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TAST Week 6. Chevron Stitch Sampler.

I didn’t think chevron stitch could be used for much other than straight lines and a stacked filling. Boy, was I wrong.

Embroidered sampler of chevron stitch for TAST week 6

The Batsford Encyclopaedia of Embroidery stitches only had four variations of chevron stitch so I had to research a lot online to find inspiration. I’ll add links to the inspiration source or tutorial wherever possible.

Embroidered chevron stitch borders

On the left of the photo above: Threaded chevron stitch. The lacing is worked the same way as threaded herringbone stitch.

Top: Chevron stitch with the cross bars tacked down with a tiny straight stitch

Rows 1 – 4 from the Batsford Encyclopaedia: Chevron stitch, pagoda stitch, half chevron, raised or whipped chevron.

Row 5: Double chevron stitch

Row 6 : Double chevron stitch with the second layer sitting completely on top

Row 7: Shaded chevron stitch stacked closely together

Row 8: Threaded double chevron stitch. Double chevron stitch threaded in the same way as threaded chevron stitch (one layer at a time).

I also tried beaded chevron stitch but my fabric was a bit flimsy and I couldn’t get the beads to sit nicely.

Then I was inspired by some fillings.

Two different ways of stacking embroidered chevron stitch

For the top half I worked the filling Sharon Boggon shows on the TAST stitch page. It looks quite different worked on calico than it does on even weave. I like both.

The bottom half was inspired by Alison M. Dearborn’s chevron stitch sampler on the Take a Stitch on Tuesday facebook group. I worked the chevron stitch in tapestry cotton and the satin stitch filling in 3 strands of embroidery floss. I think this is my favourite part of the sampler. It reminds me of 1970’s Japanese embroidery pattern books.

In square number 3 I worked a few things I wanted to remember. First I worked the double chevron stitch circles. Despite my original thoughts on chevron stitch, I found that it works beautifully on simple curves. Spirals are another matter. I couldn’t get those to work so they were unpicked.

Double chevron stitch circles, stacked diamonds and couching

Next I worked the couched thread (Noro Taiyo knitting yarn), inspired by Majo van der Woude in the facebook group.

And finally a little picture.

An embroidered chevron stitch zebra eating apples.

A little chevron stitch zebra eating apples from a basket under a chevron stitch sun with little “M” birds waiting to peck at the apple cores. In the background is a stacked chevron stitch mountain range and the zebra has chevron grass underfoot.

Some useful links:
TAST on Facebook
Sharron’s TAST FAQ on her website, Pintangle.
Free vintage stitch book downloads.


TAST Week 5 – Herringbone Stitch

This week’s Take a Stitch on Tuesday sampler does not contain a fish of any sort, which is kind of ironic, considering it’s herringbone stitch.

Embroidered sampler in herringbone stitch with flower and decorative borders

I really struggled with working a few variations of herringbone stitch that I had really wanted to try. You won’t see them in the sampler because I either gave up when I couldn’t get it to look good with the threads I tried, or I’d worked the whole foundation row of herringbone stitch without noticing I was supposed to pass the needle under a thread somewhere strange and I did it the regular way. I’m looking at you laced herringbone stitch and interlaced herringbone stitch :-/

Hmm, I wish I’d found those tutorials before. They’re different to the instructions in my embroidery encyclopaedia and use basic herringbone bases instead of the “don’t forget to pass your needle under 8,000 threads and make your head explode” version I have. OK, it was just one thread but still.

I do like what I ended up with, despite not being able to get my head around the versions I really wanted to try (I’ll be having another go)!

The stitches in my sampler are (from the Batsford Ecyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches by Anne Butler or made up on the spot by me out of frustration when trying to work the above mentioned stitches):

  • Top: threaded herringbone stitch
  • Right: herringbone stitch
  • Bottom: ribbon couched with herringbone stitch with one leg tied down with a straight stitch
  • Left: ric-rac couched with herringbone stitch
  • From top to bottom: Double back stitch with french knots. Double back stitch is basically herringbone with the tops of the crosses touching. The back looks like two rows of back stitch.
  • Double herringbone stitch with a straight stitch up the centre of each cross.
  • Two rows of herringbone on top of each other with running stitch to close the tops of the crosses and tie down the centre.
  • Two rows of herringbone on top of each other with the centre tacked down with cross stitch
  • Back stitched herringbone stitch
  • Herringbone and spike stitch
  • Tied herringbone stitch
  • Twisted lattice band
  • Threaded herringbone stitch again 🙂
  • Herringbone stitch tied down with zig zag stitch (worked as a row straight stitches tying down the centre of one leg, then back again across the other leg).
  • Two layers of herringbone tied down with running stitch wherever threads crossed
  • Tapestry wool couched with herringbone stitch
  • Raised lace band stitch. The satin stitch foundation was worked over 4 threads of tapestry wool.
  • The leaf shape is raised close herringbone stitch
  • The square is square herringbone stitch and
  • The flower is close herringbone stitch

