Monday, November 19, 2012

The Simple Back Stitch

I once thought that anything done with needle and thread had to consist entirely of running stitches. That was the way I originally learned how to sew, of course, and could not fathom the depth of variety that the needle and thread pair could create in one piece of fabric. As I started to look closely at samplers and magazine tutorials (this is in my younger years... before the internet was a big deal), the first departure from the running stitch I noticed was the cross-stitch. Still to this day, I hold something against it and I'm not sure why. My mother-in-law has done some beautiful cross stitch work and makes me reconsider my aversion to it. At the end of the day, I think it comes from the rigidity of the pattern--very geometrical, with not as many opportunities for curves or swooshes or the delicate rise and fall of lines that are found in nature. 

I take no issue with geometry in quilting, but with needle and thread, for some reason it's different. This is part of the reason why, when I discovered the back stitch, I suddenly felt the doors of expression in the world of embroidery open with a big whoosh of ideas. There we go, I thought. Here are curves; the stems for flowers; the roll of hills.

Are you ready to take a break from geometry? Give your text some curves. Here's where we left off after we transferred our pattern:

Put it in a hoop! These are super cheap.
I got all my colors picked out for this project and I'm going with a pretty subdued pallet. It's the onset of winter that does this to me.

Thread your needle, knot the end, and stick it through where ever you want to start.

Make a simple stitch to start.

My nails are purple, not black (that's for you mom!)

Wander down the line a bit and pull your thread through. You want to give a stitch's worth of space, as if you were starting a running stitch.

And here's where the "back" in "back stitch" comes in: Instead of moving forward with your running stitch, back it up to the exact same hole where your previous stitch ended up.

Hey look at that! Two stitches! Right together, in a beautiful, wonderful, continuous line.

Keep on going and you'll eventually outline all your letters. I started going backwards and filling in the letters. I think it makes it look more cozy. The onset of winter and all.

Right next to your first line of stitches, start again, making sure that you start in the middle of a stitch on the original line. This will make the stitches appear staggered. They will be neat and tidy, but with variety!

After your first stitch, head backwards again. You're on your way!

I will be packing this in my "fun" bag for my upcoming 12 hour car ride. I can't wait to get the minty color on the leaves!
I hope these photos help expand your stitching literacy. I always look forward to the times when I can just sit, hoop and needle in hand, and see a project come together. 

Also, let me just impress you with the knowledge that I took all these pictures myself, doing some crazy DSLR yoga moves to feature my right hand holding a needle, and hitting the button/holding the camera with my left/keeping the cat out of the shot. I give myself a pat on the back.

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