitches all the way around the centre using 2 strands of light purple thread

Flower petals 2

Then pop more a straight stitch in each gap.  I've done this in a different colour so it's clear but they are just as nice all one colour.  I stitch the stalks using a single strand of a soft green to give a delicate look to the flower (more weed like)

Fern 2

For the fern stitch begin with a single back stitch and bring your needle up at the top of the first leaf

Fern 3

Take your needle back down at the base of the back stitch and bring it back up at the tip of the opposite leaf

Fern 4

Take your needle back down at the base of the back stitch and bring it back up a stitch length below to start the next fern

Fern 6

Repeat the stitching for each fern, creating a back stitch for the stalk and then stitching each leaf in turn as you did for the first one

Fern final

Fern stitch is one of my favourite plant stitches.  I usually use 2 strands of thread and my stitches are about 2 - 3mm long.  It's nice to add some french knots in between some of the leaves in a different colour

French knot fern

here I added a different green but pink or red flower buds would be lovely too.  I used 2 strands of thread and made a single french knot for each bud.

I think ferns with flower buds would make lovely borders for embroideries framed in the hoop.  You only need to draw the curved line of the stalk and then keep the leaf stitches the same size as your stalk stitches at roughly a 45 degree angle from the stalk.

And here is a pic of the whole unicorn dancing in amongst the flowers and the ferns

Unicorn main picture

The pattern is available in my Etsy shop now and I will be ordering some pre printed fabric panels for stitching in the next couple of weeks.

I hope you have a lovely weekend with bits of time for a little flower stitching

x