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Back to Basics

June 1, 2015 by Elisabeth Rutt
Blanket/Buttonhole stitch

Blanket/Buttonhole stitch

Last week I had a very enjoyable day teaching basic hand stitches to a group of women who had little or no stitch experience. The group are meeting together with the aim of setting up a social enterprise and are ready to learn any new skills that someone will teach them! It was a breath of fresh air and they were a joy to be with.

In preparing for the day I made a ‘sampler’ of three basic stitches, blanket stitch, chain stitch and satin stitch. It is years since I have used these stitches just as they are, for their own sake whilst thinking of their structure and how I would describe in words what I was doing. Having made a row of the basic stitch I continued to make further short rows that attempted to use the stitch in more creative ways. I then used each of the three stitches together to make a simple flower motif.

Chain Stitch

Chain Stitch

None of this was difficult or particularly artistic and I certainly wouldn’t claim that my stitches were ideal examples of their type but I did so enjoy making them! Hand stitching means you have to slow down and concentrate and I would suggest it is impossible to stitch while feeling angry. Time flies by when sewing and the sense of achievement with what you have made is so satisfying.

In days of rushing around and quick fixes, where embellishing textiles often amounts to sticking on a bit of sparkle, making something simple and considered with a needle, thread and hands mustn’t be over looked!

Flower motif with Satin Stitch spots

Flower motif with Satin Stitch spots

I gained every bit as much as the ladies I was teaching as I revisited basic stitches in preparation for this day… try it!


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