Getting Started Stitching A Project

Let’s get started with a little preparation for our project.  This will help the beginners and may be a bit of a refresher for those that have done BE before or maybe a different technique than they learned.

Basic Supplies:  your piece, your thread for the piece, scissors, Milliner’s needles, threader, hoop (large enough to cover outside all the design), doodle cloth,  a good light and a comfortable place to stitch.

There are photos in the photo files showing photos of thread, where to cut and a keeper with thread inserted.  These I’ll explain more in a bit.

When you receive your thread the skein is in what seems like and endless skein.  But it does have ends and they are tied together under the tab.  For most stitching you will pull the tab aside and cut though all the thread gathered under the knot, leaving the other group alone.  Then open up (keeping on the tab) and you now have 36” (approx) long lengths of thread.  (Threads explained in more detail in the files under thread).  Some projects will need you to cut the thread in a different place for control of color placement, on
threads that have more than one color.  SO be sure and read all of the instructions that come with your new piece before you start cutting.  Also, as you advance and get into some advanced pieces, you may find that you use much longer lengths of thread, in one that I have to do (in the future sometime), uses the thread of a skein uncut (just one cut to remove the knot) and 5” needles.

Preparing the thread for use can be accomplished a couple of ways.  I prefer to do mine (the way I was taught) by stretching each individual thread as I’m fixing to use it.  I take a length, catch each end in my hand, wrap a bit around my finger and tug, just until I feel it give.  Don’t keep pulling.
Others use the method of steaming or misting the thread to get it damp then letting it dry and it will straighten out the kinks (once you open the skein and dangle the thread it looks like it has been given a wavy perm).  Be sure when you dampen the thread to straighten, that you make sure that the skeins
do not touch while damp.  Some colors may bleed.  If you steam with a steam iron, be sure and not touch the iron to the thread.  

Always leave the tab on the thread unless you thread it in a keeper.  Keeper, is a plastic sheet with channels that you pull the individual skeins in and then a space above for the tab.  If your budget is an issue as mine was, I’d rather buy thread then keepers, so I elected the “Floss Baggies” found at WalMart, Hobby Lobby and various sewing/craft stores.  Either will work.  When using the keeper (one sheet will hold 15 or 16 skeins (don’t remember exactly and don’t have mine handy).  One package of the Floss Baggies will have storage (I think) for at least 3 times that amount, and costs less than one keeper.  I personally like to keep my thread by numerical order.  If on a piece I am working on has two threads (same color number) different weights I
place them together.  If I’m working from the floss baggies I just have enough on the rings for the thread I’m using.  I leave the tag on the thread, and you can catch just one thread near it and pull out.  BE SURE and Ziploc closed or the thread will slip out.  This works really well for projects that don’t require a lot of different threads.  On larger projects I prefer to use the keepers.  I’ve explained my storage preference in the files under other topics.

One other thing before we start work on the actual piece, and that is a  “doodle cloth” as it is called but could be termed a practice cloth.  I’d suggest getting a ½ yard of Trigger (Poplin) fabric.  This can be found at WalMart, Joann’s, Hancock’s, or a fabric store near you.  If you can’t find that specific fabric get a fabric that is strong closely woven that will take he tugging you give it with some stitches.  Even a large piece of denim will ork.  This needs to be a piece large enough to fit in a small or medium sized oop (I’d suggest a second hoop from the one you are using on your piece).  Be ure and have enough fabric outside the hoop as once in awhile you will have o pull and tighten it, but not so large that the excess fabric gets in the way.

Now that you have this done you are ready to start stitching.

Take the fabric your design is on and put in a hoop, several are listed in the files, and the hoop is your  reference.  The only requirement is that it is larger than the design area.  You need at least ½ – 1 inch space from the outside edge of the design and the hoop.  Due to the nature of a lot of the stitches you will damage them if you put the hoop over them after they are stitched.  The larger hoops take a little practice getting used to.   My suggestion is, make notations on the page in the instructions (your choice).
I like to keep mine and I make pencil notations on the pattern instructions.   I would write the thread number by each flower.  I.e.: Double petunia (which is the Ruffled Petunia) I-000 and I-141.  After you do this to
all then select the green that looks best with the thread for that flower, then the next one, and so on.  You will mix the greens as all flowers don’t grow on the same color green vine/bush. 

Work all the stems, leaves now.  Page 5 has some good reviews for the stitches.  Stem stitch the stems, the ones that don’t have leaves attached are couched.  Be sure when you couch you use the same thread.  Come up at a point and down at the other end of the stem or make smaller if you have to, then at intervals tack this down.  You will come up just under the thread where it needs to be, over the thread and back down in the same hole.  This keeps your tacking stitches tiny where they don’t show so much.  If you like you can come back after rest of flowers are stitched and add French or Colonial knots to these for what is known as “fine growth” or “field growth”, I call them weeds.  For in Texas we have a lot of beautiful flowering weeds.

That should get you all started.  AND remember if you have a problem or want to ask as a question do so.  I am here to help you.

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