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Tutorial – Handmade Hem on Aida Fabric

I did stitch a lot and am almost done with chatchup, but I’m away from my scanner and don’t have good light for photographs right now. So I show you what else I’ve been up to.

I like that sampler better now than in the beginning, but I long for some on grid work anyway, to make things easier and faster. So, my next sampler is going to be a sampler an aida band. So I bought a ready-made band, but of course the short sides need some finishing anyway.

I’m showing you how I’ve done it.

First, I secured the edge with nun stitch, but you coulod as well glue or machine stitch it. I know it doesn’t look good but it will be invisible in the finished piece.

I wanted to create a sort of tube where I can insert hardware for hanging the samokler. So I folded the fabric to create the tube. I made the piece inside the tube as wide as the tube, otherwise it might show.

Next step is to draw out the threads for the drawn thread hem. For that, I cut them in the middle of the fabric strip and carefully drew them out of the warp going from the middle to the sides. On store-bought aida bands it is almost impossible to draw the threads out of the woven sides, so I glue the weft threads there later to secure them. this will be on the back of the work anyway.

Next, I pinned the fabric in place before the stitching.

For stitching, I turned the work over to stitch from the right side. Usually you do the hem stitches from the wrong side for a cleaner look, but on aida and other easiely countable fabric, I never manage to hit the correct holes in the fabric on the side I’m not lookfing at, so it won’t slook clean at all.

Well, here’s how the plain hem stitch is done.

Now this s the finished thing. It still needs cutting off the loose ends, I want to glue over them once more before that. I know there’s a mistake in it, but can’t be assed to undo it.


Tutorial – Nun Stitch

Maybe you have already noticed the frayed edge of my new sampler. It was done in nun stitch, my very favourite way to secure the edges of coarse fabric. When it comes down to very coarse fabric like my sampler, it’s about the only good way I know if the edges will be visible in the finished article. When they will not be visible I glue or machine zigzag the edges of hessian and such and either frame it hiding the edges under a mat or add some fabric binding for frameless hanging. (not that too many of my works reach such a stage of finish LOL)

On very coarse fabrics like hessian or canvas, I add a dash of fabric glue to the backside of the nun stitched edge, especially if the piece is going to be laundered or used in any way. On medium thread count, tightly woven embroidery fabrics such as hardanger a nun stitch edge is pretty secure in my experience when it is done properly. Of course it is not secure enough for clothes or anything else that will be machine washed or otherwise mistreated.

It will be insecure on slippery fabrics like rayon, some manmade fibers and some silks. It is not secure on needlepoint canvas which is too stiff to pull the fabric threads together.

Also, on very open fabrics such as linen usable for pulled thread work and all forms of scrim or mesh this stitch will not produce a secure edging, there are various better options for such fabrics.

On anything with a substantially higher thread count than hardanger this stitch works but is tendious to do, and there are various other options for finishing those.

Funnily, when I was a young teen I invented a variant of nun stitch. I did it like the real one but only did one backstitch – one overcast stitch instead of doubling them. I had no access to a sewing machine and was desperate for a way to keep coarse fabrics from fraying. Guess how surprised I was when I aquired a copy of Therese Dilmond’s Encyclopedia of Needlework and found the real nun stitch in there. By the way, on fine countable fabric or when the edges will be bound or overstitched later I still use my method, it’s faster and in these cases just as durable.

I also invented a crochet version of this back in the day, but that is (maybe) for another post…

But now to the stitch

As preparation, cut the fabric to shape following the threads of the fabric exactly. remove a few threads arround the edges, producing a fringe of the desired length. Use a fine strong thread like pearl cotton, buttonhole sewing thread or mercericed crochet cotton. Floss will not be strong enough.

Work on the front side, working in the direction most comfortable for you. When doing this stitch it is important to pull the working thread hard so that the fabric threads over which you work are bound together in little bundles. Be careful not to pull the whole fabric out of shape.

Secure the thread on the backside 2 threads away from the edge. Do a backstitch over 2 threads.

Do a second backstitch over the first, doubling it.

do an overcast stitch over the edge of the fabric as shown.

overcast the same thread bundle once more

Do another back stitch as shown, then double it again (not shown)

Do the next overcast stitch as shown, then double it

That’s it. Remember to pull the threads hard. if the edge feels insecure, glue the backside of the edge.

And finally, this is how a corner is supposed to look like. For them, just do double back stitch – double overcast stitch – double overcast stitch on second edge – double back stitch.

