How many strands?

How many strands title

One of the questions I get asked the most about embroidery is 'how many strands?'.  I use stranded embroidery thread for all my patterns, mainly DMC but sometimes a little bit of Anchor.  The only reason I try to focus on DMC threads is that they are more widely available globally, I love Anchor threads too.  The patterns do contain notes on the number of threads I've used in various areas of the stitching but it's not necessary to follow them exactly depending on the effect you want to create.

Pen drawing

when I draw with micron pens I have a range of different nib sizes and I swap pens according to the thickness of line that I want.  I do exactly the same thing with embroidery threads.   However I do have a go to number of threads, if in doubt I will automatically stitch with 2 strands.  A lot of the pattern stitching will use 2 strands of threads.

Back stitch strands

Above you can see backstitch created using varying numbers of threads.  As a rule I don't go above three strands for backstitch.  This is mainly because a lot of my designs are quite delicate and anything thicker can look a little heavy.  But I will occasionally couch six strands of thread with two strands of another colour, this makes a nice outline or decorative effect.  I especially love the effect of a single strand of thread

Catching wishes detail1

my 'catching wishes' design was stitched using a single strand because I really wanted to keep the sketchy ethereal feeling of the original drawing which was done in pen and ink, so quite scratchy and fine.  It helps to have a magnifying lamp (or very good eyesight) for stitching with a single thread.

Long socks tut 3

another place I almost always use a single strand is for stripes on socks, sleeves etc.  It stops the legs looking too heavy and the tights or socks from looking too thick

Stripes different strands

Stripes to fill a larger area are a perfect place to play around with numbers of strands.  In the image above I used 4 strands of blue and 2 strands of green.  I find it more interesting to look at than even stripes of two strands each.  If I use an even number of strands I will often use three colours rather than two (for example I would use blue green and perhaps an orange if I were using two strands for each of the colours) which again makes it more interesting.

French knots strands

Another place where the number of strands you use can make all the difference is in french knots.  In the past I would wrap the thread around twice if I wanted a bigger knot but a lovely embroiderer told me that she had been taught to increase the number of threads rather than the number of wraps to create a larger knot.  This method is much more satisfying and keeps the knot clearer.  So above you can see a range of knots from two strands to six strands.  It's worth just messing around with numbers of strands to see which you like the best.  I do love three strands personally.

Chain stitch strands

In the past I haven't used a lot of chain stitch but recently I've been quite drawn to it.  It's a little more involved than backstitch and I find I have to concentrate more,  I don't find it as easy to get into a rhythm but it creates beautiful hair and chains for bunting.  I tend to use 2 strands, I find 3 strands is a little too bulky and needs a bigger stitch but it would make a great outline stitch if you wanted a bold slightly frilled edge.  I do like the delicacy of the single strand chain, it feels loose and would make a great chain for your bunting.

Stitching up little samples of basic stitches using different numbers of strands of threads is a fun thing to do.  You could keep it in a stitch notebook or file for future reference, noting the numbers of threads that you used.

Now back to stitching up my new caravan embroidery design (designed to fit inside a hoop) ready for the end of the month.

I hope you are managing to find little pockets of time to do a little stitching in the summer months (unless of course you are in the depths of winter and cosy by the fire)

x


peaceful stitching

Blues

I have been working on this meditation design over the last month and doing very little other work except what was necessary.  The reason for this is a shoulder that won't work properly, it's been months!  But this week I think the cause of the problem has been found and I can, very slowly, start to get the full use of my arm back and (more importantly) lose the pain!

So a calm meditative embroidery design seemed very fitting, especially coupled with everything else that is going on in the world right now.  

I can't help feeling that this quote from the Dalai Llama could be true

“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” Dalai Lama

Perhaps we could teach them all quiet stitching at the same time.

My own meditation practice is taking place in a chair or lying down at the moment but I'm hoping to get back to cross legged soon.

Meditation main pic

And this is the finished pattern.  I've loved drawing and stitching this one, I've already made three versions I think I'm going to make a small buckwheat and lavender cushion with one which I will share here when I do it.  One of the others is going onto a tote bag (we never have enough shopping bags!!) and the last one will stay framed in the hoop I think.

