Embroidery is at last being recognised as an art form and is finding its way into the museums of modern art. If you are bent on adding decorative touches to your wardrobe and home or want to design a beautiful panel, it’s worth looking through the Golden Hands collection of stitches and designs, both modern and historical, to find inspiration and clear instructions on how to work the stitches.
Nowadays you can create exciting textures and three dimensional effects by using strong designs and colour schemes and a fascinating variety of stitches and yarns. But remember, if you are embroidering things which need to be laundered, make sure that all the materials have fast dyes and are wash able, and avoid using stitches which are too long.
Ready-made embroidery designs are usually sold in three ways:
(a) As transfers ready to iron on to your own choice of fabric.
(b) Already printed on cloth, often in a pack complete with yarns.
(e) With charts for counted thread work (for example, Cross-stitch).
In later chapters you will discover how to make your own designs, and how to enlarge and adapt.
Know Your Needles
Always use the correct needle for the type of embroidery you are working to ensure ease and comfort.
Medium length, with small eye —for sewing with cotton or a single strand of stranded cotton.
Long and sharp, with large eye sizes 6-8 —for stranded cotton, Coton à broder. Pearl cotton No. 8. size 5 Larger eye—for tapestry wool, and Pearl Cotton No. 5.
Short and sharp, with large eye No. 19 —for thick threads, tapestry wool, soft embroidery cotton.
Blunt end—for whipped and laced stitches, canvas embroidery, drawn fabric and drawn thread work.
Beading needle fine
For sewing on beads.
Hook similar to a crochet hook —used for attaching beads.
Which Cloth To Work On
You can work embroidery on almost any cloth unless you are following a charted design for counted thread embroidery or drawn-thread work. For both these you need an even-weave cloth. This cloth has an even number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch, and comes in a variety of colours. It is the best type to use for a beginner, as it helps to keep stitches even.
Start by looking at even-weave cloths on the embroidery counter at your local store. You will also find that many linens, cottons and rayons in dress and furnishing fabric departments are also evenly-woven, and are equally suitable.
The most popular types are tambour and slate frames. (The slate frame is like a wooden picture frame over which the work is stretched and tacked).
There are three types of tambour which are all basically used in the same way: the embroidery screw ring which is held in the hand, the tambour frame which clamps on a table, and the table frame which has a stand.
Setting Up A Tambour Frame
To prepare the tambour frame simply take the inside frame (the one without a screw) and wind bias binding evenly all round it so that none of the wood shows. This protects the material.
Place the material over, the inside ring and press the outside ring down over it, until the one ring is inside the other. Gently ease the fabric down until it is taut and smooth. Tighten the screw and you are then ready to begin. If you are working with a delicate fabric, cover it with a layer of protective tissue before pressing down tle outside ring. This tissue must be cut to within half an inch of the ring before starting.
Some techniques require a particular thread, but in many stitches, you can experiment with several kinds of yarn.
1. Anchor linen/twisted shiny linen/cut work, drawn fabric, drawn-thread work.
2. Soft embroidery cotton/ twisted, matt cotton/basic stitches, couching, Hardanger, pattern darning.
3. Coton à broder/twisted, shiny cotton1basic stitches, cut work, drawn-thread work, Hardanger, Holbein, smocking, Whitework.
4. Crewel wool/twisted, matt wool strands, separable/basic stitches, couching, canvas work.
5. Slub cotton/knitting cotton uneven surface/couching 6. Tapestry wool/twisted, matt wool/basic stitches, couching, pattern darning, canvas work.
7. Stranded cotton/twisted separable shiny/basic stitches, counted thread work drawn fabric and drawn-thread work, Hardanger.
8. Pearl cotton/twisted, shiny cotton, No.8 thick, No.5 thin/ basic stitches, Blackwork, counted thread work, drawn fabric and drawn-thread work, Hardanger, smocking.
9. Mohair/fluffy knitting yarn/ basic stitches (limited use), couching.