3 ways to make simple embroidery stitches extraordinary

Here we are at the last post for this week! Monday on QUILTsocial we talked about easy ways to transfer embroidery designs to your stitching fabric. Tuesday, we talked about basic embroidery stitches. Wednesday was all about embroidery stitches for filling in areas, and yesterday we learned how to wrap stitches like French knots and bullion knots. We used lots of great products such as DMC Embroidery Flosses and perle cottons, UNIQUE notions, Clover notions, DMC Magic Paper, and Charles Craft Monaco Needlework Fabric

All week I’ve used the SURELight M4M LED 3-in-1 Lamp, and it’s really quite awesome! The light has multi levels of brightness each with different temperature options (warm or cool light). Although I use it on a table, it comes with a giant clip for attaching to your work surface or chair as well as a floor stand. Because it can be powered with AC or the enclosed battery compartment, you can bring this light to any work area. There is also a 2x magnifier on an adjustable goose neck to help clearly see the fine details of your embroidery project.

The SURELight M4M LED 3-in-1 Lamp

Today I’m talking about whipped, threaded, and woven embroidery stitches and how to use whipping and threading to change a basic embroidery stitch into something more interesting. For this type of stitch, it’s important to use a blunt needle such as a DMC Tapestry Needle so the needle doesn’t pierce the fabric or split the threads of previous stitches.

Technique 1 – Whipping

Almost any stitch can be whipped with another thread to create a more interesting stitch. The simplest stitch to whip is the running stitch. You can easily work a whipped running stitch around tight corners or in intricate designs and you can change the look of the finished product by changing the spacing of the foundation stitches or by changing the weight of threads you use.

When you start with a backstitch as your foundation, you create a whipped backstitch which has a slightly raised finish that looks a lot like a rope or cord. It’s great for enhancing the edges of an applique design or for making flower stems.

To stitch a whipped stitch, bring your needle to the front of your fabric slightly below the foundation stitch at the right end of the row. Slide the needle behind the next stitch from above, and pull the thread through. Repeat until you whipped all of the foundation stitches.

A whipped backstitch diagram

Here are examples of some of the whipped stitches on my embroidery. The top line is a blue and yellow whipped backstitch that’s stitched with six strands of DMC Rayon Satin embroidery floss from the DMC Satin Floss 8 pack – Radiant Treasures. The bottom is a pink chain stitch that’s stitched with six strands of embroidery floss from the DMC Light Effects Floss 6 pack – Tropical Glow and then is whipped with 6 strands of blue rayon embroidery floss.

Whipped backstitch and whipped chain stitch

Technique 2 – Threading

Threading is similar to whipping because it starts with a line of foundation stitches like a running stitch, backstitch or chain stitch. We’re still using a DMC Tapestry Needle so that we don’t catch the base fabric or other stitches.

To work this stitch, we start with a running stitch. Bring your needle to the front of your fabric slightly below the foundation stitch at the right end of the row. Slide the needle behind the next stitch from the bottom and pull the thread through. Now, slide the needle under the next stitch from above the line and pull your thread through. Keep threading, alternating from above and below until you complete the entire line. If you’re doing this stitch around an object, make sure you have an even number of foundation stitches.

A threaded running stitch diagram

Here is an example of some threaded stitches on my needle roll embroidery. On the top is a line of purple backstitches worked in 6 strands of purple DMC Rayon Satin embroidery floss from the Radiant Treasures 8 pack. I used a tapestry needled to thread 6 strands of yellow embroidery floss from the DMC Light Effects – Tropical Glow 6 pack through the purple backstitches. On the bottom is a line of pink running stitches that I double threaded with 6 strands of blue embroidery floss by threading in one direction and then turning around and threading back towards the beginning. As you can see, you can pull the threaded stitches tight like in the top row, or leave them fairly loose like in the bottom row, both of which give a totally different look.

Threaded backstitch and double threaded running stitch

Technique 3 – Weaving

Stitches, such as the woven wheel stitch or the whipped and woven circle stitch involve weaving over the top of foundation stitches, and add lots of great texture to your embroidery piece.

