Hey, guys! I know Krafty Kat from her visit to Walthamstow market and she rocks. I also know that she’s indulged in a spot of apron embroidery. So I asked her if she could give us a few hints and tips about adding these details to our own makes. Embroidery can happen at any stage of your make, but if you’re thinking of squeezing it in now, here are Kat’s tips…
Hi everyone, Kat from KraftyKat here! I was so excited when Karen asked me to write a guest post on embroidery as part of the Apronalong. I can’t pretend to be an expert, but I do love the way that techniques such as embroidery and appliqué can be used to add beautiful and personal touches to handmade (or even shop bought!) items. For example, here is an apron I made as a present for my boyfriend for last Christmas.
Cluck cluck! There are so many different embroidery stitches and techniques that you can use, and there is a whole wealth of information available for inspiration, especially online. For example, here is a guide to some of the huge variety of different embroidery stitches that you could use to jazz up your aprons! One resource I really love is the Doodle Stitching series of books by Aimee Ray, which are just packed full of ideas and motifs. Each of the designs can easily be traced from the book, or there is also a CD if you prefer to print them out.
Here I am going to show you how you can use backstitch to create really simple and easy embroidered additions to your aprons. First things first – choose your shape or pattern that you would like to embroider. I would recommend adding the embroidery as the final stage, once you have finished sewing up your apron. This will help you to position the pattern and also avoid stretching the design. You can trace a design from a book, print an outline shape from the internet or, if you’re feeling brave, draw freehand. Here I traced a butterfly design onto card, cut out the shape and drew it around it onto the (ironed) fabric. I used a fabric pen here which can be washed out…magic!
Once you have drawn your design onto the fabric, then you can start to stitch around the outline. You can see here that I have added some additional details to my butterfly – it’s up to you whether you want to keep it as an outline only or not.
I tend to use standard embroidery thread, which you can easily find in all good haberdashery shops and comes in a huge range of colours. Most of the time this thread consists of 6 intertwined strands. I have chosen to stitch using 3 of these strands, but you can use more or less, depending on whether you would like a thick or thin line. You will also need an embroidery needle, although any needle with an eye large enough to fit your chosen thread through will do just fine. Check before you start that your chosen needle can easily sew through the fabric – if not, you may need to change to a sharper or slightly smaller needle.
To begin, thread your needle and tie a knot at one end of the thread as you would for any type of hand sewing. I am going to use backstitch, which creates a (pretty much) continuous outline of stitching. If you prefer gaps between your stitches, you could use a running stitch instead. Both stitches start of the same way, the difference is in how you work the second stitch. For backstitch you take the needle “backwards” to meet the first stitch, whereas with running stitch you go “forwards”, creating a gap between the stitches. See the photos below for a demonstration…
Left: backstitch, right: running stitch
Once you have got the hang of the stitching, that’s basically all there is to it! Continue stitching all around the outline of your design in the same way. If you need to change colour, or if you come to the end of your thread, fasten off by either tying the thread into a knot or threading it through the stitches on the wrong side of your fabric, or a combination of the two. Then start off again as before. Simples!
Carry on until you have stitched all around your outline, and before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful hand embroidered design! Don’t forget to wash out the fabric pen if you used one…you can still see my outline peeping through in the picture below. Your embroidery should also look relatively neat on the wrong side – great for something like an apron where both sides have the potential to be visible. If you would prefer to hide the back, you could always line the apron, or do your embroidery on a separate patch of fabric and then stitch this on top. So many options!
So there we go, a whistlestop introduction to embroidery! One of the great things about this craft is that it is very transportable – I sewed most of this sample on the train to work (and only got a few odd looks, although I was used as the subject of an eye spy game…something beginning with “n”…needle!). It is also great for keeping hands busy whilst watching television…I find it quite therapeutic! So, happy embroidering everyone – I cannot wait to see your finished aprons!
Thanks so much for having me Karen
My pleasure! What about you, readers? Are you adding some embroidery embellishment to your apron?
STOP PRESS! There’s a new Pattern Pyramid giveaway over in Arizona with Made By Trisha. She’s adding two new patterns to the mix – sweet.