Some Bite Sized Stitching Wisdom

Recently I asked my Instagram followers two questions:

What piece of stitching advice do you wish you knew sooner?

What is the best piece of advice you can offer other stitchers?

I’m going to go through some of the best answers with you and explain them a little more where possible. (That instagram question box has a rather limited answer space!)

I hope that If you are new to stitching, or are experienced but willing to take advice and try new things, that some of these responses will be useful to you!


What piece of stitching advice do you wish you knew sooner?

“To finish off a thread by pulling it through underneath, instead of tying little knots”

this is definitely a must have piece of advice! Basically, when you come to the end of your thread, instead of trying to knot the thread end with another thread end on the back of your piece of work, simply pass your needle under some of the stitching on the back of your work a few times (without going through the fabric) to secure our thread!

Or, if you are lazy like me, and are doing intense stitching like thread painting, just don’t bother tying your ends… but you didn’t here me say that!

“Folding Aida in half twice to make the centre lines does the job perfectly!”

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This is a great one!

It’s even one of the pieces of advice I provide in my blackwork cheat sheet.

When you are doing counted embroidery and want to be sure so stitch your design centrally, folding your fabric into quarters will find you the centre. Then just do the same thing with the pattern and work out from there!

“Take it slow! Don’t try to do the hardest thing before doing the easy things”

Not much to add to this one, its all there already!

Embroidery is, and always will be, a slow art. It takes time to master it as well as time to stitch each piece. Don’t rush! You’ll get there if you keep practicing.

”Simple tricks on separating threads, threading needles, the correct tightness of hoop etc”

Ok, so just for any newer stitchers (there are a lot of you and that’s great!) we’ll quickly go through these…

To separate your threads:

Hold the thread end gently with one hand. Grasp a single strand of thread with the other. Pull this strand of thread while still holding the rest of the strands in the first hand. You should hold them tight enough that they are not pulled through your fingers but loose enough that the strand you are pulling with the other hand can slide through.

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This method only works with one strand of thread but if you need two, just do it twice! Your threads a far less likely to tangle when separating them like this.

Threading your needle:

Place the end of the thread between the finger and thumb on one hand so that you can barely see the tip of the tread poking through your fingers. Now, with your other hand, push the eye of the needle down over the thread end between the finger and thumb. Once you get the hang of it this way its much easier!

The correct tightness of a hoop:

The fabric in your hoop should be tight like a drum.

Seriously, give it a tap and see what it sounds like! If it bangs then you are good. If not, gently pull the fabric all the way around the edge to tighten it in the hoop, then try again.

It is honestly so much better stitching with a tight hoop, not to mention all the puckering of fabric when you don’t!

“Things don’t have to be crazy smooth! Texture is great and an amazing part of embroidery!!!”

This piece of wisdom from @angie.elkinton really says it all. And, did you know, there is a whole type of embroidery that focuses on 3D texture… it’s called stumpwork! You may have seen a little on my instagram stories recently but look it up, its fantastic!


What is The best advice you can offer other stitchers?

“If you make a mistake keep going. Decide if it is still a mistake or not when you are done”

Some of the pieces that I am most proud of are the ones that I almost gave up on.

Put a piece down, for months if you need too, and then look at it again with fresh eyes. I guarantee you, most of the ‘mistakes’ you see will be invisible to others!

”Try all sorts of stitching. You never know which technique will be your favourite!”

Absolutely!

Many stitchers are very comfortable staying in their lane as it were… there are some truly amazing threadpainters, cross stitchers etc. But I’m sure they had to try a few things before they really found their passion.

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I’m personally a very eclectic stitcher! Sometimes I crave the formulaic nature of Blackwork and its consistency. Sometimes I just want to do a thread painting bursting with colour. Sometimes I want to try something altogether new.

There is so much out there… why not try it!

“Always buy more thread than you think you need! Its cheap and it sucks to run out”

We all hate not being able to finish a project we are really stuck into and you can always use any leftovers in another project!

“Don’t be afraid to use other works for inspiration on practicing skills. Just don’t sell/steal credit and idea” - @angie.elkinton

There aren’t really any hard and fast rules on the copying vs inspiration debate but here are a few some simplified guidelines the way I see it…

  • don't sell anything you make from a pattern/kit you have purchased (only sell originals)

  • dont trace or directly copy any part of another artist’s work

  • you can make the same thing as someone else e.g. a hoop with a quote on but make sure you create the composition and design yourself

  • when using natural forms, take inspiration directly from photographs and not other artist’s work (Yes, photographers are artists too! But what I mean is… take reference from the animals themselves and not someone else’s imagining of them. Not all of us have the time, money or skill to visit the animals/plants in the wild and take photos ourselves so using 3-4 different reference photos to draw from is fine)

  • If you think you may have copied someone’s work in the past, or are planning something that may step on their toes, ask them! Most artists will appreciate the fact that you have approached them to try and sort things out and should be happy to talk to you about it

“Sometimes you just have to cut the thread and stat again!”

Well, that seems the perfect place to leave this blog post. Sometimes things just don’t work out, but try again cause they might do next time!


If you found any of this useful then drop a comment below and say which piece of advice you are going to try out…

The person that wrote it might just see it, and we all love to know that we’ve helped other people!