What hand embroidery supplies do I need?

What hand embroidery supplies do you need to start stitching? I’m often asked this, and, with TAST (Take a stitch Tuesday) restarting next year, there are loads of new people signing up, joining the Facebook group and getting themselves organised. So I thought I would share some of my personal views on what you will need to start learning hand embroidery.

Hand embroidery supplies – Fabrics

Of course, first up you need something to stitch on. Beginners are often pointed toward specialty even-weave fabrics that are manufactured for hand embroiderers. Specialty fabrics can be expensive and could put you off the whole idea of trying hand embroidery. When I say expensive – I do mean expensive. For example, in Australia for one meter of 32 count Belfast linen, you will pay between $90 to $110.  That is not cheap if you are starting out and trying embroidery as an experiment. Honestly, you don’t need to learn on these expensive fabrics. I will say more about specialty fabrics later in this article but first, let’s look at a few alternative hand embroidery supplies for anyone interested in exploring surface embroidery on a budget.

Time to go shopping and see what hand embroidery supplies you can get on a budget – at least that’s what I told my DH 😉  . I was looking for fabrics suitable for surface embroidery, that were economical and relatively easily found. The idea is to look for similar fabrics, not identical fabrics. My idea is to encourage people to try hand embroidery. I didn’t want to create a supplies list that fell into the “too hard” basket so that people put aside the idea before even starting.

Before I go any further, I am not affiliated with any of the products I recommend. This is just what I discovered in an afternoon’s shopping. I realise that what I have access to in Australia will be different if you live in Europe or the United States but hopefully you will be able to find something similar and adapt it to your needs. It gives you an idea of what to look for and where you might find fabrics that can be used on starter projects or for a sampler.

In Australia, we have two large chains that supply dress fabrics, haberdashery, threads, etc. These are Spotlight and Lincraft. Aussies will know these chains and I am sure people in other countries will have similar large retailers. In both cases, I looked for dress fabrics that would be good for surface embroidery. So head to the dress fabric aisle for a good look round.

There is quite range in both stores and I could have chosen handspun cotton and many cotton dress fabrics. If you choose cotton, look for how it is woven. You don’t want a really tight weave with high thread count. Fabric with a high number of threads-per-inch makes it difficult to use larger needles. Put simply, they can be tough to push through the fabric – you want a slightly looser weave, but not so loose that you see great holes in it. Many synthetics have a high thread count and are slippery making them a difficult starter fabric. I would steer clear of them if you are new to embroidery. Once you have a little experience you can embroider on just about anything.

hand embroidery supplies linen

Dress linen purchased in Spotlight

In Spotlight, I found this dress/shirt linen which, although thin, would be perfectly suitable for a small project or sampler. As you can see from the photograph, it has a slight slub and is a warm oatmeal colour which I liked. This fabric was marked and sold as cotton linen as you can see from the bolt label. It is 55% cotton and 45% linen. It was on sale and half a meter cost me $6.

hand embroidery supplies dress linen

Dress linen on the bolt at Spotlight

The second large chain I visited was Lincraft where I discovered this bone/stone coloured fabric. It was described as shirt linen but if you look at the fibre composition it is the same linen/cotton mix but comes from a different country of origin. Spotlight dress linen is from India and Lincraft sources its dress linen from China.

hand embroidery supplies linen lincraft

Dress linen purchased at Lincraft

I paid $8 for a half meter. Both these fabrics came in a range of colours. I have chosen these neutrals as I plan to stitch a few comparison samples on them in the course of next year.

hand embroidery suppliesdress linen

Bolt label from the dress linen I purchased in Lincraft

I also reach for neutrals as these are always easily hand dyed. Procion dyes will colour these fabrics if I want them in a different shade. So, after checking out both chains, they both offer similar options. They would certainly do the job, but I thought there might be other options. Time to think creatively!

