How to work Back Stitch

Back stitch sampleBack stitch is often used along side cross stitch to define a clean neat line in a design. It is classified as a linear stitch because you can create lines with it! Back stitch is an old adaptable stitch which can be used as a delicate outline or as a foundation in composite stitches, such as Pekinese stitch. It is also a great stitch to whip or thread with a heavier yarn. You can add beads to it too!

Back stitch sample using hand dyed threadIf you want to work blackwork patterns using hand dyed or variegated threads use back stitch. Many blackwork patterns can be very effective worked this way and the changing colours  add a contemporary touch to a traditional style of hand embroidery.

Back stitch sample on contemporary hand embroideryThis is a stitch that is considered a basic stitch as it is always introduced to beginners, but I feel  people underestimate  its versatility which ensures its timeless appeal to generations of stitchers. For instance in this sample (click to see a larger version)  I have used back stitch to define the lines of the sand. Set against the highly textured embroidery the simple ‘basic’ stitch creates the contrast I wanted.

Back stitch step by step tutorialIf needed, mark your line with a quilters pencil or soluble pen or pencil. Bring the thread up from the back of the fabric on the line that you want to create. Make a small backward stitch through the fabric.

Bring the needle through the fabric a little in front of the first stitch and still on the line. Pull the thread through the fabric.

Make the second stitch backward,inserting the needle down into the hole made by the first stitch and bringing the needle out a little in front of the second stitch but still on the line. Repeat this movement and continue sewing in such a manner along the line.

Back stitch is also known as point de sable

Crazy quilt template set 2 Have you seen my Stitchers Templates?

As someone who loves crazy quilting and embroidery I designed these templates with other stitchers in mind. With my templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to apply to 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.

Templates set 1 you will find here 
Templates set 2 you will find here 
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Have a safe and happy holiday season

Christmas wishes graphicThis morning I want wish all my readers a safe and happy holiday season.

A free hand embroidery pattern.

I hope readers enjoy this pattern . You can outline the tree decorations in stem stitch or chain stitch and I have left plenty of spaces for beads and sequins if you want to add them. I came up with idea as I was looking for something simple and quick to put on a small gift bag but you could use it on a card too. Anyway I hope people enjoy it.

Many readers have noticed my revamped newsletter. I often give away a free pattern for my regular subscribers. I don’t pester people too much, but write every 2-4 weeks. In the process of creating these patterns, I have really enjoyed rediscovering my pleasure using Illustrator. They have been a lot of fun and I plan to continue sharing these.


Other free resources

If  you need to know how to work hand embroidery stitches, I have provided free,  12 Surface Stitches for Beginners. Follow the link for a direct PDF download.

There are also free modules in my stitchers worksheets which cover the basic stitches. They are free and none of my stuff asks you to subscribe to anything or join this or that, they are a simple give away. For more stitches can also visit my stitch dictionary

cq seams tutorial screenshot In this past year apart from running the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge, and giving away free crazy quilt block patterns from my I Dropped the Button Box Quilt I gave out a tutorial on how to work decorative crazy quilt seams. In case you missed it, here is the  download  and keep it as an ebook on a tablet, or print it out easily.

News of next year

As of January 9th I will have been writing this blog for 11 years a good 9 of those I was writing daily. Since an internet year is roughly 4.7 years to 1 normal year that means I have been writing this blog for the equivalent of 51.7 years.

An internet year is like a dog year and measured in terms of how fast technology and content changes compared to the non-digital world. So if you have ever felt that doing a particular task online involves a steep learning curve or got annoyed at things changing all the time, usually just as you have learnt to do something, then what you have suffered is the experience of internet time. Another way to compare it is a shop might do a renovation to freshen their look every decade or so whereas a website will revamp every 2 years or so.

After writing this blog for so long I feel in need of long service leave! Now don’t go in panic I will be back. The last decade of blogging has added so much to my life such as traveling to America to teach crazy quilting, it has provided me with an income online teaching which has been totally wonderful as I have worked from home doing something I love. Probably one of the most exciting things I have done is to design a product, get it manufactured and to sell it through my website. I can’t explain the thrill it is to imagine something, and then make it a real thing. Of course this ‘thing’ I am talking about is my crazy quilt templates.

I also plan to use my ‘break’ time to complete my book on crazy quilting. Readers will be pleased to know that the first draft is done, I have taken a heap of new photos for it. So with that eye candy sitting on my hard drive, the book project is well underway. Hopefully with not having the blog eating into my creative time achieving this gaol will be easier. I want cross a book on crazy quilting off my 2015 todo list.

There will be a few shifts and changes next year. As regular readers know In 2014 I wrapped up my online classes. I wanted to clear the decks for 2015 to be a year that allows me to be open to changes. I know that sounds like a lot of preparation to free myself up, but that sort of planning was needed. The idea is to take a break from online life, roll up my sleeves and complete the book, then look again at a lot of ideas I have and see what project is next.

