darning sampler

Crazy Quilting Sampler, Part 3: More Stitchin’

Ok, crazy quilters – ready for more stitchin’?!

First up, I’ve stitched these little alternating sprig-type things. I have no idea what this would be called, but they’re each made of three simple straight stitches, exactly as they look:

Crazy Quilting Tutorial 3

I worked each one just over the edge of the seam, so they overlap it by a teensy bit.

Next, a typical crazy quilting stitch that you will see on a lot of the antique crazy quilts: stepped running stitch. This is a threaded stitch and threaded stitches are great for using more than one color in one place, just for some extra funsies. Start by working running stitch along each side of a seam, alternating the spacing. Then we thread those running stitches:

Crazy Quilting Tutorial 3

Crazy Quilting Tutorial 3

Using a new color (if you like) and a dull cross-stitch needle (if you have one handy, it really will make it easier if you do), lace underneath one running stitch. Pass under the previous thread and down under the next running stitch. This is one of those things that’s insane to describe in words, but easy to do. Hopefully the photos above are clear even if my words aren’t.

The next photo shows you two stitches at once, because I’ve used them in sort of combination with each other. I wanted some stitching that was a focal point, that worked on a different scale to the others. So here I’ve made large stars all across one fabric strip. You can also work these across a seam, same as the other stitches. Unlike the teensy stars we made before, these are made with twelve straight stitches that come from the center. In the last star shown, you can see that I work the four straight arms first, like the quarters of a clock:

Crazy Quilting Tutorial 3

This helps keep the spacing even. Along the seam of this area, I’ve made very small diagonal stitches. You can see how I’m working them by simply bringing my needle across the seam, perpendicular to it. It’s almost like lacing a shoe, and strangely satisfying.

And there, my friends, is where I’m going to send you off on your own to fill up the rest of your sampler! If yours is anything like mine, you should have covered about half of your seams now.

Crazy Quilting Tutorial 3

I will show you my finished sampler sometime next week – and I’ll also show you how I’ll finish mine off – but in the meantime, I want you to get creative with your stitches and, well, go crazy! Just use what you know and combine different stitches to make new effects – and stitch whatever pops into your head!

Darning Sampler FO (Sampler #3)

Darning Sampler FO!

Finished! I puzzled for several days about how to get some sort of delicate flower to look right in that middle block, in my colors, on such a loosely woven linen, before I went back to the historical samplers on Pinterest for inspiration.

Darning Sampler FO!

I liked the ones with geometrical designs just as well as those with, say, a floral detail in the middle, and I thought that would suit my sampler best. So I just winged it, starting with my initials as you saw the other day, then added the year, then a a border – etc, until it looked finished.

I loved this project so much – definitely my favorite so far! – and I can see some wonderful possibilities in this type of stitching. I’m looking forward to moving on to Sampler #4 though – more on that tomorrow!

Darning Sampler Stitch-along: Stitches 7 & 8

I’m stitching a a Year of Samplers! Join in and stitch with me if you’d like, for all the samplers or just a few, and link back to me / leave a link in the comments so I can follow your progress too! And tell your friends!

Darning Sampler - Progress

How’d you guys get along with stitches 5 and 6? They were much more fun than I expected! I was a little worried that they’d get more tedious as the designs got more intricate, but I enjoyed seeing them build up so much that I didn’t notice. Much like knitting fair isle, this becomes addictive – seeing each row pile up and a pattern emerge is so very pleasing.

Darning Sampler - Progress
Darning Sampler - Progress

Honestly, once you get into the swing of this craft, there’s really not much more to say about it! I have been finding that back-stitch tip so useful for getting neater edges, and that’s really the only trouble I’ve had so far. I do love this stitch style so very much – it’s quite soothing in a charmingly mindless sort of way, dontcha think?

Now we’re ready for the last two stitch patterns! I should’ve mentioned last week that I’ve been adapting these stitch patterns from some of the antique samplers I pinned on Pinterest. The stitches are so tiny on those, I can’t see them well enough to reproduce them exactly, I’ve just aimed for the essence of the designs.

Pattern Darning Stitches 7 & 8

These are stitch patterns I’ve had my eye on since we started – again, variations of each other – but I was a little intimidated by the detail. I think we’re ready now though, right?

Again, I’ll be stitching along with you on these two stitches and then I’ll be adding my initials and a little decorative something to the center block. As before, I’ll post progress photos on Flickr and Instagram as I stitch – come follow me over there! And please, post a link to your blog or a photo in the comments if you’re stitching along, I’d love to see!

Darning Sampler Stitch-along: Stitches 5 & 6

I’m stitching a a Year of Samplers! Join in and stitch with me if you’d like, for all the samplers or just a few, and link back to me / leave a link in the comments so I can follow your progress too! And tell your friends!

