Bring your thread forward to where you want the stitch to end, and make sure that your needle is crossing over the line of your pattern. Poke your needle back down a little to the RIGHT of your pattern.
The next stitch will do exactly the same thing. Bring the needle up through the fabric to the left of your line, next to the center of your first stitch. Poke the needle back down to the right of your line, a little past the end of your first stitch. The effect you’re going for is kind of like the line of your pattern is being wrapped over and over. If you want a tight curve, like for a flower stem, use small stitches. If you want things to look a little more textured (say you’re stitching hair or fur, or maybe a grassy hill, or what have you), use longer, more angled stitches.
Yay! Now you know two embroidery stitches! Let’s do just one more! This is where things get interesting. The Chain Stitch. *Cue ominous music* Up until now, everything we’ve done has composed of straight stitches, and the interest comes from how they’re placed in relation to each other. With chain stitch, you’ll actually be doing something different with the thread. Bring up your needle where you want the bottom (pointed) end of your stitch to be.
Now poke the needle back down into the same spot you just came out of, but DO NOT pull the thread back down. You should have your needle on the wrong side of the fabric, and a loop of thread on the right side. Catch hold of that loop with your finger, but don’t pull on it. Just hold it in place. Now decide where you want the other end of your stitch to go, and bring up your needle at that spot.
Now you can start tightening the loop of thread around your needle. Don’t pull it TOO tight or your fabric will pucker or tear. Just tight enough so that there’s a nice little tear-drop-shaped loop on your fabric, with your needle and thread coming up out of it.
So you’ve made your first chain stitch, and now you have two choices.
1. You can go on making a line of chain stitches, which is really nice for curves, creating texture (like somebody’s hair, a power-up mushroom, a loaf of bread, etc.) or filling in a shape. To do this, poke your needle down as close as you can get it to where you came up, making sure it’s OUTSIDE the loop of your chain stitch, but again, don’t pull the thread through yet.
Make another loop, and keep going till you’ve got as long a line as you want. On your last stitch, instead of making a loop, you’ll finally just poke your needle down outside the last chain and pull the thread all the way through, making a tiny little anchor stitch.
2. Maybe you don’t need to make a line. Maybe you’re making an anime sweat drop, or rain, or a splash of blood, or maybe a little flower. So instead of continuing on with your chain, you’ll just pull the thread back down through, making an anchor stitch like we discussed in option number one.
When you have one chain stitch by itself like that, it’s called Detached Chain, or more popularly, Lazy Daisy. Because it’s really easy to make a daisy out of them—just do five or six in a circle with their points touching. Bam! Daisy!
And there you have it! You can order iron-on transfers from her site, or buy the patterns as PDFs and trace them onto your material yourself. Jenny sells textiles to stitch on, floss to stitch with, and even glow-in-the-dark thread to make your projects really geek-tastic. She’s also super-friendly on Twitter: @iloveembroidery
Stay tuned next week for another exciting episode of Make It Sew, in which I’ll cover more complex embroidery stitches, and how to finish and display a completed project. Meanwhile, if you have questions, comments, or an idea for a tutorial you’d like to see, tweet me @theroseinbloom or drop a line in the comments section!
Header image by Jenny Hart. All other images by Danya Michael.