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hand sewing for quilters

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hand sewing techniques for quilters:

Learn How to Hand Sew Using Ladder Stitch, Running Stitch, Chain Stitch, and More
2

1 Embellished Stitches and Exotic Threads 3 2 The Running Stitch 4


Margaret Ball  julia Caprara

Ladder Stitch Sampler


Beryl Taylor

Power to the Hand Stitcher


Laura Wasilowski

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People the world over have used hand sewing for centuries not just to stitch two pieces of fabric together, but to add color, pattern, and interest to their clothing and home dcor. Even though todays quilter has many electronic tools to make stitching and quilting easier and faster, hand sewing appeals to anyone who loves fiber. In this free eBook, Hand Sewing Techniques for Quilters: Learn How to Hand Sew Using Ladder Stitch, Running Stitch, Chain Stitch, and More from Quilting Arts, you will see how, with a few basic stitches, you can use hand sewing to transform your quilts. In Embellished Stitches and Exotic Threads, fiber artist Margaret Ball describes how to combine those wonderful fancy fibers we all love with basic stitches like the chain stitch, running stitch, back stitch, and variations to create rich, three-dimensional embellishments for your art quilts and fiber art projects. Creative embroidery expert and mixedmedia fabric artist Beryl Taylor shows you the amazing variations you can create with one stitch in Ladder Stitch Sampler. She combines wool felt, strips of cotton, embroidery floss, and embellishments for a sampler like youve never seen before. Known for her colorful hand-dyed, fused fabric quilts, Laura Wasilowski also has a talent for adding just the right amount and type of hand stitching to make a small art quilt go from flat to fantastic. In Power to the Hand Stitcher, Laura shows how to use hand stitches to create backgrounds, add interest, and bring new life to old projects. Finally, we include an article on the versatile running stitch written by the late Julia Caprara, artist, lecturer, and writer in the textile art field. Creating the running stitch is simplicity itself, but Julia shows you the many ways you can use it to alter the surface, texture, and even the color of fabric for exciting, sophisticated effects. Whether you have been hand sewing all your life or are new to this time-honored craft, Hand Sewing Techniques for Quilters: Learn How to Hand Sew Using Ladder Stitch, Running Stitch, Chain Stitch, and More from Quilting Arts, will show you exciting ways to add texture and design to your quilts. Warmly,

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hand sewing techniques for quilters:


learn how to hand sew using ladder stitch, chain stitch, and more

Pokey Bolton editor Cate Coulacos Prato


Editorial director

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Division Art Director

Larissa Davis Photographers Larry Stein Korday Studios


Projects and information are for inspiration and personal use only. Quilting Arts Magazine is not responsible for any liability arising from errors, omissions, or mistakes contained in this eBook, and readers should proceed cautiously, especially with respect to technical information. Interweave grants permission to photocopy any patterns published in this issue for personal use only.

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Adapted from Quilting Arts Magazine Fall 2006

embellished stitches & exotic threads


by

M argaret B all

ave you noticed the dazzling array of fancy threads

available in needlework shops these days? They have threads that look like very fine velvet or suede cords, transparent knitted rayon tubes with glitter threaded through them, and a glitzy display of metallic cords and braids in all sizes and widths. If you go next door to the yarn store, you can add knotted and fringed and ribbon-woven yarns to the list of amazing embroidery materials, but these cant be used with traditional stitching. Most of these threads and yarns are just too thick or too fragile to stand up to being pulled back and forth through the fabric in traditional embroidery stitches. However, you can use them on very loosely woven fabrics, or you can couch them down. You can incorporate them into an embroidery project
Between the Tides 812" 614"

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D A

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by using embellished stitches and you can weave, twist, and layer these fragile threads around a simple stitch youve already laid down in some less-demanding thread, like plain old embroidery floss. There are several B stitches that lend themselves to this type of embellishment: back stitch, running stitch, chain stitch, and buttonhole stitch. You can also lay down lines of bars (lines of stitches in a ladder-like row) in embroidery A floss as a base for some stitches.
B C

