Sunday, 15 September 2013

Stitching Sunday: Outlines and Fillings

My apologies for the tardiness of today’s Stitching Sundays post. We woke to autumn sunshine, so we popped out for an indulgent breakfast and made an impromptu visit to Petworth Park...

Petworth House
Little Flower gets a piggyback from Bunny, the South Downs in the distance
Clouds soon rolled in, and it’s due to be quite stormy all afternoon, so I’m glad we all had this time together this morning.

Anyway, back to the task at hand! How is your stitching? I am over the moon with the comments and participants for Stitching Sundays. Do check out everyone’s link each week – there is a wealth of talent to be found!

As well as sharing a few tutorials and showing my latest embroidery, these Sunday posts serve as a forum for us to share ideas and tips. Feel free to join in whenever the mood strikes; there is no deadline. And I’m focusing on basic embroidery at the moment, but tell us about your cross stitching, whitework, Hardanger, anything!

Last week we focused on transferring designs, and I want to share two great tips from fellow bloggers. Joy from Joyjinks Creations wrote about an iron-on transfer pen that she uses, so I’ve ordered one and will test it out as soon as it arrives – Joy’s embroidery design is stunning! And Wendy commented: “Use a Frixxon pen, you don't have to worry about covering up the line with stitches as it disappears when you iron the fabric.” I’ll be trying that technique, too, thanks Wendy!

So you’ve chosen a simple design and have transferred it to your fabric. Most often you’ll want to stitch some sort of outline next. Running stitch and back stitch are two of the simplest stitches, but I want to show you stem stitch – it works wonderfully with curvy lines (such as flower stems), and it gives a lovely outline.

Here is my quick tutorial: I’m using two strands of floss. First, bring the thread to the front of your work. Take the needle down one stitch length, but do not pull taut.

Keep the excess thread below the stitch line – you have to do this throughout your stitching so maintain consistency of the stitch. Then push the needle back up through the fabric at the halfway point of the stitch.

Again, keep the thread below the line, and push the needle back through the fabric, the same stitch length as before. Do not pull taut.

Now bring the needle back up at the end of the first stitch (this is where a lot of stem stitches go awry – not every tutorial makes this step clear, so for a while I was bringing my thread up in the middle of the stitch each time, not at the end of the previous stitch, and my resulting stitches were rather large).

Oi! Move that thread below the stitch!
Then repeat the process – push the needle down a stitch length ahead, then bring it up at the end of the previous stitch.

Now I want to fill in the beehive door. Long and short stitch is a great filler, and isn’t nearly as daunting as I thought when I first started embroidery.

First, make a row of, you guessed it, long and short stitches. You can vary the length as much as you’d like, I just kept mine fairly consistent because the area I’m filling is very small, and it’s easier to illustrate it to you this way.

Then simply repeat the process, filling in more long and short stitches – but each time you bring the needle up through the fabric, make sure you split the thread of the previous row. The needle must come through the thread to ensure a good fill. This may be tricky at first, but stick with it!

Charcoal grey isn’t the best colour to illustrate this, but hopefully you get the idea. I’ll show you more intricate long and short stitches later on – I had my rite of passage with this stitch when I filled in Sam...

There is a technique to filling in curved areas to maintain a sense of flow with the thread...and I’m still learning!

I hope these two techniques make sense and offer some inspiration. Please share your experiences in the comments below or link up your blog!

Next week I plan to add the bees, the grass, perhaps a flower? And I have to start thinking about what I’m going to do with this little hive...

Thanks for reading, welcome to my new followers, and happy stitching!
Chrissie x


  1. Woohoo my laptop is fixed so I can join in :-)

    It looks like you had a wonderful morning. It has been raining and heavy winds all day here in Wiltshire.

    I love the beehive I am adding it to my list of things to do this week. I need a new pincushion and the beehive looks perfect. I will show you the finished article next week!!

    I have a lot more time this week to get on with things as everyone is settled back in to routine.

    Enjoy your week x x

  2. Another great tutorial, I didn't get a lot of time for stitching this week. Have a great week. Deb x

  3. Love the picture of your girls! A really great tutorial there, I just love that little beehive!
    Marianne x

  4. Looks like you had a wonderful morning thanks for sharing the great tutorial.
    Clare x

  5. Great pic of your two girls. What a beautiful place to walk. Thanks for the tutorial. One of the key things that my mum told me about stem stitch is to make sure that the floss stays at the bottom, you did a great job demonstrating it. I really enjoy working stem stitch, it's fun and I really like the way it looks. You beehive is looking wonderful. Wishing you a lovely week Chrissie. PS please feel free to give feedback on mine plse xoxo

  6. Thank you so much for the tutorial, Chrissie. I found it very helpful.

  7. Great tutorial, every time I see Sam I am so impressed.

  8. Chrissy this is just a fabulous tutorial thanks so much. You do put me to shame as I realise that I will have to get my skates on to keep up with everyone. I love your design Chrissy, it is simple but really effective. Wonderful! Have a great week
    Lots of love

  9. Great instructions, the tip on long and shirt stitch was a revelation. I never managed to do it before without it looking like a dogs dinner. Thank you for the Sunday stitching, I've had a good day.
    S xx

  10. What wonderful advice - thank you! I'm planning a small embroidery and I think that stitch will come in very handy. Excellent tutorial! x

  11. Chrissie, everything very well explained and great tips and demos, thank you! I love the effect of movement you've got with 'Sam' - that is so well done and has really got me thinking - your curve in the flow of long and shorts is 'spot-on'!
    Being left-handed I do things 'back to front', which can be a nuisance when looking at tutorials, but I'm following! Your little beehive is looking great and I love the way you've filled in the door. Thank you so much for Stitching Sundays - I'm really enjoying everything about it.
    Your girls are having a good time there - such a lovely pic - and it was a jolly good idea to get out and about before the weather changed: we are used to doing that with having our little dog to walk and the weather as changeable as it has been of late.
    I wish you a wonder-filled week lovely girl, and I'm looking forward to the next instalment of Stitching Sunday - oh yes, I'll have another project on the go!
    Joy xo

  12. Anonymous11:41 pm BST

    Oh Chrissie, I completely forgot about Stitching Sunday... my head has been filled with spinning wool and knitting a pink scarf for a breast cancer donation. I swear, you hit your 50's and things just fly out of your head almost quicker than they go in... if that's possible! I will try to get a little project started for next week and in the meantime please forgive my tardiness!

    Looks like you had a perfectly lovely time this morning with your family! I'm jealous... :D
    Hugs and enjoy the week,
    Beth P

  13. What a great tutorial I will be using this! Looks like a lovely morning having family time x :)

  14. You your stitches are so neat! Do you always use 2 strands? And how on earth do you stop them knotting up! I always get in such a tangle! :) x