[EMBROIDERY] A Fresh Restart

Who would’ve thought the world would shut down in a blink of an eye? I still remember the last few days before the shelter in place order–naively thinking that we wouldn’t start working from home so quickly and for an indefinite time.

Now that we’re experiencing a pandemic, I have so much more time. Every week is starting to look the same because all I do is read, learn, and restock my fridge. I admit that I’ll get a little antsy from being home all the time, but I’ve started to use that energy to get back in touch with my creative side.

I started embroidering about two years ago. I didn’t complete many projects (see time excuse from above) but I still practiced every now and then. Now that everyone is under quarantine, I started reviving my dying hobby.

I recently finished a piece for a good friend of mine. I curated a muted but warm color palette with some darker greens to accent the colors and detailed stitching of the flowers. I used two strings of thread for the flowers and three for the leaves. I found that complex, dimensional stitches look more delicate with a smaller thread count.

I love adding dimensionality to my embroidery work so I used the cast on stitch for the roses. I honestly only like using cast on stitches, bullion stitches, and French knots for flowers. The leaves tend to be one dimensional so I prefer giving the flowers more depth, but I definitely want to experiment with other types of stitches and designs!

The piece originally didn’t have embroidered text before, but after looking at it I felt that some text would be a great addition. My friend and I agreed on “you’re enough” because it’s a great pick me up to read when you’re feeling a bit down.

Something was missing…or at least that was what my friend and I thought!

Most embroiderers sketch out their pattern onto the fabric first before embroidering but I prefer to freestyle my designs (i.e. a more chaotic approach). I’m absolutely awful at free-styling text so positioning and drafting it was a necessary evil. I didn’t have markers or chalk designed to guide your stitching so I had to be a bit more creative.

I ended up writing out the words onto lined paper and outlined it with black ink. I positioned the paper behind the fabric so I could trace the design in pencil. I drew in guide lines to mark the center and horizontal guide lines. It works fine but just be aware that it’ll be difficult to erase the graphite if you make a mistake. I held my breathe during this process but the transfer was successful!

I taped the paper with the text on the back to hold it in place while I trace. This is also an inside scoop of what the back looks like for embroidered work. I’m not the neatest but some people are meticulous about cleaning up the back!

Embroidering the words after transferring is pretty straightforward. I tend to be careful around the edges because you don’t want the calligraphy to look boxy. I used as many small stitches as needed to trace over the curved edges. I found that it’s better to use too many than too few stitches since you can’t tell the difference anyway. The o in enough was sloppy the first time around so I had to redo that a few times.

Another thing to keep in mind is the risk of transferring dye–if you rip out the thread, sometimes the dye from your thread will transfer onto the fabric. You can either cover it up with another stitch or leaf, or you run into the case where you need to make a certain spot brighter. I added a small white stitch inside the o since the fabric started to darken a bit from all the ripping and redoing. Think of it like concealer but for your embroidery.

I’m really happy with how this turned out and I’m so excited to ship this out to it’s new owner. I’m also hoping to post a bit more about the projects I’m working on, so I hope you stay tuned and stay safe!