Sunday, January 31, 2016

Interlaced Hearts: Chain-Stitching Around Curves

Embroidered Vest Pocket
Embroidered Vest Pocket
You have now practiced several different kinds of chain-stitch, along with a number of ways of modifying those stitches. There will be more varieties of chain-stitch in the future, which I recommend you continue to practice along straight lines of pulled thread until you have mastered them. It is time now, however, to use what you have already learned and to practice it in an actual design.

Embroidered Vest Back
Embroidered Vest Back
One of the most popular characteristics of chain-stitch is its flexibility. This makes it ideal for embroidering curved shapes and loops like the ones embroidered in silk on this decorative vest. Look, for example, at the detail in these pictures. Now it is time for you to take a pencil or a permanent marker and draw a variety of curves and loops on your practice fabric. Place the fabric in an embroidery hoop or a frame and embroider the curves and loops with the stitches you have already learned. This will tell you which ones follow curves best, as well as showing you which ones you most enjoy using.



Bird in Beauvais Embroidery
Bird in Beauvais Embroidery
Plain chain is also very useful for filling blank spaces and the insides of closed shapes. This kind of solid chain stitch is sometimes called Beauvais embroidery. The bird on this purse is an example of that. Draw a closed curved figure circle, oval, heart, etc. on your practice fabric. It should be at least a couple of inches (4 to 5 centimeters) across. Embroider around the outline in plain chain, turning your work as you go. But don't join the last stitch to the first. Instead, keep stitching just inside the finished chain stitches, getting as close to them as you can. Continue in this way until the entire shape is filled solid with stitches. Carry your yarn to the back of your work and secure it under finished stitches. It is possible to start in the center of a shape and work outward, but I find this more difficult to do. Remember to keep turning your hoop or frame as you work.

Iron-on Transfer
Iron-on Transfer
In the May 12, 2015 post, I promised to make a design based on one of the free-hand painted patterns on my Costa Rican cart. I have done a simplified outline design which you can download and copy. You will find it at the end of this post. I then made a hot-iron transfer of the design and ironed it onto light gold Aida cloth. (There are other ways to transfer a design, but this is one I use regularly.) For more information on making your own hot-iron transfer, see the post for October 6, 2013. The transfer is pictured here.


  


Interlaced Hearts, Step 1
Interlaced Hearts, Step 1
I made a completed crewel picture, emphasizing the heart shapes in the design. You will see stages of the work, in progress. For the first stage, I outlined the heart shapes in various chain-stitches, using a variety of reds ranging from a dark maroon to a bright pink. I also filled in small empty sections with Beauvais embroidery, using the same reds.

Interlaced Hearts, Step 2
Interlaced Hearts, Step 2
In the second stage, I worked various sections in other colors, using more chain-stitches. I employed a number of techniques, such as back-stitching, lacing, double-stitching, etc. Once this was done, I washed the piece carefully in lukewarm water and a gentle liquid detergent to remove all traces of the transfer pencil. I hung the fabric to dry and later pressed it on the back with a warm iron and replaced it in the embroidery hoop. (Pull yours taut in the hoop to keep the fabric from wrinkling. This will make it easier to block when it is finished.)



In the last stage, I added details and embellishments with a fine white yarn. I like to do white embroidery last on a project. This means that the work is not handled as much and that there are fewer chances of the white yarn or thread getting dirty or discolored. Finally, the design went to J.D. to be blocked, backed, and framed. Here is a picture of the finished project.
Interlaced Hearts Embroidery, Finished and Framed
Interlaced Hearts Embroidery, Finished and Framed

Embroidery Pattern
Click to Download Embroidery Pattern


And here is the pattern to embroider in your choice of fabric, yarns or flosses, and most of all your favorite stitches. I added a few details to my finished embroidery that are not on your pattern. I would expect you to do this also to your project to make it a one-of-a-kind piece that is uniquely your own.

Happy hearts to you,








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