Kimberly Servello's Embroidery Blog

Kimberly Servello - Pattern Drawer and Embroideress

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Off the Linen (continued)

First, I'd like to thank everyone who made suggestions after my last post about stitching a 3D petal.  Thanks Karen, Rachel, Stitching with Kittens, Elmsley Rose and "Anonymous"!  I really appreciated your input.  Six heads are better than one, right? : )  

For all subsequent attempts I've used Rachel's suggestion of split stitching the edge first to stabilize the linen. 

For my second attempt I tried buttonhole stitch around the edge.  This looked even worse than the first attempt.  My kitten made off with that petal so I have no photo yet.  I'm sure it will surface at some point so I can photograph it.  The buttonhole edge, which is what secured the metal thread to the petal, sat away from the linen in an uncomplimentary way.  

 Next, I reviewed Jane Nicholas' book to verify I'm using the same technique, per SWK's suggestion.   

Jane uses buttonhole or overcast stitch to attach the wire so no difference there.  One major difference is she uses a thread that closely matches the fabric.  Also, although I've not seen the wire she recommends, I suspect it's much thinner than the DMC Memory Thread. 

So for my third try... I decided to change the wired thread from DMC Memory thread to a finer wire.  I chose 371 wire.  I thought the finer wire would allow me to trim closer to the edge stitching, which it did.  

First 2 photos are my 3rd attempt.  It's better, but still doesn't please me.


4th attempt: I switched to white thread for the overcast.  Still a tiny bit fuzzy in spots.  More importantly I lost the visual impact of the colored edge.  It's something I could fall back on if it becomes necessary.

I only stitched enough of the petal to give me an idea of how it would work.  The Petal Thief kindly modeled this petal for our photo, incase you're wondering what's in the background.  I also used scrap linen with writing on it.

I am waiting for an order of even finer metal thread to arrive. I also think that it will have to be attached after the petal is cutout as Anonymous mentioned doing.  That will necessitate overcasting the linen before cutting it out to prevent fraying, and then again to attach the wire after cutout.  Elmsley Rose suggested Tailor Buttonhole and I may try that, too.  I've only done it along a straight edge though so will need some practice on a curve.

Happy Stitching!


  1. Depending on the effect you are trying to achieve have you tried backing the linen to give it more body? To help with the frayed look run a thin film of conservation glue around the outside edge and allow to dry before trimming. I think I would try a less chunky coloured edge, the thinner wire sounds great and as you can probably tell I will follow this thread with interest. I wish I had more time to play.

  2. Maybe you could try a fine fuse-wire instead of the memory thread?

    1. Hi Rachel,

      I moved away from the Memory thread as of my 3rd attempt, when I started using the 371 wire. I can see it's not going to work well, either. I have, since, read 'Raised Embroidery' by Barbara and Roy Hirst and the Beetle Collection book by Jane Nicholas. Jane suggests using a floral wire, I think.

      I've not heard of fuse-wire - what is it? I'm thinking it's wire used for electrical fuses. Do you buy it from needlework suppliers or hardware store?

      Thanks for the info,

  3. I use two layers of fabric with the wire between them, and buttonhole around the edge before carefully trimming the excess fabric. The wire I use is the stuff cake decorators or florists use - you can get it from Spotlight or similar shops and it is usually covered with white or green papery stuff. I have also used 24 or 26 gauge wire which is quite fine. The thread you use is also important; it must be very fine, eg, one strand of DMC cotton or similar.

    I hope this helps a bit with your problems. It is really a suck-it-and-see what works kind of operation.

    1. Hi floozina,

      I'm guessing you're from Australia because I googled Spotlight and that's where the stores seem to be. It looks like what we used to call "Five and Dime" stores -a mix of household and crafting supplies. Here in the U.S I could check out Michaels or AC Moore for florist wire. I think I read that Jane Nicholas has used it as well.

      I need to be use only one fabric thickness since I'll be stitching reversible blackwork on it. But, the florist wire may solve my problem. Also, the thinner thread as you suggested.

      Thanks for the info!

  4. I should have commented on the last post, sorry about that. I do a lot of detached pieces, and edge them with buttonhole. Here we go with things that may help.
    1. Linen fabric generally has a thicker fiber than cotton or silk, so it's chunkier, and more prone to fuzzing up the edges. Here's two tricks, a)I use a bit of Elmer's glue (white glue, basically) diluted slightly, and brushed all around, and allowed to soak in a bit, and dry. (it dries clear) then I cut the piece out. After cutting I brush it with a little more of the glue, to get any remaining fuzziness. and...b) if using a different color for the buttonhole edge, I've learned to use a small amount of acrylic paint that matches(coordinates) with the thread. It doesn't have to be an exact match, just close enough. I've learned the hard way, do *NOT* use a Sharpie permanent marker, they are not permanent in the presence of acetone (nail polish, nail polish remover, fray-check) or alcohol, and will absorb into the thread, and run up into the stitching, it's horrifying) Oh, meant to put in that the painting is right at the edge of the fabric.

    2.)Good standard brass craft wire should do the job just fine. If you can find narrow gauge paper wrapped wire, go for it, I've never had any luck finding one narrow enough for me. Depending on how small or fiddly the edge is, determines the gauge of the wire. I usually use a 24-26 gauge with good results. I have some 32 for really fiddly tiny things, but I wouldn't use it on linen, not sturdy enough.

    3) apply the wire after the stitching is done, and before cutting the piece out. I use really close couching stitches, virtually an overcast stitch, then apply the glue, then dry then cut it out, close to the stitching.

    as a final, last resort if everything here is failing, I find that flat silk thread will cover the edges quite nicely and hide everything. Or, doing two passes of buttonhole(blanket) stitch will also do the job. (Do the first one, very tight, trim any threads poking through, then do the second pass with a doubled thread)

    I hope these help, don't hesitate to ask me if you have questions, check my blog, I may have posted the steps I follow, if not, I should work up a tutorial sometime.
    Good luck,
    Bob (Beard5)

    1. Hi Bob,

      Wow, thanks for the very detailed process! We must be kindred souls :) Having a degree in Mechanical Engineering I am all about details!

      I will give your suggestions a try - substituting a more historically accurate glue in place of the Elmer's.

      Thank you!

  5. Hello. I just found your blog through Pinterest. I hope to keep tabs as I am trying to revitalize my own embroidery skills. I have long to develop an artistic style that combines my sewing skills and art skills. So will be checking you out in the near future - or rather regularly. Thank you for sharing your gifts and talents.

    1. Welcome Angela,

      Thanks for joining us! And for commenting! Please don't hesitate to ask any questions you have as you get back into embroidery. I hope to see your embroidery some time. :)


  6. Kimberly,

    Thanks so much for comment into my blog, unfortunately if I replay in it people how leaves a comment cannot see my gratefulnees..that annoy me
    because 'comments feed ours blog' and our work..LOL

    Warm regards


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