Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tricks for the Tricky Background

Sultry Outback, unstitched and showing all that "broken" background
I've been busy stitching a model for Leigh Designs called "Sultry Outback," one of Leigh's Jungle Heat series.  This piece has a lot of "broken" background--in other words, there are lots of bits of background here and there behind all the flowers and foliage.  So naturally I chose a rather complicated background and am having to use all my tricks to make sure that the flow of the background stitch is perfect from one area to the next.

Closeup of Temporary Stitches Across Stem
I'm not the world's greatest counting machine at the best of times, and since I normally stitch after supper when I am pretty tired from a very busy day, I need help making sure that the stitches line up correctly.  My favorite way to make sure things run properly is to stitch the background first, then work a row of brightly colored stitches across areas that are not background so that I keep track of the pattern flow.  That's what you see in the photo above--those yellow stitches are a ply of DMC floss in a bright color that continue the stitch sequence across the flower stem so that I can make sure the rows on either side of the stem line up.

Lots of folks use quilting thread for this in a, shall we say, LOUD color so that it's easy to stitch with and easy to rip out later.  I'm using a ply of floss because I had that on my stitching table.  I was using it to attach beads earlier and had this left over.  You would think that I'd be able to figure out the stitch sequence over such a short distance properly but I pulled out the stitches three times before I used my yellow floss to get things right.  (See "pretty tired" and "not the world's greatest counting machine" above.)

More Temporary Rows
Of course some areas are quite large but the same principle applies.  Above you see the temporary rows (in another color of thread when my yellow ran out) across a broad leaf and flower to make sure the interlocking diagonals meet up properly.  You can sort of see the black stitches in the bottom half of the broad black leaf.  It is always wise to not stitch an area you have to cross to get to more background so you can add temporary stitches.  I stopped the black when I realized I needed temporary guidelines.  I've now ripped out the yellow stitches and am busy with the top two-thirds of that black leaf.

You may be a better counter than me but anyone can use this trick to line up background stitch patterns.  So the next time you see a skein of hot pink or neon orange floss in the sale bin, take it home.  You can use it to establish a pattern in your background even if you wouldn't be caught dead stitching with these colors normally.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright March 6, 2015 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

A-Z Series Has New Owner

Most of us have seen--or at least heard of--the A-Z series of How To needlework books published in Australia by Country Bumpkin.  The rights to publish the series has been purchased by Search Press.  Mary Corbet talks about the changes in the series and what we can expect in the future from Search.  She also talks about the Royal School of Needlework's How To series and how the two sets of books compare.  Thanks once again, Mary!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at
and at
© Copyright February 27, 2015 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.