What kind of paint do you use? Acrylic? Gouache? Something else?
I use watercolors! And in case you’re still curious, I’ve gone over my watercolor process in these posts: watercolor basics, when to watercolor, and stitching before watercolors. And feel free to ask if you if you have any more questions!
Another process ask from @smallspaceplant:
[Ask text: “Hey! I love your embroidery, it’s so beautiful! I just started my first big embroidery project and it’s mainly satin stitch. Your satin stitch is so solid and neat - do you have any tips?”]
thank you so much, you’re very kind! 🥰
I’m excited for your big project, and I hope these steps for satin stitch can help you out! I’m sure you know how to do the satin stitch, but I’ll walk through all my steps both to benefit others who might not know how and also to help you identify if there’s anything that I’m doing differently that might help your stitch!
(Note: In the past, I thought I could use a “cheater satin” stitch, but I don’t use that anymore, so I won’t discuss it more than to say: if you read my archive how-to’s that far back, don’t use that tip.)
My satin stitch tips are going to be given with respect to 22-count aida since that’s my primary fabric, but I think the fundamentals can still apply to other fabrics too!
When I satin stitch in areas larger than 5 millimeters across but smaller than 2 inches across, I use 3-ply floss. (For areas between 3-5 mm, 2-ply; less than 3 mm, 1-ply; greater than 2 inches, 4-ply.) I’m not actually measuring an area before I stitch, but in general, the smaller the area, the fewer ply I use.
[Image: A close-up photo of a strand of black embroidery floss held between a thumb and index finger; the strand is split into two sections each 3-ply.] (Apologies for my dry cuticles 🙅♀️💅🚫)
I think of the aida cloth as a grid and spaces. The satin stitches are each a half space apart.
[Image: A close-up photo of aida cloth with an arrow pointing to the aida fibers with text that says “Half space,” and a bar around the aida fibers with text that says “One space.”]
Here are the visual steps:
[Image, broken into 5 parts, each part showing the next step for satin stitch. 1 shows the floss initially pulled through the aida; 2 shows the floss back through the aida so the floss creates a horizontal line; 3 shows the needle poking through the aida, one half-space below the first floss line; 4 shows the needle poking back into the fabric one half-space below where the floss went back through above it; 5 is several satin stitches, creating a solid block of thread.]
- Pull the needle through from the back to the front of the cloth.
- Create your first satin stitch by putting the needle back through from the front to the back of the cloth.
- Pull the needle through to the front again, now one half-space below the first stitch.
- Push the needle back through the aida.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat!
I almost always satin stitch vertically or horizontally so that I can easily create parallel stitches – they help ensure an even and smooth satin stitch.
When I stitch block text, I first stitch the satin, then use back stitch for the border. However, for comic image fills, I stitch the outline first, then the satin (not for any technical reason, just because it’s my process).
[Image, broken into 3 parts: A, four back stitches creating two parallel vertical lines; B, the first satin stitch, now between the back stitches, with an enlarged view of the needle poking through under the back stitch; C, several satin stitches creating a block of solid thread between back stitches.]
The biggest difference for satin-after-back-stitch is shown in part B, where the needle will need to pull/push through under the back stitch.
If there’s ever a weird bunching in the satin stitch, where one or more threads aren’t laying flat, I extend the floss from behind the fabric so that it’s parallel to the aida and the most recent satin stitch. I then use my thumb and index finger to pinch and gently drag along the thread, slowly pulling those strays through so that they lay flat with the other floss.
The back of your satin stitch should almost exactly the same as the front.
[Image: The back of the same example embroidery from the previous instructional images, showcasing how the satin stitch sections look very similar to the front.]
I hope this helps! With your large project full of satin stitch, I’m sure you’ll be a pro by the time you’ve completed it and might even have some tips to share with me! Good luck!!
Do you have a store and/or take commissions? Your art is so amazing!
thank you!! i have an Etsy (link) and I do take commissions, but it’s a 3-4 month wait based on my current commission load. If anyone is interested, even with the wait, feel free to send me a message on tumblr, I’ll give you my email, and we can discuss more details!
[Ask text: Hello! I was wondering if you were on any other social media websites like twitter or instagram? I’ve had a look around but I haven’t been able to find anything. Thanks!]
Hey! I’m on instagram, @bekstek. It’s my personal IG, but I mostly post embroidery these days. I know I should have branded better and made a universal platform and name, but… I didn’t😅. Thanks for reaching out and asking!! 💕
Hi! I was wondering if you had any recommendations for online stores for embroidery? I'd love to support something that isn't Joanne's/Michaels/Hobby Lobby. Thanks!
I don’t have any in particular, but if my followers want to reply or reblog with their own recommendations, I’ll compile those together and update this post!
Hi! You've inspired me to start embroidery, and I have to ask - how do you keep the thread from tangling? It seems to happen to me constantly and it's driving me crazy!
Hi there! I’m so excited that you’ve started embroidery, and how special to know that I’ve been able to help!
floss tangles are i n c r e d i b l y annoying, for sure. while I’ve never been able to avoid them entirely, lately i’ve started to use a shorter piece of floss when I’m working, about 18-24 inches to start, rather than anything longer than 24 inches. Every time you pull the floss through the fabric, that friction is acting on the floss similar to scissors dragged along a ribbon – the floss will curl, which will cause the floss to twist and then bundle and then knot… so the shorter your floss is to start, the fewer times it’ll be dragged through the fabric, reducing the curl/twist/bundle. If you ever need an emergency un-twist, let the floss –still through the needle– hang from the fabric and pull the floss through a soft pinch between your index and thumb starting at the fabric down to the end. this will can help straighten it out again, at least enough to last you until the new floss piece.
on a related note…an ask from @sinnersinc
[Ask text: “Do you have any good tips for keeping that gold DMC embroidery thread (like in the WW lasso you did) from immediately self-destructing into a complete tangled knot? I really like DMC’s metallic line of flosses, but they are SUCH A PAIN to work with! 😫”]
oh man, I wish I could offer better tips here, but I don’t have too many.