C B

S ingle - threaded

running stitch
5. Continue to bring the decorative

1. Thread a chenille (sharp point)

needle with your decorative thread and tie a knot in the end. Keep the tension fairly loose so that you get a line of nice, gentle curves.
2. Bring the needle up through the

thread under the running stitches, alternating direction from up to down, until you reach the end of the line of running stitches.
6. Change back to the chenille needle

Note: Chenille needles have a sharp point and are used to pierce the fabric at the beginning and end of a stitch; tapestry needles have a blunt point and make it easy for you to weave, wrap, and interlace your fancy threads without accidentally piercing the base thread or fabric.

fabric at A. Remove the chenille needle and re-thread with a tapestry (blunt point) needle.
3. Pass the tapestry needle from A to

at the end of the line and bring the decorative thread back through the fabric. Tie off on the wrong side of the fabric. Because the running stitch is so sparse, any bulky or weighty decorative thread will totally dominate the line of stitching. A soft cord like Very Velvet, by Rainbow Gallery, worked on a running stitch in a matching color of floss, will look almost like a couched cord. A tufted knitting yarn, like Electra from Plymouth Yarn, gives the effect of a line of little flags flying off the surface of the fabric. A tight, narrow metallic like DMCs Metallic Aqua (using 3 strands together) gives a striped look of alternating silver and aqua.

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For the base stitches

B (down) under the first running stitch without piercing either the fabric or the thread.
4. Pass from C to D (up) under the

Fabric (stiffened with an iron-on


stabilizer or held taut in a hoop)

second running stitch, still without piercing fabric or thread.

Scissors Thimble Embroidery needles Smooth threads like cotton


embroidery floss or fine perle cotton in a variety of colors For the embellishment stitches

Chenille and tapestry needles


(size 18 to 24)

Fancy threads ribbon floss, suede


and velvet cords, metallic ribbons and braids, eyelash and ribbon yarns

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A

B D A

D ouble - threaded
1. Bring the needle up through the

back stitch
down before and vice versa, until you are back at the end of the line where C you started.
3. Bring the needle down at B and

Note: There are two ways to work the second line of a double stitch: either reverse direction at the end of the line, or tie off and start a new line of decorative stitching at the beginning. Here Im using the U-turn method; the restart method is illustrated later, on the double whipped chain stitch.

fabric at A (see diagram) and pass B thread under the the decorative back stitches, alternating directions (down under the first stitch, up over the second, etc.) until you come to the end of the line of back stitches. Work without piercing the B fabric.
2. Turn the fabric around and work

tieoff.
A

back in the opposite direction, again without piercing the fabric. D Thread up where you threaded

C B

tips
An eyelash yarn like Lion Brand
Fun Fur will make a wide, fluffy band that almost completely obscures the base stitching. Avalanche, a thick, soft, silk yarn from Henrys Attic, here dyed in fuchsia and lavender, makes raised loops on either side of the back stitching, giving an almost beaded look.

Fyre Werks Soft Sheen, a soft,


metalized, nylon thread from Japan, tucks down between the back stitches to make a rich line of alternating metallic copper and light green floss.

Try double threading a line of


running stitch (the decorative thread will be more prominent) or chain stitch (the base stitches will be thicker and will show through the decorative stitching).

The face of the dragon is worked in satin stitch. The wings are Angelina and are outlined with free buttonholing; the inner lines are raised with single wrapped back stitch. The tail is done with double threading of gold on green; the claws are double wrapped chain stitch.

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C D B B A hand sewing for quilters

C B

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D B A

S ingle - whipped B ack S titch


1. Bring needle up at A. 2. Carry the thread over the line ofD back stitching and bring it up under the next back stitch. 3. Repeat to end of line and close off by bringing thread down through the fabric at B. B A Note: If worked with any but the finest of decorative threads, this stitch tends to create a solid raised line of the decorative thread, with the back stitch completely hidden. As shown at left,
D A A

Bernat Eyelash yarn (a softer yarn than Lion Brand C Fun Fur) makes a A B A very bold, slightly fuzzy line. Rachelette, a translucent knitted nylon tube with B a metallic strand threaded through the tube, shows off both the soft nylon casing and the bright metallic threading in a smooth, tight line. Precious Metals Mini Garland makes a spiky, sparkly raised line, while Access soft twist A copper blends with the brown back stitching to produce the illusion of a single line of copper stitching.
B

