Tag Archive | silk embroidery ribbon

Working with Embroidery Threads and Ribbons

Embroidery is one of my most favorite pastimes. I enjoy both the process of creating and being able to pass on my knowledge through teaching and writing. Here are some tips that I hope you find useful.

crazy pieced base with embroidery

Cut Lengths

Keep your threads at a minimal length, so that the fibers do not break down, or tangle.

  • Embroidery threads: 18″
  • Silk embroidery ribbon: 16″
  • Metallic threads: 16″

Threading the Needle

  • When threading the needle, hold the end of the thread close to the eye of the needle, insert this end directly into the eye.
  • Always cut the end of the thread straight across the grain.
  • Pinch the tip of the thread and/or wet the tip of the thread.
  • Wet the eye of the needle, the moisture will attract the thread.
  • A needle threader can also be used for floss or perle cotton.
  • Perhaps a magnifier glass with a light source will help.
  • Hire a teenager that has great eyesight to thread your needles. (Don’t laugh; I used to do this for a dear friend of mine!)

Knots

  • Once the needle is threaded, I knot the tail. After I work a row of stitches, I knot the thread on the wrong side and cut the thread. I then make a knot in the thread, ready for the next row of stitches.
  • Another option is to tack the thread at the beginning and end of a row of stitches. Make a tack stitch into the foundation of muslin or interfacing (not through the entire piece). Take another tack stitch next to the first, pulling the thread to make a loop. Insert the needle through the loop and pull the knot closed.

Thread and Ribbon Specifics

Perle Cotton

When working with a ball of perle cotton, the loose end of thread will be found wrapped horizontally around the ball. This end is usually tucked under several layers of wrapped thread, so pull gently to find the end. Thread the needle with the loose end, and then cut off the amount needed.

When working with a skein of perle cotton, first remove any paper wrappers or tags. Untwist the skein and find the knot, then use one of the following suggestions.

  • Cut the knot of thread and wrap the length of the skein over a Stitch Bow thread holder. Tie the one end to the loop on the Stitch Bow and place the wrapper with the color # on the small rectangular portion of the holder. Take the loose end and cut off 18″ of thread, thread this onto the needle.
  • Cut through the entire skein at the knot, and tie into a loose knot to hold the threads together. Pull one thread out from the knot at a time, cut the length into two 18″ pieces. Select one piece and thread this onto the needle.

Floss

When working with a skein of floss, the mystery is always finding the tail without creating a big ball of knots. In most cases the tail closest to the paper wrapper listing the color#, will come out of the skein easily with no snarls. Pull out the tail and cut off 18″ of thread.

Another option is to remove both of the paper wrappers from the skein and slip the skein over a Stitch Bow thread holder. Tie the inner loose end to the loop on the Stitch Bow and place the wrapper with the color # on the small rectangular portion of the holder. Take the loose end and cut off 18″ of thread.

In most cases you will be working with a portion of the 6-strand length of floss. The number of strands you will use is up to you and your design. I usually use 3 strands, if a smaller stitch is needed then 2 strands. Here is how to split the threads:

  1. Hold onto the cut length of thread with one hand between your thumb and forefinger.
  2. Hold the remaining amount in the other hand, between forefinger and middle finger.
  3. Hold the length loosely in the same hand, between your thumb and ring finger.
  4. Pull your hands apart slowly to release the strands from the skein, let the thread flow between your thumb and ring finger.
  5. Choose the amount that you want to work with, 2 or 3 strands, and set the remaining group aside.
  6. Working with your chosen group, separate each thread individually, then reassemble these back together and thread this length onto the needle.

Silk Embroidery Ribbons

Whether you are working with a spool, reel or loose length, cut short 16″ of ribbon off. Then follow the following directions to knot the ribbon.

Beginning Knot

  1. Thread the ribbon through the eye of the needle, leaving a 2″ tail. Pierce the ribbon with the needle 1/4″ above the end of the tail.
  2. Pull the length of ribbon to snug the ribbon up to the eye.

