A new challenge for Beyond TAST came out this week: exploring isolated stitches. Seeing how they can be used, made into patterns, or created from other stitches that usually form lines and fillings. For example, chain stitch is a line and filling stitch, with lazy daisy (aka detached chain), being the isolated version of the same stitch.

I grabbed a few of my embroidery books that I thought might help me come up with some ideas. Stitches: New Approaches by Jan Beaney, The Batsford Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches by Anne Butler, and The Stitches of Creative Embroidery (later edition) by Jaqueline Enthoven.

Three vintage embroidery books.

I picked out a few different types of stitches to play with. If I didn’t restrict myself then I’d end up with eight zillion samplers!

I chose open chain, eyelets, wheat ear stitch, lock stitch, threaded running, and maidenhair stitches as my main stitches. Others I may include if I have time are dot stitch, fancy hem stitch, knotted cable chain, bokhara couching, double herringbone, backstitched herringbone, detached chain and chevron stitch.  I wanted to include some stitches that are already isolated, and some that are single sections of a repeating stitch (like maidenhair stitch).

After doing a bit of research, I usually start by scribbling whatever ideas I can come up with in my sketch book.

Thoughts so far:

  • I might give eyelets their own page as I’ve never experimented with them before.
  • Try the different stitches in different motif and flower styles, e.g. four spoke cross, six spokes, eight spokes, twelve spokes, circles and ovals.
  • Use stitches as texture by overlapping.
  • Move bits of the stitches around to different places.
  • Lengthen parts of the stitches. E.g. detached chain becomes long tail chain.
  • Isolated stitches used as a filling. Dot stitch is a typical isolated stitch used as a  filling stitch, what happens if other stitches are used this way?

And that is where I’m at so far! Now I just need to grab some fabric, pick out some threads and get stitching. I have a feeling this is going to take a while.


Please note: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com. I won’t receive a commission if you purchase the linked books but may do if you purchase a new item after clicking these links.

Felt and leather flowers

New on Knitting-and.com today! A new tutorial on making floral trim from ribbon and scrap fabrics. (Click on the link for the tutorial). You can make them out of anything that doesn’t fray, including felt, leather and fabrics bonded to iron on interfacing.

I made mine from leather furnishing samples and the blankets that I dyed last year.

My flower trims will be used on a fabric book in the near future so keep an eye out for them!


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Or to be more accurate, the Original’s sequel. Presenting my latest finished embroidery, The Original’s Sequel from Dropcloth Samplers by Rebecca Ringquist (that’s a non-affiliate link to her Etsy shop, in case you’d like to try it too).

Embroidery sampler stitched in bright colours

Even though I’ve learnt a hundred or more new stitches in the last three years embroidering samplers for the TAST challenges, there were a couple on this sampler I hadn’t tried before. Japanese darning, wave stitch, turkey work, bokhara couching, and this particular version of tête de boeuf were all new for me. I keep petting the turkey work, I jammed the rows together as closely as I possibly could and it’s incredibly fluffy. I’m going to try it in wool at some stage, to see if I can get good enough at it to make shaped flowers and squirrels and things with the thread trimmed to create a 3D motif.

I followed Rebecca’s Creativebug class “Advanced Embroidery Sampler ” to learn these new stitches. I especially liked how the stitches each have their own chapter so I could jump back and forth to whatever I wanted to embroider next, and didn’t have to watch the instructions for the stitches I already knew.

I’m also really fond of the needle woven leaves on the left. I’ve done them with chain stitches before, but this way of working them seems much more stable and more firmly attached to the fabric. Especially if you’re working a long leaf like these. I’ve noticed that I seem to like very textural stitches whenever I work samplers, but I don’t often  use them when I design actual projects  myself. I’m going to have to do something about that!

Well that’s it for my embroidery projects at the moment. I found a cool thing on Trove that I want to show you though, and it will include a tutorial so I’d better get working on it. And I have a couple of new lace edgings to update. And now that I’ve shown you all my TAST samplers, I need to make them into books.

I hope to get back to regular blogging and posting free stuff and tutorials for you, so come back regularly.

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This year, as well as rerunning the regular TAST, Sharon Boggon is also running “Beyond TAST” for those of us who finished TAST already. In Beyond TAST, we spend 4-6 weeks investigating a stitch family or technique.

The first technique was pattern darning. Being me, I ended up making 5 of my 8″/20cm square samplers. For my first piece I wanted to use darning as the background. I layered fabric scraps, basted them with sewing thread and then darned, and darned, and darned some more. You may be able to see that I changed colours so the darning looks like patches as well, but they’re in different shapes to the fabric patches underneath.

When I got tired of that, I added a flower, and finished the whole piece by zig-zagging all the way round with my sewing machine. I zig-zagged with two threads together in a large needle (I think it’s a denim needle). Even though my machine will sew through almost anything, it struggled with thick fabric on the left and thin on the right hand side, so I had to pull it through a bit. I really love the effect of using two threads in the machine together, I’m going to try it with some free motion machine embroidery in future.

Embroidered picture worked in pattern darning and running stitch.

My next samplers were inspired by Kantha embroidery.

Border patterns and fillings. (See my Kantha Pinterest board for more). I drew the basic lines for each border with a water erasable pen before stitching.

Various borders and fillings worked in running stitch.

Then I tried pattern darning used as fillings and to make flowers. I made some double folded hems around the brown fabric and stitched them down with running stitch. I also kept to a very limited colour palette of yellow, green and blue. Limited colour palettes are unusual for me, as I usually restrict myself to using all of them ;-)

Embroidered peacock and flowers worked in running stitch and variations.

Finally, in my Kantha inspired samplers I made parallel rows of darning with threading through the stitches to form the patterns. I used an unusual fabric for this, glazed cotton with a floral pattern on it. I think it worked well.

Various deigns of threaded running stitch worked on glazed cotton.

And of course, no investigation into patterned running stitch is complete without a little Sashiko. Embroidered on the same glazed cotton as the previous sampler using two strands of variegated perle cotton. I ran out at the last row and substituted other plain threads of the same colour but they ended up being a bit thicker. Oops.

I used Sew Easy templates and a water erasable marker to draw out the design

Running stitch sashiko embroidery

Next up I’ll show you my latest Dropcloth sampler. I’ve almost finished, although it’s currently drying because I spilled something on it. Hopefully tomorrow it will be dry and I can finish it.