D ouble - whipped

chain stitch
6. Continue to the end of the chain. 7. Bring the needle down at D and tie

Try the same whip stitch with running and chain-stitch lines to see how the effects can be varied.
1. Bring the needle up at A.

off and cut the thread. Note: As shown at left, with a thin, tight metallic thread, such as two strands of DMC Metallic Silver, the chain stitch remains visible and the X pattern shows up clearly. A fuzzy thread like Angora blurs all the stitching together and creates a solid raised line. A ladder knitting yarn like SRKs Ranee, with short colored rungs of bright silky floss, turns each rung into a brightly colored bobble on one side or the other of the base chain; the double whipping here completely covers the chain stitch.

Above: As before, the first line of decorative whipping is shown in the lighter color and the second in the darker color.
B

2. Take the thread down over the first


A and back up under the chain stitch second stitch.

3. Go down over the second stitch

and up under the third.


4. Continue this over-and-under
D C B A you reach the end of motion until the chain at B; bring the needle through the fabric, tie off and cut the thread.

5. Now bring the needle up at C,

passing the thread up over the first chain stitch and down under the second chain stitch.

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A C B

F ree B uttonhole S titch


The buttonhole stitch can be worked over a line of back or chain stitch without piercing the fabric except at the beginning and end of the line. A heavy, smooth thread is desirable here to show off the raised line typical of this stitch; with fuzzy threads the structure of the stitch disappears, while with tight metallic threads the underlying base stitch may show through, destroying the illusion of the unbroken raised line of stitching.
1. Bring the needle and thread up at

the working thread. The fabric is never pierced after coming up at A. You are looping around the base stitch...almost wrapping the base stitches.
3. Repeat until the first stitch of the

A, above and at the end of the base stitching.


2. Loop the thread to your left. Bring

base stitching is fully covered, then move on to the next stitch, continuing along until the row is completed. Note: If you use a soft, expandable thread and pack the decorative stitches tightly, the result should look like an unbroken line of buttonhole stitching raised above the surface of the work.
E D A E D A

it down over the base line and then up under the base line and over

C B

C B

C B

C B

W oven

bars

This stitch and the one following are worked over a base of short stitches laid down as a line of bars, about 1 4" apart and as wide as necessary to A A contain the embellishing yarns; 38" is a good average, but for a woven bar using a wide yarn you may need bars up to 34" long. Woven bars are one of the simplest and easiest ways to fill a line of bar A A stitches, and a great way to showcase wide, flat ribbons or metallic braids that dont show well when twisted and looped. 1. Bring your thread up at one end of the line of bars, at A.

2. Weave over the first bar, under the A B BA second, and so on until the end of the line is reached and you bring the thread down at B. 3. Bring it up again at C and weave C back, reversing the order. If your first thread went over the last bar, as in the B A A diagram, it should go under itBnow and over the next one. 4. Continue weaving back to the beginning of the row and bring your needle down through the fabric at D.
B A B up Aagain at E and continue 5. Come for as many rows as it takes to fill the line of bars. C

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B B

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R aised C hain B and


This simple weave is a great way to showcase a bright, ribbon knitting yarn or a stiff, flat metallic braid like Fyre Werks Holographic Ribbon. 1. Work a row of bars as a base, but make them shorter than for the woven band, A otherwise you risk pulling them out of shape as you work the chain. 2. Bring the thread up at A, just below the first bar. 3. Loop over that first bar and bring the thread under it without piercing the fabric. 4. Bring the thread up to the right of A and make a wide loop above the first A bar, coming down over the bar at B. 5. Bring the thread up under the bar between B and A, and over its own loop at C.

C B C B

E D A E D A
D B B A A

C B C B

6. Draw the thread snug but not too tight and you will have completed one A raised chain stitch.

7. Repeat the stitch C over each D bar until A B A you come to the end, then finish the band by bringing the thread down at D and tying off. This is such a beautifully structured, braid-like stitch that it would be a pity to obscure the structure by A it Bworking with a fuzzy thread. Instead, try a tight cord like Coronet over black floss bars, or a Kreinik metallic braid over A bars worked in a coordinating color of floss. D Margaret Ball is an occasional D novelist, full-time bead and fiber artist, who is working on second bead embroidery book. VisitBher website: flameweaver.com.

