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Beginning stitching - transfer your pattern

Beginning stitching - Gather your materials

Gather 1

One of the reasons I love stitching is that it requires so little to begin.  At it's most basic you need fabric, a hoop to hold the fabric, thread and a needle.  But those few things can range from being very practical and simple to being very beautiful, embellished and still practical.  And of course there's the storage!

This post is all about what I use for stitching and transferring so it's very much about my own preferences.  It covers everything you would need to make up my patterns.

Gather 2 threads

I have to start with threads as they are my favourite thing.  I love the moment when I have a new project and I can stand in front of the thread stands in our local sewing shop and choose colours!  It's my happy time.

For my patterns I only use stranded cotton, either DMC or Anchor (or both).  If you can only get hold of one of these brands there is a converter here that gives similar colours in both DMC and Anchor.

I keep all my stranded cottons wrapped around card thread holders with the numbers written on them.  I even have them sorted into colours (what can I say?  I like to be organized!).  The threads are in (unattractive but practical) plastic thread storage boxes that I can stack away in a cupboard.  

There are lots of prettier methods of storage over on pinterest, but I find this works for me.

Gather 3 threads

And sometimes I've been lucky enough to have been gifted some luscious threads in beautiful boxes to add a little beauty.  

The bright box is full of perle cotton no.8.  This cotton is thicker and plied together rather than stranded (although you can untwist it and use separate threads)  I find this good for bold embroidery, like the stitching on the box.  I don't use it in my patterns because I like to use finer threads for all the detail.  But it is beautiful for writing.

The other box contains some lovely vintage (1960's) linen threads that my partner found in a shop in Falmouth.  I love linen thread because I love the matte effect, but it is not as smooth as cotton and therefore a little more difficult to work with.  DMC did do some beautiful linen threads but sadly they have discontinued them. 

Gather 4 threads

DMC do also do speciality threads, glitter threads and satin threads.  Both of these have their difficulties (to put it politely) and can make stitching a little bit sweary and less relaxing than usual.  But it is worth it for the effect (sometimes).  The satin thread is slippery whereas the glitter thread is not smooth and can catch as you're stitching.  The trick really is to cut the thread a lot shorter than usual and go slowly. 

Gather 5 threads

For the patterns you will only need DMC or Anchor stranded cotton

Gather 6 threads

This stranded cotton is six strands of thread that you can separate into single, two, three etc. to have control over the thickness of line that you stitch.  The patterns mostly use two strands of thread but there are places where I just use one for a finer line and these are noted in the patterns.

Gather 7 needles

Needles are simple for me, I use a no.7 crewel needle for all the patterns.  I love the ones with the gold eye (I don't know why!) but I have many more without a gold eye.  I do have a few 8s and 9s but I tend to favour the 7s.

Gather 8 needles

and then there are the places to put your needles... I have numerous needle cases because I like embroidering them but I could only find this one to photograph!  I also have endless pin cushions because I love using up scrap fabrics.   Pin cushions are also a good place to practice a bit of stitching, whether it's simple straight stitching or more complicated knots.  

I also have this lovely metal needle keeper that I pop in my sewing basket with spare needles in it.

Gather 9 pins

I use two types of pins.  The long (I think they are quilting pins) pearl headed ones for most fabrics and these fabulous merchant and mills fine pins (I think they are meant for butterflies!!) perfect for delicate fabrics like the liberty tana lawn that I use for the lavender girls' dresses.

Gather 10 tools

I use two small pairs of scissors, mainly because I found the silver ones too small to cut the dresses out for the applique.  So the little silver ones are thread snippers and I use the fiskars 5" scissors to cut out the fabrics for the embroidery.  

The pen I use for transferring the patterns is a pilot frixion.  I have written about it before over here along with other pens that I occasionally use.  The reasons that I like it are that it is heat removable (it irons away after stitching) and it has a fine line for the details.  I have noticed that sublime stitching has created a fine transfer pen but at the moment I can't get hold of it in England.  I'd love to hear from anyone who has used it though.

Gather 11 hoop and fabric

  Hoops and Fabric.  My preference is for a wooden hoop, I do have some plastic ones but if I leave the fabric hooped up overnight accidentally (!) they tend to leave a mark that is difficult to remove.  And I like the feel of wood a lot more.  I usually use between a 4" and a 6" hoop depending on the size of the embroidery.  I don't especially like using a bigger hoop, I would rather move a smaller one around the work.

The two fabrics I use are Robert Kaufmann essex linen in natural which I buy here and cotton calico which I buy here

They are both medium weight fabrics and are not specifically for embroidery.  The calico needs a couple of washes to soften a little but adds a lovely texture to the work.  I tend to favour the linen cotton mix partly because of the colour, it really makes the thread colours pop.  

You can use any medium weight fabric that is smooth to stitch on.  You just need to make sure your stitches don't pull on it. 

I also use liberty tana lawn prints and bonda web for applique.  I have a post here to help with appliqueing the dresses.

Next week I will be looking at transferring the pattern to the fabric.  Please feel free to share your own tools and materials in the comments I love finding out what other stitchers use!

If you are in the UK you can buy threads, hoops and needles from sew and so if you are not lucky enough to have an embroidery shop nearby.

I buy liberty scraps for applique from very berry fabrics on folksy and larger pieces of liberty from Alice Caroline on Etsy