hand embroidery supplies serviette

An IKEA serviette suitable for hand embroidery

The next place I went browsing in was IKEA where I found a serviette or placemat cloth called MARKNAD. I always check the label for fabric composition and discovered it was a cotton-linen blend. This made it ideal, and in Australia is priced at $2.99. It has the advantage of being already hemmed for you! It would make a perfect sampler cloth.

hand embroidery suppliesserviette

Ikea serviette fabric content details

Another IKEA product discovered on the same shopping trip is a MARKNAD table runner which measures 40×140 cm or 16×55 inches. It is also a linen-cotton mix and priced at AU $4.99 – a good price.

hand embroidery suppliestable runner

An IKEA table-runner that is ideal for hand embroidery

Both of these cloths would make an ideal surface for a beginner to learn hand embroidery. IKEA always provides good information about the fabric content of their products. If you can not see it immediately on their labelling, you can always google it.

hand embroidery suppliestable runner

An IKEA table-runner fabric content details

Also while in IKEA, I checked out the curtain department and found a linen fabric that was 150 cm wide (which is 1.6 yards) priced $12.99. It was firm, but not too firm for hand embroidery. If I was going to use this, I would wash it first but then I like a soft drape to my fabric. For linen, it was very reasonably priced.

hand embroidery supplies curtaining

Linen found in the curtain department of Ikea

LENDA fabric was even cheaper at $7.99 and being 100% cotton white fabric had the advantage of probably taking dye beautifully too.

hand embroidery supplies curtain cotton

Cotton from the curtain department in IKEA suitable for hand embroidery

I also looked for tea towels, as in the past I have often found that the fabric used in their tea towels makes it an ideal foundation fabric for hand embroidery projects. But today I was not in luck.

hand embroidery suppliesrecycled fabric

recycled cloth from a shirt found in a charity shop

Recycled linens can often be found in second-hand charity shops. I have never had a problem using second-hand materials. I wash everything thoroughly, and let’s face it, reusing old garments is good for the environment. I decided to venture into my local charity shop (they know me well). On the discount rack, I found a very boring looking shirt for $2. Washed and ironed it would make a perfect surface to embroider.

hand embroidery supplies vintage table cloth

Vintage linen tablecloth suitable for hand embroidery

Another piece I found was an old tablecloth. These are always a find because they are linen and often still very strong. Many are projects that were never finished so they haven’t been used. You can usually spot them, as they have an edge that is meant to be finished with crochet. I take these home wash them well using a hot wash setting and hang them in the sunshine. They are not an even-weave linen but they are ideal for surface embroidery!

Even-weave fabrics are created especially for hand embroiderers. There are many types of linen, cotton and linen-cotton mixes of varying counts. They are lovely to use but many are expensive. You can buy them in your local needlework shop or if you do not have access to a local store, then shop online. Google is your friend – a search of needlework fabric will bring up results for your area.

What about Aida? Honestly, I don’t recommend Aida for surface embroidery. Aida is great for cross stitch – that is what it is designed for, but it is a fabric with a firm grid. Although this is great for lining up your stitches and keeping them straight, there are often times when you want to work a nice curve. Aida will stall this. Working a curve leads to a jagged edge and it becomes dissatisfying. So keep Aida for cross stitch and have fun exploring other fabrics for surface embroidery.

hand embroidery supplies

Even-weave fabric

This is another even-weave cotton linen mix fabric which is an oatmeal colour. You can find a range of even-weave fabrics that range from off-white to antique cream or a natural palette. You can also find a range of coloured fabrics but most of what you see on the market is on the conservative side. I also hand dye linens to brighten things up a bit if I am getting bored with what is on offer.

hand embroidery supplies linen

Linen

Linen itself is often very expensive. As I have already said, in Australia you will pay between $90 to $110 for a meter of Belfast Linen. Dublin and Cashel linen is about the same price.  You can often buy packs cut in smaller sizes so you don’t have to fork out that much in one go. But I am sure you can see what drove me to offer the advice above. I know when I was younger I could not have afforded to stitch on linen – no matter how small the piece was!

