Wednesday, 10 September 2014

W is for what happened to Tuesday?

I'm trying to get myself sorted out (hmm, never said that before...). This blog is on my list of things to sort, as it's been a bit unloved and neglected over the past year.

I've toyed with the idea of doing Gina's Random Crap Monday posts, and I may yet. But for now I've settled on the ambitious target of two posts a week - a Teaching Tuesday and a Five on Friday.

On Teaching Tuesdays I will endeavour to share with you a tip or a technique for machine embroidery (mostly, but I may include other things).

And because I keep mental notes of all the different things that could make a blog post but never get round to posting any of them, it all ends up being sporadic and random. If I do a Five on Friday I can neatly parcel up all the other things I do in a week into one post. (I think a Work on Wednesday post might be pushing things, and I don't like the W word so let's move on!)

So, without further ado, the first Tuesday tip - on a Wednesday, and there are two of them...oh it's going so well....

At the moment I'm working on these little collages I started on holiday. I didn't get very far as it was too windy for collage, and to be honest I was quite happy just sitting in a chair with a glass of wine gazing into the middle distance for most of the time...


I use a paper tearaway stabiliser behind nearly everything I stitch. It works for me. It's cheap, it - er - tears away when you are finished, and it provides a rigid enough support to stitch without a hoop. And in my book that's a good thing. There are times for a hoop, but mostly I try to avoid it.

Always give yourself a generous border - to hold onto firmly, to avoid puckering, and to give yourself room for manoeuvre: 

And here we are with all the machine stitching complete (this is a different collage btw, but similar). You will notice that I have lots of trailing threads. 

Tidying thread ends

Some people pull up the bobbin thread when they start to stitch, some people stitch on the spot to anchor the starting threads. Some people fly by the seat of their pants and leave them all a-trailing. I'm a mix between lazy, fussy and paranoid, and I like to tie my thread ends off neatly on the reverse. 

Firstly, when I start to stitch, I always hold my threads (top and bottom, I don't pull the bobbin through). Sometimes, and if I can, I stitch over the first few stitches again and then trim away the starting threads. If I can't be bothered, or because the stitched line is too fine and doing this would create a blob of stitching, I leave all my threads until I've finished. As I have here:

This is the back. (I quite like the pic from the back, what do you think?). 

So then what do I do? First, what I don't do. I remember being mortified and embarrassed at a class years ago, because after stitching something, I then spent ages with a needle threading all those top threads through to the back to tie off. So don't do that.

What you do is this:

Pull gently on the bobbin thread. The top thread will pull through in a little loop:

and when you have pulled that through, you will have two threads which you can tie off and trim neatly

et voila:

Nice and tidy.

I will now add some little beads by hand, maybe a bit more hand stitching, and when I'm completely happy with everything (ha!) I'll carefully tear off the stabiliser. 

Job done.


  1. I rarely feel the need to tie/fasten in ends - I wouldn't on this kind of work, you're sooo good! But when I do, I've only recently twigged that easy-thread needles are the quickest way.

  2. That is exactly how I deal with my ends... although I will often tell students to pull the bobbin thread to the surface to avoid a tangle, obviously then not doing it myself! And you've given away the secret of why I do Five on Friday... just tidies up those loose blogging ends!

  3. Brilliant Iz. Love it. I never use tear away, but by the time I've pasted all my tissue papers down onto the calico the whole thing is so stiff it can be like stitching through paper. My poor machine!! But must give it a try sometime. I always pull the bobbin up to the front as I was taught, and it saves on possible jamming, but like your way too, so will give that a go!

    Lovely to have you back.

    H xxx

  4. Lovely pieces. I like the use of the text in the first one.


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