I have included detailed notes for this colour way and then additional lists of colours for the other two.

It uses quite a few stitches but they are all simple ones.  You can get hold of my basic stitch guide here but it does also come with the pattern (or any of my patterns).

I will be listing a sampler for this one next month when print me pretty are back to print them.  I think I will also have kits in the autumn.

Natural colourway

This is the third colourway (with strange bendy flowers at the side (I think I stretched the fabric when I was tracing!) but I love these natural colours so I've included the colours in the pattern.

I used chain stitch for her hair.  It's not a stitch I use very often but I like the effect, a bit like braiding.

The pattern is available over in my Etsy shop

Meditation with instructions

I am hoping to be able to get back to more stitching and experimenting in July so that I have more to write about here but it's also a month of BIG birthdays and WOMAD and summer holidays with the whole family at home for a little while (even our recently graduated son before he goes out into the world!) so I will try but if the sun comes out and the sea looks inviting we may be on the beach!

I hope you are having a beautiful summer (or winter if you are in opposite lands) with lots of stitching

x

 


Stitching printed fabric panels

Flower gardener

Last week I finally managed to stock up on all of the printed fabric panels!  These panels are printed in light grey onto a white 195gsm (medium) weight cotton.  And at the moment I am stitching a flower gardener panel in soft peaches and pinks.

The panels that are available in my shop are

wonky shed

friends

in the garden

night night

unicorn

winter dream

flower gardener

Unicorn

I also have the unicorn panel hooped up ready for stitching.  I quite like flitting between projects sometimes for a change of colour.  I'm going to use this as a cushion panel and so I thought it might be nice to back it with something

Batting

I searched through my fabric stash and found some cotton batting for quilting which I thought would pad it out nicely.  I've been stitching since the photo above and it stitches nicely and gives a nice backing, especially for those naughty moments when a thread might get carried across the back because I'm feeling a little lazy!

Unicorn close up

This is the print for the panels, a nice fine line that is easy to see but also easy to cover with 2 strands of thread.

I do also have some lavender girl kits and friends kits in stock in the shop at the moment.

My own stitching is still limited due to this pesky shoulder!  but I have started working on a new design, and I may be able to show a sneaky peak next week...

Have a lovely stitchy weekend

x

 


a little catch up

 

Workspace lilipopo smaller

The clutter I normally work in!  But the past few weeks have been much tidier.  Tax time of year is not nearly as pretty as stitching and sketching time.  Unfortunately my work has been a lot slower this month due to a pesky shoulder bursitis that just does not want to leave.  Staying in one position for too long is really not comfortable.  But I have managed to get a lot of sunny walks in watching the heron chicks and super aggressive swan at Marazion marshes with my son.

Embroidery tools

You may have noticed a box at the side of my blog for signing up for a newsletter!  I am shortly going to produce and send out my first ever newsletter.  I receive a lot of messages asking when certain items are going to be in stock and some of the kits do sell out very quickly so... I will be sending out a newsletter whenever I have new stock of kits and samplers or a new pattern.  This means that newsletter subscribers will hear about new stock first.  

Photo 1

I will have 'night night' printed on fabric and also 'unicorn' along with a caravan.  Also there will be more lavender girl kits.  I was planning for the newsletter to go out in mid May but it may be a week later.

I will pop the new 'night night' colourway on the blog next week for anyone who has the pattern and would like the colour list.

Now for shopping and cooking and all of those things

Have a lovely weekend

x

 


in the garden - in the pink

Full warmer

I really don't know what happened to last week's post!  One minute it was Monday and then the next minute it seemed to be a week later with no blog post!  I think the sun coming out must have addled my brain a little.  But I'm here now (having got used to seeing sun again!)

Recently a customer pointed out that I didn't have an image of the actual sampler of 'in the garden' stitched up.  I realized she was right!  The samples in my images were stitched up on linen so I decided it was a good excuse to stitch up another one in pinks!

So this 'in the garden' is the actual sampler stitched up all in pinks with a touch of purple and red.  Anyone who buys the sampler or pattern will receive the pinks colour guide along with the original guides but for anyone who has bought the pattern before I thought I would pop the list of colours that I used here on my blog.

