Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Stitch chat - String padding

The raised lyrebird I am working on has turned out to be a little more tricky than first anticipated. I have had to plan things, think steps through carefully and do some tasks differently to what I would usually do.

While doing all this thinking, and planning, and problem solving, I did stitch the pieces for the body, wing and large tail feathers (show and tell to follow) but I have now finally started the main embroidery.

I want the ground or log the bird is walking to be quite fat so I decided to work it in raised stem stitch over a thick layer of string padding - the same technique, I used for the branch of the Blue Tailed Whistler.


This type of padding is perfect for narrow shapes and is created using a thicker cotton thread. I usually use perle 8 for raised embroidery (and soft cotton for goldwork). 
The amount of cotton threads will depend on the width of the shape and will also determine how raised the area will be. For this log, which is approx 6mm (1/4") at the widest point, I used 18 lengths of thread - enough to make it slightly raised at the widest point and nice and rounded along the narrower sections.

First I wax all the lengths. The wax makes the threads more rigid and manageable, which helps to create a firmer padding.
Use a single strand of cotton or silk (the same as you will be using to cover the padding) to couch the bundle in place. 

 1. Place the whole bundle of threads over the shape.
Start couching in middle or at the widest point.
I will be covering the padding with raised stem stitch, so I place the couching stitches evenly (approx 2mm or 1/16") apart.

If you are covering the padding with satin stitch, the couching stitches can be a little more spaced.

 2. As the shape narrows, the number of padding threads will need to be decreased.
To do this, you lift the top threads and trim from the bottom of the bundle.

3. Only trim a few threads at a time, couching a bit more between each time you trim. That way you will get a nice, smooth decrease in size.

4. The trimmed ends will get held in place by the upper threads when they are folded back down.

The string padding is really quite pretty as it is. Imagine if you used some exciting, variegated and perhaps slightly textured threads for the padding - food for thought......

5. The few padding threads left at the end, can be taken to the back with a large needle and secured on the wrong side.

Raised stem stitch
I am covering the padding with raised stem stitch. It is worked in much the same way as ordinary stem stitch only instead of stitching into the fabric, each stitch is worked into a couching stitch.
When you do this, start along the middle - it makes it so much easier to get the centre neat, even and close than if you try and work from one side and over the shape.
From that first centre line, I stitch from side to side until the padding is covered.
When it is high like this, it gets a little tricky to get in along the edges but by holding but it is worth the effort.

This raised stem stitch does not look particularly smooth. I have deliberately alternated between using one and two strands of silk to give the surface a 'rougher' texture to imitate bark a bit..
I hope this picture gives you a bit of an idea how high the padding is and the log is finished....

The branches and tendrils are all stitched in stem stitch. I did try to whip some of them, thinking it would make them more rounded and add a bit of colour...

... but you know what? It didn't, I didn't like it. There is enough going on as it is.. less is more and I like the simplicity of just the stem stitch on its own.

Now for some leaves...

Best stitches,
Anna X


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  2. Спасибо! Очень полезно.

  3. Great information.. Clear directions.. Just the thing I need to know as I get back to doing some Stump work. Skip Sept.9 2017