Tail Knot

  1. Thread the needle through the tail with a straight stitch. Pull the ribbon through the stitch until only a small loop of ribbon is left.
  2. Thread the needle through the loop and pull the ribbon to form a knot.

Option: If you do not want to make a tail knot, then thread the needle through the fabric first, then hand stitch the tail in place with sewing thread.

Metallic Threads

Work with a short 16″ length, to minimize fraying on the ends.

  1. Fold over about 5 ” of the length of thread to make a small loop.
  2. Thread the loop through the needle.
  3. Insert the tip of the needle into the loop.
  4. Leaving a short tail, pull the length of thread to tighten the loop around the eye of the needle.

Finger Frame

All of the fabric bases have some form of stabilizer, so that I do not have to use a wooden or plastic frame. It is still important though to keep the fabric taught so that the embroidered stitches do not get pulled too tightly which will pucker and distort the fabric. I create a frame by holding the fabric between my fingers.

  1. Using your non-dominant hand, pinch the fabric between your forefinger on top and middle finger underneath.
  2. Leave a space of fabric, and then pinch the fabric between your thumb on top and ring finger underneath.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

Tips for Successful Embroidery

Well, that just makes sense!

  • Practice, I do! If I could pass on one good suggestion, it would be to practice. Keep a piece of fabric and ball of thread on your work table, so that you can use it to familiarize yourself with a stitch, or to learn a new one.
  • Always wash your hands before working with the fabric base, embroidery threads and ribbons.
  • I keep a piece of cardboard with holes punched out to organize the unused portion of strands of floss. This way you will always be able to find the second half of the split skein.
  • Take notes while you are embroidering, such as how many wraps the French knots were, or how many strands of floss you used for a stitch.
  • Think of a mistake as a design opportunity that you had not thought of yet. Once you repeat a mistake, it becomes another element in the design.

Thread and Ribbon Specifics

Pearl Cotton and Cotton Floss

  • All the embroidery threads that you work with will naturally twist. Periodically hold the fabric base upside down then let the needle dangle down, the thread or ribbon will unwind.
  • To keep the threads from tangle free or from knotting, run the length of twisted thread or floss over Thread Heaven or Thread Magic. Repeat this if needed.
  • The loose end of thread can sometimes wrap around the working thread and create a knot. If you periodically cut the loose end this should help.
  • Keep the threads clean and dust free by storing them in a bag with a zip-lock closure. I have a separate bag for each project, and a smaller bag for the left-over odds and ends of for each project. You may never know when you need just a few inches to finish off a stitch.

Silk Embroidery Ribbon

  • Silk embroidery ribbon has a tendency retain the fold from the packaging. Slightly moisten the length that you are working with, and then gently pass the ribbon over the upright plate of a warm iron.
  • When embroidering with silk embroidery ribbons, in most cases the ribbon should lie flat against the fabric, however, the ribbon can twist once it is pulled through the fabric. If the ribbon is concave, hold the ribbon next to the fabric then stitch. If the ribbon is convex, rub the ribbon until it is flat, or concave.

Metallic Threads

  • Use a pair of craft scissors to cut the metallic threads, trims, or lace, as the metallic finish can dull your good embroidery scissors.

Working with Colorways

Ombre, variegated and hand-dyed colorways can lend a unique touch to any embroidered design. When working with this thread I try not to think out the color way too seriously, I just cut the thread from the skein or ball and begin stitching. If it is imperative to have a similar colorway for balance, try these suggestions:

  • For floss: split the skein of floss in half, and work one side, then the other.
  • For perle cotton, cut the thread in equal lengths until you find a repeat.

You can also create your own unique color blend of by combining the same size or different sizes of perle cotton, or combining perle cotton with cotton floss. Cut a longer length than you would normally use for a single strand of thread.

