Or otherwise known as long & short stitch. It's a technique that I've long wanted to master, so I was excited to learn that it was the focus of our third class. Our project was this flower--
But boy, it's slow-going! At least for me. Two hours of stitching, and this is all I've got to show for it. I've used long & short stitch in the past on a small scale for my own projects, but this was the first time I've tried it on something as big as this. And it can hardly be considered 'big.'
Part of the reason why it's taking me so long is that I'm taking care not to have the two strands of floss I'm using to twist within the stitch. If I stitched naturally, the threads would do just that as I seem to have a habit of turning the needle about 90 degrees each time I pierce the fabric. And the way that looks just drives me crazy.
To counter the twist, I'm conciously re-turning the needle in the opposite direction before I finish pulling the needle through the fabric. It's rather awkward and requires me to pause with each stitch, but I'm hoping that with time, it will become a single, smooth movement, as natural as the current one.
Speaking of the thread: our instructor used the terms 'silk shading' and 'long & short stitch' interchangeably, but in truth, we were using regular #25 cotton embroidery floss. In that sense, I feel that it's not entirely accurate to call this silk shading. While the idea & effect is the same, I think the result would have been much different if we used silk threads!
The only silk we did use was the silk dupioni fabric. I had a preconceived notion that it would be a difficult material on which to stitch, so was pleasantly surprised to find that it's sturdier than one would think. And I really like the crisp puncture one gets when pulling the needle through the fabric-- almost like piercing a thin piece of paper.
After working on it here and there for a week, I finally got the flower bloom finished--
I don't know that it looks quite natural... something about it looks sort of rough. Looking at it now from this distance, I feel like I made the color transitions too jagged. If I had used shorter stitches, maybe the colors would have blended more softly and smoothly...? I'm also not satisfied with the parts where the petals curl (bottom & to the left of the bottom petal) as it really doesn't look that way. Is there a good method for making this look realistic?
The leaves are to be completed in couching stitch using silver metallic thread, but after completing one, I felt that it didn't balance well with the flower. Someone in my class thought the same and added color using green fabric ink before stitching with the silver, which looked much nicer. I've never tried fabric stenciling before, but perhaps it's something else I need to learn...
So lots to work on with this piece still!