However, I do suggest that once you have a stitching habit established and know this is a pastime you enjoy, it’s worth lashing out to buy some. Try it, as it is by far my favourite fabric to hand sew. As a tip, do keep your eye on eBay. And I regularly shop overseas for my linen. I can often buy linen from the United States, for example, and have it shipped – and still be ahead on cost. With some of the bargain sites, you may need to watch where the linen is manufactured, because different countries produce different quality linen. If the linen you are buying is a good brand name such as Zweigart you will get a good quality product but if the linen is simply listed as the fabric (no brand name) I would be suspicious.

Just a quick tip: you will find that linen can fray very easily. To prevent this I simply run a line of zig-zag stitching down the side. You will also find it is starched to make it easier to stitch but some people hate this (I do). It is not a problem, just wash out the starch and you will have a lovely soft fabric to handle and stitch.

hand embroidery supplies lugana cloth

Even-weave Lugana fabric

I have pulled from my stash some Lugana 25 count fabric that is manufactured by Zweigart. It is made of 52% cotton & 48% rayon. In Australia, you pay between $45 and $55 a meter for Lugana. So it is an economical substitute for speciality needlework linen, when you think of linen as being double the price.

 What does count mean?

What do we mean by ‘count’? You’ll find this term in reference to even-weave needlework fabric. You might hear someone say “You need to work this on 14 count” or “It is 32 count”. Count, is simply the number of threads per inch. If you ever have fabric for which you don’t know the count, you can work it out easily.  Line up a tape measure against the fabric and count the threads! It is that simple.

hand embroidery suppliesthreadcount

To work out thread count you simply count the threads per inch in the weave of the fabric

If you want to check that a fabric is even-weave, the number of threads should be the same across and down.

hand embroidery supplies thread count

Even-weave means the thread count is the same across and down the fabric

If  you are wanting to do cross stitch on even-weave fabrics you work each bar of the cross over two threads

Hand embroidery supplies – Needles

To carry the thread through the fabric you will, of course, need needles. This means you will have to check out those large chains for what they have on offer, or visit your local needlework shop. If you do not have access to either, then Google is your friend. Look online as there are many businesses that can help you. But the range of needle types can be confusing!

hand embroidery supplies needles

Crewel or Embroidery needles

Crewel or Embroidery Needles

Buy a mixed packet of crewel needles as this type of needle you will use all the time. Sometimes these are packaged as ‘Embroidery’ needles. A crewel needle has a sharp tip with a medium eye.  I suggest buying a mixed size pack so you can use different thicknesses of thread.

Tapestry Needles

hand embroidery supplies tapestry needles

Tapestry needles

I recommend you invest in some tapestry needles. Buy a pack of mixed sizes as many surface embroidery stitches can be laced and threaded with a secondary thread. Take a look at the Threaded Cable Chain stitch or Twisted Lattice Band tutorials.

These are just two examples of stitches where a secondary thread is used to lace or thread a basic stitch. In both cases, you use a tapestry needle to avoid splitting the foundation threads because a tapestry needle has a blunt tip. A tapestry needle also has a larger eye so the thread you use to lace with can be any of the many novelty threads, or fine knitting yarns, enhancing the stitch, making your work unique.

