Hand Embroidery Tips for Contemporary Fabric Collage – Quilting Daily

Fiber artist Deborah Boschert and I share a love of hand embroidery. Although hand embroidery stitches are often associated with antique and vintage textiles, Deborah uses classic embroidery stitches to add interest and texture to her contemporary quilts and fabric collages.

Hand embroidery stitches add interest and movement in this
fabric collage by Deborah Boschert.

Today, I’ve asked Deborah to share some of her hand embroidery tips with you:

1. Hand embroidery is totally portable! I have several projects in plastic bags that I can take upstairs and stitch while I watch TV with my family. Each bag includes pre-chosen floss colors, needles, and notes about what stitches I’ve planned for the design.

2. Don’t worry about matching colors exactly. I’ve got lots of floss, but sometimes I run out of a specific color. Rather than going out to buy more, I just choose a close match and keep stitching. Often this will even add more interest to the design.

3. Keep tabs on fugitive floss. When using just two or three strands of floss from a six-strand skein, I drape the remaining strands over my shoulder so I know exactly where they are when I’m ready to thread a new needle.

4. Go hoopless. I use felt for batting on my small art quilt collages. The felt gives the collage a lot of body so I don’t even need to use a hoop when I embroider. Felt is great for stitching through, too. No bearding! (That’s when bits of batting pull through to the top of the art quilt.) 


Y shaped embroidery stitches
These elongated Y embroidery stitches are a signature of Deborah’s art.

5. Break the rules.

Play around and explore new ways to put stitches together. Create your own motifs, patterns, and fill designs.

6. Listen to the hand. If your fingers are feeling raw, you need a thimble. If your wrist is getting achy, you need a break. (Confession: Sometimes I forget to follow this advice myself!)

I love these tips! Deborah demonstrates how to design and compose fabric collages plus how to add hand embroidery stitches to contemporary fiber art on her new Quilting Arts WorkshopTM video, “Contemporary Fabric Collage: Design, Stitch, and Finish.” Her techniques are fun, easy to follow, and will have you running to your stash ready to create.

P.S. What’s your favorite hand embroidery tip? Share it in the comments section below.

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