hints and tips

remembering my threads

Lilipopo thread folder fullI have a terrible habit of absolutely loving a particular colour, coming to the end of it and then completely forgetting what it was.  I probably should have been keeping a record of my colours before now but there we go!

So this week I gradually started wrapping some of my favourite colours around card and labeling them.  

Lilipopo thread folderThey are not in any particular order, although it might have been nicer to have them all graded.  But I have a card for each colour group (or I will have when they are finished)  and then I keep all the cards in a folder in my Midori notebook.

At first I just snipped a small piece and taping it down but you don't get such a clear idea of the colour so I started again and wrapped each colour around the card 5 times which is much better.

Lilipopo liberty fabrics

and it's not just thread colours that I forget!  Liberty have a habit of discontinuing their fabrics sometimes.  When this happens I have to go on a trawl around the internet to see if I can find another stockist who still has some left.  The only trouble is I can never remember the name of the fabric so I have to look through all the liberty fabrics (such a chore ;)) to find the one I want.  Not any more!  Now I am keeping swatches with names in my Midori.  Again I would recommend keeping quite large snips of the fabric as some of the prints can be very similar, especially if you are looking at photos online, so it's good to be able to see as much of the pattern as possible.

I'm actually enjoying wrapping the threads, it's quite meditative and allows me a little time to think about colour.

On another note I will have my princess pattern available on Friday 

  Lilipopo princess embroidery pattern I have loved working on this little princess, surrounding myself in pink for a while.  

The pattern also has a version with an embroidered dress and one to fit an oval hoop.  I will share more pictures on Friday

I would love to hear if you have methods for remembering your favourite threads and fabrics.

Have a lovely week

x

x


how long should my stitches be?

Lilipopo blog stitch length copyA question I get asked quite a lot is how long my stitches are.  The first time I was asked I took a ruler and measured, a fairly consistent 3mm.  But this morning I was a little distracted while I was stitching this first draft of a princess and listening to podcasts and when I looked down I noticed something strange.  I had naturally stitched much smaller stitches on the inside curve of the dress.  I expected my stitches to be the same size throughout as I do such a lot of back stitch but my subconscious had decided that the waist of the dress would be better with smaller stitches.  The funny thing is I think it does look better, it adds to the sense of the dress pulling in tightly around the waist then billowing out into the full skirt.

Door and borderI do know that the backstitch on my little caravan door is bigger than 3mm probably because it's a longer straighter line.  I've realized that I often don't think too much about the stitch size.  It seems to happen naturally.  There are occasions when I might deliberately use a tiny stitch or a much longer stitch for a particular effect but usually I just start stitching.

In the past I haven't included a suggested stitch length in the pattern but now I'm thinking it might be helpful for beginner stitchers to have a sense of how big the stitches should be.  After all I have no idea if other people's back stitch is the same length as mine or not.

Lilipopo chain stitch hairMy stitch length and tension are something I have been paying more attention to recently because I have been playing around with chain stitch.  Chain stitch changes so completely according to the stitch length and tension so you can create really different effects.  A tight tension and smaller stitch makes beautiful hair (this would work on the ballet dancers hair too) whereas a looser chain with bigger stitches looks completely different.

I will share more of my chain stitching explorations soon.

Today is a beautiful sunny day but I am stuck indoors waiting for a parcel for my son hoping the sunshine will last for the weekend.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend no matter what the weather

x

 

 

 


hints for stitching to frame in a hoop

Recently I've been using ivory essex linen for my stitching which is a lot lighter than the natural colour.  I do try to keep the backs of my embroideries very neat, avoiding knots and carried threads, but sometimes (almost always) there is a place where I just have to carry a thread.  If I then want to frame the finished embroidery in a hoop there is a risk of it shadowing on the front of the embroidery.

Lilipopo on the wall

I originally framed this fairy in a flexi hoop temporarily but liked her so much she has stayed in the hoop with no backing.  She was stitched on the natural essex linen and there is no shadowing coming through despite using black threads

Lilipopo light

As you can see, if I hold her up to the light then the shadowing is clear (all those carried threads!!).  With the lighter colour Essex linen I was worried that this would show through.  I normally back the hoop with felt but I would hate to put all that work in only to turn it over and realize there was a shadow of a thread showing through.

So a simple solution

Lilipopo double fabric

I know there are lots of stabilizers out there but it seemed far simpler to just use a second piece of fabric behind the first and stitch through both.  I like the effect as the fabric feels less translucent and I can still use the lovely Essex linen to stitch and no shadowing.

This works beautifully on the printed fabric panels too.

