We are in the midst of exhibit season, what with county and state fairs, and the ANG national seminar exhibit. These exhibits offer a good look at just what stitchers are doing right and what they are doing wrong. One of the areas that stitchers need to take care with their stitching concerns thread wear.
There are many different ways that stitchers cause excessive wear on their threads. We have discussed thread wear in a previous blog concerning perle cotton threads. I also mentioned that Watercolours acts a lot like perle cotton, and you need to be careful of thread wear.
Knowing how to stitch with a particular thread requires practice and testing that thread in different environments. What do I mean by this?
Have you ever considered stitching a sample prior to stitching on your canvas? Perhaps the usual long length of thread you use will cause undue wear on it from pulling it through the canvas many times. A shorter thread length may be needed.
Do you stitch with a large length of the thread doubled over in the needle and then move the needle along the length of the thread as you stitch? This technique will produce thread wear on the thread where the thread passes through the eye of the needle. If you move the eye of the needle along the thread, you are creating many areas with excess thread wear. Again, a shorter stitching length may be needed.
How about when you stitch your arm, shirt, or hand rubs against previously stitched areas of the canvas? Do you realize that this friction causes thread wear? You need to protect previously stitched areas from thread wear. Cover previously stitched areas with tissue paper. I cut a piece of tissue paper large enough to cover the areas that need protecting and then either tape it to my wooden stitching frame or tack it to the frame. Some people prefer to use clear plastic, either the kind found in the grocery store or a thicker type that won’t easily tear can be found at fabric stores. Again, tape or tack to your frame. I know that some needlework teachers that work in silk and metal cover all silk threads that have been stitched onto the canvas as they continue to work their pieces.
How about when you stitch and the thread drags along the top of the canvas? Canvas is very rough on threads, and not just when you pull the thread through the canvas. Lift the thread above the canvas with your free hand to reduce the chances that the rough canvas will cause wear in your threads. For those two handed stitchers, one on top and one on bottom, this technique requires both hands on top - which may slow you down a bit. Or cover the canvas with plastic or tissue paper. The results are well worth the little extra work required.
Just what did I see that leads me to this topic - obvious thread wear on Watercolours. The stitches were the raised type of stitches commonly referred to as Jean Hilton stitches, or curved stitches. These stitches are especially susceptible to wear from friction because they are higher off the canvas, and the exposed thread is long enough so that fibers are easily rubbed loose from the strand that was stitched.
Look at a strand of Watercolours compared to perle cotton. Notice the looser twist and the longer fibers that actually stick out from the strand of the Watercolours. Both of these characteristics make the thread soft and enjoyable to work with - but care must be taken not to create a lot more and longer fibers that stick out from the thread - which creates fuzz.
So shorter lengths of Watercolours and protect those stitches once you place them on your canvas. The results are well worth the little bit of extra work.
Other threads that may need a little more care: Vineyard silks, Silk & Ivory - these both have loose twists to them. Any silk thread.