For those embarking on the TAST challenge, I also recommend getting some size 26 tapestry needles so that you can have fun with some of the beaded stitches. With a size 26 tapestry needle, you can bead as you stitch. Since the eye of a tapestry needle is long, you can thread perle #8 and Perle #5 through the long eye. However the needle itself is thin which means you can add a bead to your working thread as you stitch. Here are some stitches that use this technique: Beaded Buttonhole stitch, Beaded Looped Cretan stitch, and Beaded Oyster Stitch. These stitches are found in my stitch dictionary. If you browse the tutorials you will find there are many ways to adapt change and have fun with stitches if you have some basic tools to help you.

hand embroidery supplies milliner needles

Milliners needles

Milliner or Straw Needle

The last type of needle I am going to recommend you buy is a mixed pack of milliner needles as they are very useful for many of the knotted stitches. Most embroidery needles have an eye that is wider than the shaft of the needle which means any stitch that wraps the thread around the needle often runs the risk of getting too tight to pull the thread through. Milliners or straw needles have an eye and shaft that are the same width which makes sliding the wrapped or knotted stitch along the needle easy. I recommend mixed packs because it gives you the option of experimenting with different thickness of thread.

hand embroidery supplies thread

Cotton perle #12, #8 and #5 thread. These are balls but cotton perle also comes in skeins

Hand embroidery supplies – Thread

Most beginners use stranded cotton floss because it is cheap, easily accessible and comes in a huge variety of colours. Stranded floss comes in skeins that can be separated. There are six strands of thread, but people usually use two strands at a time. Stranded threads are great for cross stitch but I recommend you purchase some cotton Perle thread. In a class situation, I usually recommend #12, #8 and #5. Cotton Perle will make a difference to your embroidery as the firm twist of the thread makes the stitches sit firm and, if used in a textured stitch, cotton perle will sit a little more proud of the fabric.

If you are on a really tight budget, consider working in monotone – such as whites and creams or blues or neutral shades. If you only purchase fabric and cotton in similar shades, it works out cheaper because you don’t have to buy lots of different threads. Many threads of many colours is fun but it can be expensive. I often encourage beginners to experiment with different thicknesses of threads and different types threads. If you stick to one colour range it can keep the costs down. Once you have explored hand embroidery and know it is something you want to do more of, why not lash out and buy threads of all sorts – they really can make life and your stitching interesting!

Hand embroidery supplies – Hoop

I really encourage people to use a hoop. Hoops keep your tension even, and there are many stitches and embroidery styles that require good control over tension. So I always encourage people to learn with a hoop. I have a tutorial on How to bind and Use an Embroidery Hoop – it covers the basics and what you need to know.

Hand embroidery supplies – pens and markers to transfer your design to fabric

There will be times when you want to mark your fabric. I recommend that you use one of the fabric markers which can be washed off when you have finished the project. One thing to remember with these markers, is not to iron the project until you have washed them away. For many, heat will set the mark. There are quite a few on the market so check out your local needlework store and see what they have on offer. I have also used quilters pencils. Some people do not like to use these products because they worry about chemical residue left on the fabrics and I have heard stories of the blue pens particularly, re-appearing but remember with surface embroidery you stitch over the line you have marked so will most likely not see it on the finished project.

If you need to know how to do it, I have a tutorial on How to Transfer Embroidery patterns to fabric.

With some projects, I know I will stitch over the lines and they will be totally hidden. In these cases I use a permanent pen. Before I use them I always test that the pens will not run or partially wash out. I use Staedtler pigment liners, Copic multiliner, and Faber Castell Pitt artist pens. These all work about the same. They come in a very fine point and are waterproof.

Hand embroidery supplies – Scissors

Apart from having a pair of scissors to cut your fabric, you will need a pair of small embroidery scissors. Embroidery scissors have a small very sharp blade that allows you to snip close to the fabric. You will find there are different types of embroidery scissors – straight tip, curved, duck blades, hook blades and snippers and clippers of all kinds. It can be confusing!  All you need to start is small pair of straight scissors that are sharp. Make sure they have a good snip to them. By this I mean they can trim a thread close to your work neatly. If they are designed for embroidery and are a reasonably good brand they will be able to do this. As you venture more into embroidery, you can experiment with some of the many types of scissors on the market.

