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Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch – TAST Week 55

Whilst I’m not behind in my embroidering for the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge, I am very late in blogging about them! Today’s stitch (from about 3 weeks ago), is up and down buttonhole stitch, and as usual, I got totally carried away with it. In fact, I ended up with three finished samplers.

Firstly, I tried it as an edging around a scrap of fabric I had tested a wood block print on. Then, as a filling on the same piece to make a lemon tree. I coloured the tree section in with a sharpie because you couldn’t really tell it was supposed to be the leaves 🙂

Embroidered sampler with up and down buttonhole stitch.

I also tried lots of curves and circles, variations on the leg lengths and directions, beads and couching.

Then I thought it might be interesting to try it as a filling stitch on an evenweave linen. I buy almost all of my materials from the local op shops (charity thrift stores), so I have a lot of different fabrics to try.

I really love the triangles and the boxes with diamonds in them but boy, do they take a long time to stitch!

Embroidered sampler with up and down buttonhole stitch fillings.

Finally, I tried some circles on some spotty fabric. I think the ones with three rounds of stitching are my favourite and it’s nice finding a use for some of my Spoonflower samples.

Embroidered sampler with up and down buttonhole stitch worked in circles.

If I remember to take a photos, tomorrow I’ll post about stitches 56 and 57!


Knotted Buttonhole Band Embroidery Sampler for TAST, Week 54

This week’s stitch for the Take a Stitch Tuesday embroidery challenge is knotted buttonhole band. It ended up being quite a versatile stitch, which I wasn’t expecting.

Embroidery sampler featuring knotted buttonhole band.

I worked the top three rows first, which you can probably see as the purple band on the right of the title is quite a mess, but they do get progressively neater!

I Googled a lot when I found out about this stitch because I didn’t particularly like the look of it and I wanted to see what other embroiderers had done. The first thing to catch my eye was the spiral worked by Queeniepath on Queeneie’ Needlework. I really liked it at the point where she had worked the knotting along only one side so I tried that in the centre and on a wavy line at the bottom. I really like both and will definitely be using it that way again. I think the wavy line would look really nice if it was mirrored to create a line of lozenges.

I also really like the way knotted buttonhole band can have a ladder down the middle and thought it would be interesting to try lots of different treatments over the ladder stitches. On the left hand of the spiral I worked:

  • Knotted buttonhole band with Portuguese border down the centre.
  • Couched ribbon.
  • I whipped the ladder threads, then
  • I wove them.
  • Finally I stitched a band with two strands of sewing thread.

On the right I:

  • Couched the ladder threads down with three rows of running stitch.
  • Then I thought I’d go against everyone’s best advice and try a bulky wool/silk knitting yarn with no twist whatsoever. (For the knitters: It’s Noro something or other that I found at the op shop). I think it looks very 70’s.
  • The I tried threading beads on the ladder threads and
  • beads everywhere!

The final three bands at the bottom are:

  • Whipped and woven on the same band.
  • The ladder threads are couched down with cross stitch. I worked a few treatments on this band. I made a french knot in every diamond created by the cross stitches, then every second diamond, then worked a small running stitch at the centre of each cross stitch.
  • And last but not least, I wove a ribbon over 2 ladder stitches, then under 2 and stitched boxes in on the ribbon with large and small stitches!

My background is a little different this week as well. It’s the same unbleached calico I’ve used quite a lot but I soaked it in water and painted it with fabric paint. Then I sprayed it with more water so the paint would bleed. It was quite drippy when I hung it up, but the end result was worth the mess.

I can’t wait to see what stitch Sharon has for us next Tuesday!



TAST Turkman Stitch Embroidery Sampler

“BORING!”, was my first thought when I saw this week’s stitch for TAST was Turkman stitch. I was wrong.

Embroidered sampler in Turkman stitch

Whenever a new TAST stitch is released, I google. Then I head for Constance Howard’s Book of Stitches, which I mentioned yesterday.

The Book of Stitches wasn’t terribly interesting for this stitch, but Google did not disappoint! Here are the ideas people came up with that I recorded:

  • Stitching in a circle. I appliquéd a piece of wool felt with two strands of perle cotton to make a flower (you may have noticed flowers are my go-to motif). Making the stitches smaller on the inner side of the circle made it easy to keep it looking neat and tidy.
  • Layering. In the orange section you can see that I layered three rows of turkman stitch on top of each other. I think this gives a lovely rich effect that can be used to make a lovely gradient filling.
  • Taking tiny little “bites” of fabric with each stitch to make a dense braid-like effect. I used this in the snake, and the lime line on the right hand side.
  • Stitching inside a shape. As you can see, I made a lot of leaves with all sorts of thread.
  • Changing the width of the lines. In an abstract pattern this gives a nice sense of movement, and is also great for stitching snakes!
  • I also tried a few things off the top of my head. Couching of course. I love couching and if a stitch looks like it will work, I’ll try it. You can see my line of couching along the bottom border and in the stem of the sapling/leaf thing. Both are stitched with perle cotton.
  • I thought it might make a nice striped filling so I tried two versions. One with stripes of the same thickness worked with three strands of embroidery floss, and one with thin and thick stripes stitched with a single strand of Appleton Wool.
  • As always, I tried lots of different threads from tapestry wool and cotton, all the way to flower thread, sometimes with two colours held together, sometimes just one. The only threads I wasn’t keen on are the really thick tapestry threads that are meant for working needlepoint. I think everything else works really well.

Next week’s stitch remains a mystery (at least until Tuesday), but I have prepared this sampler for working on when I have spare time. I’m going to work it, then stitch it to a background fabric so I can add it to my finished book.

Fabric prepared for making a fancy bobbin edging embroidery sampler

Fancy bobbin edging is the only stitch I haven’t been able to get to work properly. It will not defeat me! I’m going to try the edging version from The Ladies’ Work Table Book

Instructions for working the fancy bobbin edging embroidered edging

and the version worked flat from The Batsford Boom of Embroidery Stitches by Anne Butler (that’s a link to the book on I highly recommend the seller “WorldofBooks” as I’ve purchased from them a few times and they’re the only seller that is selling it for what I consider a reasonable price).

Hopefully my inability to make fancy bobbin edging look decent is just a matter of different brains preferring different ways of working it. Either that or this is going to be a really crappy sampler!


TAST Sheaf Stitch Embroidery Sampler

SHeaf stitch and buttonholed herringbone emproidery sampler for the Take a Stitch Tuesday embroidery challenge

Last week’s embroidery stitch for the Take a Stitch Tuesday embroidery challenge (TAST) was sheaf stitch, which you can see in the top 2/3 of my sampler.

I wanted to try as many things as possible with this stitch, so I had a look at Constance Howard’s Book of Stitches and drew some of the ideas from there, then stitched in as many different threads as I thought would work. I really like all of them, but I think my favourites are using it as a filling and in different shapes, especially the half arch shape.

I finished off the border with some more buttonholed herringbone in various knitting yarns and two strands of DMC crewel wool in yellow and purple.

This may be last week’s stitch but I haven’t gotten behind yet! Tomorrow I’ll post this week’s sampler, which I finished this morning.


Catching Up on the TAST Embroidery Challenge

Last year I joined the TAST “Take a stitch Tuesday” embroidery challenge and reached stitch 20 before starting back at school and the enormous amount of homework this brings (I’m studying website design and technologies).

Halfway through the year I managed to finally have a break with no homework and started to feel a bit lost in the creative department, so out came the embroidery again. I made four samplers for stitches 21 to 50. (I didn’t work the stitches in any particular order).

Sampler 1 with:

  • cable chain
  • threaded cable chain
  • interlaced cable chain
  • rope stitch
  • arrowhead stitch
  • pekinese stitch
  • cloud filling
  • raised cross stitch flower
  • and coral stitch

(click on the photo for a larger view)

I discovered that arrowhead stitch is perfect for couching down baby ric-rac. If you lay a strand of something thick down the centre before couching it’s barely recognisable as ric-rac.

I don’t like 6 thread embroidery floss as the interlacing in the interlaced cable chain. I also like the rows of chains quite a wide distance apart, to give the interlacing room to show it’s diamond-like design.

Pekinese stitch has been a favourite of mine since I was little so I used it to couch down a flower cut from  an old doily as I hadn’t used it for that before. I think if I hem the appliqué it’s an especially nice finish though I do like it with the raw edge too.

All the other stitches I tried in a range of threads, all of which I think worked well. I especially like the cabled chain stitch on the bottom right with beads stitched in the centre of each chain.


Catch up sampler number 2 has:

  • Shell chain
  • Oyster stitch
  • Open and closed base needlewoven picots
  • Buttonhole wheel cup
  • Fern stitch
  • and long tail chain (plain, beaded and whipped)

I tried all the stitches in as many different threads as possible.

For me, the stand out features of these stitches include using closed base needlewoven picots for the leaves on the buttonhole cup flowers. I also really love the oyster stitch worked in rows, and the buttonhole cup flower with the purple centre and indigo stitching around the cup. I think the layers of colour worked really well.

I’d like to try the shell chain stitch with 3 or more chains side by side. I think two works really nicely but it would be interesting to work several so you’d have a stack of shell shapes in a line.


