I'm a self taught embroiderer and have discovered that books can only
tell you so much. The main issue I have today is about fastening off
the thread when finished with the stitch(es). All the books I have
read say to NEVER tie a knot on the back because it will leave
unsightly bumps on the right side. What is recommended in the books is
to run the thread through several of the stitches on the back and that
should hold it very well.
That sounded good, until I started a project for embroidery on
clothing. It seems like the thread would eventually come unraveled
with all the washing if it isn't secured with some sort of knot.
To knot or not, that is the question. What say you?
Knot. I have no issues with knots (except on counted cross stitch),
because what else are you going to do?
As for "unsightly bumps," well, I can't tell from the front of my own
work where the knots are. I can tell you where I missed stitches, but I
can't tell you where the knots are.
For clothing, knots are fine since the fabric is usually of a denser
weave (or knit) than what is normally used for counted thread embroidery
to hide the knots. Not to mention clothing, when worn, rarely lays
flat! A variant on what the books recommend is to run the thread under
the back of 4-5 stitches as they suggest, whip it around the next thread
on the back, and then run it back under those same 4-5 stitches in the
opposite direction (so you will be cutting the thread at the same
"location" where you made your last stitch). This is a bit more secure.
For garments that will receive heavy use and frequent washing I'm not
afraid to apply a dot of Fray Check to the woven-in ends after I have
finished all the stitching. I've not had any come undone with this
Thank you for your input. It makes me feel much better. And I'm glad
to hear that you've used Fray Check, because I have too, and wondered
at the time if I was "breaking the rules" of emroidery.
Now, I never thought of using interfacing as a backing, but that would
probably be a good solution, too. I guess it stays on really good?
If you are embroidering for yourself and don't give a hoot what anyone
else thinks; are pleased with your surface stitches, then do what you
think will work the best for you.
Weaving threads on the backs of the work will NOT cause the ends to come
loose during repeated washings. I know that people who haven't had a
lot of experience are just *sure* that it won't hold. But, it does.
There are also sneaky little ways to start your threads so that they are
completely covered and secured by your top stitching.
If you are embroidering to really learn the intricacies, plan to
embroider things like napkins that will be seen on the back as well as
the front, or plan to enter your pieces in a judging such as a county or
state fair, then you would be wise not to knot or use alternative
products such as Fray Check . . . and to learn how to secure the backs
If you pierce the threads of the stitches while weaving, that will
doubly ensure things don't come loose.
For more on this subject, download section three here:
Dianne Lewandowski ( email@example.com) writes:
As usual, Dianne is absolutely right. Most rctners know I am a
scientist, and I suggest you try a little experiment. Finish off an end
by running it under the stitches at the back, and then try and undo it.
You will probably break the needle if you try using that. With a pair of
tweezers.if you a very careful, you can just about get it undone, but
often, the thread breaks before it comes undone. I know from experience.
I leave my ends unfinished, until the ends are well into parts that are
completely stitched. Then I finish the ends off. Occasionally, I have
finished the end off wrong, and it is a PITA to try and undo it.
I'm working on a piece that has isolated french knots. Knotting on
the back was pretty much my only option, even then a real trick not to
pull too hard as to distort the french knot on the front.
You do what you have to do.
Rule No. 1. The floss goes through the eye of the needle.
Rule No. 2. The needle is moved from back to front to back to front to back
and on and on.
Rule No. 3. There are eight different ways to combine / and \ to make X. Use
the one that suits you.
Rule No. 4. Whichever way you combine \ and / to make X, make sure the same
leg is on the top throughout the project.
Rule No. 5. *All* the rest is commentary. That includes the nonsense about
"overdyed flosses must be stitched in a certain pattern." Uh, no, they
mustn't. It depends upon the project and the effect you want.
But what about those of us who don't, or rarely, make those little exes
on our embroidery cloth?
Also, if your piece is being judged, there can be rules to follow. But
in general, for yourself, do what makes you feel comfortable. Just *do*!
I've always heard that there are only two 'rules'.
1) the thread goes through the eye of the needle (it's hard to get the
thread through the fabric without using a needle, and it's even harder
to get the thread through the point of the needle....)
2) the needle goes through the fabric, leaving thread on top of the
fabric to make a stitch.
All else is commentary, including the "all stitches cross the same
Jenn Ridley : firstname.lastname@example.org
WIP: Oriental Butterfly, Floral Sampler, Rose Trio, Carousel (TW)
Most recently Finished: Insect Sampler, TicTacToe Sampler, Snow
Right after posting this quesiton, I went to your webiste and found
your Primer. Didn't have to to read it all, but I did read the part
about fastening off thread, and WOW, found out I have been wrong about
it not being secure! Thanks!
OK, I'm convinced - mostly, anyway. I do plan to test it on just a
quick piece of embroidery made just for this purpose. I can believe
that yall know of what you speak, but there's just a part of me that
needs to prove it.
But, now, I have another question on this same topic. What about those
times when the stiches are few and far between? I may not be
explaining very well, but I'm talking about stitches that aren't
consecutive. How is one to begin and end without knotting? An example
might be when one is using a more sheer type of material and is using
Lazy Daisey stitches in a flower pattern. So that the thread doesn't
show through going from one Lazy Daisey to the next, shouldn't it be
fastened off for each stitch? Or even if one isn't using sheer
material, the back of the Lazy Daisey stitches are more loose than
tight, so I still am confused about running the thread through the
backs of stitches in this scenario.
I love learning - thanks for teaching!!
If you can't weave round and round on the back of a stitch, or make a
teeny granito (in/out same holes numerous times), then a couple of
buttonhole stitches or knot may be your only recourse. It is not that
common to have isolated stitches. Usually you have *something* on which
to start your thread. But I'll grant you, not always. sometimes it's
our interpretation of a design and our knowledge of stitches you can
use. For instance, many designs show little circles that some
embroiderers might interpret as French knots, when in fact you could use
a granito, or even an eyelet. This solves the starting/ending dilemma.
Patterns designed for sheer fabrics usually don't have stitches such as
lazy daisy. If you have that type of pattern printed on a sheer organdy
(for instance), you would be actually doing padded whitework, or tiny
satin stitches using a single strand of floss.
You have to consider all the angles when you first start a project. And
no, a single strand of floss doesn't get lost in the design. It stands
out nicely against the background. The trick is to make tiny stitches.
Most lazy daisy flowers are quite small and moving from one petal to
another doesn't create a problem on muslin, percale, etc. But I will
suggest to you that many patterns were not meant to be embroidered at
all (that include these flowers). They were/are quilting patterns. So
the scale is quite large.
I hope this helps a bit.