Friday, February 13, 2015

Counted cross-stitch embroidery on your handwoven fabric tutorial

Hello, friends. I've been making some bespoke bridal dress hangers for summer weddings. The hangers are decorated either with a handmade satin ribbon rose or with a monogrammed button or other small motif (I've done wee shamrocks and hearts). Anyway, I thought I'd share my method for embroidering on handwoven fabric. Counted cross stitch is generally performed on stiff Aida cloth. Handwoven fabric (at least my handwoven fabric) is far from rigid and I also don't have enough of it to squeeze into an embroidery hoop. What to do? Well, read on!

1. Gather your materials. You'll need the following:

  •  Small piece of handwoven fabric (I used plain weave fabric woven at 30 epi in 10/2 mercerized cotton)
  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery or cross stitch pattern
  • needle
  • waste cloth
  • pins
  • embroidery scissors
  • tweezers (yes, you read that right)
  • button suitable for covering with fabric (I use the Dritz aluminum buttons, available at most craft and fabric stores)
2. Cut the handwoven fabric in a square to fit the fabric requirements of your button. I use the 5/8" button from Dritz on the hangers and find that a 2-3" square is suitable. Then, cut a piece of waste cloth the same size. What is waste cloth, you ask? Here's a link to a really good description. You can find waste cloth (or "canvas") near the embroidery floss at your craft shop.

3. I pin the waste cloth and handwoven fabric together to keep things lined up and tidy. You could also baste the layers together. Find the center of your cloth and start stitching!

.4. Once you're done stitching, you need to remove the waste cloth from the handwoven fabric. NOTE OF CAUTION: DON'T RUSH! You might be able to tear waste cloth from other kinds of manufactured fabric, but if you start yanking on your waste cloth, there is a very good chance that you will rip your handwoven fabric. Snip away as much excess waste cloth as you can from around your embroidered motif. Then, start removing the waste cloth threads slowly, and, if necessary, one at a time. Use tweezers to help facilitate this.

 5. After all of the waste cloth threads have been removed, cut the handwoven fabric for your button using the pattern guide:

6. Follow the button manufacturer's directions for encasing the fabric around the button. (This is easy, really). Looks nice, right?

So, there you are. Happy weaving and sewing and knitting and whatever else you may find yourself doing this weekend.

Be well,

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Whig Rose overshot and a small study in pattern weft yarns

Hello, friends. We've had a record-setting month for snowfall here in our part of New England. As such, it seems as though I've spent as much time shoveling as I have handling a shuttle. Alas! On Sunday I spent the day hand stitching hems on the overshot runners that have been on the loom.

Overshot runner with wool pattern weft (the black yarn)

Whig rose overshot with two strands of 5/2 mercerized cotton in two shades of red for pattern weft

Whig rose overshot runner with 3/2 mercerized cotton for pattern weft

I used 10/2 mercerized cotton in ivory for the warp and for the tabby weft. I don't have a lot of experience with overshot and am by no means an expert but I did want to see how different yarns behaved in the pattern weft. (For those of you who are less familiar with overshot technique, it is basically a design in which a thicker, often color-contrasting yarn skips over designated threads in the warp to create designs. See the nice looking wheels and diamonds?) I had some leftover Harrisville Shetland yarn in my stash as well as some 5/2 cottons and 3/2 cottons. I liked the results of all three of the yarns but did learn a few things:

  • 5/2 mercerized cotton yarn, when doubled, creates a  nice color effect when using two different shades of yarn (I used reds).
  • 5/2 mercerized cotton yarn, used doubled, can make for some sloppy floats if the yarns don't slide off of your shuttle neatly
  • 3/2 mercerized cotton worked up nicely
  • the wool worked up nicely although I found that the black yarn really bled while washing.
  • the cotton versions seemed to have more "heft"
The wool was something I'd definitely use again. It has a nice drape. I'd also use the 3/2 cotton again in an overshot pattern. I'd use the 5/2 yarns again only if I felt I needed a particular color effect and/or if I needed to substitute for the 3/2 or wool yarns for the pattern weft.

So, there you are. I've had enough of the overshot for a while and am working on some dishtowels in a nice twill pattern. Photos to follow soon!

Be well,