Introduction to Hand Embroidery - Lesson One
Hello dear friends. Over the years, I've had many requests from customers asking me to create some 'How To' video tutorials on various aspects of doll making. So, my plan is to create a series of tutorials that you can use to refine your skills and hopefully you'll learn a few new things along the way.
Many of you already have a basic knowledge of hand and machine sewing, but for those who don't, I thought I'd begin this series right at the beginning.
Lesson One is all about hand sewing. It'll cover the basics, from separating embroidery threads into single strands (a skein of embroidery thread usually consists of six strands of threads) and then you'll learn a nifty little trick for knotting the thread and threading your needle.
I've also created a little embroidery project for beginner sewists which will focus on four basic stitches that, with practice, will set you on the road for the next lesson. Once you've mastered the basics, you'll be much more confident in your ability and ready to start making your own dolls.Stitches used in this project include Straight Stitch, Running Stitch, Back Stitch and Stem Stitch.
✼ Embroidery thread – you can use one colour, or choose a bunch of fun colours
✼ Embroidery hoop – I prefer a hoop with an inside diameter of about 5 inches, but it’s totally up to you
✼ Fabric – linen, quilters’ cotton or muslin work well for practicing, but don’t choose a fabric with too tight a weave as you’ll notice that the needles will leave noticeable holes in the fabric. ✼✼ Your fabric should be large enough to fit within the hoop with at least a half inch to an inch of excess fabric around the edges. For example, for my 5 inch hoop, I’d cut a piece of fabric that measures about 7 x 7 inches squared.
✼ Needle – use one that you feel comfortable with
✼ Disappearing ink marker or HB pencil
✼ Sticky tape and scissors
Let's get started!
✼ Download the Stitch Sampler Tutorial and print onto regular printer paper.
✼ Cut around the outer edge of larger square and tape the printed design onto a window so that the light is reflected from behind the paper. Alternately, tape the printed template onto a light box so that the light is reflected from behind.
✼✼ Please save the Stitch Key located on the bottom of the page for reference.
✼ Now tape your fabric square over the template, making sure to position the fabric over the design so that it’s evenly centered on your fabric .
✼ Use your HB pencil or disappearing ink marker to trace the design onto the fabric.
✼ Lay fabric over the inner hoop of the embroidery frame, centering design in the middle, then fit the outer ring over the top and wind screw to tighten the frame.
Separating Embroidery Strands
To separate embroidery thread, first cut off a piece, no longer than
the length from the tip of your middle finger to the inside of your
elbow (this was a very helpful tip from my Nan - any longer and you'll
find that your thread has a tendency to knot easier whilst sewing).
- Hold the threads firmly between your left thumb and forefinger, (right thumb and forefinger if you're left-handed), then fan the ends of the threads out.
- Pull one of the threads from either side while at the same time squeezing down on the threads between your thumb and forefinger. Voila, one strand!
- Hold the thread in your left hand (right hand if you're left handed) wrap the end of the thread around the tip of the forefinger of the opposite hand, using your thumb to roll the wound strand towards the end of your finger. Use the tip of your middle finger to slide the knot towards the end of the strand.
The straight stitch is the most basic of all stitches used in hand sewing and embroidery and it’s the foundation on which all other forms of hand sewing are based.
Video How To: https://youtu.be/6HSAqElfYeM
Running and Gathering Stitch
A running stitch is basically a row of straight stitches sewn along a straight or curved line. The stitches can be evenly sized and evenly spaced or you can create different lengths of stitches with uneven spaces in between. I mainly use the straight stitch for making little eyelashes and eyebrows on my dolls.
stitches are made in the same manner as running stitches using evenly sized and
spaced stitches, but the thread is pulled firmly to create a gathered effect which
can be used on the fabric, ribbon, seam binding or trim.
Video How To: https://youtu.be/fevoEEjuw8c
A stitch used primarily for outlining a design, or for sewing two pieces of fabric together. This stitch has a slightly raised, nubby appearance.
Video How To: https://youtu.be/P4h87U6SEDM
The stem stitch, also known as the outline
stitch, produces a slightly raised, solid line, in which each stitch slightly
overlaps the previous stitch. I tend to
do mine so that they don’t overlap, just personal preference and it’s the
stitch I mainly use for outlining eyes, noses/snouts, mouths and eyebrows.
Video How To: https://youtu.be/y9p91Q4x990
P.S.. Please read on if you're interested in a little back story...
Nannykins loved embroidering and was often surrounded by oodles of beautifully coloured embroidery skeins, all sorts of needles and hoops and of course, always a nice hot cup of tea. She found it relaxing to stitch and rewarding to see each design come to life. I thought it was the most boring thing ever! Only old ladies embroidered and I for one was NOT interested in learning the art.
Oh how silly I was!! Many
years later (thankfully I finally acquired a little bit of sense!) I asked
Nannykins if she might show me a few easy stitches. She was well over 90
years old at this point, but she sat down with me and patiently taught me how
to sew a few basic stitches. And then she told me to practice and
practice some more. I am not going to lie, it was not easy at first, but
each time I tried, I found my stitches looking a little better than they did the
last time and after a while, I noticed that my work improved dramatically with
continued practice. I was always eager to show her what I’d done and she
was equally eager to see my progress. I’m so thankful that she gave me
the foundation for hand stitching that has allowed me to create the little
dolls and toys that I so enjoy making!
loved dolls just as much as I do! 💕