THREAD - experimenting with stem stitch

On Friday we had a session of THREAD at the  Southville Centre with a lovely mixed group of people of all ages and abilities. 

This week  we explored Stem stitch. 

We explore the stitch in several ways during the session . I provide inspiration and  lists of word to help us  think about the shapes we are making with the stitches

Stem stitch is an interesting stitch because although it  is used frequently to make rather lovely lines  it  can also be used in a number of other interesting ways that are easily overlooked. Here is some straight forwards stem stitch in perle cotton  8 which gives it a beautiful twisted look.


Stem stitch is worked from left to right ( If you are right handed)  with the thread under the needle but if you work it with the thread above the needle it becomes outline stitch which is quite different.  If you combine the two  alternating between  stem and outline you get a lovely brick like  stitch. Here it is worked in a DK merino yarn so you can see the effect.


When we made the embroidered map for the Gatehouse I used  Stem stitch to  fill my deer. It is a really lovely  textured filling.

compressed deers.jpg

It can also be used  over a grounding of  spaced  stitches to create a raised  filling


If you want a more textured filling you can work  line after line of alternating  stem stitch filling. You will get different effects  if you work all stitches in one direction, stagger the start or work back and forth 


In the seed heads on this piece I have left the alternating stem stitches loose. If you work row after row of these stitches you get  loops which can be  opened by cutting or left as loops  , called Turkey work I think.


Now the fun starts. I love attaching found objects to my work . You can use buttons, wrapped buttons,  mirrors, shells ,stones, enamel , all kinds of things. Stem stitch net is one way of attaching those objects.  The group on Friday were enthusiastic and attached all kinds of little buttons to their work. Here are some I completed

Here is a beautiful version by Alex , so neat   

Here is a beautiful version by Alex , so neat



 So if you fancy  learning from scratch  or improving your stitching why not come along to the next session on 11th May  2018 . I only charge £10 . After that session the workshops are about every two weeks . Have a good read of what you need to bring in the details for these sessions ( more dates soon to be added) .  I also bring lots of nice books to inspire you and there is a great cafe on site for lunch after all that stitching.

If you cant come to the sessions  and  want inspiration then  start collecting some lovely books. I can recommend anything by  Jan Beany , Edith John, Constance Howard, Erica Wilson, Jaqueline Enthoven, Jill Nordfors and Mary Thomas. Online take a look at and

A reminder now .Intermediate crochet is next Wednesday and the Wednesday after , two weeks for £30 , get in touch if you are interested. Also we have a gull session at Underfall Yard on the Friday - details  of that session are on this site but not the crochet

Right  I am off to  drink tea and eat  some warm figgy flapjack - have a great making week

A couple of reminders and all about transfer printing

Before the blog this week , a couple of reminders. The Thread embroidery group  next session is this Friday 11-1pm  at Southville Centre. I am also running two sessions of an intermediate  crochet class starting next Wednesday, not on this site  so contact me get in touch if you are interested. The next full  beginners crochet starts on May 1st and the next gull session is Friday April 20th..look in that section to book.

Heat Transfer Printing

hot press 8.jpg

Last September my drawing partner Sally Darby  and I went off to Eden Project for a week to draw. We stayed in a little pod there and each day went out and took photographs and  drew. The images in my current work are mostly taken from that week although I have been developing the ideas in the drawings since I got back. Both of us  focused much of our attention on leaf structures


For some time now  I have been turning the images into prints using an iron and transfer paint, more on that later, but last week I decided to jump in feet first and spend a week on a fabulous course at Bath College with the wonderful Lyn Snow . Here is a link to her website

The course is packed full of information and ideas and  has lots of wonderful equipment  including a heat press and a  screen printing studio. I did make and use some screens but this blog is just going to look at the process of heat transfer printing with disperse dyes,  also called sublimation printing.

Here is a picture of the heat press. Paper which has been coated in transfer dyes or paints  is put in contact with  fabric which should be at least 65%  polyester or acrylic but better still 100% and then heated to about 200 degrees at which point the image leaves the paper and attached itself in the  fabric , its a chemical process. The process for using an iron or a press is the same but the images will be easier to obtain with the heat press although the iron does allow you to cover a larger area. Images are likely to be paler, you wont get as many prints  from your sheet and it takes a long time but some great results can be obtained  and it is  what I do at home.

phione press.jpg

First steps , prepare your paper.

So  you need to coat paper with your paint or dye. At the college we used dyes but because the powders are very toxic prior to mixing I use paints at home.  You can mix the dyes at home but  really its far safer to use the paints in a home environment. There are several brands available supplied by most good art shops 

There are lots of methods for adding your colour to your paper. It is a good idea to use quality  paper or the paper will buckle  and roll and be difficult to use.  You can use the same paper over and over again. It is an idea before starting to make a sample sheet of all the colours as they are very dark in the jars until printed.

I added my colour through  wax resist , by sponging,  with stamps, using combs and other methods. Colours can be mixed but they will also mix as you layer them on the paper . Now leave your paper to dry  completely. I usually leave it overnight .  The colours are really bright and strong . The great thing with the course was that the tutor mixed them all up prior to our arrival. You can also use black and white photocopies of photographs etc. If you  print the colour on it will transfer the image to fabric. 

hot press h.jpg

Next make some stencils and masks. You can also use  things like feather and leaves or collages of the coloured papers. The idea is to keep layering and  mixing the colours  so make plenty of papers and  masks etc. You can use them again and agin  as they pick up the colour and transfer it to the next image


Next choose your fabric and cut it to size. You can do long strips the width of the bed  or  square pieces.  There are loads of  fabrics that you can use. I chose some 100  percent  polyester crepe type fabric in white and yellow but  there are lots of creative possibilities. Look at this  bit of  old nylon lace. I am going to back it with bondaweb and cut out some birds 

hot press b.jpg

Each time you print in the press you make a kind of sandwich  consisting of Teflon sheet then paper then your fabric then  the masks or stencils , then the  coloured paper  either one piece or strips or torn pieces, then  another bit of paper to protect the bed and  finally a  Teflon sheet. Its really very easy and quick  at this stage. The main thing is planning what you want to do. The sandwich is pressed for a minute and  out pops your print. You can carry on adding layers and layers.

At home I use the same process with an iron but it does take much longer for the prints to transfer but the principle is the same,. Use an old ironing board as the dye will colour everything eventually ! Newer irons do not get hot enough so dig out an old iron. here are some of the prints I made

A screen can be used over these prints to print  with puffy binder or   heat tranfer glue.  Once the glue is dried you can use  foils and  the heat press to create a further layer.

phine screen.jpg

I had a great week and I have come away with a  little pile of things that I can play with over the coming months. Some of the prints will  remain as they are and others will be transformed with further layers of stitch . here is a little bit of embroidery on one of the panels


I hope you have enjoyed this blog. I am hoping to continue this work in the autumn , fingers crossed I can get a place on the next course ..I am off to drink tea and cut stencils. I hope to see some of you for Thread on Friday Vic x