Cast On Stitch Step by Step Tutorial

Cast On Stitch Step by Step Tutorial

Cast on Stitch sample 8

Cast on stitch forms little loops that sit proud against the background fabric and one of those stitches that once you master it and establish the rhythm it is fun and relaxing to work. It also impresses people easily, as it looks outrageously difficult to do. To be honest it’s not that hard. Cast on stitch is a bit tricky, I admit but not so difficult that an intermediate stitcher can’t master.

Most people are introduced to this stitch via Brazilian embroidery but you can use it in other highly textured forms of contemporary embroidery too.

Cast on Stitch is a little time consuming but worth the effort. It really produces a 3D element to a piece embroidery and people invariably want to reach out and touch it.

A tip for working Cast On stitch!

For the best results with this stitch use a milliner’s needle on a foundation fabric stretched in an embroidery hoop or frame.

Most of the problems associated with working cast-on stitch is that people use the wrong needle and dont use a hoop. I suggest you try milliners or in some places people call them straw needles. Why these particular needles? 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 as you pull the thread through.

Milliners or straw needles have an eye and shaft that are the same width which makes sliding the stitch along the needle easy. Try it as it does make a difference!

Where do you get Milliners needles? Specialist needlework shops will or should stock them. If you are not near a needlework store you can buy Milliners Needles online (this is an affiliate link which means if you shop here I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, but that is not why I recommend them!)

Cast on Stitch sample 1

How to work Cast on Stitch

Bring your thread to the front of the fabric and take a tiny bite of the fabric by making a small back stitch, as illustrated and have the needle emerge from the fabric close to where the thread emerged initially.

Cast on Stitch step by step 1

Leave the needle in the fabric. In other words do not complete the back stitch. You need both hands for this next step hence the need to have your work mounted in an embroidery hoop.

Cast on Stitch step by step 2

Place the thread over your left index finger, rotate your finger keeping the thread still over your finger but under tension.

Cast on Stitch step by step3

This movement of twisting your finger creates a loop around your finger.

Cast on Stitch step by step 4

Transfer the loop from your finger to the needle by sliding the needle through the loop and moving the loop to the needle.

Cast on Stitch step by step 5

Slide the loop down the needle. This is the first cast on stitch.

Cast on Stitch step by step 6

This looping action and transferring the loop, is similar to casting on a row of stitches on a knitting needle hence the name.

Cast on Stitch step by step 7

Work a number of cast on stitches, gently sliding them down the needle as you go. They look like a line of buttonhole stitches sitting snug but not too tight on your needle.

Cast on Stitch step by step 8

Keep them evenly spaced for best results.

Cast on Stitch step by step 9

When you have the required number of stitches cast on to the needle hold the cast on stitches with the fingers on your left hand and pull the thread with your right hand, through the cast on stitches. Hold the stitches firmly but not so tight you can not pull the needle through.

Cast on Stitch step by step 10

Take the needle to the back of the fabric and pull your working thread firmly but not tight to create the loop.

Cast on Stitch step by step 11

The curve of the loop depends upon the number of cast on stitches you use and size of your first back stitch. In other words the distance between the point where the thread emerged from the back of the fabric and the point where the thread entered the fabric. The higher the number of cast on stitches the bigger the loop.

Cast on Stitch sample 7

If you add a bead to the middle they make lovely little flower motifs. These Cast on stitches are worked in Cotton perle #5 .

Cast on Stitch sample 2

These Cast on stitches are worked in hand dyed silk on stems of feather stitch

Cast on Stitch sample 4

In this case the cast on stitches are worked in hand dyed wool on stems of knotted feather stitch worked in cotton perle #5.

Cast on Stitch sample 3

These are also worked in a red hand dyed wool. The little organic shapes are worked on line of Alternating Up and Down Buttonhole in a green cotton perle #5 thread.

Cast on Stitch sample 5

Here cast on stitches are added to a line of buttonhole stitch

Crazy quilt Block 74 detail 488

This next sample is a line pansies that are made from 5 Cast on Stitches.

Cast on Stitch sample 6

These cast on stitch flowers that hang off the arms of feather stitch.

Mid tone detail 4

Enjoy the stitch, experiment with it and I am sure you will discover more that can be done with it! If you are interested in seeing, reading about and getting the free pattern for the crazy quilt block this detail came from you will find it here in my Diamonds are Forever series.

My book for creative stitchers

Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery book cover

If you enjoy my site you will gain real value from my book:  Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery: Visual Guide to 120 Essential Stitches for Stunning Designs

Feeling stale? Wondering how to add sparkle to your embroidery? I have aimed Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery to be suitable for both beginners and seasoned embroiderers. It introduces techniques to encourage your creative interpretations of stitches. I guide you towards discovering play-points in your embroidery by varying the height and width; by stacking stitches; or by filling multiple rows with the same stitch. With creative variations and demonstrations of tiny tweaks, You will be ready to head off down your own creative path and, of course, illustrated with plenty of eye candy!

Please note if you buy one of my books via this link as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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  1. Here is my cast on stitch — since I know how to cast on with knitting, this wasn’t so awfully hard but I think I’m making a mistake in finishing the stitch because there is this long thread showing that doesn’t belong. Anyway, here is my stitch experiment: http://thatyankstitches.multiply.com/journal/item/347/2012-A-Year-of-Challenges-week-32

    I don’t know how much longer I can do this as the owners of the blog service are shutting us down December 1 and we have not yet received a way to transfer our blogs to anyplace…

  2. Hello Sharon, I had emergency surgery three months ago and have not been able to participate in the challenge as I had agreed. I have not been on the computer before to be able to apologize. I like to quit once I make a commitment.
    Saying this I am going to try to sew along now, but do not know if I will be able to finish the year. Thank you for all you hard work. I have enjoyed all you have done to further the love of embroidery. Sincerely Kathy

    1. Kathryn, that makes two of us with scarred fingers and a dislike for this stitch. It seems like a lot of trouble for just a little blob of colour. Cheers, Carole A in the UK

      Carole Auden

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