Friday, July 20, 2018

What You Need to Know About Embroidery Floss for Hand Embroidery

I love doing hand embroidery, so I'm really excited about bringing you this series of posts and videos about embroidery. Today's 'lesson' is about embroidery floss. My Grandmother taught me to do this type of handiwork at a young age, and that in itself provides a lot of memories that I'll always treasure.

Six-Strand Embroidery Floss
Six-Strand Embroidery Floss

Every time I pick up an embroidery hoop and create something, I think of the time spent with Grandma, and I remember her voice telling me the tips I'm sharing with you in my videos and articles, and hopefully, someday you'll teach this style of creating to someone you care about. 

You can embroider so many things by hand. It's a great way to embellish clothing, textile things around the house, and even plush toys for young children or pets.

Handiwork Embroidery Floss Basics

Embroidery floss for hand sewing is made up a series of fibers. Each strand is made of six strands, and each of the six strands is woven from two fibers twisted into a fine thread.

You can use all six strands at once if you're trying to create a plush, thickly embroidered design, but there are advantages to splitting it.

  • Most hand embroidery involves delicate stitches that can be overwhelmed by thick floss. You can split it into two or three strands, or even a single strand, but for most delicate designs, three strands are ideal. 
  • With three strands, you get enough plushness to give off a dramatic effect without it looking either sparse or overdone.
  • The split fibers are also easier to pull through the fabric if you're embroidering on tightly woven fabric.
  • Cut the embroidery floss into sections about 12-18 inches long before splitting it. If you try to split a section that's too long, it ends up knotted. Longer sections also end up weakening your floss as it pulls through the fabric over and over.

In the video below, I show a line of stitching made from six-strands and another made from three - so you can get an idea of the difference in appearance.

Tips for Choosing Embroidery Floss for Projects

If you're working on a large project, try to get all the embroidery floss you need at once, and stick to the same brand, at least within each color to avoid ending up with unwanted variations in color or texture.

Make a note of the colors you're using, or keep the little band from the skeins of embroidery floss in case you need more floss - to increase your chance fo getting a perfect match.

If you're trying to create special effects, look at some of the unique types of floss, like metallic, silk, pearlized cotton, or variegated color floss.

Most hand embroidery floss is made of mercerized cotton, which gives it more strength and luster than unmercerized floss would have, and it can also be called stranded embroidery cotton thread, as noted by Sew Guide.

Thanks for reading, and check out my Sewing Lessons From Stitching it Right videos on YouTube or visit the Stitching it Right Facebook page to join the conversation there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

How to Do the Straight Stitch in Hand Embroidery

Hand embroidery is one of my first loves when it comes to creative sewing, and I'm so excited to start sharing hand embroidery videos to help other learn this awesome way to make beautiful things. Today's episode teaches the most basic of hand embroidery stitches, the straight stitch.

Straight Stitch in Hand Embroidery
Example of Straight Stitch in Hand Embroidery

Uses for the Hand Embroidery Straight Stitch

In the embroidery tutorial video shared here, I used the straight stitch to create a border for a quilt square.

This stitch is also called the running stitch, and it is the same hand sewing stitch used for hand-basting in garment-making.

You can use this stitch with regular thread instead of embroidery floss to quickly mend ripped seams in garments, too.

The square shown in the video has a button I attached in an earlier episode of Sewing Lesson From Stitching it Right. The button is going to be the center of a flower, and if you like the way this freehand embroidered flower looks when I get to the final episide, how to make it yourself will be shown in videos, and you can follow them through one by one.

Each video is short, so you can do it a step at a time, and you, of course, have the choice to do a step a day or do the entire project in one session if you're excited to get started.

Here's the video, and the written directions are below:

What You Need to Do the Straight Stitch

Embroidery Floss in Storage Case
Embroidery Floss in Storage Case
Embroidery floss: Embroidery floss, like regular thread, should be cut in sections no longer than 18 inches long.
  • This reduces the chance of it tangling while you're working. Embroidery floss is crafted from three strands of fiber twisted together. 
  • When you want a heavy effect, like I did for the border shown in the video, use a fairly large needle and expect it to pull fairly hard as you tug the floss through the fabric. 
  • (You can actually hear it pop a few times in the video because I had to pull so hard.)  
  • For most embroidery, you'll want to split the floss into either two or three strand sections because it still gives off a kind of luxe effect but it's easier to work with and does less damage to the fabric, and I'll put up a quick video to show you how to do that. 

Embroidery needle: You may be able to get by with 'just any hand sewing needle" - there is, however, a difference in embroidery needles tha tmakes them ideally suited to hand embroidery and worth the effort to seek out when shopping for hand embroidery supplies.
  • Embroidery needles are designed with longer, narrower eyes than regular hand sewing needles. 
  • The narrow design makes it easier to pull the needle through tightly woven fabric.
  • The long, narrow eyes in embroidery needles make it easier to feed the embroidery floss through when you're threading them. 

Embroidery hoop: It's possible to work without an embroidery hoop, but using one reduces the soreness and stiffness you expereince in your fingers and hands.
  • When the fabric is properly secured in an embroidery hoop, it's easier to see what you're doing. 
  • It also gives you more control over the fabric and needle so you can make sure you stitches land right where you want them. 

Fabric: Not trying to be facetious here, but you have to have something to embellish or practice sewing on when you're learning to do the straight stitch.
  • If it's your first time trying this stitch, you may want to grab a scrap of fabric or an old garment that's worn out so you can practice as long as you want. 
  • If you're ready to add your straight stitches to a project as an embellishment, make sure the fabric is smooth, ideally in an embroidery hoop, but you can do it by working slowly and carefully even if you don't have one.

Thimble: Thimbles are optional, but can save your fingers some soreness, especially if you're working on a tightly woven fabric and using all six fibers of the embroidery floss.

Steps for Making the Straight Stitch

Prepare the needle: Thread the needle and tie one end of the embroidery floss.
  • Adjust the floss so the loose end is about four inches higher than the knot. 

Start Embroidering: Poke the needle through from the back of the fabric and pull the thread through all the way.
  • Move the tip of the needle between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch, depending on the effect you're trying to create, and poke it down through the fabric. 
  • Repeat the steps over and over until you reach the end of the area you're embellishing.

Anchor the stitches: With the needle on the back side of the fabric, make two or three tiny stitches that are hidden under the previous stitches, then cut off the thread ends.

Thanks for visiting Stitching it Right, be sure to visit our YouTube Channel, Sewing Lessons From Stitching it Right or hop over to our Facebook page for quick answer to any sewing-related questions you may have.

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