  • Combine 2 or more colors of the same or different weight of perle cotton threads into a large eye needle like a chenille needle.
  • Cut 3 colors of floss, separate 1 or more strands from each length. Combine the lengths and thread these into the needle. For 3 strands, use and embroidery needle; if you are using more than one strand for each color, then change to a cotton darner or crewel needle.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

All About the Needle

As a teacher of embroidery everyone, I mean everyone asks me if the needle makes a difference. YES is the correct answer!

The purpose of the needle is to make a hole in the fabric big enough for the thread to pass through the fabric, but not so big that the thread does not cover the hole. Needles are sized from low to high, the lower the number the larger the needle. The size of perle cotton, silk embroidery ribbon, or quantity of floss should correspond to the size of the eye of the needle.

  1. Beading, a thin, short or long needle with a thin long eye: use for all types of beading threads
  2. Chenille needle, a medium-length needle with a long eye that is wider than the shaft; use for silk embroidery ribbon, or for multiple threads
  3. Cotton darner, a long needle with an oval eye: use for twisted threads
  4. Crewel (also called embroidery needles), a medium-length needle with a long to medium eye: use for twisted threads
  5. Embroidery, a fine, thin needle with a long eye: use for stranded floss
  6. Milliners, a long needle with the shaft the same width the length of the needle with a small, rounded eye: use for twisted and floss threads
  7. Sharps, a shorter, fine needle with a small eye: use for sewing thread and for bead embroidery

Many students get confused once the needle is out of the package, and the name and size of the needle is lost. Here are a couple of tips.

  • To help you remember which needle is used for what thread, thread each needle with the type of thread, and keep this in a needle keep, a piece of fabric, or an index card. Then, write the name of the needle on the fabric or card.
  • To keep your needles organized, write the name of each type of needle in one pie section of a tomato pin cushion (and try to remember to put them in the correct pie space).

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

Embroidery Threads and Ribbons

Lets talk about the types of threads and ribbons that you can use in your embroidered creations. Embroidery threads come in a variety of materials, weights, and colors, in both twisted and flat threads. The choice of thread should be determined by the design of the project, and the stitches that you choose to include in your work.

For traditional stitches, I suggest perle cotton, floss, and metallic threads; silk embroidery ribbons can also be used for many of those stitches. For raised and textured stitches I suggest perle cotton, though floss can be used for a few specific stitches. For silk ribbon embroidery, use a silk ribbon that is specifically designed for these stitches.

Perle Cotton

Perle cotton is a two-ply twisted cotton thread that comes on a ball or in a twisted hank in sizes #3, #5, #8, #12 (the lower the number the thicker the thread) and is worked as a single thread. It comes in a variety of solid, ombre, variegated and hand-dyed colorways.

Here are some companies that offer a wide variety of threads:

Stranded Floss

Stranded floss is a flat thread that comes wrapped in a skein of six-strands (usually), the embroidered design is worked with 1 or more strands. It can be found in a variety of fiber contents such as cotton, silk, rayon and linen in a variety of solid, ombre, variegated and hand-dyed colorways. Cotton floss and silk floss have a subtle color and texture; linen floss has a soft color but coarse texture; rayon floss and some silk flosses have a shiny supple texture.

Here are some companies that offer a wide variety of threads:

  • Waterlilies silk floss
  • Presencia Finca Mouline cotton floss
  • Valdani (3-strand floss)
  • Kreinik Silk Mori silk floss
  • DMC and Anchor cotton floss (check your local quilt, embroidery, or craft store)
  • DMC rayon floss (check your local quilt, embroidery, or craft store)
  • DMC linen floss (check your local quilt, embroidery, or craft store)

Silk Embroidery Ribbon

Silk ribbon is a soft pliable woven ribbon with a finished edges that comes either on a spool, reel, or loose depending on the company. There are a wide variety of solid and hand-dyed colors available, and it comes in sizes 2mm, 4mm, 7mm; 13mm and larger can also be found.

