techniques

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

 


filling in the spaces with simple stitches

Slow stitching

I am still loving my slow stitching book and taking a little quiet time to stitch some patches.  I'm not quite sure what I intend to do with them at the end of all the stitching but...

It got me thinking that I really do love my stitching to be simple and relaxing.  I'm a huge fan of backstitch because it is so simple and does exactly what I need it to do.  

Wishes head

You can change the kind of line you create by changing the number of strands.  So for something delicate and sketchy like my catching wishes pattern I just used one strand of thread to give it an ethereal feel.

6a017742e9a5be970d019b0018688c970d-800wi

whereas feeling witchy is much bolder and uses two threads.  I also love filling with back stitch.  This could be because satin stitch is definitely not my strong point but I like the sketchiness of back stitch filler.  And again it is different according to how many strands of threads you use.

So all this has got me thinking about filling the spaces.

Etsy red fairy cover

A lot of the dresses for my girls have fabric appliqued to fill the space but sometimes I like to stitch the space.

So here are a few ideas about how to fill the spaces

Stripes

There are always back stitch stripes, in the friends pattern I have used them for the hat and I often use them for tops and socks but they could also fill a dress nicely.   I have a habit of using three colours, a dark colour, a lighter version and an ecru always seem to work nicely.  You can either alternate them or you could have two rows of one and single rows of the others.   It's fun to mess around and see what effects you get.

Straight

I often just add straight stitches, I tend to prefer this to satin stitch as it's less heavy and seems to suit the girls more

I also used straight stitches in some of the trees below.  I find a pattern forms naturally as I stitch, but I will go back and undo if a stitch looks out of place.  I think a variegated thread would work nicely with these straight stitches.

Trees

for winter dream I used seed stitch for her dress.  I think this is my favourite way to fill dresses.  It's so relaxing, making tiny (1-2mm) stitches, each one running in a different direction to the last.  

I also sometimes like to create patterns in the spaces.  I especially love star stitches, just four single stitches crossing each other as in her scarf above.  Little crosses can suggest a knitted fairisle hat.  You could have rows of crosses and V stitches alternating in different colours.

Pattern

For the little reader I created a pattern for her dress rather than applique it.  I made a blue french knot and then just radiated lemon straight stitches out from it.  There are so many possibilities for filling those dresses and hats with very simple stitches and it's fun to mess around creating patterns with stitches.

I'd be interested to know whether you prefer simple stitching or to be challenged by more complex stitches and do you like creating your own patterns to fill the dresses or do you prefer to applique them?

There are tutorials for back stitch and french knots on my tutorials page

All the patterns area available in my Etsy shop

I will be back on Friday with a gorgeous book review by an embroiderer I love


sulky solvi part two

Full wonky shed 32

The wonky shed is finished!  

And the sulky solvi rinsed out without leaking printer ink.  

Bunting

I found using the hoop a little difficult with the sulky solvi as it kept peeling apart, I think I would tack it down if I used it again.

I also found the stitching a little hard going in places, working through 2 pieces of fabric essentially so it was a little stiffer.  The needle didn't really get too gummed up, I just wiped it occasionally.

I soaked the embroidery in luke warm water, it took a little longer than I expected for it to dissolve but it's the first time I've used a stabilizer that dissolves.  Little bits of gummy stuff floated to the top of the sink.  I soaked it three times in fresh water to make sure that there was none left in the embroidery.  It has all disappeared with no nasty ink bleeding.  I used an ink jet printer so I am not sure whether it would be the same for a laser printer.

On the whole I still prefer to use my old pen/light box tracing method because I found the stitching experience wasn't quite what I would like.  But if you hate tracing or have difficulty with tracing I think it's a very viable option.

I used sticky fabri solvy by sulky

and bought it from here

it cost £7.63 + £2.82 postage for 12 sheets

x

Here is part one of the sulky solvi journey 

 


sprucing and long short stitch

039

This week I decided to spruce up my winter fairy pattern ready for the colder weather (hopefully not too soon!).  I wanted a filler stitch for the blue embroidered version of the fairy and decided on long short stitch.