I have plans to develop Tones and Tints in 2015 but not until after I have the book done. My interests have been shifting toward this direction for quite some time. So after deciding that restless mood of mine is not a whim and I will follow my instincts. The two areas will be kept separate. In 2015 I will have Pintangle for stitch related interests and Tones and Tints for drawing, paper arts and art/studio journalling. I am venturing more into both drawing and mixed media but more news about that next year.

That is enough of the babble from me. From my home to yours, wherever you are, no matter what faith my best wishes and thoughts of the season. And for all my readers I hope all your needles are easily threaded, your floss stays knot and tangle free.

See you next year!

Section 51 of my Freeform Hand Embroidery Band sampler

Yay I am up to telling you about section 52 of my sampler. This section is longest on the sampler. In fact it is very long. So long in fact I  had to photograph it in sections! So this is a heavy eye candy post as here they are.  Needlework sampler section 51 aIt is one long piece of linen 25 cnt fabric that is 3.1 meters long. That is 10 feet long. I think who ever cut the linen in the first place cut a 10 foot length.

Needlework sampler section 51 bHow did I acquire such a strange length of fabric? Well … the quote hints at the story

The quote reads

My best asset is that I have friends who believe I can do anything. My biggest vexation is I have friends that believe I can do anything…

I am a member of the local branch of the Embroiderers Guild  ACT and they run a recycle table. I always check it out and one week on the table was a length of good even weave 25 cnt linen that was cut 8 inches wide and 10 feet long! We have all sorts of things turn up on the recycle table as it is a place where member can de-stash or in some cases when a member dies there stash is donated to the Guild.  As I pulled it off the table and since linen is so expensive I was puzzling as to why such a long length would exist a  friend suggested that it was  meant for my sampler! Of course she was right such a long narrow strip needed to be used. So I purchased it and toddled off home with a huge grin on my face. I had myself a bargain as I paid $12 for it.  In Australia depending upon the width of the bolt, linen costs between $65 to $100  a meter. Now this strip was only 8 inches wide but 3.1 meters long. If for some reason I had taken it into my head that I wanted a really long strip of linen, to get the length would have cost me a lot of money!
Needlework sampler section 51 c

I started this section of my needlework sampler in June 2010 and decided that I would mark the season. For all those readers in the Northern hemisphere remember that June is Winter in Australia. In August we were declared to be out of drought after a decade of watching water consumption. It was a relief as I heard the announcement on the evening news but I was struck with irony when the following news item covered the floods in Pakistan.

Needlework sampler section 51 dAs readers can see the longer length of fabric means I was more inclined to add things like quotes, snippets of local and international news and in this case celebrate the fact that the Sydney harbour bridge became a grand old lady at 80. I added  small charm I had of the bridge. We also had a hung parliament. So I recorded that in stitching too!

Needlework sampler section 51 e

Spring came and water restrictions were even more relaxed and then there was a bad earthquake in Christchurch. Eve, my daughter was in NZ at the time and had studied for 3 years in Christchurch at the Circus school. Eve had friends int he city and we had some worrying times waiting to hear if they were OK. The little kiwi charm is from a cheap set of earrings I purchased while visiting Eve in Christchurch when she graduated. I pulled the earrings apart  and stitched on the charm.

Needlework sampler section 51 fEve returned to Australia and was involved in a steam punk fashion label launch (as a stilt walker) I went down to Melbourne to see it so recorded the trip on my sampler.

Many international readers will not know who Mr Squiggle was but he was a much loved puppet that had a pencil for nose. You can read more about Mr Squiggle here  but it was Australia’s longest running children’s television series and possibly one of the reason that I loved drawing so much as Mr Squiggle always turned odd marks on paper into a drawing.

Also in December that year the floodgates of our local dam were opened as we finally and definitely our of drought.

Needlework sampler section 51 g

This is the last photo and the end of this section that I completed in December 2010. Many of these stitches were worked as samples for my stitchers worksheets or classes I was giving at the time. Also TAST was running so some of those stitches are to be spotted on it too.

I loved working on such a ridiculous length of fabric and I think in way more of story developed naturally as a result of the length. Ever since I have been tempted to buy some linen by the meter again but I have too many pieces still to work from people who have gifted me pieces as they destash and the Guilds recycle table. I really have too much to justify spending a cent on linen but I did enjoy the working on one long total impractical length!

In the coming weeks and probably well into next year I will  share close details of each section but for now this is what it looks like when seen all together.

What is this sampler?
If you want to know more about my sampler visit the Sampler FAQ page as since it is now over 100 feet long it has quite a back story!

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