Saturday, 26 March 2011

Neat Stitching??

A couple of posts ago Annette(who shows as anonymous so I can't contact you direct - please feel free to email me Annette) asked if I could share some stitching tips for neat stitching.  After I got over my laughing/choking fit, I tried to think about how I stitch and really had a bit of a blank! I've given it some thought and come up with a couple of ideas.  I'd love you to add your own tips and ideas for stitching neatly via comments if you'd be so kind. 

Here comes the disclaimer folks! I in no way claim to stitch the 'right' way - if there is such a thing - and I certainly think there is a lot neater work out there than mine, but here goes:

Current block from Natalie Birds 'Tis the Season' Stitch-along blog project

I'm not sure really what to say about the way I stitch, other than that I use a small hoop for embroidery(though not always for cross stitch). I have finally come to the conclusion that using an iron on backing/batting like Parlan or lightweight Pellon does help the final result with stitcheries, though I still have occasional issues with the fabric puckering after the piece has been pressed. (Check out the comments on this post for lots of suggestions about this.) It makes a big difference in stopping your threads showing through from the back, and I think it helps the tension too. I haven't used any backing in my AGJ quilt blocks, and I regret this now, as I'm worried that when the quilt batting goes in behind it that all my dark thread shadows from the back of the work will be obvious from the front.
Mini block from Leannes House 'Butterfly Garden'

I am very fussy when I'm backstitching that my needle goes down in the same hole as made by the previous stitch. If they don't quite line up, or I get a bit of a random stitch I will unpick it - that's just my perfectionist nature coming out, sorry! It does mean I'm not a fast stitcher though! Often my uneven stitches are because I have traced poorly and am having to cover the uneven lines I've drawn with Pigma pen. Neat tracing = neat stitching as all we're doing is following the lines anyway.

As far as needles go, I think the finer and longer the better - the longer they are I think the more relaxed your hand is - and the finer they are you don't need to pull on them so hard - so then you don't get an aching hand after lots of needlework.  Bear in mind the finer they are the harder they are to thread, so if you're visually challenged like I am becoming, you  might need to use some kind of threader contraption. Must get my eyes tested one of these days. lol

Thread - I almost always use 2 strands of embroidery thread(usually DMC - though I'm a little smitten lately with Cosmo threads.)  The Birdie Stitches BOM I'm stitching this year calls for stitching with 6 strands, but I don't like the look - it comes out too chunky looking for me - and it's hard work dragging 6 threads through fabric with pellon on the back too!  Each to their own though and if that's what you like the look of - go for it.

Stitch length - I do try and keep the length even,  though I wouldn't say they're perfect.  I usually end up stitching some projects with bigger stitches than others, just depends on what the project is - ie Birdie Stitches I am making all my stitches bigger than normal, main thing is to keep them consistent.
From Hatched and Patched 'A Gardeners Journal'

From Hugs n Kisses 'Stitching Round the Block'

I really, really hate leaving long tails of thread on the back of the work, and I always tie them off and thread them down under a line of stitching to hide and secure them as soon as I've finished with that thread.  It's just my pet peeve, the same with cross stitching too - I hate the back of my work to look like a dog's breakfast of jumbled tangled threads. 

There are days when no matter how hard I try things just don't look right, maybe the threads get all fluffy, or the fabric won't stay at the right tension in the hoop.  Also I've found it really hard to stitch neatly in black or very dark colours, for some reason they look thinner to me - might be a trick of the colours or maybe my eyes. lol

Most of all - practice, practice, practice, even if, like me, you have to start lots and lots of projects, it means you'll get more practice.  LOL  They do say "Practice Makes Perfect', and of course, enjoy your stitching too!

Any more help anyone can give here via comments would be great, as I'm always looking for pointers too, and I've found before when I've asked for help everyone is so obliging, so THANKS!
Thanks also for sticking with me for all this waffle today.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend...............Nicky

30 comments:

shez said...

Great post farmgirl you explained it well,thankyou

Farmyard Crafts said...

Well done. I do agree that you have beautiful stitches!! Do you think it helps that you're a cross stitcher?? I think my stitching is better because I'm used to the tiny stitches of cross stitching.

Perri said...

Excellent stitching tips! Hoop, fine needle, very thin pellon on the back are all musts in stitching ... the only thing I would add is don't make your thread more than about 40cm long ... as it tends to get hairy towards the end piece .. hairy thread makes stitching look untidy... something from my own experience.
Happy stitching, P

BubzRugz said...

Thanks for these.... really useful. I have recently started using a hoop and beginning to feel better with it.... will try a longer needle... the perfectionist in you pays off - I have to try that too!!
Thanks and Hugz

Grethe said...

Thanks a lot from this part of the world too!!!!
The more instructions,the better. I am greatful for all posts of info. Being used to stem-stitching only,I really try these days the
back ones. The Birds with 6 threads,did no look
so goot at my end either.
Happy Stitching:-)

Peg - Happy In Quilting said...

Great stitching tips Nicky thanks for that ...your stitching is wonderful..

Anonymous said...

