Thursday, January 30, 2014

Travel on the Diagonal

Threads are easier to hide if they are pulled diagonally as opposed to horizontally or vertically - and the diagonal does not have to be 45 degrees either.

Here is an example of hiding travel threads by pulling the thread on the diagonal. The openwork pattern in the background makes it necessary to very carefully hide travel threads. I could have stopped and started each vertical thread behind the fabric, but this would mean a HUGE bump behind each of those pieces of fabric. The vertical stitches are stitched with #16 Kreinik metallic braid. That is a fat thread! I pulled it behind a diagonal line of upright cross stitches to the base of each vertical stitch.

Example for Hiding Travel Threads

I had to place a tacking stitch underneath the vertical stitch to line it up. The tacking stitches are placed underneath the green vertical lines and the threads are pulled behind the pink lines.

Placement of Tacking Stitches and Travel Threads

I was amazed myself at how well it worked.

Now look at the middle vertical stitch again without the lines drawn over it. Do you see any issues with this stitch? Mistakes like this are great for teaching, because if I make this error, others will too. 

Really Annoying Mistake!

The vertical thread was caught by the cross stitch variation (gold thread) that is holding down the piece of fabric. See how the blue metallic thread is pulled to the side and is no longer vertical? You can even see the tacking stitch. Ugh! Don’t you just hate that when you see a mistake AFTER the framing? I should have been more careful when stitching with the gold thread and this mistake would not have happened.

But as long at it is there - it is a teaching opportunity!


Open canavs work, where unstitched canvas is visible, requires the stitcher to take extra care to hide travel threads.

When I see a piece that has this mistake, a glaring, obvious mistake in the midst of an otherwise well stitched piece I just cringe.  Why did the stitcher do this?


The arrows point out travel threads in this Milanese Pinwheel stitch and mar the beauty of this stitch.  Why is the travel thread only visible for the pink thread?  

Perhaps the variegated thread was stitched first (which it should be because it is lighter in color and if pink thread was pulled under the lighter thread it would be seen from the front) with all stitches going down into the center hole, which allows the stitcher to pivot to the next stitching area and hide the travel thread.

How are the pink stitches executed?

Probable Stitch Execution
I can’t be completely sure, but this is how I think it is stitched, with the arrows showing the stitch  direction.  This leads me to think, Be Consistent!

Probable Stitch Execution of All Stitches

All stitches for each Milanese should be executed in the same direction.  All long threads going down into the center hole, which again, allows for a correct pivot to the next Milanese stitch.

If you must change the stitch direction - and it really should be for a very good reason, then placing a tacking stitch underneath the pink thread, between Milanese Stitch units, is essential to hide the travel threads.  You may have to push the pink thread aside to access the canvas holes to take this tacking stitch.  Here is where the tacking stitches should be taken:

Where to Place Tacking Stitches

Each of the black lines indicate where a tacking stitch should be placed under the pink stitches.  Pink is much darker than the light variegated thread, so tacking stitches need to be made under the pink thread.  Place the stitches below where the variegated stitches cover the canvas, so that when the thread is pivoted to take it to the next Milanese Stitch area, the travel thread will lie behind the variegated thread.

One of these two simple steps - maintain a consistent stitch direction with all long stitches going down into the center hole or place a tacking stitch - will easily fix this problem.