Thursday, 21 June 2007

Blue trials 2

In the cold light of day, I could see that my first trial was nowhere near good enough. In fact, it was rubbish. There is no way I can use this stitch unless I improve a lot. A second trial was necessary. I changed a couple of things. Firstly, trial number one was stitched with two strands of silk in the needle. I usually use two strands for foundations as it gives good coverage but on this sample it looks wrong. The flat silk I am using comes from a different supplier than the silk I've used before. My usual silk is 12 sugas thick, this silk is 16 sugas - a third heavier. For the second trial I used one strand of silk in the needle.

The second thing I changed was the direction of the stitches. On the first sample, the stitches seemed at odds with the wing. However, looking at the two samples together, I think the first stitches are in the right direction. They just look wrong because they are badly stitched and the 'line' is not consistent.

The stitching in the second sample is much better, but there is still room for improvement. I need to pay more attention to the 'line' and make sure it stays true, otherwise the stitches bunch together in some places and spread in others. I also need to pay more attention to the amount of overlap or alternatively, make it more random. As I want a natural flow from one shade of blue to the other, random may be the better option.

I was still having problems with tension because the muslin is so spongy in the hoop. The light was horrible again this evening. It may be the summer solstice but it is overcast and gloomy. Also the silk kept snagging and I am not sure why. I could be the muslin (normally I use a silk background), or it could be the silk itself. It seems to be very good quality, perhaps good quality silk snags more easily. I try to take great care of my hands. I use copious amounts of hand cream and they feel very soft and smooth. Even so, the silk kept catching on the ball of my thumb.

All in all, I this is an improvement.

Happy Stitching


Sarah said...

I think your flutterby is progressing beautifully! I haven't had time to try out this stitch yet.

Michael said...


I saw hits to my site from here ( and I popped over to see what the link was.

Just a thought on the butterfly - I know next to nothing about Japanese embroidery, but have you considered radiating the stitches from the wing joints? That's the way the scales grow on real butterflies, and it might help align the stitches more to the angle of the wings. You can see Helen Stevens stitching a butterfly here:
I know it's a totally different form of embroidery, but the angle might be helpful.

I usually make my flat silk out of 8 filaments, but my hand-reeled filaments are about twice as thick as the sugas the Japanese use (mine are around 40 - 45 denier; theirs 21 denier) so mine is about a 16-suga weight.