C B
B B A A D

The ribbon-woven yarn I used in the D sample is Lion Brand Incredible, which is a relatively inexpensive, widely available, smooth, multi-hued yarn. Its available in many fabric and craft stores and can be ordered online. Some other yarns C that would work are Beroccos Yoga, Louisa Hardings Kimono Ribbon, and Langs Lido. The C problem with all these names is that B A yarn fashions are extremely volatile they appear and disappear quicklyso B IA the ones used may not be available when you go to the yarn shop. I suggest you just pick up whats in stock now and buy as much as you think youll need. The running stitch, back stitch, and chain stitch can all be used as a base for threading an exotic yarn or thread through the line of stitching A it over the stitches in the or whipping base line.

A B A A
B A

B
C

C C A A
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spectrum
Q

the running stitch

Adapted from Quilting Arts Magazine Summer 2005

uilters and embroiderers alike enjoy a passion for cloth, stitch, and invariably color. It is so often the luminosity of fabric surfaces and color that attract us all when confronted by an array of fabrics and

threads. We hoard and cherish little bundles of brightly colored cloth, favorite ribbons, bright and shiny silks. But it is all too easy to hold onto these treasures, never to have the courage to use or work with them in case they are a Pandoras Box that will overtake us and get out of control!

by J ulia

C aprara
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hand sewing for quilters Open the lid of the Box of Delights and come with me! Explore the story of a glimpse into a world of color and stitch that offers such infinite possibilities and opportunities. You will only need a sewing needle, lots of different colored fine threads such as cotton or silk twists, some brightly colored scraps of silk or fine cotton fabrics, a pair of embroidery scissors, an open mind, and an inquisitive eye.

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Above: Goddess Cloth - Aegean Goddess running stitches in brilliant colors leap through various cottons and silks. Left: Goddess Cloth - Triple Goddess Fabric pieces sewn with running stitches; displayed as three separate but united wall hangings. (See detail previous page.)

On the run
Lets take the running stitch, plus the world of color, and see where the adventure will take us. The running stitch is exactly that, a stitch on the run. Originally worked to darn runs in knitted and woven textiles, it rapidly became a way for creating decorative patterns and borders for clothing. Nowadays it is one of the most versatile and exciting stitches for embroiderers and quilters to work with.

One of the simplest stitches, the running stitch creates a rhythmic way for altering or changing cloth. It can gather or pleat fine fabrics when pulled or under tension. It can draw fast, creating outlines of forms and shapes. Worked on different weights of fabrics, a running stitch can make a delicate, fragile fabric such as chiffon or organza become even more ethereal. And when used on heavy, felted wool, this versatile stitch can create richly embellished and encrusted colored surfaces.

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Sun Over Water Stitches were worked in one direction and in varying lengths using wools, fabric strips, chiffons, and threads creating an almost painterly surface.

I first started on this extraordinary journey by giving myself permission to work with something I didnt know would work. I said to myself, What would happen ifI tried only working with a running stitch and the pure colors of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet? Or, what would happen ifI only worked with pale tints of color, or colors that belonged to the quieter tones of blues and mauves, but worked them on a bright colored background? My first experiments were made on an open-weave linen and silk-weave fabric that enabled me to darn or run all kinds of threads, ribbons, and fabric strips through the background. I found that by working the stitches in only one direction, but varying the length of the stitch and the weight or thickness of the threads, it was possible to create an almost painterly surface. The next challenge I set for myself was more difficult. What would happen if I tried working with the spectrum as my color palette, but only stitched with fine threads, such as cotton or a fine strand of silk, and I only stitched into fine silk or cotton fabrics as a background?

Try running lines of stitches, in different threads and colors across each other and you will be amazed and delighted with the color mixtures you obtain. Also try working it on

the slant, or move it in circles on the cloth. This expressive stitch can become your paintbrush, enabling you to grow the most unexpected and extraordinary colored textile surfaces.

