Stitches are divided into families, or groups, and the main families are line, flat, looped, chained, knotted, filling, composite and couching.
The stitch guide begins with simple running stitch and shows you some decorative affects you can achieve by using pattern darning. If you want to try them out immediately, see if you have a plain bath towel in the airing cupboard.
You will notice that there is a ‘flat’ border between the main terry toweling area and the edge which can be pattern darned in colours to match the bathroom scheme.
Remember, whenever you begin to embroider, start by making a knot in the thread, anchor the knot with a few stitches and then continue embroidering. When you have finished just snip the knot off close to the material, so that the thread is perfectly flat and secure.
This stitch is worked horizontally from right to left. Pass the needle over and under the fabric, making the upper stitches the same length and the under ones half as long (also keeping them the same length as each other). For example: over 6 threads, under 3, over 6.
To finish off, work one or two back stitches into the reverse side of the work so that they do not show through on the right side. N.B. When you are doing embroidery, never pull your thread too tight or it will pucker the fabric.
This Bulgarian border shows how even humble running stitch can be built up into rich motifs with pattern darning. You will find the same sort of pattern-darned designs on peasant skirts, tote-bags and rugs in Greece, often in corn yellow, red and white on black cloth; or red, black, white and yellow on blue.
This is an easy and quick method of decorating cloth with simple running stitch, and makes beautiful borders for household linen, children’s dresses, and any other garment which needs livening up. Running stitches of varying lengths can be worked in rows to build up into a regular pattern. This is often known as huckaback embroidery as it was usually worked on huckaback, a cloth especially used for hand towels. You can also put a running stitch border on to a terry towel by working the pattern of the flat surface of the material, near the ends of the towel, not on the raised pile itself. Remember, too, that towels need heavy and frequent washing, so use washable threads.
Fabrics. Suitable fabrics for pattern darning are any even- weave materials like linen and wool. Simply weave or darn the thread into the ground fabric, keeping the tension even.
Threads. Use stranded cotton or Pearl cotton for linen or cotton towels, tablecloths and napkins and use tapestry wool for woollen fabrics. Pattern darning can also be done on knitted garments or very loose tweeds using narrow velvet ribbon.
1st row. Under 13 threads, over 3 threads, under 2, over 3, under 2, over 3, under 13. Repeat right along border, and do as many rows as required to form the block of stitches. 2nd row. Over 3, under 2, over 3, under 2, over 3, under 13. Repeat as often as needed.
(o=over u=under) 1st row. ol2 u6. 2nd row. ol2 u8. 3rd row. o8 ulO. 4th row. o6 ul2. 5th row. o4 u14. 6th row. o2 ul6. 7th row. o2 ul6. 8th row. o4 u14. 9th row. o6 u12. 10th row. o8 ulO.
1st row. Across: 02 u2 o2 u2 o2. Up: u2 o2 u2 o2 u2. Across: o2 u2 o2 u2 o2 u2 o2 u2 o2 u2. Down: o2 u2 o2 u2 o2. Across: begin again. 2nd row. Same as first, but start with two stitches under, and work on alternate stitches.
Using regular running stitch (in this case over 3 under 3), work five lines of colour across the material to form a stripe. Repeat these stripes at regular intervals, and then repeat the whole process with vertical stripes in the same or a different set of colours. You can work out different patterns by varying the number of lines and the colour of the stripes, or you can do it diagonally to give a criss-cross effect.
This pattern is ideal for livening plain dresses or table linen. The effect is achieved by the use of running stitches on different levels. Follow the picture carefully in four different colours, or four tones of the same colour.