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5 ways with running stitch

I've just finished writing the book to go with the Freeform Stitched Journal class next week, and I thought I'd share an excerpt from it here. The class, and the book, will give you the tools to make a freeform stitched journal. The excerpt below will give you some ideas for stitching.



Begin your line of stitches with a knot at the end of the thread. End them by weaving the tail of the yarn through the stitches at the back of the work. Alternatively if you want to use a longer length of thread, pass the needle through the fabric from front to back, away from the place you are going to begin stitching. Leave half the thread at the front of the fabric and stitch with the other half of the thread. When you run out of thread, weave the tail through the stitches at the back, pull the remaining thread through to the back of the work and rethread the needle. Carry on stitching with the other half of the thread.


Running stitch

Running stitch is the easiest one to learn and often the one taught first. It is good for curves, straight lines, joining things together with a loose seam and filling in. If you want a defined line it can be useful to draw your line onto your work first, using a fabric marker, either washable or fade so you can get rid of the line once you’re done. The following stitches are all variations of running stitch.


Bring the needle through the fabric to the front. Pass the needle down through the fabric to the back a little further along. The distance is up to you. Bring the needle up approximately the same distance along as your stitch. Repeat these steps, keeping your stitches an even size, for the required length.


Whipped running stitch

Worked over a line of running stitch, whipped running stitch is great for making solid lines, and working around a curve. If you work the whipped bit of the stitch in a contrasting colour, especially a variegated thread, you’ll get some really lovely textures.


Work a line of running stitch for the desired length. Change to a contrast colour and bring the needle up through the fabric at the beginning of the line. Pass the needle under the first running stitch, being careful not to catch the fabric underneath. It sometimes helps to use a blunt needle or the eye of the needle you are stitching with, rather than the tip. Pass the needle under the next stitch in the same direction, and repeat down the line of stitches. Don’t pull the contrast colour tightly as it will distort the fabric. Aim for an even tension all the way along.


Woven running stitch

Worked over a line of running stitch, woven running stitch is great for making wavey textural lines in the work, and makes great curves. If you work the woven bit of the stitch in a contrasting colour, especially a variegated thread, your stitches will really stand out, and they will give you little loops to fill with beads, or other stitches. It will look a little like braid, and can be worked as a lovely edging.


Work a line of running stitch for the desired length. Change to a contrast colour and bring the needle up through the fabric at the beginning of the line. Pass the needle under the first running stitch, being careful not to catch the fabric underneath. It sometimes helps to use a blunt needle or the eye of the needle you are stitching with, rather than the tip. Pass the needle under the next stitch in the opposite direction. Work down the line of stitches, alternating the direction you weave under each stitch. You will be creating a wavey line. It’s up to you how big you leave the loops. They will sit on the surface of the work minding their own business until you want to tweak them into position once you have finished. At the end of the line of running stitches, turn and work back along the line. Pass the needle under each stitch, but this time in the opposite direction to the original pass you made, creating a line of little loops.


Kantha Quilting

Kantha is a technique for joining several layers of fabric together to make a quilted fabric. Here we are going to use it as an embroidery stitch to create shape and texture in the work. It can be used most successfully as a filling stitch.


Kantha is lines of running stitch worked successively and close together, creating a dense, textured area in your work. You can work the lines of stitches in any direction. Below I’ve worked a circle, by stitching a small circle and then stitching around it in successive circles to create a sun shape in my piece. I’ve also used it to fill in an area, by stitching straight lines, filling in the space. Try to keep your stitches more or less the same length, although a little variation in stitch length gives a nice handmade feel to your work..


Long and short running stitch

This stitch is exactly what it says. Work a line of alternating long and short stiches, with long and short gaps. Great for

filling in areas with random texture.

Once you've mastered the basics you can play around with the stitches to your hearts content. Try making several lines and weaving over them all, or whipping over long and short stitch for example. Have a play!



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