Stitches: New Approaches

Being at home in the studio every day feels a bit indulgent, I’m usually getting ready for my workshops and answering emails as well as working on my own pieces. Although I’ve been embroidering for over thirty years, I’m still learning and exploring new ideas.

As we’re indoors for the foreseeable future, I’ve been turning to the books in my studio for inspiration. I have to admit that I haven’t looked at some of them for years! Turns out that I was wrong and they are a great resource for helping me to explore new ideas and processes.

I remember meeting Jan Beaney when I was at university, working alongside Jean Littlejohn, they have been inspiring people for many years. I was given a book by Jan many years ago called Stitches: New Approaches. This amazing book looks at different embroidery stitches and how you can change them to create interesting patterns and textures.

This is a great exercise for everyone from experienced stitchers to people who are new to the world of embroidery. Working with one embroidery stitch, try a few different techniques to change it up. I chose that old favourite, blanket stitch.

Picture one uses a variety of threads to work the stitches in the traditional way. I used a crochet cotton, some tapestry wool and a fine ribbon like thread. Be careful when you’re using these thicker threads as they can be hard to pull through the fabric. I used a fairly open weave linen.

Picture two uses cotton perle threads to layer up a few rows of blanket stitch, this would also work if you made the stitches irregular and used different threads.

Picture three is a blanket stitched worked in a tapestry wool. I’ve then used a boucle yarn and a cotton perle thread to wrap parts of the stitches. This produces a really nice texture and adds weight to the stitches.

Picture one is worked very loosely using a four ply cotton thread, instead of pulling the stitches tightly I left the tension very loose. This would also work in different layers and with different threads.

Picture two is stitched very randomly using a cotton perle thread, blanket stitch is usually very uniform so it was great to work it in this way. This would add a really nice detail to stitched landscapes, creating texture for hills and even fences.

Picture three uses a cotton perle thread with beads added into the stitch. I used a small bead, working it in to the stitch when I came back up through the fabric. It’s tricky to get the beads to lay flat so it might need a bit of practice with different threads and beads.

I can’t recommend this activity enough, it’s a great way to explore embroidery stitches and try something new.