Hello and welcome to day six of the Feature Me Everyday Tote – Feature Series! As you may know, all the blocks in this series have all been designed exclusively for the Feature Me Everyday Tote pattern which you can find here. You can find all other posts in this series under the Pattern Hacks section of my blog here.
Today’s block concept is a little different to what we’ve seen so far in this series and I’ve been excitedly waiting for this day to share this awesome concept with you!! This is Freestyle Stitching by the lovely Rachael from Sew Today, Clean Tomorrow… It’s something I haven’t heard of before but man am I keen to give it a go at some point!
This process was first published in Issue 12 of One Thimble and I was so excited by it, I asked (begged?) both Rachael and Jen (from One Thimble) if they would mind me using this article as part of this series and luckily, they both agreed! Thanks ladies!!
So what exactly IS Freestyle Stitching…? Well, in a nutshell, it’s the perfect way to entertain your hands without any of that pesky planning. The purpose of Freestyle Stitching is to let go and stitch whatever comes to mind (or hands). Don’t plan, don’t think ahead, put away the tracing pencils, measuring tapes, patterns and anything else that encourages accuracy or perfection. Just sit back and see where the stitches take you.
The best part is that you don’t even need many supplies. Here’s what Rachael uses:
- An embroidery hoop of any size – Rachael prefers one that’s large enough to easily fumble her way around, but still small enough to allow for a finished project after a few sittings. (As she said, the last thing she needs is more unfinished projects or ‘UFOs’, LOL!).
- A scrap of fabric a few inches larger than the embroidery hoop.
- Rachael uses quilting cotton, but there’s no reason you can’t experiment with other fabrics.
- You don’t need to use stabiliser or interfacing but, if you’re worried about the strength and stability of your fabric, you may like to try some.
- Leave yourself a good few inches free for seam allowance. Just in case you decide to use your finished piece in a larger project such as a Feature Me Everyday Tote.
- You may find it useful to overlock or trim the edges of the fabric with pinking shears to prevent fraying.
- Thread or embroidery floss.
- For this example Rachael used Aurifil thread (12 weight), but any embroidery floss will work, as will any number of strands.
- Find colours that coordinate and use as few or as many colours as you wish. This is a great way to play with different colour combinations.
- Thread snips or scissors.
- A hand sewing needle. (We know some people are very particular about their needles, but both Rachael and I tend to just use whatever we first trip over in our sewing room).
- A stitch encyclopaedia, Google, Grandma, or anything else that will give you inspiration for stitches to try.
The process of Freestyle Stitching is wonderfully simple because you literally stitch whatever you like. Use the embroidery hoop to hold your fabric firm but not stretched. This will make stitching much easier.
When using a larger embroidery hoop, Rachael suggests laying down a few foundation lines to separate the fabric into more manageable sections. You may find it helps your mind to relax if you’re not looking at a completely blank canvas.
To help dust the cobwebs off the old creativity, start by filling in some of the smaller sections. As you can see, you don’t have to stick to one specific spot – feel free to move around the hoop randomly.
The smaller areas are great for filler stitches, such as the Seed Stitch (the green stitches), or practising small stitches like the French Knot (the blue ‘circles’).
Larger areas give you the opportunity to play with colour and texture. Rachael often finds inspiration for future projects while doing this. Embroidered fish tail anyone?
You can even stitch random combinations for no reason other than to try a new stitch or colour combination.
Keep going until you have filled the hoop. You can use as many different stitches as you like. The more you stitch the more you will find inspiration for filling other sections.
Remember, it’s not about perfection. An idea won’t always go according to plan. These Lazy Daisies are somewhat… organic and overall this section ended up a little too busy for her liking, but that’s OK. Keep moving forward. Try and refrain from unpicking unless it’s a full blown error like knotted thread or stitching the project to your own pants (yes…yes she did, LOL!).
Rachael likes to use her finished Freestyle Stitching as wall art, but it would look equally awesome as part of a table runner, quilt, bag, or anywhere else that you want to add a truly unique touch. Ooh! Since we’re on the topic, why not the centre panel of your next Feature Me Everyday Tote?! 🙂
Here are two basic stitches to get you started:
Bring the needle from the back of the fabric through to the front (1) and then back down again a short distance away (2). Continue stitching in this fashion (3 and 4) to form a dashed line of even stitches.
Start with a small straight stitch heading backwards (1 & 2). Now, behind the fabric, move forwards past this stitch, bringing the needle back up at point (3) and travel backwards again (1) to make a second stitch. Move forward (4) and back (3) creating a solid line of even stitches.
Some other great embroidery stitches to search for are the Cross Stitch, Lazy Daisy, Chain Stitch, Star Stitch and the French Knot. Of course, this is just a tiny number of the many, many stitches available. You may even find yourself making up your own as you go! So grab a hoop, fabric and thread, and throw the rule book out the window. It’s time to stitch wild and free!
I think a feature block of freestyle stitching would look absolutely stunning on a Feature Me Everyday Tote!!! If you’re interested, you can find the pattern here. How do you think you would go just stitching, not planning, your block using this technique?! Feel free to leave a comment and let us know!