Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tutorial: Roumanian Stitch and Roumanian Couching Stitch

My Favourite Tutorial - post header
I think the Roumanian Stitch deserves a place in the spotlight as it's a versatile and very easy stitch. However I don't see it used very often. It's not exactly an obscure stitch, you will find it in many Embroidery Handbooks. Sometimes it's called the Roman Stitch, Antique Stitch and Oriental Stitch (and quite a few other names as well). Perhaps it's its simplicity that makes it not as interesting as more intricate stitches. I think, together with it's cousin the Roumanian Couching Stitch, it's a useful stitch to add to your repertoire!

Make a stitch. Let your needle come up just above the first stitch a little to the left (if you are left handed like me) or right (if you are right handed) of the middle.

Then make a small slanted stitch across the first stitch. It can be helpful to draw a line in the middle to keep your small stitches in a straight line.

You can vary the length of the 'long' stitch as I did in the photo above, the smaller stitches in the middle ought to be consistent in size though I think it's fun to experiment with those as well. This stitch is perfect for leafs or feather motifs.

Doodle cloth to try out different versions of the Roumanian Stitch
You can use different types of threads (I used perle cotton and regular embroidery floss for example) and vary the number of strands. In the two-toned pink leaf I did the Roumanian Stitch twice in different colours, leaving enough space initially to add the second colour. I think traditionally the stitches are placed closely together with no gaps showing, but I really like the 'open' effect when you keep some space between the stitches. In the green and blue feather shape on the left I combined the 'open' approach with a more densely stitch dot in the middle.

The Roumanian Couching Stitch is just a easy to master as the Roumanian Stitch and is a quick fill stitch with a nice 'woven' texture. For this stitch draw some guidelines on your fabric before you start, especially if you are trying it out for the first time.

Make a (large) stitch. Then make the slanted stitch across but instead of a tiny stitch, let it cover the whole middle bit of the first stitch as indicated in the photo.

I hope you've enjoyed getting to know the Roumanian Stitch and the Roumanian Couching Stitch and if you are using our tutorials please share photos of your work in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January Colour Inspiration

January colour inspiration
Need some colour inspiration for your projects? I've been working on a quilt and one of the blocks inspired this colour combination. Nice and bright for January! All the colours are from DMC.

I often turn to my fabric stash when I need some fresh colour inspiration. I have a bad habit of using the same colours all the time, so it's good to push myself to try different ones.

What colours are you excited about at the moment?

For the fabric aficionados among our readers, the orange is Geos Bright Mandarin by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery Fabrics and the blue is Floral Bouquet in turquoise from the Flea Market Fancy collection by Denyse Schmidt.

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tutorial: How to Choose and Lay Out Text for Stitching

My Favourite Tutorial - post header

Stitching Text Mosaic

One of my very favorite things to stitch is text - there's no end to the wonderful quotes, song lyrics, and sayings that would make wonderful embroideries. I get asked quite often how I design my text-based embroideries, so today I'll show you how to do it!

The basic idea is to simply lay out a piece of text in software like Microsoft Word, Mac's Pages, Open Office, Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, Gimp or Inkscape - any software you feel comfortable using that allows manipulation of text. But first you'll have to pick a font that works best for your project.

I admit it, I'm a bit of a font nerd. I'm happy to spend time sifting through fonts online, just for the fun of admiring them. So finding the right font for a project is a natural part of the process for me.

If you're not used to doing this, visiting a website called Font Squirrel is a great place to start. Font Squirrel collect free fonts for download - if you plan to sell your finished project, you should always double-check to make sure the font you choose includes a free license for commercial products, but Font Squirrel aims to collect only fonts that allow this.

To choose a font for your project, first think about what style you're looking for. What what do you want your text to convey? Maybe you'd like a dainty script for a sweet quote, or a crisp, bold look for something funny. On the right side of Font Squirrel's homepage, you'll find a menu of font style categories:

Tutorial: How to Choose and Layout Text for Stitching

For stitching, you'll probably want either a script font or a simple sans-serif font. Most other font types, very generally speaking, will have a bit too much detail to be able to stitch neatly.


Script fonts are a great choice for embroidery because they often flow from one letter to the next, creating a wonderfully stitchable continuous line. And if you are looking for a sweet or an elegant style, you probably want a script font. But don't assume all script fonts will be easy to stitch! You'll still want to pick one that is just right for your text -- and just right for your stitching!

As you narrow down your font choice, the most important thing to think about is how you will embroider your words. What stitches will you use? How many strands of embroidery floss? How large will your lettering be? Font Squirrel (and most font-downloading or purchasing websites) allows you to Test Drive your font before downloading, so you can see exactly what your text will look like. Here's a couple of examples:

Tutorial: How to Choose and Layout Text for Stitching

Here is a font called Sofia, a nicely rounded, slightly retro script font. This would look great in a chain stitch or split stitch.

