Yesterday I was asked a question about whether I run the threads from one letter to a next when working with the alphabet.
First thing to know – I am no expert. I am self taught and sometimes, my teacher is not very good!
I’m not really a perfectionist. I want my work to look nice, some things that don’t bug others really bug me and vice versa. Seeing threads through the fabric really bugs me.
Things that Matter:
- I use linen. My preference is 40 count so, 40 count linen is what I have the most experience with. Not all linens are the same, even when they’re the same brand. If you’ve ever used linen, you’ll know that there are sometimes thin threads and really thick threads. If there’s a 40 count linen that has a lot of thin threads, the holes are going to be bigger and more is going to show through.
- The different dying techniques make a difference in the tightness of the weave. Picture This Plus linens end up being much tighter than other fabrics I’ve tried. With Picture This Plus, I prefer 36 count.
- All that to say that if there is much space between the threads, carrying your threads will almost always allow the threads on the back to show through.
- My advice: Try it in the “margin” and see if seeing it bothers you.
- I put a piece of white or off white batting, depending on the color of the linen, behind the piece before finishing it so try that to see if it makes a difference in the amount of color that shows through.
This is what the back side of A Sampler for all Seasons. It isn’t as neat as some folks’ work but it’s neater than it was two years ago.
When looking at the photo above, the top line is the bottom line in the photo above. I try to plan ahead – just a letter or two – and see where I want to end one letter based on where I would start the next letter with the least amount of traveling thread on the back side. Does that make sense? It may be how everyone does it. I’m sure I didn’t invent that technique but since I’m self-taught and don’t really stitch with anyone else . . I have no idea if what I’m doing is right or not.
Let’s look at that last line – specifically, look at “makes”, here’s how I would stitch that word. Start with the “m”. Before I start stitching, I would decide where I want the last stitch on the “m” to be, based on where I want the first stitch of the “a” to be and the last stitch of the “a” would depend on where I wanted the “k” to start. Stitches like the “k” don’t matter so much and after stitching this way for a while, it’s pretty easy to glance at a few letters coming up and know what to do.
I decide I want the “a” to start at the bottom so the “m” needs to end at the bottom. I would make that top left stitch, then stitch down the left leg of the “m” just making one side of the “x”. I would stitch towards the bottom of that leg, then stitch the other side of the “x” going back up. Then I would make the two stitches across the top, then do the same thing with the middle leg of the “m” . . stitch one side of the “x” going down, then the other side going back up, then stitch the two stitches at the top, then make the full “x” going down the right side of the “m” so as to end at the bottom of the “m”. Then I was start at the bottom of the “a” and work my way around so I could start at the bottom of the “k”. I would make full stitches going up from the bottom of the “k”, til I got to the part where it splits off, then I would make half stitches to the top of the spine of the “k”, then finish those stitches on the way down, to the point where the little pieces go off. I would stitch the top piece, using half stitches, then finish that part going back towards the spin, then make full stitches on the bottom part of the “k” to end at the bottom right.
I’m sure that all sounds more confusing than it is and, like I said, maybe everyone already does it that way.
The bottom line is (1) try traveling with the floss and see how it’s going to look and (2) do it in whatever way makes you happy.
Sarah F. says
Thanks Judy, this what I do to even with variegated threads as long as there won’t be color change where I am making those half stitches and then coming back to finish them so I will be where I want to be to start the next letter.
Thank you for bringing that up. Sometimes it isn’t so easy with variegated thread.
I am so glad you mentioned linen and other fabrics.
Back in the 80s-90s it was, “never carry a thread over” because most likely you were using white 14 count Aida and it would show! Now with linens, tighter weaves, and colors, perhaps not the taboo it once was.
I agree, carry over if letters are close. I imagine I would end the thread at the end of a word. Thank you for the tip to try in the margin with some batting.
Thanks for the reply!
I’ve gone back and forth with embroidery on this issue … or have gone. Now I just iron interfacing or some product made especially for this purpose, and sew through both the embroidery cloth and the interfacing. It keeps any traveling from showing. =)