Let your fingers do the stroking

Take care with your stitches and threads—lay them smoothly, intentionally, positioned in place with your needle and fingers—to make your embroidery as beautiful as it can be. It's easier than you may think.
Take care with your stitches and threads—lay them smoothly, intentionally, positioned in place with your needle and fingers—to make your embroidery as beautiful as it can be. It’s easier than you may think.

I’m about to share stimulating ideas about fingers, stroking, and positioning—related to stitching, that is, not, ahem, anything else. So read on, as this quick article is Safe For Work. Today’s message is simply this:  let your finger or needle stroke your threads as you stitch. Your needlework will look much better for it. I’ve even got a fabulous-looking tool to help you stroke in style. Read on.

Satin Stitches like these, made with Kreinik Silk Serica, definitely need to be laid smooth for maximum effect. However, the principle applies to any thread and any stitch: keep them neat for the best appearance. Your time, thread, and projects are worth it.
Satin Stitches like these, made with Kreinik Silk Serica, definitely need to be smooth for maximum effect. However, the principle applies to any thread and stitch: keep them neat for the best appearance. Your time, thread, and projects are worth it.

What do your stitches look like?

I’ve met needleworkers who insist every stitch—on the front of their work and on the back—is PERFECT. I’m also friends with stitchers who could care less which direction their top stitch goes, or what the back of their stitching looks like. Probably, though, most of us fall somewhere in between: we want our stitching to look good, but not be judged for quality. It’s supposed to be a relaxing hobby, after all.

There is one sure way to get prettier stitches, and that is to make sure the thread lays smoothly and neatly on your fabric. This applies to any thread, but especially when stitching with ribbons or multiple strands of floss. It also applies to any stitch, including Cross Stitch, or the longer stitches like Satin, Herringbone, Rhodes, etc.

This illustration by Amy Law shows you how to stroke your thread as you lay a stitch (in this case a Longstitch or Satin Stitch). Use a large blunt needle like a Trolley Needle, Bodkin, or Bent Weaver's Needle as the 'stroking' tool.
This illustration by Amy Law shows you how to stroke your thread as you lay a stitch (in this case a Long Stitch or Satin Stitch). Use a large blunt needle like a Trolley Needle, Bodkin, or Bent Weaver’s Needle as the ‘stroking’ tool.

So how do you get prettier stitches?

  1. Slow down and pay attention to how your threads are laying on the fabric. This is positioning: WATCH your thread as you stitch to see if it’s twisting, and INTENTIONALLY lead it to fall properly into place. I know it’s hard to slow down, but think of it as meditation, staying present, in the moment…the moment your beautiful thread makes a colorful imprint on your fabulous fabric.
  2. Use your finger, your stitching needle, or a laying tool to “stroke” the threads. Stroke them into submission. That is, rub them until they get long and straight. Ahem, well, you get the idea. Stroke your thread as you complete your stitch to make sure the strands lay parallel or the ribbon lays flat. This gives you maximum light reflection, a smooth stitch, and gorgeous result.
A Trolley Needle is a laying tool that fits onto your finger or thumb. It helps you keep threads from twisting as you lay your stitch, resulting in more beautiful, even stitches.
A Trolley Needle is a laying tool that fits onto your finger or thumb. It helps to keep threads from twisting as you lay your stitch, resulting in more beautiful, even stitches. You can find them in needlework stores or here: http://www.kreinik.com/shops/Trolley-Needle.html
What’s a laying tool?

Laying tools have been used by needleworkers for centuries, and there are many kinds, from handmade wooden stilettos to thick blunt needles. Get a few and see which fit your style of stitching. It may feel awkward at first, but with practice, using a laying tool will become second nature. I suggest this one: a Trolley Needle, in part because it’s so awesome looking (Finger sword? Kung-fu stitching? Edward Needlehands?). Also, however, it fits right on your finger or thumb to be ever-ready. Practice with it, use it on different fingers, adjust the fit as needed, and it will become automatic in no time. Just don’t poke anyone with it. Practice safe stroking—of your threads. I’m talking about threads here, ahem.

Your projects, your threads, and your time are valuable, so make your stitches the best they can be. It just takes a little time, attention, positioning and stroking of your threads as you stitch. You’ll be ecstatic at the results.

Using a variety of stitches and threads in a project makes the design more eye-catching, interesting, and dimensional. Just take that extra step of making sure your stitches look good, and you will reach heights of gorgeousness.
Using a variety of stitches and threads in a project makes the design more eye-catching, interesting, and dimensional. Just take that extra step of making sure your stitches look good, and you will reach new heights of gorgeousness.

Kreinik Calling! Exclusive to Mr X Stitch!

KreinikGirl
Dena Lenham, aka KreinikGirl, is Creative Director at Kreinik Manufacturing Company, a family-owned, USA-based business that manufactures high-quality yarns and threads made of metallics, silks and real metals from their West Virginia factory. Dena’s monthly column, Kreinik Calling, sheds light on the fascinating fibres that we all use and love.
KreinikGirl

@kreinikgirl

Official thread news, tips, ideas and answers from Dena Lenham, Creative Director at thread company Kreinik Mfg. Co., Inc.
Been busy as I'm getting ready to spend the rest of the week at the Kreinik factory...yay! Anyone have questions/requests I can share? - 1 day ago
KreinikGirl
KreinikGirl
KreinikGirl

Latest posts by KreinikGirl (see all)