Monday, February 21, 2011

{Embroidery Week} Learning to Stitch Prettily

Welcome to my second theme week for the year. This week is going to be all about embroidery, so I thought we'd start with an overview of the basic embroidery stitches. Incidentally I've never tried embroidery before (besides cross stitch), so this is a learning week for me. The article comes from Everywoman magazine, November 1945, with the additional diagrams provided by a small booklet entitled "Clark's Embroidery Stitches" from the 1930s.

Fig. 1 shows Lazy-daisy Stitch which is used for small petals and leaves. A bolder effect is obtained by working a second Lazy-daisy stitch outside the first, or by making a straight single stitch - preferably in a darker colour - inside the daisy stitch.

Fig. 2 shows Chain Stitch which can be used singly as a stem or outline. When there is a sharp turn, the chain stitch should be sewn down at the tip, then the cotton can be brought to the right side, in the centre of the chain, and the work continued in the new direction. Chain stitch can also be used in lines close together for thick stems and straight leaves. Where a large surface is to be filled in - as the berries on the sampler - the chain stitch should start at the outer edge, following the outline, then successive rows should be worked inside. In this way it lends itself well to shaded effects.

Fig. 3 shows how Feather Stitch can be used for foliage or as a solid leaf.

Fig. 4 shows Fly Stitches worked evenly inside one another to form a leaf, and also alternated to cover a large surface - as a "filling" when the shape has already been outlined.

Fig. 5 shows Blanket Stitch, which makes a most effective outline for leaves, flowers, etc.

Fig. 6 shows close Herringbone Stitch, which is very useful for ribbons, scrolls, narrow petals and leaves, and is much quicker and easier than satin stitch for these. Rows of ordinary open herringbone stitch are also shown for use as a "filling".

Fig. 7 shows Caterpillar Stitch (or Bullion Stitch), which is mostly used for small petals and leaves, usually on children's frocks or small articles.

Fig. 8 shows Satin Stitch, which is used for ribbons, narrow leaves, petals, etc.

Where larger surfaces are to be covered Long and Short Stitch is combined with the satin stitch. As its name implies, the first row is worked with alternate long and short stitches. Further rows are worked with stitches of the same length, but have an uneven effect. Then the last row is long and short again to end with a straight line.

The edges of the Sampler are finished with Blanket Stitch. A hem should be turned and tacked down, then the blanket stitch worked evenly over it, holding the hem in place. The left-hand side shows a variation, in that the stitches are worked alternately long and short. The hem should be the width of the shorter stitch. On the right-hand-side, 3 blanket stitches are worked into the same place at the hem, but evenly spaced at the edge.

The line down the centre of the Sampler is worked in Stem Stitch, which is used as an outline, or can be worked in rows like chain stitch.

The first row across is a variation of Chain stitch.

The second row across shows double feather stitch ornamented with french knots. This can only be worked in straight lines and is mostly used for baby's nighties. Single french knots are often used for centres of small flowers, and groups of knots for larger flowers.

The third row across is ordinary herringbone stitch, which makes an effective border and is quickly worked.

The fourth row across is Snail Trail Stitch, which can only be used for straight lines and outlines.


  1. THANK you for sharing this! It is invaluable!

  2. What a neat booklet. Can't wait to see what you'll post next!

  3. ~ * ♥ * ~

    This is a fantastic post ~ when I get around to sewing my own vintage clothes {sometime this century?} I am looking forwards to embellishing them with a little embroidery and this is the perfect stitch guide for an authentic feel.

    Thank you so much for posting this Charlotte.
    : D

    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~

  4. OOOH! I am so looking forward to a week of embroidery posts! :) Thanks for sharing these--they are going to come in super handy for future reference. ;) I am determined to spend some time this spring/summer embroidering a set of tea towels for the kitchen--now just to clear off my project list a teeny bit! lol.

    ♥ Casey

  5. Oh thank you so much for posting this :)


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