Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Crafter’s Way 180 –Embroidery Preparation

Here is this week’s Messenger column.
I received an email from Melissa who lives at Kipparing. Melissa wrote, “I’ve been teaching myself embroidery but my Stranded Cotton always end up in a tangle and knots. I cut them short but still end up in a mess. What am I doing wrong?”Stranded Cotton copy
Melissa is not the only Embroiderer who has this problem. The length of your thread is only one part of the solution. Stranded Cotton is a thread that is made up of 6, sometimes 8, individual strands. You can choose to thread your needle with all 6 strands or only use 1. The choice is based on individual preference, the finished look or the chart/pattern requirements. If in doubt I usually start with 2.Individual strands Even if you are choosing to use all 6 strands you still need to do this next step. It is called stripping. Carefully separate 1 strand from the rest and gently pull up, releasing the thread from the rest. Lay it down noting the direction of the uncut end. Repeat this step until you have the required number of strands. Re-align the strands; make sure that all the ends are the same. Stripping ensures that your threads are smooth and will result in less twisting of the thread.Stripping copy
A lot of embroiderers are unaware that threads have a grain or a right way and wrong way. A practiced finger can feel the difference however an easier way to identify the grain is to have a look at the cut ends. If you look at the image of the individual strands you can see a fraying at the end. This is the wrong way. Thread your needle from the other end.stored on card
If your Stranded Cotton has been stored on an card then you may find that you have square kinks in your thread. Thread has a memory, and these kinks will continue to cause tangles and knots. Before stripping hold the end of the thread firmly by one hand. Place the thread between thumb and finger and run down the length of the thread. Repeat this several times. Threads will relax and will be ready to use.ready to use
Melissa, I hope this helps your knotty issues. If you have any craft questions please email me at

1 comment:

Dianne said...

Hi Trish, thanks for these hints. I have been embroidering since I was about 7 years old but still learning :-). I didn't know about the cut ends to work out the grain of the thread, so thank you. Also, I recently learned, while sewing, keep the thread that is dangling at less than half of the thread which is coming from your work. This really helps knotting issues. I have found this a huge help Regards Di.