While I’ve gathered the necessary embroidery materials and learned how to backstitch, I want to learn what else I can do with embroidery stitches. Last time, I didn’t mention how handy a bit of carbon transfer paper is for tracing a design onto your fabric. These come in different colors, even white for tracing onto dark fabric. You can also use iron-on transfers, which skip the step of having to trace and can be used several times. Sublime stitches offers hipper transfers, like zombies and pirates (if you were so inclined), but also tons of starter kits from artists so you can find just the right style for you.
As a beginner, you really need a pattern, unless you want to doodle like Bella Dia. Aside from backstitch, here are some of the other stitches to try in embroidery.
- Split stitch-This stitch is perfect for making continuous, fluid lines (like I’ll want in my squid design). You bring the needle up through the fabric and make a stitch a short distance ahead in the direction you are stitching. You bring the needle back up through the last stitch, “splitting” the thread and continue stitching. Since you are splitting the thread, you’ll want to keep all six thread of the floss, at least to begin.
- Stem stitch– Stem stitch is like split stitch, but instead of bringing the needle up through the threads of the last stitch, you bring the needle right next to the stitch. The needle emerges a tiny bit behind the end of the stitch, pushing the floss to the side. You will be making slightly diagonal stitches along your line.
- Satin stitch– You can use satin stitch to fill in areas with the embroidery floss. You are basically making stitches across the outlines of your shape. Make a stitch across your shape and bring up the needle again right next to where you last brought up the needle (across from where you “exited” the fabric). This will make the stitches right next to one another to fill in the shape.
- Seed stitches– These stitches can also be used in fill in an area more sparsely. Seed stitches are very tiny stitches that capture a tiny amount of fabric. Many of them close together in random directions can fill in the inside of a flower or other designs.
- French knot– These are more advanced embroidery stitches but give beautiful, textured results. Basically, you are wrapping the floss around the needle once or twice before bringing it back through the fabric. Check out this tutorial from purl bee.
For diagrams of stitches, check out this excerpt from Jenny Hart’s book Classic to Cool Embroidery Projects. Personally, I forsee doing my first project in stem stitch.