Thursday, March 03, 2016

Embroidery March: Freestyle

Happy March, everyone! February is over, but I'm still plugging away at the quilt and I have a spinning FO that I haven't done a post for yet, but will when I get a couple pictures. I wanted to start March off with my go-to embroidery. Freestyle is pretty much how it sounds. There are no rules really, except you might want to have a needle, some thread, and some fabric. Embroidery is about as old as civilization and the oldest examples are done in the same stitches that I use. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London has a collection that includes silk fragments from China that may be as old as the 3rd century C.E. to a pink machine-embroidered tracksuit from 2004.

Most of my work is done by hand and I use lots of different kinds of stitches, depending on what strikes my fancy at the time. I could probably spend a whole month on freestyle, explaining my process and the different kinds of stitches I use, but I'd rather show you some of what I've done. The one on the right is mainly in chain stitch. which is quick and easy and can cover a large area in a short amount of time.

The one above uses satin stitch. I was going for a Hungarian sort of design, which makes use of satin stitch quite a bit. The hardest part is making the edges of satin stitch look nice and if you do some sort of outline, that neatens things up pretty well. 

This sashiko-inspired design is nothing more than running stitch with a few little French knots. The stitching itself is as easy as it gets, though the design can get pretty complicated.
This one uses a combination of several different kinds of stitches, including a double herringbone that was done so small that I realized that I either needed to either make bigger stitches or get some reading glasses. It makes my eyes hurt just thinking about it. To get the feathered effect, I mainly did feather stitches and cross stitches

There are lots more, but those are enough to get you started. My go-to reference has always been The Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework and if you don't have one, I highly recommend this one as essential to your needlework library.

Using a marking pen or pencil that washes out, you can free-draw whatever design pleases you and it doesn't have to be super complicated. Sometimes a simple design is all you need. Barring that, there are patterns that can be traced or ironed-on. Lately, I've taken to perusing the British Library's Flickr account. Those images are in the public domain and there are lots of interesting things that can be found there.

I found this one while looking for floral designs. My newest freestyle design will be based on this illustration, done in silver on blue silk (the same as the blue hanky above).

I've done a little in chain stitch and running stitch so far.

I could go on, but we'd be here forever. This is probably my favorite of the needle arts and one that's pretty easy to do if you start with a simple design and one or two basic stitches.  
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