Do you find yourself shying away from some lovely appliqué projects because the instructions call for hand embroidery? Don’t delay any longer! Hand embroidery should not stand between you and a beautiful quilt – ever! If you can sew a stitch by hand, you can embroider. It really is that easy. You will be well on your way to being an embroiderer, if you will learn a handful of simple stitches.
First, you should know the blanket stitch. Not sure what it looks like? Just take a look at the sides of a fleece blanket. Most of them are edged with a blanket stitch. Two vertical stitches keep the horizontal stitch at the blanket’s edge secure. In appliqué, the blanket stitch is used as a finishing stitch around the edges of the motif. If you have simply ironed on the appliqué, the blanket stitch will help keep the edges of your fabric from fraying and give the design a more polished look.
If you have folded under your appliqué edges, you may use a running or walking stitch to secure it in place. You will be familiar with this stitch because it is the one you use to sew together your quilt block pieces if you hand stitch. Just substitute three strands of embroidery floss for one width of sewing thread. Simple!
Back stitches are another good way to finish your quilt top appliqués. To make a back stitch, start with a regular stitch. The second stitch is made by sewing back to the ending point of the first stitch. The third stitch is forward, the fourth is backward again. On the front of your project, the back stitched line will look almost like a solid line. On the back side, it will look more like a running stitch.
If you need to fill in an area with embroidery stitches, try a split stitch. Make a stitch, then bring the needle back up through the middle of the previous stitch. Continue stitching along to fill your space. Since moving that needle back up splits the previous stitch, it is called a split stitch. Don’t confuse the split stitch with the chain stitch. While they may sound similar, they really are not alike at all in appearance.
A chain stitch splits a stitch, but is made differently to produce a different look. The first “chain” should be made by pushing the needle up through the fabric and then pushing it back down through that very same entry hold. This makes a loop of your floss. Bring the floss back up through the center of the loop. At this point, your needle will be centered in the loop of floss. As you pull the needle, the loop will close. Keep repeating to form a chain of stitches. These are great for embellishing your quilt tops with embroidered flowers or for outlining some appliqués. Chain stitches are also a good way to embroider a name onto your quilt top. You can use them as filler stitches, too!
All these stitches will be great embellishments on a crazy quilt. These simple stitches can really dress up a crazy quilt and make your little scraps of fabric look absolutely fabulous in your quilt top! Practice your hand embroidery stitches on smaller projects, or on strictly embroidery projects. Once you get the hang of these simple stitches, they really do become almost second nature to create. You can create the same stitches (and more) if you have an embroidery machine! Remember, you can use it to embellish your quilt blocks, too. Your regular sewing machine may also offer decorative stitching options that you can use!
By Penny Halgren of http://www.How-To-Quilt.com