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This was a revelation! Until this point I had always worked on a whole cloth background and composed my ideas as I stitched, and until now had always regarded myself as an embroiderer. I challenged myself to alter a very small scrap of fabric with running stitches in multiple colors. As I worked the next small scrap, and the next, I found myself patching and piecing, growing a cloth in much the same way that my great-grandmother had patched and pieced precious scraps of cloth to make family quilts and coverlets many years ago. I found that my darning stitches could not only embellish and change the surface and patterns of the background cloth, but they would

Above: Detail of Light Over Water On an open-weave fabric, stitches were worked in one direction using lighter shades of fabrics and threads. Below: Red, yellow, blue, and purple stitches worked on green felt; circular and square designs maintain a rhythmic sequence.

t h e c o l o r s p e c t r u m
Getting to know the color spectrum is easy. Keep your rules simple and your materials straightforward. Try:

Working with complementary colors


(colors opposite each other on the color wheel). For example, stitch with yellow threads on a mauve or violet background.

Working with soft muted


tertiary colorsthe color achieved with paint when opposite colors are mixed together, such as red and green, violet and yellow, or blue and orange.

Exploring overlays of spectrum colors


(red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo) in fine threads to create a different color mix when seen from a distance.

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hand sewing for quilters also be wonderful stitches for darning and sewing these fragments together. I could add in all kinds of treasures, small rolls of cloth, nuggets of threads stitched in, even beads, twigs, and sticks. In other words, I could make a new cloth from scratch. Now my treasure box was filled with very different materials from the palette of knitting yarns I had used before. I hunted in remnant shops for bright, colorful muslins, visited wonderful Asian emporia for brilliant turban cottons, sari silks, and scarves. My thread basket became filled with finer weight threads and silks, glistening jewel-like colors, plastic threads, and more unusual yarns such as colored nylon fishing line.

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try this Use a bright yellow thread and


make huge running stitches in parallel rows across a dark crimson silk organza.

Use a fragment of an old blue silk


sari and only work with shades of red threads.

Use materials that are the colors of


autumn, and stitch with autumn colors, blacks and greys, bronze and gold threads, and copper wires. I found that my Pandoras magic box had become a whole new world of color, one that would always be full and overflowing with ideas. To work creatively and expressively with color and stitch, you need to be prepared to explore, experiment, and try the unexpected. Come with me now and take the risk.

Above: Poseidons Wedding Carpet A wall hanging with pieced and patched fabrics, running stitches, and found objects from the seashore. Right: Running stitches in yellow, red, and blue threads overlaid many times to create a rich mix of color.

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n e v e r
make your thread length longer than the distance between your hand and your elbow. work with the same colored thread twice running. take out a stitch or thread. be afraid of overlaying colors to the point that you have lost your first color. be afraid of trying something new or taking a risk. Just when you think that you have made chaos, you will be certain to find that chink of light, that one glimpse of something that is uniquely your own, and with it a method to repeat your results until you have turned it into your true voice.

Gathering inspiration
Try some experiments in a sketchbook with colored drawing pencils using lines that look like running stitches. When explored quickly in this way it is possible to mix an extraordinary range of colors. Begin to look for your own color language wherever you go and collect them in a book, make your own drawings and/or attach scraps of paper, cloth, and thread to the pages. Observe how nature quite often uses primary and secondary colors together in plants, such as red berries and bright green leaves, or orange flowers with the softer blue-green stems and foliage. The French Impressionist artists all worked with a high-pitched color palette, moving small blobs and marks of color across each other to create a sense of luminosity and light. Stitch will create this effect too, and by overlaying fine lines of spectrum hues across each other it is possible to create a radiant and vibrating sense of luminous light. Try working systematically through the color palette of the spectrum.

why not
experiment to see what red, green, (etc.) do to a bright green fabric. use more or less of one color than another. leave more of the ground fabric showing. work your running stitches to cover more of the ground fabric. Stitching will always change the top surface of your fabric, but overlay several different layers of more transparent-colored fabrics, and your palette of color will change even more. Running stitches can be threaded through one another and with different threads, creating a weavelike effect. I invite you to take up your needle, gather some pieces of solid, brightly colored fine cotton or silk fabrics and a variety of different threads in spectrum hues, and begin to stitch. Julia Caprara was a teacher, author, and visionary known to many as the creator of cutting edge creative textiles characterized by vibrant color and an innovative use of materials. She passed away in 2008. For more information, visit: jctextilearts.com.

