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Needle Arts Guild of Toledo

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Evaluating Your Embroidery - Execution

The following article was written by Cathy Studer in 2004 for the newsletter of the Needle Arts Guild of Toledo.

No part of this article may be published, reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means whatsoever (including electronic, mechanical, photocopy) other than for personal or chapter/region use without written permission from the copyright holder.

In this category what the judge will look for is excellence in technique. Consistency in tension is one of the most important aspects in any type of embroidery. Be aware of your moods. Its is easy to stitch with a tight tension when stressed. I knew a woman who knitted that always kept a doodle piece of knitting near her current project. Before picking up her project at each knitting session she would knit a couple rows on her doodle piece. This was a warm up for her and helped her to keep the proper tension on her finished piece. I think this would be a good idea for embroidering also, just a few minutes to get into the rhythm of stitching. Proper tension depends upon the type of embroidery one is working on. If you stitch with a tight tension you will end up with puckers in the fabric and holes where the needle enters and exits the fabric. If your tension is too loose then your threads will not lay smoothly and will float and wiggle where you don't want them to. If you are doing pulled work you will naturally pull with anywhere from a light to tight tension depending on the stitch used. Be sure to always pull in the same direction.

Consistency in stitches is another area to be aware of. Be sure your stitches are worked correctly. There are many good stitch books that can help you with the correct way to execute a stitch you are unsure of. Look at the stitches used in your embroidery, are they suitable for the areas they are used in, and is the size compatible to the size of the area where it is used? What about the direction of the stitches, do they flow with the embroidery? Are you using the proper weight of thread, or number of strands to fill the area being stitched so that your background doesn't show if it isn't supposed to? Do any laid threads lie smooth and parallel to each other without bunching up? Watch the length of satin stitches, if they are too long they will not lie smoothly and may catch and snag. Crossed stitches should always have their top cross going in the same direction. Do not carry threads from one area to the next on the back. There is a good chance this will show through on the front.

Correct compensation of stitches along design lines is also important in technique. To figure compensation: when you get to the end of the design line and don't have enough room for a full stitch, mark with your needle the area on the outside of the design line where you would normally sink the needle (do not pierce fabric), lay your thread so it lies from where you came up to where you have your needle placed, note where the thread lies on the outline and take the needle down in this place. Be sure in any technique to cover any design lines that will not wash out.

I have seen several different ways of attaching beads to embroidery, but the one that I think works the best is what Beth Thompson showed me, and that is simply working a cross stitch through the bead. You want them to stand up straight and not be wobbly. Using the cross stitch method of attaching them keeps them from wobbling out of place. Make sure any attachments you add to your embroidery are well secured.

When working any cutwork technique you want to make sure there are few nubs showing where you cut your fabric threads. Cut with your scissors to the left of the area you are cutting works well. Note that if you are stitching kloster blocks on a colored fabric with a different color thread you are more likely to notice nubs than if you are working with the same color fabric and thread.

These are just a few of the things to keep in mind when looking at execution. It is always good to take classes from a qualified teacher if you are beginning any new technique. If this isn't possible, read, and read some more. Check out our library and the public libraries in the area that you live. There is wealth of knowledge out there.

This page was last updated on October 30, 2008.