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!)
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.
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.
Place the thread over your left index finger, rotate your finger keeping the thread still over your finger but under tension.
This movement of twisting your finger creates a loop around your finger.
Transfer the loop from your finger to the needle by sliding the needle through the loop and moving the loop to the needle.
Slide the loop down the needle. This is the first cast on stitch.
This looping action and transferring the loop, is similar to casting on a row of stitches on a knitting needle hence the name.
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.
Keep them evenly spaced for best results.
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.
Take the needle to the back of the fabric and pull your working thread firmly but not tight to create the loop.
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.
If you add a bead to the middle they make lovely little flower motifs. These Cast on stitches are worked in Cotton perle #5 .
These Cast on stitches are worked in hand dyed silk on stems of feather stitch
In this case the cast on stitches are worked in hand dyed wool on stems of knotted feather stitch worked in cotton perle #5.
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.
Here cast on stitches are added to a line of buttonhole stitch
This next sample is a line pansies that are made from 5 Cast on Stitches.
These cast on stitch flowers that hang off the arms of feather stitch.
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
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!
Follow Pintangle and have it delivered to your inbox
You can have Pintangle delivered to your inbox by using the ‘subscribe’ feature in the sidebar. Enter your email address, and when you get the confirmation email make sure you say yes. Then you are all set! If you are on a mobile or tablet you will need to scroll to the bottom to find the ‘subscribe’ feature 🙂