Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Perfect Stitch...

I've had blog block for over a month..maybe 6 weeks?  Partly, this was due to my summer battle with
those nasty little false chinch bugs.  They migrated from a field next to my studio, entering the building though the tiniest places; around the windows, under the doors, and even up through the floors.  I cried, I cursed, I swept, I cleaned, I mopped, I vacuumed, I sprayed, and then, I did it all over again the next day, each day,  for the full 5+ weeks until monsoon arrived, heralding their departure!  Oh, and I also fired our exterminator!

The other reason for my blog block is because I've not been stitching very much.  I've been working on finishing princess shoes when not ridding my life of bugs!  That said, I have now and then, added a few little stitches to my swan canvas.  Sitting down at night and filling in a few areas with mindless stitching is just what I've needed to relax.  Tonight, I was doing that very thing, when, (harp music here....) the blog block broke!  Yes, indeed!  I finally had an idea to write about!

This occurred as I was implementing a stitch for the waterlilies in the swan painted piece.  I've always known I would stitch them with a buttonhole stitch, and when I actually did it, omgosh!  It was perfect!  I used the perfect thread, of course, Caron's Wildflowers, with this perfect stitch!  See here if you don't think it is perfect.

I love the way the stitch creates an edge around the perimeter of the lily pad.  I also love that it creates 'movement' and dimension from the center, where all the stitches originate, and form a little bump.  It speaks 'lilypad'!  And the overdyed threads are a real pleasure to use..seeing the way the colors emerge effortlessly.

I believe the buttonhole stitch was one of the first stitches I learned to do as a child.  My mother taught me to sew at an early age, and she taught me this stitch so I could make real button holes in my doll's clothes.  Later, I edged blankets with it, and I think it made me feel like I was creating something important, 'cause it was 'fancy'!

Over the years, as a needlepointer, I've used this stitch often.  I used it on a Nancy Swan Drew piece to create angel wings on a canvas featuring a mother who never gives up on her kids!  Flair was the perfect thread to use, along with a little bead embellishment on top of the ridge.  (One day, I'll get around to actually stitching the whole design.)

Of course, buttonhole stitches make great leaves AND flowers.  Here I created both in my Funky Flowers canvas.

It works for the sea horses in my Coral Sea piece.  These little guys are nothing but buttonhole stitch with a seed bead added for an eye.  Buttonhole stitch works great because it follows curves and fills in spaces all in one step!

Here it is being featured on a desert plant, in my Bougainvillea Wall piece.  This time, it was a detached buttonhole stitch, worked over two long threads which formed each spike of the plant.

Sometimes, just a "little" buttonhole stitch will do, as in the scallop feature along the bottom and at the top of this beehive.  The design would have been sorely lacking without it!

Lastly, I show you the background of 'Cowgirl Up'.  Circular shaped buttonhole stitches form polka dots reminiscent of those found on a bandana.  I think they added just what was needed to an otherwise pretty drab background.

As you can see, the buttonhole stitch is very versatile and useful.  It is an easy stitch to generate, and the results are very satisfactory.  I hope you will look for places to use it in your work, in areas you might not have considered. 
PS...did you notice the border of my blog background?  I didn't construct this, but as you can see, it IS the perfect stitch!


  1. I did notice the stitching on the blog background. I use this stitch also from time to time. Jennie was telling me the other day about how you used to let the girls make purses when we lived across from each other. She has many good memories of those occasions.

  2. It is, indeed, the perfect stitch! Very versatile. Those lilypads look divine. I have a special place in my heart for lilypads and yours are warming the cockles of my heart. Thanks for showing all of us the versatility of this stitch which is masterfully executed by you.

  3. Gosh, I never would have thought to use buttonhole stitch on seahorses. Very clever! Of course I use the buttonhole variation called blanket stitch that decorates your background all the time in finishing. It makes a cute little bump edge while being quite sturdy and useful in holding raw edges together. Great stitch!

    Lovely examples, by the way. Your lily pads are just perfect!