For the second Beyond TAST embroidery challenge we had to take an isolated stitch, or part of a repeated stitch and rearrange it into different patterns. Having already investigated many of the isolated stitches dueing the 2015-2017 TAST challenge, I decided to take a single repeat of some stitches and see what I could do.

Firstly, open chain. At the top you can see a line of open chain, with a single repeat of the stitch next to it. I then took the single repeat and arranged it into fillings, square, hexagonal, circular and oval motifs (which I turned into flowers because I usually end up turning everything into flowers at some stage).

Various ways of stitching an embroidered sampler using single units of open chain stitch

Next, I did the same with maidenhair stitch and threaded, or interlaced running stitch.

You can see on this sampler that I also tried a single unit of interlaced running stitch as a random filling stitch and a couching stitch, to hold down some yarn. I ended up threading each running stitch twice to make the stitch bolder.

Embroidery sampler investigating different ways to use single units of maidenhair and threaded running stitches.

While I was working on these samplers, I came up with an “investigation language” to use on other stitches.

Firstly, some basic ways to try repeating stitches to make motifs and repeats. Then some ideas for ways to repeat stitches in borders. You can see that I used the “half circle on top of a line, followed by a half circle underneath the line” repeat with the interlaced running stitch to make a very decorative border.

Sometimes, as with the open chain border sketched below, it was immediately obvious there was a better way to make this stitch, so I didn’t end up stitching it out. In this case, back stitch is probably a better idea. I think that would make a great border with the addition of some beads or satin stitched blocks.

Sketches of ways to arrange embroidery stitches to form borders, fillings and motifs

Then I thought of different ways to change each stitch, using chain stitch as an example. Whilst I didn’t use most of these ideas in my current samples, they’ll be very interesting to play with in future.

Different ways to change detached chain stitch in embroidery

These ideas can be used with almost any stitch.

  1. Add more parts to the stitch by repeating sections. For example, adding a second chain stitch to the other end of the little “tie down” stitch on a detached chain stitch. Tying down a chain stitch with three tacking stitches instead of one.
  2. Replace part of the stitch with something else. E.G. tying down a detached chain with a french knot instead of a little tack stitch. Using a bullion stitch to make the looped part of the chain stitch.
  3. Add beads to different parts of the stitch.
  4. Take any variation and make part of it longer.
  5. Use any of the variations to couch down another thread, ric-rac, or fabric.
  6. If you change the order of the steps to make the stitch, can you then use more colours? For example, make the tack stitch of a detached chain or fly stitch first, then make the loop in another colour.
  7. Can you weave part of the stitch?

There are probably more ways to change a stitch. If you can think of any, please leave a comment with your idea. I may end up giving them a try!


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 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 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!


Posted in Sewing | Tagged | Comments Off on Flower Trim Tutorial

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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