Monday, August 20, 2012

A Look at Eyelet Stitches

Have you ever given thought to how your eyelet stitches look?  Sometimes they do not look very good because of how they are executed.  Let me explain.

First let’s take a look at a typical eyelet stitch and how it is executed:

I stitched this eyelet with #5 perle cotton on 18 count canvas.  I did not enlarge the center hole and I followed the stitch diagram to the right of the stitched sample.  If you look at this sample, and it is more evident if you look at one that you stitched yourself, you will notice that the stitches start to build up on top of each other as you go around the circle of the eyelet (esp. stitches 25 through 31.)   That is because you have 15 stitches all going down into the same hole in the center and there is just not enough room for them all, especially if you do not open that hole a little bit.

So let’s compare this first stitch sample with one stitched the same way except that I opened the center hole prior to stitching.

By enlarging the center hole I have eliminated most of the thread build up towards the end of the eyelet stitch.  One thing that you need to be careful of is that you enlarge all of your holes exactly the same size.  The tension that you stitch with will also affect the hole size, you do not want different center hole sizes with your stitches.  I enlarge my holes with my laying tool, a very large needle will also work.

Now, let’s say you really do not want to increase the hole size, that is fine.  But you want to eliminate that thread buildup.  Here is a way to achieve a nicer looking stitch without increasing the size of the center hole:

I have changed the way I have executed this stitch.  I am now going around the circle of the eyelet 3 times, instead of just once.  This produces a nicer looking stitch.

As a final note, remember to execute stitches consistently.  Here is an example of stitching eyelet stitches with 2 different starting points.  After stitching the first one, I decided to stitch the next one (to the right of the first stitch) and wanted to start as close to the first stitch as I could.  This saves me thread and also I do not travel across open canvas with the thread on the back, which I am concerned about too.

You may wonder, just what is wrong with those concerns?  The concerns are justified, but you are sacrificing how nicely your stitching could look if you stitched consistently.  Remember about thread buildup - the first eyelet has thread building up as you approach the first stitch which is the vertical one on the top of the eyelet.  However, the thread build up on the second eyelet is at a different location.  It looks different.  You want all of your eyelet stitches to look the same.  So start all of your stitches in the same place.  

If you are concerned about thread travel on the back, run the thread underneath the first eyelet to the right most edge of the stitch then place a tacking stitch in an area of the canvas that will be covered by the second eyelet.  As for saving thread, you won’t, but there’s not that much extra thread used with this method.

Also, placing a tacking stitch underneath an eyelet, even with perle cotton, is not a problem, because the tacking stitch will easily be covered with all of the thread used with this stitch.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Laying Threads

Anytime you are stitching with more than one thread in the needle you should use a laying tool.  However, while this is necessary to ensure threads are layed smoothly and evenly, it is not sufficient.  Many people wonder, do you stroke the thread?  How do you guarantee that the threads will lay nicely?

There are several things that you can do to ensure that your laid threads look their best.

1.  Make sure that the threads in the needle are not twisted.
If your threads are twisted, pull the threads out of the eye of the needle, smooth them out, or let them untwist by letting the thread hang free.  You may want to separate strands if they kind of stick together - this may happen with cotton floss.  Then put the threads back into the needle.  The problem of twisted threads usually happens after you have been stitching for awhile.

    2.  Try to position the canvas so that you are laying threads away from your body.  

  1. Turn the canvas if necessary.  This technique is especially important when you are laying long lines of threads in the same direction - especially in a border.  Stitch problems in border areas really pop out at you.  Here is what I mean:

3.  Stroking the thread.
  1. Place your laying tool underneath the thread at the hole it came up through the canvas, stroke it in the direction that it is being stitched.  Do not stroke back and forth, this may cause wear and a little fraying of the thread, especially some short staple silks and cotton floss.

    4.  Maintaining tension on the thread you just laid.
    Use the laying tool to maintain the tension on the thread by placing the tool at the place where the thread went through the canvas to the back.  Keep the laying tool there until you bring the thread to the front of the canvas through the next hole and can apply tension on the thread.  Obviously, those who like to use extremely long lengths of thread may find this difficult - another reason not to stitch with really long lengths of thread.

    5.  Turning the corner
    If you are turning a corner - turn the canvas so that you are laying threads away from you.

    6.  When threads need to be laid in several different directions for a stitch.
    It makes sense to turn the canvas if you are laying a long line of threads all in one direction (I’d say more than 2 to 3 stitches.)  However, if you are stitching a cross stitch, there is no way that you can turn the canvas for each stitch.  So use common sense.

    Some people ask about 2 threads in the needle, do you need a laying tool?  Is using your finger or thumb sufficient?  What about railroading the threads?
    My advice is - use a laying tool.  The more you use it the more used to it you will be and eventually it will be more natural to use one than not.  And the threads look best when you use one.