Pattern Darning Sampler - WIP

Halfway done with our fill patterns! Four down, four to go – but before I share the next two stitches, here’s a few semi-random thoughts I wanted to share about our project:

– Don’t forget to visit my very first post in this series, introducing the darning sampler, if you’d like to know a little about the history of these samplers (or visit my darning sampler Pinterest board to see some beautiful examples)! My intent isn’t at all to recreate a historical sampler, but the background of these things is always interesting.

– Speaking of: I haven’t told you about this yet (I will soon!), but I’ve been taking a course about the history of embroidery and tapestries. By a wonderful coincidence, we learned a bit about pattern darning a few weeks ago, just before I began working on this sampler. I love it when a plan comes together!

As discussed in that first post, darning samplers were very popular in the 18th Century and the patterns were used as a form of mending. But as I learned in my course a few weeks ago, pattern darning purely as decorative stitching is much, much older! Examples of pattern darning (also called ‘surface darning’, by the way) used as decorative bands on clothing and household items date from 12th Century Egypt! That’s the kind of thing that throws my mind into a tizzy, wondering about the people that stitched those patterns, what they were like, what they were thinking about. But I digress. The point is: over the past few weeks, I’ve learned that although we’re taking our stylistic inspiration from the 1700-1800s, this is a many-centuries old technique which has gone through many cultures and uses. If you’d like to learn a little more about the pre-sampler days of pattern darning, I recommend reading this PDF document by The West Kingdom Needlworkers’ Guild, which contains a few articles covering this topic very nicely.

– None of that really has anything to do with our sampler project except that I find it fascinating, but the PDF linked to above helped me a lot with a stitching problem I’ve been having. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having trouble keeping the sides of my stitch ‘blocks’ neat, because the first and last stitches tend to pull in. I improvised a solution by back-stitching the first stitch of each row, which helps somewhat. If you continue reading past the historical articles in the PDF document above, there is a very helpful section of tips, including the backstitch method I ‘made up’. Definitely worth a look-see.

Now, on we go!

This week, I’ll be stitching right along with you, as I haven’t had the opportunity to both plan out these stitches and get them started. By now we’re pretty comfy with the whole darning method, so we’re stepping it up a bit and adding new shapes. This time I’ve made little diagrams, my Sharpie sketches just weren’t going to cut it with these:

Pattern Darning Stitches 5 & 6

As you’ll see, the second is just a variation on the first, and as before, you’ll have to work out the exact numbers based on your fabric and thread. But if you’re using evenweave or anything like it, you can probably follow these as they are, adjusting only for the size of your block. It should be obvious, but I mean the dark squares to indicate passing over a thread and white going under one. (Feel free to comment or email if these diagrams aren’t clear!)

Over the next few days, until I share the last two stitches, I’ll post my progress on Flickr and Instagram so pop over to whichever of those you prefer and follow me. Or just come back and see in a few days – and show me your progress when you do!

Darning Sampler – First Two Stitch Patterns

I’m stitching a a Year of Samplers! Join in and stitch with me if you’d like, for all the samplers or just a few, and link back to me / leave a link in the comments so I can follow your progress too! And tell your friends!

Pattern Darning Sampler - first stitches!

Ok, do you have your darning sampler all prepped? Today I’ll show you the first two stitches I’m working on – in enough detail that you should have no problem stitching along if you like!

I’m going to work a different stitch in each of the 8 outer blocks of my grid, then do something decorative in the center. I’ve picked a grid block totally at random and started to fill it with the easiest-looking stitch I could find, just to get a feel for the thing.

The Sharpie-drawn sketches above are what I’m stitching; the black lines are threads sitting on the surface of the fabric, the blank spaces represent spots where my thread has gone below. I describe it this way because the fastest and easiest (and, I suspect, neatest) way to work darning stitch patterns is to sew across the surface of the fabric, rather than stab into it. Does that make sense? Check it out:

Pattern Darning Sampler - first stitches!

This angle might make it even clearer:

Pattern Darning Sampler - first stitches!

Easy! And you’ll be shocked how quickly you can fill a space with this method! I can really see using these as all-over or background fill in a future project.

With this stitch pattern especially, the first row is the only one you really have to pay attention to. I went over 5 threads, under 2, over 5, under 2 – etc. And then each following row just repeats exactly what happened above.

The second stitch pattern starts to mix it up a little – this one creates a diagonal stripe by moving each stitch one thread over.

Pattern Darning Sampler - first stitches!
Pattern Darning Sampler - first stitches!

You see? So there we go, first two darning patterns in progress! Here’s mine so far:

Pattern Darning Sampler - first stitches!

I’ll finish those areas up and meet you here next week for three more patterns!

Are you stitching along? Please tell me or leave a link in the comments – I’d love to hear about your projects and see your progress!