I am not really a neat person, more of a bodge, if I’m honest. That’s probably why I have never really tried embroidery. Needlepoint and cross stitch are fine because I can do them one square at a time. But embroidery is freer and that scares me.
This year I promised myself that I would make an attempt to improve my embroidery skills. I got hold of a book, had a good look around YouTube and consulted Craftsy, whose online workshops I have found really helpful.
What I discovered is that I knew most of the basic stitches already which, I’m afraid gave me a false sense of security.
I have had a project on my list to make a picnic blanket out of squares of denim from old jeans. Even though the jeans I have lined up are lots of different colours I wanted to add some more surface interest so embroidery seemed to be the obvious solution.
I downloaded some designs from Urban Threads and ordered some Chacopy tracing paper to transfer my design. So far so good but then I discovered that the designs I had downloaded were quite large and when I reduced them and transferred them, they lost a lot of detail on the fabric.
So I decided to go really free form and drew some abstract shapes to play with.
I tried two ways of doing satin stitch, one with a stitched outline and one without – I fared better without albeit only marginally. I followed the french knot class on Craftsy but the knots kept disappearing in to the fabric so I went back to the way I was taught at school, going through the fabric before winding the thread around the needle. I think these look a bit big. I tried split stitch (on the semi circle), which I was hopeless at. Finally I sampled a bit of chain stitch on a circle and was actually quite happy with the results.
So what did I learn? I am not a natural embroiderer but I think I just expected to be able to do it really well straight away – after all I work with yarn every day, don’t I? Embroidery thread is not the same thing at all and needs a lot of patience, peace and quiet.
I don’t think you need to buy an expensive workshop unless you really have never used a needle and thread. I thought the Start Up Library from Craftsy was pretty expensive, but maybe I just need to spend more time with it instead of just skimming through. Books and You Tube are adequate if you are dipping your toe in.
And my denim blanket will feature a lot of chain stitch!