Meh that was a lot of typing and pic inserting. If this leaves any questions open just ask.

Connected Sorbello Stitches

This is another Sorbello variant I explain in detail because it might be hard to figure out. I was inspired by the tast challenge to play arround with it.

I think you can do connected sorbello stitches following the same principles in other arrangements, anybody up to experiments?

I think the pics are self-explanatory on this one. Sorry their bad quality, they were taken on the train to work.

This is a row of a finished stitch.

Cable Stitch in Surface Embroidery (Rose in the Rain Making Of II)

Cable stitch is a useful and beautiful stitch in pulled thread work, but I never got why it should be used in normal surface embroidery. I mean, it produces lines of stitches you can easier create with back stitches or holbein stitches.

My work on Rose in the Rain, an embroidery on mulberry paper, taught me its use. It produces more bulk on the right side than on the wrong side, which the other methods for creating lines of stitches don’t.

Here is an example from the piece. It shows a line of cable stitch and an additional row of back stitch.

Here is how the stitch is done. Sorry there is no second image, I forgot it. You work the next stitch like the first, always alternating between the two rows of straight stitches. If you don’t understand it just say so and I take more pictures.

One line of the stitch finished.

Two stacked lines of the stitch. It can make a nice filling this way.

The backside. You see the little stitches you create while going from one line of stitches on the front to the other. A very clean backside, but still enough thread to hide loose ends under.

By the way, this was my second making-of posting on Rose in the Rain. In a third one, I will soon describe one more new-to-me stitch I have used, and that’s it then for my part. Do you have any questions on that work you want to be answered? I’d be happy to do so in the next part.

Freestyle Weaving Tutorial Part 6: Going Wild with Weaving

For the time being, this is the sixth and last instalment of my tutorial series on needleweaving. See my page all about needleweaving for links to the first 5 parts and related stuff.

One of the most beautiful aspects of needleweaving is that the warp doesn’t need to be straight. Here I show how to do a piece with circular warp, but it can go any direction. Also, the cardboard frame and therefore the shape of the finished piece can be any shape.

I have been using the same cardboard frame I used for my last piece. Here you see the circular warp anchored in the backstitches at the sides.

Fix the warp in place by weaving arround the middle a few times.

At the bottom of the piece, I added straight threads. They will act as warp, so the weft will go up and down not from right to left in this area. I wove those threads into the spiderweb. All layers should be interwoven so that the finished piece won’t fall apart.

Next I started weaving the black frame. You don’t need to do such a frame, I wanted it for the look. About one centimeter should be done in canvas binding arround the whole piece for stability, but this can be done using the normal working threads as well, especially when these borders will be hidden in the finished article.

The middle of the spiderweb was not filled with circular weaving, I wove spokes which are meant to be sun rays. Note how some on them project into the border. The black border was woven at the same time in these places.

The finished Piece. Note the weaving direction in the part representing the ground. It goes up and down over the secondary warp in brown thread. The violet and yellow above the brown soil was woven to and fro into the warp coming from the spiderweel.

Freestyle Weaving Tutorial Part III: Different Colours

First, I want to show you another method of starting threads that I found in this tutorial. Split the tread in two parts for this if possible or use a thread you can use double. fasten it arround a warp thread with a slip knot.


Another remark: Diane suggested in a comment to ue plastc canvas as a loom, just anchor the warp threads in it and cut it away when you’re done. Thank you Diane, sounds like a good idea to me (or would, if plastic canvas was common here).

In my previous works woven on improvised looms you have probably seen many areas of different pattern side by side. Here I show how this is done as best as I know.

The first method is the slit weaving method. You simply turn where one colour ends and weave back and forth in the intended shape. The adjacent shapes are done the same way, so that slits form between colour areas. This is more difficult than it looks. If you pull the warp together just a little bit while weaving the slits will become ugly holes. Also, the pattern should be designed for this to avoid really long gaping slits.
The advantage of this is that the borders between colours are very clearcut. This is usually used in traditional Kelims.
In the piece I show, one side of the round whape is strictly slit weaving, on the other I cheated because the thing was slightly pulled out of shape.


The next method is called dovetailing, and is imho the easiest and most versatile one. The two areas in different colours share one warp thread at the border. With a needle, you can weave one shape first and add the adjacent one as shown in the photograph. With a shuttle or something similar you will have to weave both shapes simultaneously, alternating between colours.
You can use this when the two threads are different in gauge, just weave arround the shared warp thread where it seems appropriate, not strictly after every thread of the first shape.