[Images 1 & 2: Two images of the back of the Wonder Woman embroidery with a focus on the gold metallic floss, which is obviously frayed and bundled more so than the black floss. The second image includes three emojis next to the gold floss: distraught face, face with symbols over mouth, and expressionless face]
With metallic and sparkle floss, my biggest issue is the fraying, which you can see in the images where there are lots of single threads coming off the back. those lead to the most tangles and knots for me, and they’re super annoying going through the fabric.
I recommend a similar method to avoiding tangles/knots with standard floss: shorter lengths to start with, except much shorter, like 8-12″. I’d much rather re-floss than spend too many minutes untangling!
I hope this helps, but ultimately with metallic and sparkle flosses, I think you just have to power through the floss frustration knowing that the finished product will look really sharp. ✨🧵✨ Good luck!!!!
I just found your blog and I wanted to say that I'm really happy to see a serious embroidery artist who is using aida cloth + pencil. The more embroidery resources I've seen online, the more I've felt like I'm committing sacrilege by using those instead of canvas/cotton/linen and fabric markers :P
Oh man, do I know that feeling. I have to be careful about how much time I spend looking at traditional embroidery/needlecraft blogs, because I want to be inspired but instead walk away feeling inadequate and “fake” due to my preferred techniques. (paint? instead of thread?? HOW DARE)
but I absolutely stand by the pencil and aida. I’ve discussed my preference for aida a few times (even recently), and nothing marks the aida better than pencil. Pencil also allows for error correction (because the aida is an erasable fabric! who knew? [us]), and it doesn’t fade unless you rub it intentionally with your fingers.
I once tried to use a fabric marker with ink that disappears with water, and I found out that after a few days, the ink disappears with air too. I can’t even stitch “Steve Rogers in the Shower” in a few days – something I am very motivated to stitch – so I need more staying power than that. Another tally for pencil!
I’m not saying that the pencil is The Perfect Pattern-Making Tool, but for aida cloth specifically, it’s pretty darn good. so I’m with you, and we can use each other’s confidence to make up for our own insecurities. 💕
(also, you think I’m a serious embroidery artist? i’m honored! especially since i was just writing about stitching steve rogers in the shower.)
Me again!!! Thank you for all the information with my last ask! I have another one. What specific paint color(s) do you use for skin tone? (Like your latest WW embroidery for example)
Hello! I’m glad I can be helpful and answer your questions!
The colors I used for Wonder Woman’s skin specifically are peach, white, burnt umber (dark brown), crimson (red), and violet.
The violet is KEY because it creates a softer and more pleasant shadow! 💜💟💜
Hey, What kind of stitch did you use for the lasso?
Hey there, it’s called the “couching” stitch! I hadn’t used it in a piece before, but it was perfect for the lasso.
Here’s quick overview of the stitch…
Thread A - the thread that lays on top of the fabric; it only goes up through the fabric once and back down through the fabric once.
Thread B - the thread that loops over and around Thread A to hold Thread A to the fabric
- Pull Thread A through the fabric.
- Hold Thread A along the fabric - you’ll likely need to do this in sections. Try to hold it as close to where you want it to be fixed as you can.
- Using Thread B, poke through on one side of Thread A, loop over it and go back through the fabric on the other side of Thread A. Don’t go back through the same hole you came up through, but instead very near it. Wherever possible, Thread B should be perpendicular over Thread A.
- Repeat this process until Thread A is fixed to the top of the fabric for the line segment. Once complete, pull Thread A back through the fabric. Try to evenly distribute the Thread B loops – the exception for the lasso was in areas where Thread A made tight direction changes, Thread B stitches were closer together in those spots.
It’s a pretty easy stitch for such a neat effect! I’ve circled a few of the Thread B stitches on that Wonder Woman couching angle:
For those curious about the floss colors: A = DMC E3852, B = DMC 680.
I’ve gone into more detail than asked for in your question, but I hope it still helps!
I love your art so much! Can I ask what are you using to color in the fabric when not using thread as a filler? How is it not bleeding?! You are clearly some type of wizard! 😂
And not a wizard, just practiced ;) I’ve learned how the watercolors at different concentrations soak into and bleed through the fabric and how to control it better, but that doesn’t mean that it never happens anymore. My tools for fixing are a black felt-tip pen and a white gel pen.
I’m working on that Wonder Woman, and I’ve had a few places that I’ve needed these fixin’ tools.
[Image: work in progress of Wonder Woman, areas circled show both color bleed and paint on the black thread]
Here’s what it looks like fixed (and a little more painted lol):
[Image: a slightly more complete wonder woman]
The blue bleed above the cape I covered with the white gel pen, the yellow-gold over the black thread I covered with the black felt-tip pen, and the yellow below the belt I had to let dry completely before I covered it with the blue of her plated skirt.
I definitely recommend trying watercolors with your stitching! And if you do, let me know!
I’m so glad they’re working for you, @sleeepysapphic!!
Hey @heiresscomics! I don’t know of any go-to resources, I learned just by practicing (and practicing and trying new things and those things both working and not working…)
I do have an Embroidery Starter Tutorial that I put together a few years ago – and I think it still holds up! I’ve answered lots of questions over the years about embroidery too – ultimately, I’m trying to give everyone a leg up from where I started! – so I’ve got a How-to Tag for all of them.
And I always welcome more questions 😊
This is the kind of needlework that 18. Century woman would have envied and respected
This is, genuinely, one of the coolest compliments my work has ever received, thank you.