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Embroidery: Stitch your way from mess to a work of art

by Anja
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Have you ever wanted to give embroidery a try but feel discouraged by the results?

Yep, me too! I once tried to embroider a logo on a jean jacket, a real simple high school project, and I thought it turned out fine. Ha! I was so deceived by my teenage ego! That thing was as horrible as a Demogorgon. The stuff of nightmares! You’re lucky I don’t have a picture of it ‘cause you’d end up suing me for distress.

Still, I was stubborn enough to give embroidery a try for a second time many years later. My victim was a satin bag. Bad choice. All the knowledge I could find was from blurry YouTube videos and some photos. The stitching was a mess because of the unstable fabric. Mom had to come to the rescue and patiently finish the bag for me.

My crafty self often wondered if there wasn’t an easier way to learn how to work with floss and needle.

The Universe works in mysterious ways I tell you! Shortly after, I stumbled upon Jessica Marquez’s embroidery class “Design it, Stitch it – Hand Embroidery”, on Craftsy.

If you don’t know Jessica, she’s the creator behind Miniature Rhino. Her shop offers beautiful embroidery kits –mostly floral and constellation designs–. She’s also the author of Stitched Gifts: 25 Sweet and Simple Embroidery Projects for Every Occasion.

I purchased the class immediately and could already picture myself embroidering my cats’ faces on every imaginable project, stitching pillows, clothing, but… I landed on my big ass after watching the first lesson. The truth is I knew nothing, NOT-A-THING.

My first Running Stitch was a huge mess.

Basic Flat Stitches

You see, I’m not good at hand sewing. My stitches are uneven, a trail of drunk ants. Any time a project requires hand sewing I just want to run into the woods behind my house, screaming.

And though I learned to execute the Running stitch in the class, it’s still not one of my favorites. The ants are still drunk. I guess I’ll never get on the Sashiko train *sigh*. Well, maybe on the 3rd class wagon. ?

On the other hand, my Back Stitches were heavenly and this, without a question, is my favorite stitch. I can control where it goes, how short or long it is, how curvy it gets, with ease.

The Lessons

After the first lesson, which covers the basic flat stitches, I knew the ones I would go back to in future projects: the Back Stitch, the Split Stitch and the Stem Stitch.

Looped Stitches

Looped stitches are covered in lesson two and include the Chain Stitch, the Lazy Daisy, the Fly Stitch and the Couching Stitch. I still don’t like Lazy Daisies. I have a tendency to pull floss too tightly and instead of looking like pretty little flower petals, they look like twigs, scary twigs. There’s still a lot of work to do until I make them look perfect.

Patience, persistence and practice are key to make your future embroidery projects look flawless. Click To Tweet

Knotted Stitches

Lesson three features Knotted Stitches. The French Knot is the one Jessica uses in her Constellation kits. The Bouillon Stitch is another fave, though it’s a tricky one because you need to wrap the thread around the needle and then pull the needle through. You need to use both hands for this, breathe deeply and keep your cool.

Crossed Stitches

Crossed Stitches, including the traditional Cross Stitch and the Herringbone Stitch with some variations, are covered in lesson four. Compared to the previous ones, these are a breeze and you’ll find many ways to apply them to any project, like the very popular embroidered quotes that are all over Pinterest.

Fill Stitches

The last lesson focuses on Fill Stitches and as the name suggests, these are stitches you’d use to fill a flower petal or leaf, for example. In this lesson, Jessica concentrates on the commonly used Satin Stitch, the Long & Short Stitch and the Fishbone Stitch, which could be very useful for filling leaves as well because of the texture it creates.

There are two more lessons. One focuses on embroidering on knit fabrics using a soluble stabilizer and the other on creating your own patterns.

My Embroidery Sampler

As you can see from my sampler, I didn’t do so bad. Before enrolling in this class, anything requiring hand stitches made me nervous and impatient. Today a little hand sewing doesn’t bother me anymore.

Jessica’s class is not difficult and perfect for a beginner. It only requires a few items to get you going: a hoop, a needle and embroidery floss. There are many close-ups of all the stitches so you can follow along with ease. Craftsy’s platform also offers you a 30 second repeat, if you didn’t catch all the steps the first time around, and, if you have any questions, you can ask Jessica for help.

The class, which includes the pattern for the sampler with your purchase is usually $39.99 but Craftsy constantly has sales and you may find it at a lower price .

If you decide to take Jessica’s class or have already taken it, let me know how you did in the comments.

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