Designing tactics

Encouraging others express their ideas in stitchery is a favourite pass time of mine. Many lack the confidence to embark upon designing sticking instead to the safe path of kits and charts. There are a number of articles online that offer advice tips and information on how to go about creating your own designs. Today I have rounded up some for you.

Lois Caron introduces some practical steps towards producing a design in Are You Caught in Design Gridlock? Her advice is aimed at those who are embarking on designing, those who are fearful of design or those who are plain stuck. Developing your Creative “Side” expands on the topic.

Sue Strause covers the basics of design elements such as tone, balance, rhythm, texture and colour in Quest: Taking the Fear Out of Designing

A Study of Color and Design introduces design principles in a series of 5 articles by Gene Wright. The second part introduces colour with the third and fourth continuing the topic and the final article wraps it up for you.

If you have had little experience in pushing stitches in your designs here are some articles which provoke ideas and encourage exploration. For instance take a look at Stitching For Effect by Beth Robertson and Suzanne Howren who have provided advice on thread and canvas selection, and demonstrate their explorations via illustrations of a few simple stitches worked in different threads. Also have a look at Variations of a Theme by Gayle Bicknell. If you think cross stitch is boring and unimaginative have a look at Pattern Making with Cross Stitch by Jean Draper who has focused on using cross stitch in contemporary free manner.

Optical Color Blending explains how to blend color in the needle using either solid or multicolored threads.

To return to the topic of colour as I posted about this last week I have another link for those who need information on using colour in their designs Mary Shipp has written Color for Needleworkers

The Webstitcher’s Sourcebook is different from other textile directories as they provide links to information about design and colour theory.

Finally if you are interested in designing cross stitch or even weave canvas works when you know the stitch count, height and width and the fabric count of your design the Self-contained Fabric Computer will compute the size of the design area for your project. This is a very handy javascript driven calculator provided by Beth Katz.

More thorny outbursts Barred Chain and Alternating barred chain

Within the chain stitch family there are numerous varieties and types of chain. This morning I added two more stitches to the Stitch Collection Barred chain and Alternating barred chain.. Now that is living dangerously isn’t it! Two stitches loaded in one day is only possible because it is the Australia Day long weekend.

Just like chain stitch both of these varieties can be easily worked on all types of fabrics and equally effective when worked in straight lines or following curves. This means that both stitches can be used as thorny outbursts in floral motifs if you are a traditional stitcher or do crazy quilting. Both are easy and quick to work – as quick as chain stitch itself. To work you need to be familiar with chain stitch and twisted chain stitch for it is simply a line of a single chain stitch followed by a twisted chain stitch. In Barred chain the spike of the twisted chain is on one side and with Alternating barred chain the spike of the twisted chain swings from side to side.

Both stitches follow a curve well and can be worked in a large variety of threads from the finest silk to thick cotton. The size of the stitch will be influenced by the weight of the thread used and your spacing. Since their appeal is based on their textured nature they can be successfully combined with other textured stitches. This factor in combination with explorations varying the length of the spines, or the size of the chain, spacing of the spines, width of the line, weight and texture of the thread, should keep most contemporary embroiderers intrigued. Explore the scale you work in with stitch and I am sure you will have interesting results.

Twiggy bits with feathered up and down buttonhole.

Twiggy lines are sometimes a girls best friend, particularly if you are a traditional stitcher and enjoy floral motifs.

Up and Down buttonhole stitch feathered is one of those stitches that once you learn it you will draw on it all the time. It is a variation of buttonhole stitch which is easily worked on all types of fabrics and equally effective when worked in straight lines or following curves. This means it is ideal for those who are interested in Crazy quilting.

Although I have introduced Up and Down feathered buttonhole as a traditional stitch if you are not interested in “cute” you can push this stitch to form strong interesting linear elements and textures in a design. Explorations into variation in the length of the spines, spacing of the spines, width of the line, weight and texture of the thread, and size should keep contemporary embroiderers busy. Changing the weight of thread and overlapping rows of this stitch in an irregular manner produces an interesting effect. Also you can play around with the direction of the spines.

It is great fun, try it out. Needless to say I have added it to my stitch collection.