Things I learnt from this sampler:

  • Trying to work square herringbone stitch at 1:30 am when you have insomnia caused by vertigo will result in a wonky square no matter how many times you rip it out and start again. I wonder if larger squares like mine would benefit from a border of split stitch to define the square before working, like you would with satin stitch.
  • Square herringbone stitch would make a kick-arse check filling and is worth the trouble. I wonder what sort of patterns you could make on gingham with it.
  • Tied herringbone stitch is ugly in very short rows but nice in longer rows. When working the tied portion, always tighten the knots by pulling the thread towards the outer edge of the stitch if you want to create a zig-zag, or towards the centre if you want to force it into a straighter line.
  • Twisted lattice band stitch really stands up from the fabric when worked in thicker threads (in this case perle 5 mercerised cotton laced with 6 strands of embroidery floss).
  • Ric-rac couched with herringbone would be a great base for lots of fancy borders.
  • Leaves worked in raised close herringbone stitch are amazingly three dimensional.
  • I like close herringbone stitch as a filling worked with crewel wool more than cotton floss. Wool fills better but floss is more graphic.
  • Herringbone stitch is really good at being super fancy with lacing, threading, couching and the addition of other stitches.

Stitches I still want to try:

  • Interlaced and laced herringbone stitch using the tutorials linked above
  • Point de reprise stitch
  • Buttonholed herringbone stitch and
  • Two different stitches called fancy herringbone stitch.

See what happens when I don’t work two samplers? I still want to try more stitches…

Some useful links:
TAST on Facebook
Sharron’s TAST FAQ on her website, Pintangle.
Free vintage stitch book downloads.


Fearless Embroidery and Thrifted Threads

You may have noticed that I’ve been using a lot of different threads in my embroidered samplers, and some of them are quite expensive. One of my favourites is DMC perle cotton, which retails for $6.99 per skein in my local craft shop. Here’s my secret to using threads with such abandon: I almost never buy them new. In fact, unless they’re really special or a very large skein, I don’t pay more than 50c per skein for them.

I buy my threads at charity shops. If you like to embroider kits or use the exact colours in a pattern this probably sounds insane to you, but if you’re like me and make things up as you go or like to use designs with a “do your own thing” style of embroidery then it’s a great way to buy threads and end up with a wide ranging stash that you’re not afraid to use experimentally.

The trick is to go to the charity shops often (we call them op shops here in Australia). Sometimes you’ll find nothing but sometimes you’ll find this:

Embroidery wool, cotton and rayon threads thrifted from the local op shops

I popped into three shops while running errands over three days and found well over $300 worth of threads for $34. That price includes a roughly 2 metre long piece of vintage rayon/cotton fabric in the exact shade of bright light blue that I’ve been looking for to make some cushion covers and the orange tin shown in the picture.

These threads include

  • a whole bag of DMC Medici with at least 5 skeins untouched.
  • A bag of Appleton wool,
  • 3 skeins of Caron watercolors,
  • a bag of DMC soft cotton,
  • 7 full skeins of DMC perle cotton (making the retail price of just those 7 skeins almost $49) and several partial skeins,
  • well over 100 skeins of 6 strand floss in DMC, Anchor, Semco and Peri-Lusta brands (all good quality threads) and
  • at least 3 skeins of hand painted Medici,
  • a huge skein of purple hand painted wool and
  • four different skeins of hand painted embroidery thread with mohair.


Excuse me a moment, I think I feel a need to embroider something. 🙂


PS: If you are the kind of embroiderer that prefers to use kits and the exact threads mentioned in a pattern and you discard your leftovers, please donate them to your local charity shop!

Cretan Stitch Samplers and Post Apocalyptic Fish, TAST Week 4

This week’s “Take a Stitch on Tuesday” embroider-along stitch was cretan stitch, which I honestly thought was going to be a bit dull after working feather stitch because they look so similar. I was wrong. I loved it.

I seem to have developed a habit of working a sampler with the basic stitch in whatever way takes my fancy at the moment, then working another with all the variations I like from my embroidery encyclopaedia so I thought, “What the heck”, and have decided to do that with all the stitches from now on. Unless I don’t feel like it at the time 🙂

Sampler number one is an homage to stitch samplers of the late 1960’s/early 70’s. I call it “Post Apocalyptic Fish”. I used everything from for strands of embroidery floss (some with 2 strands of 2 different colours), to tapestry wool and cotton, number 3 mercerised cotton and metallic braids and threads. I laced the basic cretan stitch, whipped it and even tied some knots up the side of the brown closed cretan stitch wedge. The background is unbleached calico painted with acrylic paint & textile medium.