I hope this advice about the basic equipment and hand embroidery supplies helps you embark upon a long enjoyable journey into the world of stitching. Hand embroidery is fun and does not have to be expensive or so daunting to start. Once you have all your stuff together, you might like to join TAST (Take a Stitch Tuesday) which will start up again in January 2018. The first 10 – 20 stitches will be the basic stitches that the craft builds on. Once you have those under your belt, you have the skills to develop in whatever direction you want to grow in. No need for signups just join in and have fun.

Or head over to my stitch dictionary and try out a few stitches. Try them out on a scrap piece of cloth – some stitches call them doodle cloths. The idea is to try just a few stitches on a cloth that does not matter before using it on project.  Or start a small sampler and explore what is possible with needle and thread. No matter what, the idea is to have fun – and that is the most important thing

Have you seen my book?

holding my book in front of quilt

My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results  shares detailed practical methods on how to design and make a crazy quilt. Topics such as fabric choice, tricky challenges like balancing colour, texture and pattern, and how to create movement to direct your viewer’s eye around the block are covered in detail. I also explain how to stitch and build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.

Stitchers templates

My templates aim to help take your stitching to the next level. Designed by an embroiderer for embroiderers. With them you can create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish your seams  with flair. These templates are easy to use, made of clear plastic so you can position them easily and are compact in your sewing box.

using my stitchers Templates set 2These are simple to use. You simply position the template in place and use a quilter’s pencil to trace along the edge of the template. Stitch along this line to decorate the seam. I have a free ebook of patterns to accompany each set which illustrates how they can be used.

TO ORDER your Stitchers Templates

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 
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Daily Stitch Challenge Part 2

Last month I shared with readers how I had been doing a daily stitch challenge. I have been having a ball working a piece that is heavily textured with embroidery and beads. This year these challenges are all over Facebook and as you can see I have been having fun with them. I have shared details about the two I am doing at the end of this article.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 13When I left off last month I had explained how apart from selecting a colour scheme my aim was to commence in freeform manner and respond to the stitching as go designing on the fly. When I do this type of embroidery in order to prevent the project becoming a hodge podge of stitches and visual mess, as some stage in the process I pull out what I call my design tools and using my knowledge of design I respond to what I have just stitched. I compare it to Jazz. This technique is an improvisational process.

Daily Stitch Challenge Part 2-17In last months article I had explained how I started embroidery, then decided it would be the header piece for my sampler this year. New readers to this site may want to check out my nearly 100 ft band sampler which you can read about here. I had two issues to deal with. The wall of stitching needed a bit of visual break and I needed a point of focus. The date, which consists of voided numbers solve both these issues.

Daily Stitch Challenge Part 2-16A third issue was also developing and that was that the viewers eye got stuck on the textured stitches rather than traveling around the piece so I needed to provide a path for people to travel along. For those non-design folks this is not a literal path but the path the eye takes as it looks at the piece. I did not want to turn this into an exercise in composition but I did want to have the viewers eye move around a bit. So this past month has been working on subtle almost subconscious paths in the piece.

There are three main vertical lines that run down the piece. The first I had started last month when I created a scattered line of brass beads. These are actually little brass disks that are used as spacers in necklaces. (I am pretty sure that is what they are)

Daily Stitch Challenge Part 2 left sideDown the left side of the piece I worked a number of buttonhole wheels, cast on stitches and french knots. The main thread I used is a hand dyed cotton perle #5 thread. Since the same stitches worked in the same thread are repeated along the edge they form an informal line or boundary to the side of the piece. They are still freeform but at almost a subconscious level the viewer reads a line.

On the right side of the piece I used once again I used the design device of repetition. This time the stitches I repeated are whipped wheels French knots, Bullion knots and a scattering of small blue bugle beads. Basically I have been working on these three ‘invisible’ lines that run down the piece.

Daily Stitch Challenge Part 2 right side

So now its time for the great reveal – this is what I call the header for the year (on my band sampler) ended up looking like.