Running stitch drawing using overlaid colored crayons.

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Ladder Stitch sampler

prefer to use simple stitches in my work. Stitches that are easy

to carry out yet have the ability to look completely different when executed with different weights of thread, different fibers, and different fabrics. In general, the ladder stitch is used to couch down cords, ribbon, or braids. It can also be used for filling long, narrow shapes.
A sampler is a wonderful way to show off a favorite stitch, and by producing several samplers of the same stitch using different colors and types of threads, you could actually

m a t e r i a l s
A piece of wool felt 100 percent cotton fabric of various
colors and patterns

Sewing machine Embroidery floss of varying


thicknesses

Beads Silk ribbon Needles with eyes large enough for


threads

by
Adapted from Quilting Arts Magazine Fall 2006

B eryl T aylor

Beading needle Scissors

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hand sewing for quilters incorporate them into one large piece; I would imagine about 20 squares would make a great wall hanging. In this sampler piece, I wanted to accentuate the strips of fabric so I couched over them with the ladder stitch (also known as open chain stitch).
3. As the needle emerges it is passed

learn how to hand sew Beryl Taylor is a mixed-media fiber artist, teacher, author, and host of two Quilting Arts Workshop videos in which she shares her techniques. Visit her website: beryltaylor.com.

through a loop created in the thread by the left thumb. The loop is kept loose so that as the needle is taken across the fabric strip in a straight line, the second repeat stitch is made by placing the needle through the loop again before sliding it through the fabric.
4. Repeat the stitch as needed (until

directions for panel


1. Cut or tear strips of cotton fabric

the piece is couched in place).


5. On the last stitch of the row, tie

approximately 58" wide.


2. Machine-stitch onto felt panel at

down by making a small straight stitch in each corner.

114" intervals.
3. Wash felt panel in washing

machine on hot to shrink the felt. Dry in a tumble dryer.


4. When dry, embellish between the

cotton strips with beads and fly stitching.


5. Hand-stitch the cotton strips with

A C B

the ladder stitch using different ribbons and threads.

directions for ladder stitch


Always work this stitch in a downward direction.
1. Start at the back of the fabric

and bring the needle and thread through from the back to the front.
2. Stitch over the fabric strip from

left to right in a straight line and then slide the needle and thread from front to back and then back through to the front in a down ward diagonal movement so that the needle emerges at a point directly below the point at which the stitching started.

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power
The simple stitches of hand embroidery can take a flat, uninteresting quilt top and

hand stitcher
by

to the

Adapted from Quilting Arts Magazine February/March 2009

his I believe: a stitch by hand transforms a quilt.

L aura W asilowski

bring the quilt surface to life. Its like going from a cocoon to a butterfly.

Hand stitches add color, texture, and pattern to the surface of small art quilts. They form detailed marks that cannot be made with fabric. The embroidered stitch also helps define fabric shapes, provides a focal point, and most importantly, draws the viewer closer.

F our B ackgrounds for S titching


There are four basic ways I use hand stitching to enhance quilt tops: place stitches on geometric pieced backgrounds; add them to a wholecloth quilt without any machine stitching; place them on a fused composition and add machine stitching later; or put hand stitches on a completed, machine-stitched quilt. Geometric background shapes are ideal for practicing a variety of stitches (see Random Acts of Piecing #12). Choose a basic book of embroidery stitches, such as Elegant Stitches by Judith Baker Montano, and follow the stitch directions page

Left: Random Acts of Piecing #12 1012" 1112" Below: Random Acts of Piecing #4 12" 13"

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hand sewing for quilters by page. As each pieced rectangle is

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m a t e r i a l s
A fused quilt top Fusible batting Variegated, cotton embroidery
thread, size-8 or -12

Long-eyed embroidery needle,


size to correspond with thread size (In hand needles, the smaller the number size the larger the needle diameter. Use a size-3 with size-8 thread and a size-5 with size-12 thread.) Optional

Embroidery hoop Quilters pencil Thimble

filled in, you are reminded of stitch names, variations, and their visual impact. In Blue Chair at the Window, the needle and thread work as drawing implements. The hand stitches do all the work in creating the room setting for the chair.

