Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How Do You Stitch?

With needle and thread, right? LOL

Seriously, how do YOU stitch?

Do you stitch in hand or with a hoop, q-snaps, scroll rods or a frame?

Do you use the stab-n-stick method or the sewing method?

If you use the sewing method, why have you chosen that method?

Do you love stitching with hand-dyed, over-dyed and variegated threads as much as I do?

I normally stitch in hand using the sewing method.  For me, stitching in hand came about because I suffer from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and found holding any type of hoop, q-snap or frame very difficult and painful.  Often, I'd still have pain and numbness from moving my right hand and arm above and below the fabric for each stitch.  I started experimenting with the sewing method.  At first, I found I was stitching with a combination of the stab-n-stick and sewing methods.  Eventually I became more comfortable with the sewing method and now use it the most.  There are still some times when I will use the stab-n-stick method, especially if I'm using a metallic thread or blending filament.

What I like most about the sewing method, besides being the most comfortable way for me to stitch, is that it has a rhythmic flow that I find soothing.  Since I stitch for enjoyment and relaxation, the soothing, rhythmic flow is a bonus! 

Today, I want to share the way I stitch with the sewing method.

I'm right handed and find it easier to move the needle from the top of the stitch to the bottom of the stitch.  The sewing method is most often used when stitching in hand because hoops, q-snaps, scroll rods and frames keep the fabric taut or "drum tight", making it more difficult to move the needle through the fabric in a sewing motion.

When using solid colored threads, I stitch left to right, stitching the bottom leg first and then the top leg from right to left.

 Come up at #1

Needle down at #2 and back out at #3.

Needle down at #4 and back out at #5.  
Continue until the end of the row.
For the top leg of the stitches, work from right to left with the needle still going from the top of the stitch to the bottom.  Needle down at #6 and back out at #7.  Continue working stitches in this manner until back at the beginning of the row.

When using hand-dyed, over-dyed and variegated threads, it is often desirable to form one stitch at a time to maximize the effect of the color changes in the threads.

After using the stab-n-stick method to complete one stitch at a time, I was frustrated because I was having pain and numbness and couldn't really get into a stitching rhythm with it.  After playing around with lots of different methods, I finally developed a modified sewing method that is both easy and comfortable for the way I hold the needle and fabric.  Mostly, it's what works for me and allows me to stitch in comfort and enjoy a rhythmic stitching pace.

Beginning at the right end of the row and working right to left, 
come up at #1

Needle down at #2 and back out at #3

Needle down at #4 and back out at #5.  Notice that the needle is going from the upper right corner of the stitch to the bottom left corner of the stitch. 

Starting the next stitch, needle down at #6 and back out at #7.  Notice that this segment of the stitch is worked just like the first leg of the sewing method when using solid colored thread.

 Needle down at #8 and back out at #9

Continue working the stitches in this manner until the end of the row is reached.

When at the left end of the row, simply rotate the fabric so the stitches are upside down and stitch the next row in the same manner.

In this example, I started with the loop method to secure my thread.

In the group of 3 rows in the example above, the top row is stitched the traditional way -- bottom leg / / / / / across the row then top leg \ \ \ \ \ back to the beginning of the row.  The next two rows are stitched with my modified sewing method.  The back is not bulky at all and I've even found that on certain lighter weight or looser weave linens, the stitches are more supported.  I don't have a problem with the needle catching any of the threads on the back since the threads are laid very similar to the traditional stitching method.

One thing I will point out is that the thread does still twist with this sewing method so I am conscious to watch the twisting and dangle my needle and thread to let it untwist.

This sewing method is something I came up with after playing around with many different methods and is my own way of working with hand-dyed, over-dyed and variegated threads.  I have not ever seen anyone else stitch this way, but I'd love to hear from any of you if you also stitch this way.

I'd also love to hear how this method works for you if you give it a try.


  1. I stitch much the same way you do,however, I sort of mix the sewing method and some stab-and-stick. I use a hoop but keep the fabric somewhat loose. I tried q-snaps and could not get the hang of it. Like you, I have lots of trouble with hand pain due to arthritis! I find that if I stitch awhile and take breaks I do much better. Hope this helps.

  2. I stitch holding the pattern upside down as I am left handed!

  3. Interesting method, Pam! I stitch everything in hand, but use the stab and stick approach. I can't get used to the sewing method even though I've tried it before.

  4. I usually stitch with a small wooden Duchess hoop, occasionally in hand. I use the stab and stick method. I tried the sewing method once or twice. May not have given it enough of a chance, but didn't prefer it.

  5. I use the sewing method where I can. Definitely prefer it as it goes faster.
    My current project is using such a stiff linen that the sewing method isn't possible and it's driving me kinda nuts, to be honest. Note to self: no more stiff linen! It's the pits. :(

  6. I use the stick and stab method with hoops or q snaps. I cannot for the life of me stitch in hand. I must be uncoordinated --- or just doing it wrong. :)

  7. Your working on wonderfull pieces!!
    I stitch in rows from up to down, 'm right, but they say I stitch as a lefty.. hihi
    I can't do it in a other way

  8. I stitch just as you do. I find that I just cannot use a hoop or a stand!

  9. I learned your method at a retreat a couple years ago from a designer. It was a great idea at the time, lol. It didn't stick with me, though.


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