The next method is interlocking. With a needle, thread the the weft of one shape through the loop the weft of the other shape has formed when turning, you can pick up the warp thread either or not as it suits you. With shuttles, weave the two shapes simultaneously and wrap the two threads arround each other where they meet.
This will only work well when using same gauge thread and a similar weaving technique for both pieces, but then it can look more cleanly than dovetailing.


The last technique would be brocading, but i have never done this myself. In this technique, you use 2 or more differently coloured weft threads simultaneously and alternate between them leaving floats either on the backside or on the front side, comparable to fair isle knitting. This technique is suitable for conventional western looms and can be done by machines easiely. I’m not sure about the other techniques.

The other 3 techniques are mainly used in folk craft, for example slit weaving in oriental kelims, dovetailing or interlocking in Navajo rugs. These are usually done on vertical looms, without combs and heddles as we know them from conventional western looms, more often than not even without shuttles or needles.

Freestyle Weaving -Tutorial part II: Cardboard Loom

Ther is another method to achieve pretty much the same as shown in the first part, I’m showing you this first before going into advanced weaving techniques. I’m calling it a cardboard loom. In the old needlework books, this is touted as a the way to do teneriffe lace (which is basically needleweaving in the round) and a very similar process is used for regular needlelace.

I am trying to keep further instalments of this tutorial series a bit shorter than the first for the sake of people with slow connections. I hope you don’t mind.

You need:
– two pieces of cardboard or thick, stiff paper
– Gridded paper, or epuipment to draw your own grid on the cardboard
– Sturdy thin sewing thread (buttonhole machine thread woll do fine)
– Some thread or yarn suitable as warp (preferrably somewhat sturdy)
– a sharp needle and optionally a pricker or a timble
– Any threads you want to use for the actual weaving
– A (blunt) tapestry needle for weaving


Draw the outline of the finished piece onto the gridded paper, and if you want the design. Put all three layers together. Now you need to sew backstitches arround the whole outline. One back stitch means two warp threads, chose the distance between them accordingly. Use the gridded paper to make the distances evenly. This is much easier if you pierce the layers first with a small pricker or a slightly bigger sharp needle using a timble. Next you can thread your loom like you would do with a pin loom, lacing the warp thread through the back stitches.


Closeup to show the treading process.


Now you are ready to start weaving. The first and last 3-4 rows need to be woven in canvas binding (one over, one under) to keep the finished piece from falling apart. At the sides you pick up the backstitches together with the last warp thread, that will keep you from pulling the fabric out of form.


When you are all done, you insert a sharp letter opener or kitchen knife between the two cardboard layers and cut them apart. Your finished work should fall off them then, all you have to do is pick the remnants of the backstitches out of it and hide all the loose thread ends.

The advantage of this method over the pin loom is the fact that it is highly portable, you can carry it in your purse and work on it whenever you find time. Also, the fabric isn’t easiely pulled out of shape because you can anchor it in the backstitches at the sides.
The disadvantage is that it takes much more time to set up than a pin loom.

“pulled-through cable stitch” – a strange stitch revisited

Recently, Elizabeth at Qieter Moments explores stitches again with her usual brilliance. She had just discovered a new one, raised chain stitch She has instruction in that post, and in subsequent posts lovely variations on it. I realized how similar this stitch was to an obscure German stitch I had used on my detatched chain stitch sampler. I pointed her to that posting and she did some more wonderful variations on it .

In order to complete that little debate, Iooked for the little booklet where I found that stitch. It is “Sticken-das Vergnügen” (roughly stitching-the amusement) by Wolle Rödel, a needlework store chain. The stitch is called “durchzogener Kabelstich” which translates to pulled-through cable stitch. The way it is done there it indeed looks like a cable stitch variant, but it is done more like (raised) chain stitch. This and Elizabeth’s blog are the only places where I ever saw a stitch like this. Who else did know them?

Now here is how to do it, according to said booklet. The stitch is worked in vertical rows to form a kind of raised band, to work it horizontally turn the fabric. Te lengths of the horizontal stitches can vary between barely visible and long to get a spined or centipede-legs effect. In the booklet they are longer than shown here.

You can click the photographs to enlarge them. I’m sorry, I know they are not as good as they should be, but I don’t want to fiddle with this any longer today.

First do a horizontal straight stitch, and bring the needle back up to the front right in the middle of it. Pull normally.

Now proceed by doing a regular detatched chain stitch over the first straight stitch.

Bring the needle up to the front for the next horizontal stitch in one line with the end of the little stitch tacking down the chain stitch.

