Tuesday – Take a stitch challenge

buttonhole stitch sample 9The hand embroidery Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) challenge re-run is back by popular demand. Week 2 of the challenge is Buttonhole stitch or blanket stitch as many people call it. No matter what you call it this stitch is actually the foundation for a whole family of stitches. Depending on how you classify stitches many people see feather stitch and fly stitch as part of that family.

I don’t want to argue over how hand embroidery stitches are classified,  as that can be a bit boring but some people classify stitches according to the hand movement you need to make in order to create the stitch. So since a fly stitch for instance has the same hand movement as buttonhole in the sense that the thread is passed under the needle some people classify them as being in the same family. I have found that if people think in terms of what hand action they are making they can make sense of it and helps build skills. If you group together stitches in families it helps as you have rough idea of the sort of movement your hand needs to make.

Grouping hand embroidery stitches in families can be a very helpful way to think about them.  For some they try and memorise the various names and put them into families rather than thinking about the hand action and they can get in muddle about it. To be honest,  if the idea of families of stitches  just confuses you  don’t worry about it as it is meant to be an aid – a way of thinking about a stitch – not another point about embroidery to remember or be confused about. I would love to know what readers think and if you group stitches in your mind so for instance you think in terms of crossed stitches, knotted stitches, etc. Leave a comment as I really would love to know.

I have revamped the Buttonhole stitch page with new step by step instructions and hope it is useful.

How to join in

If you are new to hand embroidery the challenge is to learn the stitch. If you are an experienced push buttonhole a little further- show the new hands what can be done with a little imagination.  Use buttonhole in a creative manner take it where ever you want and give it a 21st century twist.

Where to share

Stitch a sample, photograph it, put in online on your blog, flickr site, share it on facebook or where ever you hang out online, and leave a comment on the Buttonhole stitch page with your full web address so people can visit and see your sample. In other words, include the http bit of the web address so that it becomes a live link to your work.

Feel free to join the  TAST facebook group or on the TAST Flickr group.  If this is the first you have read about the challenge read the details and guidelines on the TAST FAQ page. All are welcome

Have fun! Hopefully there will not be too many tangles!

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16 Responses to Tuesday – Take a stitch challenge

  1. Hi Sharron,

    I have posted a copy of my sample of Blanket Stitch to my blog.
    http://carorose.typepad.com/my_weblog/2015/07/tast-2015-week-2-blanket-stitch.html
    Have a good week.

  2. Tenar says:

    This is so interesting. I realized long ago that stitches go into groups that feel somehow natural to me. I don’t think that much about hand action. However, I tend to think sometimes about stitch mechanics, sometimes about the function of a stitch. I don’t obsess over this, I just find it interesting how there are only so many ways to use needle and thread, and jet an infinite ammount of effects you can create with them.

    Also I feel it can help to think about such things when doing free style work, it taught me not to fuss about weather to call a stitch (for example) slanted buttonhole or one-sided feather, but just do what looks right in the moment.

    For example, the stitches of the buttonhole/feather/fly/cretan stitch family are all formed by doing wide open loops that are held down by the next stitch, in all exept fly stitch by the next loop you do. In fact you could argue that fly stitch is the “missing link” to the chain stitch family, which is based on more or less closed loops held down at a single point, either by the beginning of the next loop or a tacking stitch. Don’t be confused by the reverse chain sub family, all you really do there is stitch the tacking stitch first and the loop second, but the overall mechanics are the same.

    In fact you could probably go so far and order all the stitches in the super-families of straight, crossed, looped, knotted (which is really just double-looped), woven and compound. Knot theory anyone?

    Then there’s the thing about function and tradition. Mechanically, all the crossed stitches including herringbone and its gazillions of variants belong in one family but…

    I see common cross stitch in a group with long armed cross and montenegrin stitch, although those two are technically more similar to herringbone stitch. In folk embroidery, they are used the same way as common cross stitch, as counted “pixel stitches”. I tend to use them the same way.

    I see Smyrna/rice stitch and their relatives as a distinct, but closely related group because they are traditionally used in a different way (on canvas only) and are composite stitches, although they also make perfect “pixel stitches” in modern work.

    Sorry got carried away, may be I’ll have to write about this on my own blog one day. I always fear I bore people with such nerd talk.

    • sharonb says:

      Tenar I can understand your fascination with this topic as I often think about it too. I agree about fly stitch being a link to chain and the idea of super families. With so many traditions and histories around the globe associated with various forms of embroidery I have found it easier to think in terms of families as then I dont get hung up on this or that name for a stitch.

  3. Pamela says:

    Sharon,
    I don’t see a way to leave a comment on the fly stitch page or the buttonhole page. All of the comments are from 2012. What am I missing?
    Thanks for starting this again!

  4. Beth in IL says:

    Thanks for the explanation about families of stitches. Makes sense to me! Here is my post for this week.
    http://bethsneedleworkstash.blogspot.com/2015/07/take-stitch-tuesday-two-weeks.html

  5. I really like the Buttonhole stitch. I have not been as inventive as you with it but I am inspired to try to be more inventive!
    http://princessbubblescreates.blogspot.ca/2015/07/take-stitch-tuesday_21.html

  6. Julie says:

    This isn’t something I’ve really thought about before! I suppose I think in terms of linear, crossed, chain etc but that’s probably because this is how my Stitch Bible is laid out! The hand movement aspect is very interesting.

  7. Hi Sharon,
    This time around I want to do the stitches on a stitch book. it will take some time to start. still closely following your posts and TAST facebook page. glad to see so many varieties. WOW! I so happy I found you.
    Thank you,
    Chitra

  8. Jenny Williams says:

    Putting the stitches into families like that makes so much sense. There are so many stitches and it’s impossible to memorize them. I like the idea of the types of stitches – hand movement – and I think that would be a great way to make samplers, though I probably won’t have time. Thanks Sharon!

  9. Dara says:

    I do group stitches, so far, more by the similarity of the name (e.g. buttonhole, chain, etc.) because I’m new to most of them. I never really thought much about the hand movement, but that does make sense. Thanks for the explanation.

  10. Janie says:

    Thanks for that info on stitch families; thinking of the hand movement you use to make the stitch. That does make sense to me and is very helpful!

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