Long short stitch is often used for colour changes in embroidery (as I'll show in a sample below) but it's also useful for areas that are too big for satin stitch such as my fairy's dress.  I love the repetitive nature of stitching the dress (not least because I am reading slow stitch by Clare Wellesley - Smith at the moment).

So here is a little tutorial for this simple filler stitch

Long short stitch 1

It begins with the foundation row.  Simply alternate long and short stitches along this row.  The long stitches should be about twice as big as the short stitches.

Long short stitch 2

That was the most difficult part.  Now simply stitch long stitches above the short stitches, leaving a gap between each as above.

Long short stitch 3

and you just continue in this way 

Long short stitch 4

until you are done.

If you are stitching a curved shape you begin in the same way

Curved long short stitch

with your long short foundation row

Curved long short stitch 3

as you continue you curve the stitches slightly at the edges so they meet at the top acting like one stitch for the next row.

Curved long short stitch final

This way you can follow the curve of the edge with the stitching.

I love the effect of this stitch, it's so like knitting, my next favourite type of stitching.

For those who have the winter fairy pattern these are the blues that I used for the blue fairy

DMC 3760 dark blue

DMC 747 paler blue

DMC white

DMC S415 and DMC E168 for the sparkly satiny wings

DMC 3799 for the face etc.

x


open cretan stitch

Open cretan tree

As you may know, I am busy stitching a Christmas tree for my Christmas pattern.  It is a Christmas tree of many stitches (well quite a few).  It uses the herringbone stitch (tutorial here), you can see the herringbone at the bottom of the picture with french knots in the gaps.  Today I am showing you another of it's stitches, the open Cretan stitch.

Open cretan tree 2

For the tutorial I have used red thread as I thought it showed everything more clearly on a white background.  So here we go...

Open cretan stitch main

I popped crosses in the spaces in orange.  

Open cretan stitch 1

To begin the stitch you need to come up through the fabric about a third down your space (a in the picture below)as above.  Then pop your needle back through the fabric on the base line but a little further along (b in the picture below)

Open cretan stitch 2

Next bring your needle up directly above the spot where you took your needle down but about a third upwards as in c above

Open cretan stitch 3

Now you're going to take your needle back down on the top line (but a little further along as in d above) but you need to catch the loop of your previous stitch as above so make sure your thread is on the left of the stitch.

Open cretan stitch 4

Now bring your needle up directly underneath the point you took it down but about a third of the way below (as in a above).  Now you just continue in the same way along until you reach the end of your row.

Open cretan stitch end

and fill your gaps with crosses or french knots.

Hope these instructions are clear, it sounded much simpler in my head!  As always.

The Christmas pattern is on it's way, hopefully next week.  You can follow my progress on my Instagram account @lilipoposketches

x


Fancy herringbone for a tree

Fancy herringbone main 1

Yesterday was the first proper day that I could sit down with a nice cup of tea and try out some stitches for the new Christmas pattern that I'm working on.  I would like to add that the cup of tea came after a VERY cold sea swim that I was talked into!  Hence the quiet afternoon with hot drinks.

Fancy herringbone main

and I found a stitch or rather a combination of stitches that I rather liked.  I don't use herringbone stitch very often as mine always seems to look a little loose but this time I bound the cross overs with little stitches to make it look a lot neater.  And I love the effect of using a different colour.  Simple but pretty.

So here is a quick herringbone tutorial in photos.  The main thing is keeping it all even, mine is stitched on a curve because that's what I need it to do in the pattern but of course you can stitch it straight.

Fancy herringbone 1

Fancy herringbone 2

Fancy herringbone 3

Fancy herringbone 4

Fancy herringbone 5

Fancy herringbone 6

Fancy herringbone 7

Fancy herringbone 8

I think I have neglected this pretty stitch.  I added it to the base of the tree and popped a few french knots in for good measure

Fancy herringbone end

It would make a beautiful border for a dress too.

