The Weekend Five: Julie & Nathalie do New Jersey
Tim's Vermeer

Embroidery Q&A

I got a lot of questions about embroidery -- both generally and specifically about the piece I'm working on -- in my post about it last week.  So, I thought I'd take a few moments to answer some of your questions.

Q: Big question is....whatcha gonna do with it when its done....if its ever really done that is?

A: I'm planning to put it under glass -- in a frame with a nice mat of some kind.  As to when it will be done...that's a harder question to answer!

Q: How much more are you going to do?

A: As I said, it's hard to totally "know," but my plan is to finish tightening up her face and the rest of the piece and then take a step back and see if anything else is needed.

Q: What are you thinking of doing with the background?

A: I've gone through a few different ideas.  I was thinking of doing some stitching in shades of grey, but I've now come around to the idea of splashing some watercolor on the background.  But, I think I have to wait until the stitching is done to really make a decision.

Q: Did you design the idea yourself?

A: Yep!  

Q: Are you working from a pattern or is it all in your head?

A: Sort of both.  I just took a pencil to a piece of muslin to build my basic outline and then started stitching!  I add more lines as I get to an area where I need to plot things out.  The rest is done improvisationally.

Q: I love your embroidered project and wondered what the background fabric is?. Also do you have a stabilizer on the back side? I would like to try this type of project- but worry about puckering without a stabilizer.

A: The background fabric is muslin.  No stabilizer.  There is puckering, but I'm cool with it.  Hand stitching through a stabilizer, even a thin one, seems like a lot of work to me.  So, I'll take the puckering.

Q: How do you keep the material from not getting super dirty?  

A: I'm sorry to say that I don't do anything special.  It's probably a much dingier white than it started as, but the colors are so bright that you don't notice.  Otherwise, muslin is pretty easy to clean.  I suspect you could spot clean any big issues.

Q: Can you tell me of books on the market that could help me to get more accomplished with a small piece that I am working on now? I need more practice with many stitches and need a book that will show me exactly how to work a stitch. 

A: I don't have a lot of expertise in this area, but a book that I own and like is A-Z of Embroidery Stitches.  Unfortunately, I think it's now out of print and only expensive used copies are available through Amazon.  So while I don't own it, this one looks good to me and is easily available: Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches.  I should also note that there are lots of great websites and tons of tutorials online.  And further, my piece of embroidery really only uses four kinds of basic stitches.  You can do a lot with a little.  

Q: So, question, how do you get on planes with those big gold scissors (which are really cool, by the way)?

A: I don't know what the rules are in other countries, but in the U.S. you can get on a plane with scissors that have a blade under 4".  I've never had an issue with these ones.

Q: How did you get started?

A: I've always loved embroidery, but never had the temperment for perfection. (There are lots and lots of ugly stitches in the piece I'm working on now.)  In college I fell in love with counted cross stitch. In fact, I would take my stitching to class and listen to a lecture while stitching (it actually helped me focus on the professor instead of having my mind wander).  Over the years, I've dabbled in lots of stitching projects, and then when putting together projects for my book, Carve Stamp Play, I created a stamped & embroidered clutch and the embroidery bug bit me hard.  It took forever to make that clutch, but when it was done, I was sad.  So, I began this rather ambitious project and now I never want to stop!

Q: Any advice for a newbie?

A: There isn't a right and a wrong.  Learn 1 or 2 basic stitches and then make the rest up! 

Here are a few links to get your started:

Like so many other art forms, make it your own and ignore the rules.  The important thing is to get started!  Oh, and these finger thimbles are the best invention in the world!  Buy them and you'll be happy -- your fingers will thank you.

I hope that helped to answer your questions.  Thank you so much for all your kind words about my labor of love!

And, as always, thanks for stopping by!