Friday, February 22, 2013

Grip-n-Stitch Embroidery Frames by Fabric Flair

Sharon Boggon purchased a Grip-n-Stitch Frame in Australia in 2012 and wrote a review about it. This new type of embroidery frame sounded like an improvement on other frames on the market and I have been searching for one in Canada. No luck in our stores but Herrschners have them in their online catalogue. The size is 8" x 10" with four small extensions included to enlarge the frame in any direction. For a larger frame it is necessary to purchase two kits.

I tried it out on a piece of cotton fabric (Monaco) by CharlesCraft, 28 count, to which I did not add backing. Currently, I am stitching on dressmaking weight linen to which I have added a light weight backing. As the teeth that secure the fabric are only 1/4" long this is a about the limit to the thickness of the fabric that one can use on this frame. Aida Cloth would probably be OK but I have not tried this.

On the plus side, it is easy to mount the fabric on the frame single handed and the tension on the fabric is maintained well. This maintenance of tension is an improvement on a circular frame even with a wrapped inner ring or a Q Snap Frame. I have now used the Grip-n-Stitch Frame three times and found that it is light and comfortable to use, holds the fabric tension well and is easy and quick to set up. It needs less extra fabric around the outside of the frame than does a Q Snap Frame. As the fabric I was using softened a bit during stitching, removing the protective bars and tightening the fabric was easily and quickly done establishing drum tight fabric tension. I just hate stitching on fabric that moves with every stitch.

When the extra pieces of frame were added to form a square, it was an appropriate frame for stitching a circular design 8” in diameter. Set up as a rectangular frame, the design should be a little smaller than can be drawn on a sheet of computer paper. The whole of your design must fit within the frame. It is not possible to move it to a different part of the design as the teeth damage the fabric and would have a disastrous effect on your embroidery.

Grip-n-Stitch Embroidery Frames are a good idea but a version with longer teeth is needed to hold heavier or thicker fabrics. The cost was $56.00 Canadian which included shipping and taxes. I am including the link to Sharon's review which includes more photographs. I have not been asked to write this review and purchased my frame from a commercial supplier.

Sharon Boggon also uses this frame for Crazy Quilting and reviewed it on February 20, 2013 and August 22,

Fabric Flair Associated Products can be found

Friday, February 1, 2013

Satin Stitch - Padded, Shaded and Stitch Rotated

As I wished to include all the above features in this Tutorial, my design motif is unbalanced right and left sides. It is 3" across and 1/2" wide. This width is about as long as it is feasible to make Satin Stitches without them becoming unstable. 1/8" is about the narrowest or else it is too pokey.

The fabric I used is 28 count cotton Monaco by Charlescraft. The higher the thread count the easier it is to work this stitch and the result is better, too. I mounted it on a Grip-n-Stitch frame by Fabric Flair and am reviewing this new type of frame in a separate entry. It is essential that the fabric be really taut and mounted grain perfect when undertaking Satin Stitch.

1. Draw the shape on the linen, in this case it is cotton, using a pen that will make a very fine line.

2. I used DMC Floss and chose a range of thread colours that were close in shade. It is much harder to shade when there is a marked difference between the threads.

If the final layer of Satin Stitch is to be a silk thread, I would still use DMC Floss for padding for reasons of economy.

Preparation is vitally important
Unless this is perfect, the appearance of your final stage of Satin Stitching will not turn out as you had hoped. Do not short change yourself on this.

3. Using three threads of the floss, split stitch all round the motif on the marked line. As Mary Corbet has said, using two threads means that they divide when split stitched instead of behaving as split stitching. These stitches must be small i.e. 1/4" in length. Start and finish threads within the body of the motif. This outline needs to be as solid and immovable as the Great Wall of China. After just a few stitches, test this by going picky, picky with a finger nail to see that the line is solid and immovable. Reduce your stitch size if there is any give in this line of stitching.

4. Padding
All Satin Stitched projects need at least one layer of padding which is usually worked in long Split Stitches within the shape. This padding should cover all the space within the the outline. It will support the Satin Stitches and prevents them from collapsing into the middle of space. Totally unpadded Satin Stitch has a 'hollow' look to it.

Padded Satin Stitch has a raised look and needs three or more layers of padding stitches.
Use six strands of Floss for this. The first line is lengthwise. Note that it does not extend to the outline leaving a space. The second line is stitched crosswise. I used the palest of the colours so that this would be visible for you. Normally, I would use the same colour as the other layers. The third layer is also lengthwise and fills the entire space within the outline. Take the shortest route between padding stitches so that the reverse side does not also become padded,

Organize the padding layers so that the final one lies in the opposite direction to the Satin Stitches.

5. Satin Stitching
Make a decision on which edge of your stitched shape will be more noticeable. This is usually the outer edge of the petal of a flower or the edge which is better lit for the viewer. This is the dominant edge and the one that the needle goes down through the fabric.

The needle will come up on the less visibly noticeable edge which is usually towards the centre of the flower. Use one strand of thread only.