Now I'm going back to my battered and worn copy of Anchor's 100 embroidery stitches to find more fun for the afternoon.

x


transfer methods

Transfer collage

A few weeks ago I ordered a parcel from sublime stitching so that I could try out some other transfer methods.  The main reason I ordered from them was a new fine line iron on transfer pen.

I have a sulky iron on transfer pen which gives lines that I find too thick to use with my patterns, certainly they can't be covered by two strands of thread, so I was quite excited by the idea of a fine line pen.  I also ordered some of her tracing paper, which is a thick vellum, and some black and white carbon paper along with a stylus.

Transfer pen 1

So to begin with the iron on transfer pen.  The idea is that you trace the design onto the vellum paper (eliminating the need for a light box) and then place the vellum ink side down on top of your fabric and iron the design onto your fabric.  The vellum is  nice and thick but you can still see the design well.  The pen is smooth to work with, just like a drawing pen really.

Transfer pen 2

I was very conscious of being very careful with the initial tracing because the design is permanent once it is on your fabric so you need your original tracing to be perfect.  I used a design that was fairly similar whichever way around you use it, but if you have a design with writing on it you need to make sure that you are tracing a reversed image so that when you iron it on it will be the right way around

 

Transfer pen 4

this is the traced design, the lines are pretty fine (not quite as fine as the frixion pen).  I was lazy about the stripes on her sleeves and I don't want stripes on her boots. 

Transfer pen fabric

Ta Dah!  I used a hot iron and held it in place rather than moving it across the design so that nothing moved.  The boots are actually clearer than they look I didn't iron them properly but there was enough there for me to see for stitching.

Transfer pen 5

Next I did something daft... I was going to transfer another girl to show you the second print from the same transfer but I ironed the wrong side of the vellum, which stops it from working!  So I drew the little string of hearts above.  A is the first image, B the second and C the third.  At a push you could stitch the third.  Perhaps a gentler ironing the first time might mean the ink lasts longer.

Transfer pen 6

and finally two strands of thread covers the line nicely.

Overall I was pleased with the results of the fine liner pen.  You get a smooth and even line and it prints onto the fabric well.  With this method you don't need a light box and you can get two or more prints from one tracing.

The pen and tracing paper are only available in the USA at the moment as far as I know but please let me know if you find a UK stockist.  I got mine (along with the carbon paper and stylus) directly from Sublime Stitching and I think it took just over a week to arrive.

Carbon 1

The second method I tried was black carbon paper with a stylus.  The stylus is a rather nice wooden pen type thing with a metal point and ball at each end (see above) one end is smaller than the other.  I chose to use the smaller end to give a finer line.

With this method you place your fabric down first then the carbon paper on top with the ink face down and finally your design on the top of the pile.  Now just trace the pattern using the stylus and quite a lot of pressure.

Carbon 2

I really liked the end results of this method, the line is finer and a bit less marked than the transfer pen.  It is more like a pencil or biro mark.  But I found the carbon paper harder to use.

It requires concentration, especially with a complex pattern, so you can't be distracted by fire engines going past your work room window because when you look back it's harder to tell which lines you've traced.  I also found that if I lifted the carbon paper to check that it was tracing properly it was difficult not to move it slightly.  You do need to put quite a bit of pressure on it.

Carbon 3

But I loved the end result.  The lines are easy to cover and are clear.

I would be more inclined to use this method, despite it's difficulties than the transfer pen.

I did also try out the white carbon paper on grey fabric with less success

Carbon white

the lines really aren't clear enough.  I suspect they would be clearer on black fabric but unfortunately I don't have any at the moment so I will try the white again when I have some darker fabric.

Overall I was happy with both methods but I think I still prefer to use a light box and a non permanent marker.  But I would definitely recommend the above methods if you don't have a light box, especially the carbon paper.

The downside for some may be that you still have to carefully trace the design in the first place.  But there is a product (thank you stitch 'n' dye :)) that allows you to print the design straight onto the fabric - sulky's sticky fabri solvi

I haven't tried this yet but I'm quite excited by the idea so that will be my next test I think.

Anything that makes the transferring easier!

The carbon sheets are available in the UK here

I would love to know more about the methods you have most success with