Great post on stitching tips. Many years ago I was taught to use a milliner's needle (long and thin) in dressmaking and that is what I use for my stitching. Also, I have tried many different embroidery threads, but have found my best stitching is with 1 or 2 strands of DMC. Instead of an iron-on stabilizer, I like to layer my fabric with a layer of cotton flannel for stabilizer and hides the threads from showing on the top side. Cotton flannel must be washed before layering as it shinks. I totally agree that you definitely must come up in the same hole that you went down in the previous stitch. If not, remove it and do it again. I am always amazed at how much other stitchers produce so much quicker than I do, but maybe I, like you, am a perfectionist which makes for a slow stitcher. Bessie from the USA.

suzitee said...

Nodding my head in agreement here Nicky...I use much the same methods, and am always pleased with the results. I, too, am a perfectionist, and would MUCH rather unpick one stitch, than the whole lot at the end!

Michelle said...

Great post Nicky, I agree with all that you said!

Charlie and Wendy said...

Thanks for this post Nicky, it's really helpful!

Shiree said...

well done Nicky, fabulous post, and a great help to beginner stitchers I am sure. Maybe you could do another on the pros/cons of peelon vs parlan vs other fusible webbings?

Chookyblue...... said...

yep agree with you here........i will unpick a few stitches if it isn't looking right too.......oh and absolutely with the practice practice starting lots of different stitcheries to get lots of practice............lol.....I also have a thing about hiding the tails on the back too but I think that is also part of coming from a cross stitch background.......

Annie said...

Thanks for all of your tips. I'll have to try some iron-on stabilizer to see how I like it. I kind of like a stem stitch instead of a back-stitch, but I see that back-stitch is very popular these days. I love that old-time stitchery has become new again!

Chookyblue...... said...

oh and I love DMC threads and you MUST go down in the previous stitch whole even 1 thread missed leaves a gap........

StitchCat said...

I love the look of your stitching Nicky...I think I say the same thing on your comments each time :) The red you are using for the Chirstmas blocks is lovely....is it a variegated thread or are you using different shades?

Raewyn said...

Interesting post Nicky, I have always admired your stitching so it is good to read what you say. I too am a slow stitcher but I know I try to get it right by unpicking if I haven't hit the right hole etc. Another tricky thing is getting to the end of 'a line' and finding you only have room for a big stitch or two small ones - often I will go back and unpick the last few stitches and try to even them all up, sometimes I just leave it!

Karen 'n Chris said...

Excellent information. I also think that coming from a cross stitching background makes a difference to how you stitch.
The only things I would add would be to have a very good light (lamp) source. It is amazing what a difference it makes when things are illuminated well and secondly, investing in a couple of pairs of the over the counter magnifying glasses at different strengths. They also make a huge difference to what you 'see' when you are stitching.

Fiona @ Dragonfly-Crafts said...

WOW! Nicky you do stitch so neatly... I agree with all your tips and do exactly the same especially the unpicking if it just isn't "perfect".... sometimes I just can't keep my stitches even. I like to us a hoop but find the SAL-TTS are a little small. I'm going to find my smaller one and try....
Glad I found your very pretty blog. Thanks for popping in to see mine xx

Cardygirl said...

Great tips...your stitchingIS beautiful...I admire it every day when I walk past my gorgeous swap gift!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the tips! I feel really honoured that you did a whole blog post for me!!
I hear what you're saying about tracing neatly....I think that maybe one of my downfalls. I hate tracing things off and find that part stressful, so I rush it and then try to deal with the wonky lines when I stitch. I'm also going to try a longer needle to see if that makes a difference.
I'll email you in a tic.
Cheers,
Annette

Nicky said...

What excellent tips. I have not done stitchery in awhile and I must get back to it, your lovely pictures are an inspiration.
Nicky

Carol said...

Your tips are much appreciated, Nicky! Thank you for taking the time to put this post together :)

Vinniey said...

Great tips, Nicky. Thanks for sharing.
I love your "Tis the Season" block stitching and finishing. It's very lovely and the fabrics are beautiful. The birdie stitches BOM is too cute! I love the quilt for your niece too, beautiful fabrics you've chosen. :)
Have a wonderful week.

Josie said...

Your post was exactly what I needed to read right now. I've been feeling a bit demoralised by my stitching but having read your tips and looked at your gorgeous stitching close up....I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I'm off to practise... practise... practise! Thanks for the therapy session.

Suzanne said...

You sound like a perfectionist like me! Now that I get a close up of your stitching, it really is perfect and I would kill to get stitches as neat and tidy as you do. Thank you for the hints.

Siobhan said...

Thanks for the tips! I really want to do some embroidery for quilts but haven't jumped in yet. I will be referring to this a lot when I do!

Birmos5 said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful tips. I just have one question, do you use the stab method for stitching (where you go down thru the front and then start the new stitch from the back) or do you do the running type method where you do the whole stitch at once? Sorry, not very good at explaining. I haven't been stitching for long. I have found that by using the stab method I can keep my stitches more even, though I notice the designers use the other method. What are your opinions?
By the way, lovely stitching. I can see that I am going to have to make a start on the "Tis the Season" blocks too, they are so nice.

Janice said...

Thanks for sharing your way of stitching, as your work is always beautiful. I haven't used a hoop up until now. Do you use stab stitch with the hoop? Some say it makes more even stitching, while some say otherwise. I'd be interested to hear your version.

donna said...

I just found your blog and I just love it. Your stitching is just beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your tips.
Hugs
donna

Dani - tkdchick said...

Wow your embroidery is just lovely!

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