This may seem like an unnecessary amount of stitching but is quicker in the long term.
Two threads, or even three threads will twist and will not give attractive or professional results.
Try stitching with two threads just for the experience. You will find that you will have to separate those threads every stitch and it will make it slow. Slow and frustrating, actually.
One thread is the quick and easy way to go.
Also use the smallest needle you can manage to thread such as a Crewel size 9 or 10. This will help the ease and accuracy of the stitching though some Crewel 9 or 10 can be hard to thread. Bohin needles do not have this problem. The eyes are properly formed and much easier to thread.

Start with a knot (or not) and make a small waste stitch within the body of the padding.

In the centre of the motif bring the needle to the front on the less dominant side of the motif. Take it down to the back on the dominant side of the motif.

This is when your preparation will pay you dividends in ease of stitching and results.
Let the needle find the spot that is closest to that Great Wall of China and make sure that it goes through the fabric absolutely vertically.

And this, my fellow stitchers, is the secret to perfect Satin Stitch. Excellent preparation, stitch with one thread only and make sure that your needle entry and exit is always vertical.

If it is a straight shape, just continue until you reach the other end.

Shading is a question of getting organized as you move from one shade to the next. Thread another Crewel 9 or 10 needle with one thread of the next colour. Look at the photos to see how the colour change is achieved.
One stitch on the new colour, three of the old,
two stitches of the new, three of the old,
two stitches of the new, two of the old,
three stitches of the new, one of the old,
and then you will likely be ready to use all of the new colour.
These ratios are changeable as appropriate for your project.

Continue stitching maintaining the vertical and parallel orientation to the stitching, changing colours to achieve the shading you wish until you reach the end or the pointed end of the motif. I seem to have lost some of that perfect angling but you will not do that I am sure.

6. Points
If possible, organize your design motif and stitching plan so that the stitches at the point retain their vertical orientation. This creates a far more satisfactory result than trying to place tiny and short stitches across the point. There is nothing like a photo enlargement to show imperfections.

7. Rotating Satin Stitching
That means stitch direction which follows the curve of the motif. As you can see, in this shape, if the stitches remained vertical and parallel, they would become rather longer than the practical maximum of approximately 1/2". However, the stitches are remaining at right angles to the outer edge of the motif. The dominant outer curve is also considerable longer than the inner curve.

Here is how
Watch the shape and make an extra stitch every so often so that there are more stitches going down into the fabric on the outer edge than there are on the inner curve. Come up through the padding about halfway across the width of the motif and then go down on the outside edge as usual. The next stitch will be a normal stitch that covers the whole width of the motif. This second stitch will cover the start of the shorter stitch making it undetectable. That half way point can instead be 1/3 or 2/3 of the way across the width. This depends on the shape and curve of the motif.

Watch the shape and the stitch angles and add these extra stitches as needed but always have about three normal stitches between the shortened ones. I apologize for missing taking a photos of this and I am not computer literate enough to add an arrow as an indicator. I am also regretful that the photos are dark on one side.

The point at this end had to be stitched across with several really tiny stitches. I would have been wiser to continue the shape of this half of the motif in a gentle curve to the right which would then have let me finish it with longer stitches like the other end of the motif.

Leaf Shape with one layer of padding

This leaf is stitched in Perle 5.

1. Plan the shape and the stitch direction making sure that you will be able to complete both the rounded end and the point easily.
2. Split stitch on the line around the leaf using one thread of Perle 5 and ensuring that this line is solid and immovable (Great Wall of China). Use an appropriate sized Crewel needle which is the thinnest you are able to thread.
3. Using two threads of Perle 5, place long split stitches in the opposite direction to the planned Satin Stitch and fill the entire space within the leaf.

4. Decide on the designated primary and more visible edge of the leaf and arrange that your needle enter the fabric on that edge and come up through the fabric on the secondary edge. Remember to let the needle find the spot closest to the split stitch edging and that the needle enters and leaves the fabric at exact right angles to the fabric.

Start Satin Stitching in the centre and widest part of the leaf shape placing the stitches at right angles to the padding stitches. This is as you planned in the diagram.
Work towards the base of the leaf first making sure that the final stitch that completes the curve is short in length. This final stitch supports the previous longer one and prevents it 'falling off the curve'.

5. Continue vertically placed Satin Stitching until you reach the pointed tip. Place the final shortish stitch so that it forms the point. Take the needle down very close the the previous stitch so that this last entry point is not visible.

Padded Satin Stitch Small Circle

6. For a small shape, use three threads of DMC Floss to split stitch the outer line.
Use six threads of Floss to form a Double Cross Stitch or Quadruple Cross for the padding.

7. It is your choice to Satin Stitch with one thread of either DMC Floss or Perle 5.
Some circles, such as berries, become too small for the Perle 5 thread. Try Perle 8.

My circle is definitely not round. If you wish for an exact circle, use a template as suggested by Mary Corbet.

This completes this Tutorial.

Hope that you will enjoy and have success with Padded Satin Stitch.