Hair stitching warmer

 

DMC 779 dark brown

DMC 451 mid brown

DMC 326 red

DMC 961 bright pink

DMC 761 paler pink

DMC 754 peach

DMC 3042 purple

The garland is pale pink and the hearts are peach

Dress stitching

The sleeves of the dress and the underskirt are outlined in peach.  The sleeves are striped with peach and pale pink.  The fern stitch and the petals on the underskirt are pale pink.  The back stitch stripes are peach.  The outline of the overdress is bright pink.

Lower dress and plants

The boots are red and the plants are purple and pink with peach butterflies

I think this is my favourite colour version of my 'in the garden' pattern so far!  I think the Spring is making me a little pink happy

Ballet dancer

This week I also got my dancer pattern into my Etsy shop.  I have stitched quite a few versions of this dancing girl and finally decided on one girl with a longer dress and ribbon shoes

Short dress dancers cover

and a second girl with the same hair but with a shorter dress, stripy stockings and plain pumps.  I've given instructions for her to have an embroidered dress or an appliqued dress.  You could easily applique the longer dress too if you wished.

I've really enjoyed stitching lots of versions of her and I think I will be stitching some to sell in the shop as well.

I hope you are enjoying all your stitching and (at least in the UK) enjoying the spring sunshine 

x

 

 


on my work table

Spring bunnies small

Earlier this week it was actually sunny!  And to top that I saw my first mini eggs in the shop.  So I have been practicing my photography with eastery goodness and pretty flowers.  What a perfect excuse to buy lovely local spring flowers and to eat all of the mini eggs (after the photographs of course).

Pink and blue lavender girl kits

I have been packing kits so I took advantage of the sunshine to photograph the girls with the mini eggs (I think everything goes with mini eggs really!)  I do have some kits over in the shop now 

Red girl

and then the mini eggs were gone but the flowers remained (and still remain looking beautiful in jam jars around the house)

Ballet shoes blog

I do get quite a lot of requests for a dancer embroidery pattern.  I have stitched dancers for people in the past but somehow a pattern has never materialized.  But now that is being rectified.  This week I have been doing the first stitchings based on my dancer sketch.  One dancer has a longer dress with ballet shoes.  I've been stitching her in two beautiful soft colours DMC 950 which is a blush colour and DMC 224 which is a dusky pink.

Red ballet pumps blog

The second dancer is (as you can see) much brighter!  And has a shorter dress and  back stitched pumps

Dancer head blog

I normally stitch hair using backstitch but I thought stem stitch might give a nice twisted effect and I'm really pleased with the results.  Just rows of stem stitch following the line of her hair and placed very close together.  Then, of course, all of the french knots!

I'm going to be working on this pattern all next week so I'm hoping to have it finished for the beginning of April.  I want to add a few optional flowers around her I think and maybe try one of them with an appliqued dress.

And now for a lovely weekend off with hopes of sunshine tomorrow!

Happy UK mother's day to all of the mothers out there  I hope you have a beautiful day

x


A simple stitch guide

 

Free stitch guide

I have created a simple stitch guide that will be sent out with all my patterns.  It contains the main stitches that I use in the patterns and drawn diagrams of the stitches.

I have added this stitch guide to all my patterns on Etsy but you can grab it for free here 

The guide is a basic stitch guide to the stitches I use most often in the patterns.  For some of the stitches (such as french knots!) it might still be useful to look at video tutorials on youtube and to use the guide as a reminder. 

I hope you find the stitch guide useful


spring stitching on grey days

New cover

Earlier this week I decided to spruce up my spring bunny girl pattern and restitch her.  I've changed the pattern ever so slightly and added extra photos and more instructions.  She really is very simple to stitch, almost completely back stitch with just one thread.

Outlined in grey

in fact I rather liked her at this stage just outlined in grey.  I think you could quite happily just stitch her like this or go in the opposite direction and add an appliqued dress.