Sampler number 3 shows:

  • Vandyke stitch (I love the fish). I really like this stitch worked in thick threads. It makes a great leaf as well.
  • Fancy bobbin edging. I want to try this as an actual edging stitch over a hem because I really hate it worked flat.
  • Linked chain stitch. My favourite is the green linked chain on the left with dark green beads. It’s a nice textured stitch worked with thick thread, and very elegant worked with fine mercerised cotton and tiny beads.
  • Portuguese border stitch. I would love this stitch worked in almost anything but the fine mercerised cotton version in lime green is particularly nice.
  • Chained cross stitch. I’m not a big fan of this stitch. I think it’s OK. It’s easy to work and looks neat in a large range of threads but it doesn’t thrill me.
  • Eastern stitch surprised me. I didn’t think I’d like it but the stripes worked in soft needlepoint cotton are very interesting. This is another stitch that looks great in whatever thread you use.
  • Crossed and plaited feather stitch. Feather stitches of all variations will always be a favourite of mine. I stitched these in size 3 mercerised cotton so I would remember the difference between the two stitches.
  • Triangular buttonhole stitch. I originally worked this on my second buttonhole stitch sampler but wanted to try it with beads this time. I think the medium sized beads work particularly well.
  • Barb stitch. I also originally worked this on my buttonhole stitch sampler but I wanted to try it beaded and worked on a curved line. I’m not keen on the way the beads move about, but I think the curved and wavy version worked in size 8 mercerised cotton is beautiful.

Catch up sampler number 4, in which I got totally carried away with fabric paint.

I found some Hobbytex paints at the op shop (charity shop/thrift store), and decided to paint the names of the stitches and the background of each flower to save time so I could go on to the new stitch for week 51. It didn’t quite work out that way because I smudged the names of two of the stitches so I ended up embroidering them all anyway! In the end I didn’t mind because my samplers are all about recording different things I wanted to try, so that’s another experiment on record.

Catch up sampler number four has:

  • Bonnet stitch. I didn’t think I’d like this stitch at all but it turns out that I love it. Along the top I worked it in two strands of size 12 cotton. The green is matte and the purple is perle. I used it to couch down threads on the right hand border, and finally for the petals on the four largest flowers. If you close the tips of each “V” on the bonnet stitch with an arrowhead stitch you get diamond shaped petals.
  • Knotted cretan stitch. I used French knots and berry stitch to turn knotted cretan into flower stems with buds and leaves and used lots of different threads to stitch the remaining two borders. I prefer knotted cretan worked in long lines rather than short but the berry stitch leaves are fun.
  • Looped cretan and beaded looped cretan stitch. I could embroider this all day. It has a lovely rhythm and I really like it worked in various sizes with different thicknesses of mercerised cottons.
  • Berry stitch. I’ve always used berry stitch to embroider simple eyes on knitted toys. I like it worked in crewel wool and size 8 mercerised cotton the best in these samples.
  • Buttonhole wheel. I used small buttonhole wheels in a number of different threads to work the tiny flowers, and with two rounds of buttonhole stitch for the larger flowers. When working more than one round I like to stitch them at different densities to add even more textural interest. If your buttonhole wheels start to fold over, a second round of stitches will fix it. Or you could unpick it and work the stitches closer together.
  • Knotted feather stitch. This is another stitch I’ve worked a lot before so I tried it in some different threads. Silk ribbon, two strands of DMC Floriella crewel wool, and two strands of DMC Medici wool. The stem on the middle flower is a bit thick for the size of the flower but again, I see my samplers as a record of things I want to try and that will remind me to use one strand of wool or make a big a bigger flower next time!

Finally my sample of week 51’s stitch. Buttonholed herringbone. (I’ll wash the blue pen out when the whole 8 x 8 inch sampler is full)

  • At the top left is four stacked and offset rows worked in crewel wool.
  • Next to that is two strands of DMC Medici (one brown, one green)
  • Orange size 8 mercerised cotton on a curve.
  • Size 3 mercerised  cotton.
  • Size 10 mercerised cotton in green, couching down 5 strands of crewel wool in 2 shades of purple.
  • Below that is cotton needlepoint yarn couching down a length of embroidery ribbon
  • 2 opposed rows of buttonholed herringbone worked in size 12 cotton with cross stitches and French knots. I think the herringbone stitches are too long worked in cotton this fine so I tried it again underneath with shorter stitches, which I think look nicer.
  • And finally, worked in 6 strands of embroidery cotton floss, a flower! The French knots in the centre are worked with three strands.

I found this stitch incredibly fast to work and liked it in all the threads I tried. I can’t wait to find out what stitch we’ll be trying next week!

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