Work in Progress Wednesday

Work in Progress Wednesday

This year I hope to have the odd entry where I share some of the processes I use. Most of them I think of as simple little techniques or approaches to a problem. They are methods I have developed over the years and I hope that readers find them useful.

I have had lots of email about  how I work my band sampler. So make a cuppa here is a bit of a natter about it.

With all projects I try and keep things as simple as possible because I have found the more challenges any one project has, no matter how small that challenge will be,  the more complex the project becomes I am less likely to do it. I will either look at it and think it’s all too much, or start it with a flurry of enthusiasm and then tire of it and I then have a UFO on my hands.

So with my sampler there is no rules. I change, fabric, stitching style, colour, thread type whenever it feels right. I call it freeform improvisational samplering for a reason and it suits me. I journal on it when I feel like it and not when I dont. The only rule I have is its width. In other words in my head I say I am going to stitch a sampler 6 inches wide.  That is it! I decide everything else as I go. I dont say I will use 27 cnt linen or I will only use these colours or admit to any restiction.

Deciding what width the sampler is important because it is really about what feels right in your hand. If you are thinking about one of these types of samplers my tip is to choose a width that you can easily experiment on. You need to be able to stitch a bit then move on. You don’t want it so wide that it takes an age to cover the area and you are tired of it after a row! You want to be able to experiment, enjoy it then try something else, enjoy it and move on again – painlessly!

I use a hoop or occassionally I put the sampler on a small stretcher. Mostly however I use a hoop. My tip is to choose a fabric width that allows for a hoop that feels right in your hand. Many people make the mistake of choosing a hoop that is too big. I find an 8 inch hoop is about as large as I want which means a 6 inch sampler width is good. Some hoop sizes will feel to big others will feel cramped so choose a size your hand is at ease with. Try a few scrap cloths and just see what feels right.

Once the hoop size is decided subtract by 2 inches. So if you choose 8 inch hoop – make your sampler 6 inches wide. If you choose a 7 inch hoop make your sampler 5 inches wide. What ever width you decide on you will need a few inches of fabric either side to allow for the hoop. It’s not complex or difficult or mysterious. It is simply the width of the sampler plus a few inches so I can hoop it.

embroidery design printed out on paper

Anyway for the new year I am starting a new sampler. This is a piece of linen 9 inches wide. Late December I started to define the edge. It is not all done yet  as you can see but will be. It is defined enough for me to see what I am doing and the rest of the border can be stitched at things like stitchers meetings. (Tip I always have some really easy stitching to take to meetings as usally I am chatting and I want something in my hand I dont have to think about too much).

I decided to use one of my Friday freebies to record the date. In a graphics program I scaled the design down and printed it on paper.

transferring a design

I then placed the paper under the linen and traced the design using a sewline fabric pencil. This is a pencil that is like a lead pencil and you can erase the mark it makes using an eraser. You can also use a regular HB pencil. If the fabric had been too thick to see through to trace I would have taped the design to a window and traced it off as I did in this tutorial.

start of 2012 sampler

I did simplify this design further and eyeballed the date but that is the start of my sampler for 2012! I might add the bud sprigs part of the design I am not sure yet – anyway its a my work in progress for the moment.

I hope this little bit of stitching chatter has been useful. If you have questions ask in a comment. I will answer in the comments to as then everyone can read it

If you are starting a sampler you may find this resource list I put together useful.

Sampler FAQ
For the full back story on this piece visit the Sampler FAQ page.

Do you want to browse previous articles in the series? You can find them easily in the Love of Stitching Band Sampler category.


  1. Thanks! It's the connecting the new sampler to the older, connected one that I wondered about, but you say you hand stitch them together. I hadn't though about tubes. That makes it easy by had or machine.

  2. How do you connect the parts? Do you leave the seams/binding open at the connecting ends? Or do you connect finished edges? I looked at the squidoo page, but didn't see anything about that.

  3. This article should also be posted for TAST 2012. For those of us who are thinking about how we want to showcase our work, this is a timely article. I have posted a link on my own blog to the resources linked at the end of the article along with an alert! Now I'm ready to start flying with the fly stitch!

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