Sampler with variations on cretan stitch embroidery.

I had planned to stitch the whole thing but I’d tried all the threads and variations I wanted by the time I’d embroidered the left hand side so I added some fish and a shell button shisha stitched sun to complete it. I guess I hadn’t worked the fish motif completely out of my system yet 🙂

I used a Clover chacopel pencil to draw the design and it worked really well. I was disappointed when it dried after I washed off the marks though, as an area that I rubbed a bit too hard on has fluffed up through the paint. I thought about painting it with some straight textile medium to flatten it down again but I don’t want to risk making it worse.

For my second sampler I block printed a little tree and ruled a LOT of lines with a water erasable pen.

Variations on cretan stitch embroidery with a woodblock printed tree

The stitches are:

The border: Basic cretan stitch in different widths. Some with the needle coming out straight along the centre line and some with a zig-zag. For the right hand side and the bottom I used a little blanket stitch wherever there was something in the way

From left to right:

  • Looped cretan stitch
  • Oriental stitch 5mm wide in green and 1cm wide in variegated orange
  • 2 layers of cretan stitch on top of each other, offset to form diamonds
  • Scotch cretan stitch
  • Crossed cretan stitch
  • Raised cretan stitch
  • Knotted cretan stitch
  • Half cretan stitch
  • 2 rows of slipped cretan stitch with different needle placements (orange then brown)
  • 2 versions of honeycomb arrangements. The green one has overlapping spokes and the orange one has the spokes butted up against each other.

Finally, the tree has closed cretan stitch leaves and the box underneath is cretan open filling stitch.

Phew, that was a lot of stitching.

Thoughts from this week:

  • My favourite variations are probably the basic cretan stitch, scotch cretan and the honeycomb and diamond placements.
  • I’ll definitely be combining block printing and embroidery more often.
  • I’ll be much more careful when removing lines so I don’t damage my background.

Some useful links:
TAST on Facebook
Sharron’s TAST FAQ on her website, Pintangle.
Free vintage stitch book downloads.


Beaded Feather Stitch, TAST Week 3 Part 2

I decided that I couldn’t leave my feather stitch sampler looking unfinished so I added beads after all 🙂

Embroidered feather stitch sampler with seaweed and beading

(Click the photo for a larger view).

I decided to use them to pick out the coral, the “gravel” at the bottom and some bubbles (or as my daughter called them, fish eggs).

After adding the beads, they looked a little like an afterthought, so I added some french knots to both side borders to echo the shape of the beads with stitching. I think this makes them look more like a frame because they’re now slightly different to the other lime green seaweed and a little darker. Since that’s what I wanted, I’m happy.

I also had a go at learning some other feather stitch variations and some experimenty bits.

Embroidered feather sttch sampler with lines of different types of feather stitch and feather stitch shading

From the top (from the Batsford Encyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches by Anne Butler unless otherwise stated):

  1. thorn stitch
  2. Spanish knotted feather stitch (from Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches. It’s in the Batsford book but the instructions aren’t very clear)
  3. knotted feather stitch
  4. maidenhair stitch
  5. inverted feather stitch
  6. chained feather stitch
  7. floral feather stitch
  8. On the left – whipped triple feather stitch worked in vintage knitting rayon with a firm twist. I found the instructions for whipping it in this style in “Dorset Feather Stitchery” by Olivia Pass.
  9. right: whipped feather stitch (called laced feather stitch in the Batsford book but the technique is what many embroiderers know as whipped).
  10. bottom: single feather stitch

I also tried stitching on an applique because I’d read about it in Dorset Feather Stitchery and wanted to try it.

My favourite “new” thing is shaded double and triple feather stitch bands, which I read about in the Mary Thomas dictionary. It’s really difficult to make them neat on plain calico but I kind of like the messiness. Plus if I want them to be perfectly neat I could always rule lots of little diamonds first.

Orange and green shaded bands worked in double and triple feather stitch.

I’m having a blast learning lots of new stitches. I’ve mostly used just the basics before (stem stitch, blanket, backstitch, running stitch and French knots, with a little pekinese stitch and some shisha mirrors), and have only just ventured into using anything but 6 strand embroidery floss, so everything is shiny and new.

I have two ideas for next week’s stitch. No doubt I probably won’t be able to decide again and end up doing both 😛


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