I do have a tutorial for the way I normally back a hoop over here

It would be lovely to hear about what you use as a stabilizer or backing and how you like to frame or finish your embroideries.

x


a mermaid tale

Lilipopo mermaid stitch fixed

I have been enjoying a quiet but busy January so far, lots of stitching and even more sketching and painting.  Yesterday I decided it was time to warm up the old computer so I could get on with finishing the mermaid pattern and this morning I have her in my Etsy shop 

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I have been having some fun playing around a little with stitches and so I came up with her tail stitch which fills the tail very prettily.  I have also been practicing consistency with my chain stitch (testing my patience a little) but I think I finally have a rhythm going, as long as no-one interrupts me. 

Generally speaking I like to use a hoop as I find I can keep the tension in my stitching more even.  But I found long lines of chain stitch a little easier without the hoop really or at least with a small hoop just covering the area I have to stitch.  An 8" hoop can be a little unwieldy for rhythmic stitching sometimes.  Do you prefer to hoop or not to hoop?

The fish tail stitch is very simple and began with rows of back stitch

Lilipopo mermaid stitch 1

I made sure that my stitches met at the top point of all the half stars.  My star stitches are roughly the same size as my back stitch

Lilipopo mermaid stitch 2

Lilipopo mermaid stitch 3

Once the half star stitches were in place I added french knots in between using 3 strands of thread instead of 2 and a contrasting colour.

Lilipopo mermaid stitch 4

This is such a simple stitch but I love the textural effect.

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I think the mermaid would make a nice cushion doll.  Just stitched on her own and then cut out with a seam allowance and backed and stuffed.  This might be my next bit of stitching...

Lilipopo mushroom reader

Another project that I have been busy with this month is creating this girl who has found a quiet spot to do a bit of reading.  I am thinking of creating prints of this and possibly notecards (I have an addiction to notecards!).

I hope you are enjoying a quiet cozy creative January

x


stems and outlines some tips

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Stem stitch is not a stitch I use a great deal for outlining my figures because it tends to create a thicker line than I like but it can make a good outline for clothing or a decorative line but also fabulous hair. 

For the longest time I have been stitching two different stitches under the mistaken impression that they were the same stitch just approached from a different direction.  I thought both stitches were stem stitch but it turns out that one was stem stitch while the other was outline stitch.  I had even seen it referred to as outline stitch but there are quite often different names for the same stitch so I didn't pay too much attention.  It was only when I came to do some research for this post that I realized that they are indeed two stitches.  One, outline stitch, has a smoother edge while the other, stem stitch has a more jaggedy edge

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The example above is outline stitch  (it is stitched onto a piece of Robert Kauffman Essex linen in dusty blue).

and I stitched the top straight row using 4 strands of thread.  The second straight row and the curved row were stitched using 2 strands.

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To begin make a straight stitch but before you pull the thread all the way through bring your needle up through the fabric about half way along the stitch making sure the loop from the first stitch is above your needle (or further away from you).  This is what makes it an outline stitch.

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Pull the whole thing through and you can see that my thread, in the picture above, is  coming from underneath the first stitch.  Now take your needle down about half a stitch length from the end of the first stitch (your actual stitch length goes back to the middle of the previous stitch).  Again don't pull your stitch right through

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Now bring your needle up at the end of the previous stitch as shown above.  You will continue in this way until you get to the end of the line.

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You can also follow a curved line beautifully.  Making the stitches shorter or longer can also change the way the stitch looks.  I like to use this stitch with more threads to create a thick rope like line, it makes fabulous hair because it curves nicely.

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For stem stitch you create your first stitch but pull it through fully then bring your needle just above the middle of the stitch as shown above

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Next bring your needle down about half a stitch length from the end of the first stitch as you did for outline stitch and pull through

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Bring your needle back up just above the middle of the last stitch and continue in the same way

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I'm sorry for the slight blur (fast fading light in winter!)  Hopefully you can see the stem stitched pink line has a more twisted edge than the lower green outlined line.  Both can be used well on curves you just need to decide whether you want a smoother edge or a more decorative edge for your stitching.

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A fun use for stem stitch are these little flowers.  I made a french knot using 4 strands of a paler pink (I double wrapped it).

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Next I made a small straight stitch along the edge of the knot (you can push it into place with your fingers so it doesn't cover the knot).

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Then, using the same stem stitch technique, I brought the needle up just above the centre of the first stitch and made another stitch moving around the french knot centre.  You just continue going round until the flower is as big as you would like it to be.  The stitches should be a little longer on each round.

Have a lovely weekend and I hope you find some time for a little cosy stitching.

x


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


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