Woven wheel stitch (or woven circle)

To make a woven wheel, the first thing you do is stitch a circle of ‘spokes’ which are basically just evenly spaced straight stitches all coming out of the same point in the middle. For the woven wheel to work, you need to have an uneven number of spokes – 5 or 7 work well. Once again, use a DMC Tapestry Needle so that you don’t catch the base fabric or other stitches.

Next, bring your needle up to the front of your fabric near the center of the wheel. Working counterclockwise, alternate passing your needle over and under the spokes. Continue around in circles until complete.

A woven wheel stitch diagram

You can leave some of the spokes showing outside of the weaving, or you can fill the spokes in entirely like I did to make my blue hollyhock flowers. I made the bottom circle the largest and then made them smaller and smaller as I went up the stem. I used 6 strands of royal blue DMC Rayon Satin embroidery floss from the Radiant Treasures 8 pack. The stem is worked in a stem stitch using DMC Perle Cotton.

Woven wheel stitched flowers on a green stem

Whipped and woven circle

The last stitch of the week is the whipped and woven circle.

For this stitch, you start with the same type of spokes like in the woven wheel, but you can have any number of spokes – it doesn’t have to be an uneven number like before.

First, stitch a circle of evenly spaced spokes coming out of the same point in the middle, then bring your needle up to the front of your fabric near the center of the wheel. Working clockwise, pass your needle over the first spoke, then under the first and second spokes. Pull the thread through until taut, then go over the second spoke and under spokes 2 and 3. Repeat this process of over one spoke and under two, and continue to work around the circle until complete.

A whipped and woven circle stitch diagram

As you can see, to make my whipped and woven circle, I didn’t just use straight stitches, I used detached chain stitches worked in a circle with their tails all meeting in the center of the circle. I stitched these detached chain stitches with size 5 DMC Perle Cotton #3328, and then made the whipped and woven circle using size 8 DMC Perle Cotton #322. You can also use pistil stitches to make your spokes!

A whipped and woven circle over top of detached chain stitches

Watch my video on how to do all of the stitches we talked about today.

The last step!

Once you complete all the embroidery you want to do on your needle roll, you need to remove the DMC Magic Paper and the blue marker lines that you made with the UNIQUE Sewing 2-in-1 Dual-Tip Wash-out/Air Erasable Fine Tip Marking Pen.

You can remove the pen marks by dabbing them with a damp cloth, but you have to rinse the DMC Magic Paper in water in order to remove it. So, I opted to just soak my entire embroidery piece in lukewarm water, and then rinsed it under cool water to finish removing any of the sticky residue.

Soaking to remove the DMC Magic Paper

And the finished piece…

Here is my finished embroidery after drying it. I used my iron to get rid of most of the wrinkles, but I didn’t want to press down too much on my dimensional flowers.

The completed embroidery piece

I really enjoyed all of this handwork this week and I hope you did too! I love hand embroidery and am excited to share it with other quilters. All the products I used this week made the embroidery process easy and the end product beautiful. I think I prefer doing my embroidery with the different weights of DMC Perle Cotton, but I do like the different looks that you can achieve with threads like the DMC Mouline Etoile Floss, the DMC Satin Floss and the DMC Light Effects embroidery floss. I found the Charles Craft Monaco Needlework Fabric  very nice to stitch on, but prefer to do embroidery on felted wool. The wool is much heavier (so you don’t have to be very neat on the back) and you don’t need to use an embroidery hoop.

The DMC Magic Paper was a wonderful surprise, and I’m sure I’ll be using it for my wool embroidery in the future. And, the SURELight M4M LED 3-in-1 Lamp is a great tool to have beside my favorite chair!

Now that I’ve finished the embroidery part of my needle roll, I can’t wait to finish up the inside storage part which I’ll show you how to do in November. Until then, enjoy the return to crisp fall weather and the changing colors of the leaves!

This is part 5 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 4: 4 essential stitches that add dimension to your embroidery

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