So, with Easter on the way and beautiful pink tulips in my workspace (and an awful lot of grey outside!) I decided to do a little spring stitching

Spring stitching

I dived right into pinterest and looked for cute tutorials for my stitchy project.  Needless to say this whiled away quite a bit of time.  I looked at book covers and drawstring bags (all added to my cute tutorials board) and decided on this lovely simple drawstring bag tutorial by S.O.T.A.K handmade  (She also has some beautiful patterns in her shop).

The tutorial was beautifully simple to follow, I made a couple of small changes simply because I wanted a smaller bag.  So my  measurements for the main fabric and the lining pieces were 6" x 7" and my measurements for the casing were 6" x 4".

I used a 1 cm seam allowance (just under half an inch) because it's clearly marked on my sewing machine and I like to make things easy for myself.  I didn't make the tag and just used my embroidered piece (centred and cut down to 6" x 7") as the front of the bag.

Spring stitching bag

and I now have a lovely little drawstring bag to pop mini Easter eggs into or perhaps a cute little sewing bag for my summery outdoor stitching?  

Bunny main pic

after all I could always make another little bag with these little bunnies on for the Easter eggs...

I hope you're enjoying some spring weather and spring stitching

x


ferns and flowers and unicorns

Flowers and ferns

of all the things I love to stitch flowers are probably top of my list!  I love the way the simplest combination of stitches and colours can become something lovely.

My unicorn is frolicking  amongst ferns and flowers in my newest embroidery pattern and I thought I would share a very quick and simple tutorial for both

First the flowers

Flower centre 1 small

First I drew a small circle and eight lines radiating outwards evenly.  Then I filled the centre with two strands of pale pink thread and satin stitch

Flower centre 2

Once the circle is full it's time to add the petals

Flower petals

Just stitch single straight stitches all the way around the centre using 2 strands of light purple thread

Flower petals 2

Then pop more a straight stitch in each gap.  I've done this in a different colour so it's clear but they are just as nice all one colour.  I stitch the stalks using a single strand of a soft green to give a delicate look to the flower (more weed like)

Fern 2

For the fern stitch begin with a single back stitch and bring your needle up at the top of the first leaf

Fern 3

Take your needle back down at the base of the back stitch and bring it back up at the tip of the opposite leaf

Fern 4

Take your needle back down at the base of the back stitch and bring it back up a stitch length below to start the next fern

Fern 6

Repeat the stitching for each fern, creating a back stitch for the stalk and then stitching each leaf in turn as you did for the first one

Fern final

Fern stitch is one of my favourite plant stitches.  I usually use 2 strands of thread and my stitches are about 2 - 3mm long.  It's nice to add some french knots in between some of the leaves in a different colour

French knot fern

here I added a different green but pink or red flower buds would be lovely too.  I used 2 strands of thread and made a single french knot for each bud.

I think ferns with flower buds would make lovely borders for embroideries framed in the hoop.  You only need to draw the curved line of the stalk and then keep the leaf stitches the same size as your stalk stitches at roughly a 45 degree angle from the stalk.

And here is a pic of the whole unicorn dancing in amongst the flowers and the ferns

Unicorn main picture

The pattern is available in my Etsy shop now and I will be ordering some pre printed fabric panels for stitching in the next couple of weeks.

I hope you have a lovely weekend with bits of time for a little flower stitching

x

 


on my work table

Smaller

flowers for a unicorn on my table at the moment.  I love the medieval tapestries and paintings of unicorns lying in fields of flowers

Me045

medieval unicorns always look so peaceful and calm, although I don't think my unicorn is going to be fenced in!

I want the flowers to be more modern and fun, I have absolutely fallen in love with the bright green blue of DMC 3849

Smaller 2

especially with cream and pale pink.  Not so keen on the reds so I might be dropping those from my palette.

As for the unicorn himself there is no sneak peak yet as I am torn between a restful unicorn and a prancing unicorn!

This stitching is happening in between some tedious (to me) learning about photographing, lighting and photoshop!  I wish I loved photography but I have to admit it is the part I like the least but February is down in my bullet journal as 'photography month'  (you see I don't even have a picture of that!)  And so I have committed myself to improving my photography and hopefully, in March you will be seeing perfect photographs with no blurry bits and stand out detail!  Hopefully...

I hope you're having a lovely February and have a more fun project than photography skills for the month (thank goodness for the stitching in between)

x