The first stitch done.

Start the next stitch like the first one, bring the needle to the front in the same hole where you ended the last stitch.

mini tutorial: layering fabric with painted bondaweb

I was so happy with the results of my recent experiments with painted bondaweb that I want to share the fun, so I have written down how I’m doing it. Kudos go to all the bloggers from whom I learned that such techniques exist. All the images are thumpnails, you need to click on them to see them full size. I’m sorry for this, but I guess not all my readers are really interested in this totorial and those who aren’t probably don’t want their browser blocked by loads of images. English is not my first language, so I hope this doesn’t read too confused. Tell me if it does, I’ll be happy to try and make it better and learn from my mistakes.

For those who don’t know: Bondaweb is a gossamer-like vilene that is used to make two fabrics stick to each other. It sits on a paper and is sold by the metre. Usually you iron it onto one fabric paper side up, peel off the paper and iron the second fabric on top.

raw materials you need:
* Base fabric, preferrably not too thin and made from a material that can be ironed with at least medium heat
* Bondaweb
* acrylic paints
* sheer fabric for the top layer (Organza, Chiffon or something similar)

Tools you need:
* a flat iron and a suitable surface to use it on
* maybe baking paaper to protect your ironing board
* painting equipment

Here, you see the raw fabrics for the layers: beige evenwave embroidery fabric, bondaweb (called vliesofix in Germany) and sheer polyester organza.

raw materials

First, the bondaweb was painted with watered down acrylic colours. The bondaweb has a smooth side, that is the paper side, and a somewhat hoarse side, that is the vilene side. You paint on the vilene side. For this one, I used them really thin and in copious quantities, thus reinforcing the stripey effect you tend to get when painting the bondaweb. Remember that on the finished piece, you’ll see a mirror image of all you paint because you need to iron it onto the fabric face down.

The bondaweb is somewhat translucent. So if you are not that good with painting you can lay it on top of a boldly drawn pattern and paint after that.

The bondaweb has to be completely dry before continuing. To be sure let it dry overnight. Don’t dry it on a hot radiator or somesuch because that will reinforce its tendency to crinkle, or possibly melt it.
Books claim that any water-based colour system would work for that step, I haben’t tried anything else than acrylics. Oil based colours definitely don’t work.

painted bondaweb

Next, the bondaweb is ironed onto the base fabric, in this case the evenweave fabric. For this it is laid onto the fabric with the painted vilene side down and then you iron over the paper. This step is a bit complicated because the bondaweb tends to get crinkles when wet. Lay it onto the fabric, carefully flatten it and then iron it carefully. When dealing with a bigger piece, start in the middle and work towards the edges to avoid bubbles and crinkles.
If you can avoid it, don’t use the same flat iron and ironing board for this you use for your clothes. Inevitably stray bits of bondaweb will stick to them and may ruin your clothes next time you iron them. If you don’t have a second flat iron for such adventures do all the ironing between sheets of baking paper. Put an old towel or baking paper onto your ironing board.

Let this sandwich cool down completely before trying to peel the paper off. Be careful and patient when doing this, the acrylic paint may make the paper stick to the bondaweb more than it usually would. Now you can add things like words or fine details painting on the fabric directly, but don’t overdo this or the next layer won’t stick properly.

first layer

Now your piece is ready for the top layer. There is one problem: in order to really stick to something properly, bondaweb needs medium heat or somewhat below that, more hot won’t hurt. Polyester organza will melt even on the usual synthetics setting. Nylon, rayon and silk are better because they can be ironed a little bit hotter, but even with them, in my experience you won’t get the kind of connection between the layers you get with two 100% cotton fabrics. Just iron the whole thing as hot as the top layer allows, and then overstitch it sufficiently to make it keep together. If the top layer is very thin or somewhat net-like iron it through baking paper so the flat iron won’t stick to exposed bits of bondaweb. The top layer will in any case fullfil its primary purpose, whih is seal the bondaweb so that the finished piece won’t stick to anything else. The reason why I will continue to use polyester organza is its incredible sheen. The scanner really isn’t doing it justice. Experiment with different top layers for different effects. I’m in the process of this and will let you know about the results. You also can experiment with diffferent base layers of course.

second layer

You can see the same piece after stitching in my last post, if you haven’t already seen it. Now do your own experiments and have fun! For my part, I’m not entirely sure jet if this technique is really superior over just painting the fabric and then layering it using some paperless gossamer fusible or just stitching. My further experiments will hopefully show this.

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