Have you been thinking about learning embroidery? It can seem daunting to start but I promise it's a quick and easy craft to learn. Over my years stitching I've expanded my arsenal of stitches and developed some tricks and tips that I've found helpful, so I thought I would share some with you today.
It starts with a hoop (maybe)
Basically, you need some way to keep your fabric taut while you are working. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is with an embroidery hoop. How large you need will depend on the piece you are working on, but I find a six or eight inch hoop to be best for staying tight while still giving you enough room to navigate your needle around. One of the best things about a hoop is it can even be a frame for your finished piece. I've since graduated to an embroidery frame that works the same way as a hoop but the fabric is tightened from the top and bottom or side to side. The benefit to using a frame is you don't end up with that pesky ring in the fabric that comes from using a hoop and you can work on a larger scale.
Embroidery floss is made up of multiple strands of threads (usually six). Floss can be made of cotton, silk or synthetic fibres and comes in just about every shade you can think of. My favourite brands are Cosmo and DMC. You can get little cards for keeping your floss tidy, or bags, but the trick I use is to wrap it around a wooden clothespin and use the clip part to hold the end. I keep all my floss in a big glass so I can see all the colours easily.
Find the Perfect Pair of Snips
Once you start embroidering on a regular basis your embroidery scissors will become your best friend. You'l need scissors for cutting length of floss, trimming the loose threads at the back of your work and picking out unruly knots. I splurged on a pair of Gingher stork scissors that I use all the time. Doesn't matter what kind you use as long as they are sharp, small and comfortable in your hand.
Transferring your Designs
I draw out my designs directly on the fabric using either a pencil or a water soluble marker. They both have their pros and cons. The pencil can be great for detailed work but it's not always the easiest to erase if you make a mistake. The marker is easy to remove and it literally dissolves away in
seconds if you wet it with a damp cloth, spritz it with water or run it under the tap. I do find that any of the markers I've tried tend to bleed a little and it's hard to get much detail in. You can also use transfer paper, the sort you use for tracing sewing patterns.
I won't get in to too much detail on choosing needles. Any needle designed for hand use is good but which size you choose will depend on how many strands of floss you plan to use and the fabric you are stitching on. I usually use embroidery needles no. 3-9 as pictured above which have a larger eye and are sharp and thin,
Let me know in the comments if this has been helpful. Have you been thinking about starting embroidery? I'll get further in to setting up your work and some basic stitches in a future post so check back soon!
I've got some big embroidery pieces in the works and I find sometimes I need to work on something small to break things up, Here are a few of the new pins I've been making. I'm especially fond of the two birds and am looking forward to stitching a few more feathered friends. They're a nice size for pinning on a coat, sweater or bag. I don't know about you but at this time of year I am always so bored of my winter clothes and craving a little colour and reminder of spring.
.If you want to snag one of these little guys they are in my Etsy shop and the best thing is shipping to US and Canada is free!
This past year has been one full of learning and growing for me and my work. It was the year I decided to commit full-time to making and selling my art and I couldn't be happier with that decision. One of the highlights of 2017 was taking part in Culture Days and seeing my house sculpture lit up for Nuit Blanche. I'm looking forward to working with sculpture going forward.
Once again this April I will be taking part in the London Artist's Studio Tour. I met so many amazing people the last time and I have a whole new series of textile art in the works (here's a hint, it involves room keys and vintage motel rooms.) Stay tuned to the blog or my Facebook Page for more details.
Wishing everyone a safe, productive and happy new year!