Here are some companies that offer a wide variety or ribbons:

Metallic Threads

Metallic threads come in a variety of weights, finishes, and textures. Most commonly available colors are gold, antique gold, silver, antique silver, copper, and a combination of any of those colors. You can also find red, green, blue, purple, blue and black.

Here are some companies that offer a wide variety of threads:

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

National Sewing Month

Day 30

Question: Are you looking for inspiration, a little kick start, or just some eye candy? I have a few books that may help you on your creative journey, may that be a long and happy one!

Here is a re-cap of National Sewing Month 2022:

  1. September 1, 2022– Question: When did you first learn to sew, and who was your teacher?
  2. September 2, 2022– Question: How do you design a project, do you start with a plan or do you let the materials tell you what and where they want to be?
  3. September 3, 2022– Question: What type of piecing do you like to do?
  4. September 4, 2022– Question: When you choose a fabric, what are you drawn to, do you like to work with solids or prints, or hand-dyed or batiks?
  5. September 5, 2022– Question: Do you like to recycle old clothing, or use something in an unexpected way?
  6. September 6, 2022– Question: What type of embellishments to you like to work with on your projects?
  7. September 7, 2022– Question: Do you plan out every detail, or do you approach your work with serendipity?
  8. September 8, 2022– Question: Do you like to make and sew your own jewelry and adornments?
  9. September 9, 2022– Question: Did you know that the wooden spools that you have in your stash may be 50-100 years or older?
  10. September 10, 2022– Question: Do you have a favorite pincushion, or two?
  11. September 11, 2022– Rustic Americana, In Memory of 9/11
  12. September 12, 2022– Question: When you design a project, do you sometimes think, hmm I like that, but I want to try it in another colorway or design?
  13. September 13, 2022– Question: Do you plan out a project, with bits and pieces of paper lying around the workroom with your notes, or do you use a dedicated book to keep track of all of those ideas?
  14. September 14, 2022– Question: Do you name or title your projects, and how do you choose those names?
  15. September 15, 2022– Question: Do like to work with felt?
  16. September 16, 2022– Question: What sewer does not have a favorite pin or needle keep?
  17. September 17, 2022– Question: Do you sew functional forms for the home, or do you like to create whimsical additions?
  18. September 18, 2022– Question: Do you like to crazy-piece, but sometimes find the sections so small, that it is hard to embroider every seam?
  19. September 19, 2022– Question: Do you like to embroider over a pattern or print?
  20. September 20, 2022– Question: When you embroider a piece, do you like to use free-form images or do you use stencils?
  21. September 21, 2022– Question: When you create a strip-pieced base, do you embroider the seams, in the seams or over the seams?
  22. September 22, 2022– Question: What sewer hasn’t heard of the Sunbonnet Sue?
  23. September 23, 2022– Question: Do you sew functional forms or do you like to create fabulous frivolities?
  24. September 24, 2022– Question: Do you like to add lace to your creations?
  25. September 25, 2022– Question: When you are working with a group of fabrics, how do you decide what colors to use for the embroidery stitches?
  26. September 26, 2022– Question: What kind of sewing machine did you learn to sew on, and, what kind of machine do you sew on now?
  27. September 27, 2022– Question: When you see a hanky used in a project, do you ever think of Rhett Buttler’s comment to Scarlet: “Never, at any crisis of your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief.”
  28. September 28, 2022– Question: Do you ever hold on to a piece of fabric, and think, someday, I will use that?
  29. September 29, 2022– Question: When you buy a charm pack, do you often find that there are prints that you think, hmm, how did those get included in here?

I hope that you have enjoyed this month, and have found some inspiration within these pages.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

Tandleton Rose Bracelet

silk ribbon, embroidery, braceletsThis is a new class that I am teaching today, and next Tuesday for Joggles.com. The base of each embroidered button is made from Hanah silk bias ribbon, then embroidered with YLI silk embroidery ribbon.

Tandleton RosesThis weeks class is all about making the ribbon bases. This is a sample of the three different roses that the students have to chose from.

Happy Stitching to all! ~enjoy Christen