The thought of embroidering text can sometimes be a little daunting, though often the little quirks and wiggles arising through hand stitching do add a little extra individuality to the piece of work. But it’s true to say that there comes a point when quirkiness simply becomes poor workmanship, and I hope that you’ll find the hints and tips below useful when stitching text. And don’t forget to find inspiration for your stitching of letters – just flicking through a magazine or visiting one of the many fonts sites will give you great ideas for different treatments of lettering.
1 When choosing your textile and thread, keep in mind what the article you’re making will be used for. Cotton is great for sheets and other linen, whilst embroidery floss or cotton thread is best for linen, sheets, clothing or any article that has to be frequently washed. You can wash wool embroidery gently by hand, as you would lambswool or cashmere, but it really is best not to simply chuck it into the washing machine!
2 The choice of stitches for text is endless. Padded satin stitch is the traditional choice for monograms because it is slightly raised and clear cut, but simply outlining the letterwith chain, stem or back stitch can be effective, whether the outline is then filled or not.
3 Stem or back stitch are great stitches to choose for text, and for the smallest letters you are best to use back stitch as it gives the finest line. Whatever stitch you choose, be sure to reduce the size of the stitches slightly as you go around curves, this will make the letters much smoother in appearance. Sometimes it is better to overlap one stitch over the other where two lines meet. This makes a sharper point than when you bring both stitches together into the same hole.
4 Be precise about keeping angles clear-cut and straight lines really straight. Sometimes moving a stitch just one thread to the left or right can make all the difference to the accuracy or legibility of small size letters. Be sure to consider the shape of your letters and the best way to stitch them before you begin. Think about how the components fit together and, particularly if you are stitching on lightweight fabric, avoid carrying threads across the back.. You don’t have to stitch letters in the same way that you write them with pen and paper.
5 It’s much better to fasten off and begin again than to have threads showing through to the front of your work. If you find this too much of a pain, then try arranging your text so that the letters join, eg by using a cursive script. Then you won’t have to worry about carrying threads, just about what motto, phrase, poem or quotation to stitch next!
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful – if you’ve got any others please leave them in the comments below!