Blue Chair at the Window 7" 912" The chair shape (made with a hand-carved stamp) is stamped onto a plain background fabric. Stem stitches outline the chair, define the window frame, and delineate the division between wall and floor. Cross stitches pattern the floor and seed stitches texture the walls. The woven stitches found in the antimacassar add detail and draw the eye to the focal point, the chair.

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hand sewing for quilters

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The power of the stitch is best seen in Joyful Heart #21 (above). A simple heart is fused onto a plain background fabric, and free-motion machine stitches form canals of thread, guiding

the placement of the embroidery stitches. This random hand stitching adds pattern, texture, and color, and converts a plain quilt top into a little gem.

Joyful Heart #21 9" 10"

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hand sewing for quilters

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Above: The backing of Blue Chair at the Window was added after the embroidery was complete. No stitches show through on the fused back.

R andom A cts of S titching


Improvisational embroidery is stitching without a plan, without a pattern or drawing to follow. Stitch choices and placement are designed as you go, with one stitch building on another. Its a heady, reckless feeling to stitch without a plan, but thats the thrill of handwork and why so many stitchers have a gleam in their eye, including me. Note: The color of my hand-dyed variegated threads changes every 3" or less. This keeps the stitch color interesting without having to change threads for different colors.

Joyful Heart #22 834" 1134" 2. Knot or imbed a maximum 18"

Directions
1. Steam set your fused quilt top to

the non-scrim side of the batting before adding handwork (fusing to the scrim may ripple the quilt).

strand of thread in the back of the quilt and bring the needle and thread to the top of the quilt to begin stitching. Stitch only through the batting and quilt top layers. It is one less layer to stitch through and you can hide all your stitching mess when you add the backing (see the back of Blue Chair at the Window, above left).

Note: For me, an embroidery hoop only hampers my freedom to stitch, but use one if you are comfortable using one. A thimble saves fingertips and also looks really cool!
3. Mark the areas to be stitched with

a quilters pencil, or stitch freely without following lines. Placement of stitches is dictated by the shapes on your quilt top. Start with the easy stitches you know; use them Q u i lt i n g A r t s . c o m
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hand sewing for quilters separately or in combination with other stitches. The running stitch leads the eye around the quilt top. Back stitches or stem stitches outline and define fabric shapes. Crossstitches build pattern. French knots add dynamic hits of color and texture that attract the eye and are often mistaken for beads. Tip: To gauge the length or the curve of a stitch line on an open field of fabric, draw that line with the tip of the needle and then follow the crease in the fabric.

learn how to hand sew

A
A
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A
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French knot

Stem stitch

Cross stitch

Running stitch

N ew L ife S titchery

through

Another benefit to adding hand stitching to a quilt top is that it can revive old work. Having documented the transformation of a piece from before embroidery to after embroidery, I can confirm there is a marked change in the vitality of the piece. Hand stitching adds vigor and spark, texture and pattern, to a quilt top and rescues it from obscurity. It also invites the observer to step closer to the work to share the beauty of the embroidered stitch. And, maybe, they too will be as captivated by the joy and the power of the hand stitch as I am. Laura Wasilowski is a quilt artist, instructor, lecturer, dyer, and author of fun, fast, fearless fusing books. Visit her website: artfabrik.com.

Coleens Calling Birds #9 1134" 1314" This fused quilt composition was steam set to batting. The stitching is just through the batting and top layer of the quilt; red French knots were added to the leaves for hits of color. The bird became the focal point with the addition of running stitches to pattern the wing, back stitches to outline the wing, and lazy daisy stitches and French knots to create his coronet. Once the handwork was done, the backing was put on the quilt; machine stitching fills in the background, adding subtle pattern and texture.

how to hand sew using ladder, running, chain stitch, and more

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