The following are instructions for various embroider stitches, as quoted from the 1949 edition of The Complete Book of Sewing by Constance Talbot. We hope that you enjoy looking through them and find them both useful and applicable to your embroidering projects (both current and future). Please be sure to browse the diverse selection of hot iron on embroidery transfers available in
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Per Mrs. Talbot, "For good effects, use heavy embroidery threads."
Outline or Stem Stitch - Knot your thread and bring it through to the right side at one end of the line to be embroidered. Take a stitch 1/4 inch away. Point the needle back a little way before drawing it through to the right side of the fabric again. Make another stitch the same way, and so on to the end of the line.
Chain Stitch - Bring the needle up through the fabric and hold the thread down with your thumb. Pass the needle back through the fabric at almost the same point and bring it out 1/8 inch forward, or as desired (this regulates the length of the stitch) passing it over the thumb. As you pull the thread, it will form a loop. Put the needle back in the fabric inside of the loop close to the last stitch and bring it forward on the embroidery line so that it passes over the thread and forms another loop.
Running Stitch - With a heavy embroidery thread, run the needle in and out, following the line to be embroidered. The stitches should be 1/8 inch long (or more, depending on weight of the fabric) on the top of the fabric and very short on the underside. This stitch is also known as saddle stitching.
Braiding - Use soutache or rattail braid, or any of the nubbed novelty braids. These can be attached by hand or machine. If you plan to use hand sewing put a row of running stitches through the center of the soutache braid. The thread must match so the stitches do not show. Be sure that the fabric doesn't pucker and spoil your trimming. Hemming one side of the soutache braid to the fabric and letting the other stand up will give a raised effect, if preferred.
Couching - The word couching is used to describe a fine cord in braided effects. The cord may be matching or contrasting in color, and it is simply overcast to the material with evenly spaced stitches. Many interesting effects can be made by using a heavy contrasting color thread for the stitches that hold down the cord. These stitches must, of course, be very carefully spaced, for they are part of the decoration.
Satin Stitch - In fine embroidery, satin stitch is first padded, then the padding is covered with close, even, overcast stitches, outlining the pattern. In the finished work, if you are using a fine floss thread, the stitches are all blended together into a raised satin surface. This stitch used without padding and done in corded silk or cotton makes a very effective combination for embroidery in splash effects.
Lazy-Daisy Stitch - To form a little flower, use a contrasting corded embroidery thread. Stamp the design or draw a line for the embroidery and put a dot at the points where you want a flower. The flowers can be 1/2 inch in diameter or larger if desired. Be sure to allow enough space. Bring the thread through at the center of the dot. Hold the thread with your left thumb, then pass the needle back through the fabric at the center, bringing it out on the circumference of an imaginary circle denoting the outer edge of the petals (this makes a 1/4 inch stitch). When drawing the needle out, pass it over your left thumb and put the thread under it so if forms a loop when drawn out. To hold the loop in place, pass the needle back close to the last stitch, making sure to catch the end of the loop and bring it out in the center. This makes one petal or one leaf. Continue making petals around the circle. These circles are usually finished by joining them with an outline stitch to represent a stem, and an occasional leaf may be introduced if desired. A leaf is generally represented by making one petal if the flower is small and three loops arranged pyramid fashion if the flower motif is large.
Feather Stitch - Outline your design in straight lines, circles, or scrolls, using tailor's chalk. Thread the needle with an embroidery twist and bring it up at one end of the marked line. Hold the thread parallel to the line and take a stitch out from the line about 1/8 inch, bringing the needle out at the line -- the needle must pass over the thread. When you pull it through, it will hold the thread as you draw the needle parallel with the line. Take another stitch on the opposite side of the thread, bringing the needle out at the line. Continue to work first on one side, then on the other until your line is complete. In fine infants' wear, beautifully double and treble feather stitching is a feature of quilts, sacques, petticoats, and everyday dresses.
Blanket stitch - This important embroidery stitch is used on blankets and infants' clothing and as a quick trimming on house dresses, children's clothes, et cetera. It is also used in neckwear and collars when an extra color is needed. To do this, bind the edge with one color; then work a row of blanket stitch in a contrasting shade and the second row in another color. To make blanket stitch, use a corded embroidery thread and bring it out at one end of the work. Take a stitch 1/4 or 1/2 inch above the edge and bring the needle out at the edge, passing it over the thread. Spread the stitches about 1/4 inch apart.
Cross Stitch - This versatile stitch can be developed as a simple background to throw a design into relief. Trace any simple pattern by outlining carefully. Fill the space between the lines with cross stitch. Other uses are for decorative edging, for corner motif, or for banding in simple or classic designs in complex coloring. First stamp a design on the right side of the piece you are going to embroider. Then start stitching with a needle and thread. Make an overhand stitch the length of one side of the stitch to be crossed. Now cross it by making another stitch in the opposite direction, the same length. It is faster to make all the first stitches on one line and then fill out the crosses on the return.
Double Overcasting - With a heavy corded embroidery thread, overcast the turned edge with even, slanting stitches 1/4 inch deep. Finish edge, turn fabric, and work a second row, matching the stitches at each end. The wrong side of this edge produces a cross stitch, which you may prefer.
French Knots - Use a tightly twisted thread. Bring the needle up through the fabric and wrap the thread around the needle several times before you pull it back through, at almost the same point in the fabric. Bring the needle out again 1/8 inch away to start the next knot.
Bullion Stitch - The bullion stitch, like the French knot, is made by twisting the thread several times around the needle. When you put the needle back into the fabric, put it farther away so that the twisted threads lie flat instead of making a knot.
Seed Stitch - Thread a needle with twisted thread, either fine or coarse, and fill the space between the outline with tiny running stitches. This stitch is used to finish the centers of flowers when the edge is worked in buttonholing.
Beading - Use a fine thread which matches the fabric. To apply the beads use one of the following methods: (1) Pick up a bead on your needle and pass the needle back into the fabric close to the thread protruding from it. This is fine work and takes a great deal of time. (2) A shorter way is to string the beads on a fine thread which exactly matches the fabric and couch the string to the fabric with little stitches taken between beads or between groups of two beads or more. (3) Professionals crochet beads in allover designs. For this work the fabric is stretched on a frame, and the worker faces the wrong side of the fabric, so the design must be traced or stamped on the wrong side. The beads are strung on fine thread matching the fabric. With a fine beading needle (crochet hook), draw the thread through to the wrong side. Slip a bead close and draw the thread through again. On the wrong side you form a chain stitch of thread which holds the beads securely.
Eyelets - Use an embroidery puncher and hold your work in an embroidery frame. Punch a hole the size desired. With fine stitches outline the hole, then use a buttonhole stitch or overcast so that the threads are close together. Long eyelets are made the same way except that a slit is cut.
Scallops - In the fine embroidery worked with floss, scallops are first padded. In decorative scallops worked with a twisted embroidery thread, they are not padded. Scallops can be worked in buttonhole stitch when the edge is cut; when the scallop is bound or placed above the edge, work it in blanket stitch.
Applique - Your motif can be a flower, a band, a circle, or part of a large design. Cut the piece of contrasting fabric in the shape of your design, with seam allowance, then cut a piece of cardboard the same shape without seam allowance. Press the edges of the fabric over the cardboard to insure a clean sharp edge. Lay this piece on the material to be appliqued and join it with a fine hemming stitch or with blanket stitch.
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