Daily Stitch Challenge Part 2 done

And here for readers enjoyment some eye candy in the form of detail so you can see how closely packed the stitches and beading is.

Daily Stitch Challenge Part 2 detail

Stitches used

The rest of the time has been spent packing the spaces with stitchery. So far in this piece I have used chain stitch, oyster stitch, buttonhole wheels, cast on stitch, bullion knots, French knots, a whipped spoke stitch, and whipped wheel.

Threads used

Threads used are hand dyed cotton perle #5 and #8, stranded cotton floss of 3 strands, hand dyed silk thread that is the thickness of cotton perle #5 and #8. Also I used a thicker silk thread which is thick like 6 strands of cotton floss and some rayon ribbon floss

Designing on the fly is certainly a fun way to stitch. I hope you have enjoyed reading this Daily Stitch Challenge Part 2.

The two challenges I am following are “A Year in Stitches” run by Susan Sorrell and “Just One Stitch” run by Deena Beverley. Both Facebook groups encourage stitching daily for a year.The hash tags for these challenges are #ayearinstitches and #justonestitch.

If you are embarking upon any of these challenges don’t forget that my Stitch Dictionary of hand embroidery stitches is free online and hopefully many of the samples will give you some ideas of how to use a stitch in your own stitching adventures.
Sharon B's CQ templates” width=

Have you seen my Crazy quilters templates?

As a stitcher who loves crazy quilting I designed these templates with other crazy quilters in mind. With my Crazy Quilters Templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to embroider on your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 

Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here 

Daily Stitch Challenge Part 1

This year the idea of stitching a little every day is very popular. The little but often philosophy is one of the reasons I have managed to stitch so much over the years. I decided to join in on a few of stitchers challenges on Facebook and I have been asked how I build up these complex textured areas.  I thought I would share what I am doing and describe what I am doing in my daily stitch challenge.

I have linked to resources and tutorials on how to do various stitches mentioned in the article and described my design process. Hopefully people will find it useful.

Daily Stitch Challenge Part 1

This piece I started the first week in January. I chose some cheap tea towel linen which had been hand dyed. It was nothing special just a scrap from my stash.

Daily Stitch Challenge 1I started with three flat disk beads discovered at a craft fair a few years ago. They  are glass and about two centimetres or three quarters of an inch across. A hole runs through them so they were easy to stitch on.

Daily Stitch Challenge threadsI liked the colours in them so, using those colours as inspiration I selected a bunch of threads and put them in a project box.

Tip! The first thing I do with any project is to gather together what I need for the project.I am not use likely all these threads, but I sort them like this so they are to handy to choose from. I don’t want to sit down to stitch and think to myself  “I could do with some of that colour or this colour” then have to get up and go find it. If I only have 15 minutes to stitch, I want to stitch, not spend that time rummaging about in my thread boxes looking for something I vaguely remember having. At the same time I select beads, ribbons, lace or anything else I am likely to need for the project. I keep it all together in the same project box and it all stays there until the project is done.

Daily Stitch Challenge 3I wanted this piece to be freeform and spontaneous. By that I mean I did not want to do much pre-planing or start with a definite design. When I do this I usually jump in but  as the piece progresses I respond to what is happening with what I call my design tools. In other words, to stop something becoming a hodge podge mess of stitches I use design principals to pull the piece together. At the start I don’t know what will happen but as I work a bit like Jazz, I respond to what is happening. It is always fun and always a challenge.   I had to start somewhere so I stitched on a bead and added 4 bullion stitches.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 4Next added the other 2 flat beads and then couched down some thin ribbon which was hand dyed and had a metallic edge. I wanted to establish a freeform line across the work. Next I used bugle beads to secure it further. The big bobble stitches are French knots worked in the same ribbon. I threaded the ribbon in a chenille needle and worked the french knot slightly loose so you could see the glint of the metallic edge.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 5I liked the effect of the stitch ribbon so I added more stitches. At this point in the stitching process I had no idea what would happen. I had a colour scheme inspired by the beads and was just going for it. In other words I still had no plan for the piece

