The Big Stitch

Since I’m on vacation someplace I hope is warm, I’m revisiting past posts that were popular. I’ve continued to use hand stitching on my work since I wrote this post on big stitching. Thanks to Felice Troutman,  I even learned the pekinese (or pekingnese) stitch. It’s the bright blue stitch below.


Original Post:

Recently I talked up big stitches for quilting and embellishment to my MQG. I am on record as a resolute embroidery avoider, so I realize this this an about face for me.  In my defense I’ll say that big stitch embroidery isn’t dainty and doesn’t use those blue stamped patterns.

What are big stitches?  In my definition, they are quilting and embroidery stitches on steroids, done with multiple strands of embroidery floss, perl cotton, crochet cord, or 12 or 30 weight thread.  And the stitching is often improvisational, made up on the spot, rather than pattern specific.

The photos below show parts of a pillow I made with techniques from Craftsy’s Stupendous Stitching class.  I used french knots, lazy daisies, fern stitch, and lots of running stitch combinations. These are nestled between decorative machine stitches and couched trims.

big_stitch1big_stitch2So, what about big stitch quilting?  I can tell you it goes a lot faster that “regular” hand quilting.  I use it as an adjunct to machine quilting to add texture and color, as on Neutrality and My February Fantasy below.  Here’s a short video made by Tim Latimer that shows how he does big stitch quilting.

neutrality_closeupMy-February-Fantasy-closeupI’ve been hesitant to use it as the only quilting for fear the perl cotton wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the layers together for the years I hope my pieces last. Also, even though big stitches take less time than conventional hand quilting, the technique still takes more time than machine quilting.

Here’s the way a friend used big stitches to add an intriguing border to her work.  It’s just weaving another color of thread through the existing stitches but it provides a great contrast.

Ks_ladiesI shared a few embroidery books with my guild that show all the cool effects you can get outside the world of traditional embroidery.

embroidery_booksbig_stitch_projectJenny Hart shows how flowers and leaves can be enhanced with some quick stitching. I can see using this to embellish a quilt.

Aneela_Hooey_workI’m in love with the leaves and cherries Aneela Hooey conjures up with lazy daisy and french knot stitches.  And the grass is done with a fern stitch.

Have you found ways to use big stitches on your quilted stuff, or some great thread/floss, etc.?


Filed under Techniques

6 responses to “The Big Stitch

  1. Hi! I hope you are enjoying warm weather as it’s pretty cold here in NE Ohio.
    I appreciated seeing all those varieties of ways people are adding hand stitching to their work. It’s definitely an opportunity to sit back and work on your quilt at a slower pace than using a machine.
    I’m going to pick up a few more books.

    • We enjoyed fresh fish outside by the waterfront while wearing short sleeve shirts. And I’ve gone on to my second thread color on my hand stitching project. I found it’s hard to stitch on planes as the space is so constricted. Let me know if you find any good books.

  2. Oh, and enjoy the warmth–I’m envious!

  3. I didn’t see this the first time around so I’m glad you re-posted! The big stitches intrigue me, especially the quilting aspect. I follow Tim’s blog, too, and he certainly uses it well as a design element.

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