|Miko's Lips Stitched|
I used four plies of a burgundy silk to stitch her lips and a doubled strand of Petite Silk Lame Braid in a slightly lighter burgundy for the white highlight you see painted in the header photo. You don't have to match the paint color exactly on a canvas, you know, and I decided that white was too stark. Probably Leigh wanted us to see the highlight and used white to make sure we didn't overlook it. The highlight isn't that visible in the photo, so I took a good look at the actual piece and considered whether I needed to rip out what I'd done and restitch with a lighter shade of burgundy to make the wet look of the metallic/silk blend more visible. I decided finally not to change it, but you might like a lighter shade here.
Whatever you decide on a similar design, silks and silks with a metallic blend like Silk Lame Braid are good choices for mouths. Silk has a sheen to it that looks very natural when you use it on lips. The metallic part of the Silk Lame Braid catches the light and makes the lip look real. Of course cotton works pretty well for a mouth (I wouldn't use wool unless you have a rag doll where wool embroidery stitches look right) but I use silk when I can. I just like that sheen that even spun silk thread has. I don't think it matters much whether you choose floss or perle type threads but I always stick to the same type thread on a face. I used floss for her skin so I used floss for her eyes and nose and everything but her eyebrows and the highlight in her eyes. Mixing styles of threads sometimes looks odd to me because perle threads tend to be fatter and more rounded looking than flosses. It just looks weird to mix the two on a face in my opinion. If you are mixing thread styles, this might be causing the problems you see. Be careful even when using flosses. Different brands have different diameters. High Cotton floss is thicker than Splendor silk or DMC floss, for example. You may need to use three plies of High Cotton and four of DMC, for example. Otherwise some of your tent stitches may be skimpier/fuller than others which will give the face an uneven look. This might be appropriate for a monster, but not a geisha.
Ok, enough about threads and highlights. Take a careful look at the photos of Miko again. See the top row of her mouth, those two stitches separated by a pink stitch? I originally didn't stitch either in red. I omitted the stitches entirely, thinking that all should actually be skin colored. But when I finished the mouth, it was obvious I needed to make at least one stitch red, so I did. I liked just using one red stitch instead of two separated by a pink stitch. There are only 30-31 stitches to her mouth and each one has the potential to change her expression. So pay attention to the features of your piece. One stitch may be really necessary or unnecessary. Be prepared to rip out or add stitches to get the effect you want. Or omit a painted stitch entirely if you must.
You don't see it here because Miko's face is turned to the right, but occasionally a tent stitch needs to be reverse tent or a cross stitch because the slant / is going in the wrong direction and makes that stitch too pointy. Turning / into \ or making the stitch a big X instead of just a tent stitch / will help in those situations if you used basketweave or tent stitches on your face. Of course this doesn't apply if you used brick stitches or another stitch for your face.
Back to the Before and After photos, there is a black line that curves slightly on her lips to define the top and bottom lip. It sort of looks like someone took the letter L and turned it face down, then sat on it to squash it slightly. I used one ply of black silk to top stitch the squashed L look. I made three attempts to get the line placed just so. It can't be too straight or too slanted or too high or low on her mouth. But with patience and some ripping out, I got it right.
I hope all this detail is helpful when you stitch your own face.
Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at http://chillyhollownp.blogspot.com
and at http://chstitchguides.blogspot.com/