Daily Stitch Challenge progress6The ribbon was then secured even further with more bugle beads and French knots. To the piece itself I added buttonhole wheels and bullion knots using a hand dyed silk thread that is the thickness of cotton perle #8. A thicker silk thread of purplish tones was used to work detached oyster stitches. Since the thread is thick like 6 strands of cotton floss it stitched up nice and bulky.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 6I then added some chain stitches in hand dyed cotton silk and some whipped  wheels worked using a hand dyed cotton perle #5.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 7By this stage I decided it needed some focus and I had decided it would be the header piece for my band sampler this year. (Incase readers are not aware of my nearly 100 ft band sampler you can read about it here) So I wanted to date it. On the computer after I choose a font I liked, and in Photoshop tinkered around with a very simple layout, I printed out the date.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 8I took the fabric off the hoop. I taped the printout to a window and then taped the fabric in position over the top of it. I used a pen with permanent ink to trace the numbers. Since this line will be covered I was not worried about using a permanent pen. A dissolvable pen will often disappear before the project is done and since this project will take while to stitch, I chose a permanent ink pen.

As you can see I kept it simple. I have found that keeping processes simple means I get things done. I don’t over complicate something as that complication, can become a stall point.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 9I returned the fabric to the hoop and continued stitching adding more chain stitches, oyster stitches, buttonhole wheels, bullion knots, French knots, and Whipped wheel.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 11Next I moved the piece off the hoop on to my Grip-n-Stitch frame as I wanted to add more beads. The beads I added are little brass disks. I am not sure where I got them – they are either jewellery findings used as spacers for necklaces or I found them in a hardware store. They are brass, they shine, they have a hole, I can stitch them on to fabric, so I did.  (Shrugs shoulders and grins)  I scattered these vertically across the piece and stitched them down. Around the large disk like beads that I started the piece with, I added whipped spoke stitch using a hand dyed cotton perle #5 thread.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 10At this stage I decided I needed to pull this piece together. The freeform stitchery needed to be unified. I added more of the brass rings so there was a sense of visual repetition. Vertically down the left hand side I added buttonhole wheels, bullion knots and cast on stitches using a hand dyed perle #5 thread.

I used the same thread so that it would become a freeform textured band on the right hand side. That side is not finished yet but I am aiming for a textured edge that looks organic and freeform but actually acts to define the edge of the piece. It wont be obvious or a hard definite border but that is the visual role it will play.

Daily Stitch Challenge progress 13As I worked the design coalesced more in my mind. I plan to work both sides of the piece in similar colours and repeat stitches so the eye starts to read them as a line or border. Sprinkled in between will be various stitches that break it a little but not so much that they destroy the sense of a line. The plan is for stitching will go right to the edge and be highly textured but freeform and organic. It’s a bit of a balance between chaos and an underlying sense of order. The date 2017 will remain voided

I think it will be interesting to see how this turns out and it is certainly fun to stitch. I have designed it on the fly and enjoyed the approach. I hope you have enjoyed reading  Daily Stitch Challenge Part 1. Next month I will share it again so you can see how it turns out.

The two challenges I am following are “A Year in Stitches” run by Susan Sorrell and “Just One Stitch” run by Deena Beverley. Both Facebook groups encourage stitching daily for a year.The hash tags for these challenges are #ayearinstitches and #justonestitch.

If you are embarking upon any of these challenges don’t forget that my Stitch Dictionary of hand embroidery stitches is free online and hopefully many of the samples will give you some ideas of how to use a stitch in your own stitching adventures.

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Have you seen my Crazy quilters templates?

As a stitcher who loves crazy quilting I designed these templates with other crazy quilters in mind. With my Crazy Quilters Templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to embroider on your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 

Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here