Tutorial: How to Choose and Layout Text for Stitching

This one is called Dancing Script. It's more italicized, and would work really well with a split / chain stitch combo to show off the varied thickness in the script.


I suggest sans-serif fonts for stitching because they are cleaner and will generally be less fiddly to stitch. Fonts like Quicksand:

Tutorial: How to Choose and Layout Text for Stitching

will look great in a chunky backstitch or a thick thread couched down with contrast stitches. These fonts are great for a bold, clean look and quick stitching.


Display fonts are, generally speaking, fonts that will look great as a feature - the header on a blog, the title of a movie poster, etc. They are often quite detailed and thus don't work well in small sizes, so for our purposes, they won't be as useful. However! Let's say you are stitching a single letter or word, boldly - or you are working on a large scale. A display font could work really well - check out this example with the font Foglihten:

Tutorial: How to Choose and Layout Text for Stitching

This font wouldn't work well at all on a small scale, but with fairly large words, it would look amazing stitched in a simple backstitch - look at all those perfectly stitchy lines, it makes me want to grab a needle just looking at it!

Tutorial: How to Choose and Layout Text for Stitching

Laying out your text is the simple part. Download and install your chosen font (here's how to do that on a Windows computer or on a Mac) and then, with whatever software you feel most comfortable using (I'm using Open Office today), type your words and apply your font to it, same as you would with any other text. If you've ever typed and formatted anything on a computer, you already know how to do this - it's no different than anything else!

Next you'll choose a size and alignment - again, you'll have to think about the finished piece of embroidery. Will it be finished in a hoop? If so, you'll probably want it centered and in a size to fill up the hoop, so you'll need to decide on the hoop size first. All software that lays out text will have the ability to show rulers, so you can check your sizing as you work. Maybe you'd like to stitch on a piece of vintage lace or a very special piece of fabric, so you might want the text aligned to the right or left to work around a feature in the fabric. Take the time to think about how your text will work with your fabric before you lay it out, it's worth it.

Your last step is the same as any other embroidery pattern: print your text and transfer it to your fabric with your preferred method - then just stitch away!

If you try this out and stitch some text, please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Found on Flickr: Freestyle Embroidery Heart



One of my favorite things about embroidery are all the different stitches and the textures and styles that can be achieved by varying them.

The gorgeous heart that Moligami shared in the &Stitches Flickr group is an amazing example of that! I love her combination of French knots and chain stitches, and the colors are just out of this world.

You can see more on her blog, or check out her Flickr stream.

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tutorial: Or Nue

My Favourite Tutorial - post header

As part of the 12 days of Stitchy Christmas I posted about adding SPARKLE to your embroidery. One of the techniques I suggested was Or Nue and today I am sharing a tutorial on how to stitch Or Nue embroidery.
First gather your materials- you need a metallic floss and some coloured floss. Traditional Or Nue is worked using specialist goldwork threads (gold passing thread) but the good news is you can try this technique with any metallic floss. I've used Maderia metallic floss here as thats what I had to hand but you could use regular DMC metallic floss or whatever you can dig out of your stash.

This style of embroidery is worked by couching the metallic floss with coloured floss. You can do this in a spiral or in rows. I'm going to use two strands of metallic; to start take the ends through the fabric and secure them to the back of the fabric.

To get a tight spiral lay the floss down in a spiral shape and make a few stitches using the coloured thread to hold it in place. Note how I have drawn my design onto the fabric - the design will be formed by changing the colour of the couching thread.

Once you have the start of the spiral you can go back and couch over the threads. Couching just means making stitches over the top of a thread to hold it in place- just like working tiny satin stitches in coloured floss over the top of the metallic floss. Leave bits of gold thread twinkling through here and there. How much you choose to obscure the gold thread is up to you and will give different effects. I would say it's easier to create detail if your design is quite densely couched. Once you reach the end of the metallic floss you have stitched down just keep going- it is only the centre of the spiral that needs stitching down first.

The fun part! When you get to a different coloured part of the design switch to a different coloured thread for the couching. So in this example I have switched to a light beige thread and have couched the gold thread down less densely.

Hints and tips:
When I am swapping threads to change colour rather than snipping the thread I use the needle to 'pin' the length of thread out of the way of my stitching, then when I am swapping back to that colour I just unpin and carry on stitching. So I would have more than one threaded needle being used on a piece.
If you want to use several colours you might find it easiest to use a fine sewing thread to couch down your gold thread first and then work the sections of colour over the top after. Achieve different texture by stitching over multiple rows- I have done this in the blue border.
I hope you give it a go, be sure to let us know if you do!
What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!