Wednesday, November 27, 2013

DIY embroidered ampersand

embroidery was probably the first craft I ever learned. (not counting friendship bracelets and finger painting that is). I remember working a cross stitch sampler of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle (the hedgehog from Beatrix Potter books) when visiting my grandma. last winter, I was surprised to discover I had the sudden urge to embroider again. It started when I discovered the work of both Karin Holmberg and Jenny Hart and realized that there was a whole huge embroidery world beyond cross stitch. I was so inspired by the use of traditional embroidery techniques to create incredible works of art! (and then I saw this design from Alicia Paulson and knew I wanted to try myself) All through the summer I worked on little embroidery projects- a great alternative for those warm days when the last thing you want to do is work on a heavy wool scarf or sweater! 
This little ampersand is something I worked up to add to our photo wall. It hardly took anytime at all and I love how clean and simple it turned out! I am thinking of making a second in a sage green colour to add to my display table at my next craft event. 

This is a really great project if you are fairly new to embroidery. It would also make a really sweet last minute gift! You could of course personalize it by adding initials, words, or even a wedding date to the bottom!

so without any further ramblings, here is what you need to make your own:

  • a small piece of scrap fabric. I used a 100% cotton, but really anything in a neutral tone will work.
  • an embroidery hoop
  • embroidery thread and needle
  • a blunt pencil, or some chalk
  • scissors

first off: prepare your tools.
draw (or trace) your ampersand onto your fabric lightly, using your pencil or chalk. fix your fabric into embroidery hoop.

note: most embroidery thread is 6 strand. for this project, you will only need to work with 4 strands. simply cut a piece of thread to work with (I usually go with about 20 inches), and then separate 2 strands from the other 4 and place aside. 

next up: stitch your design.
For this project, I used chain stitch. I chose it because it works a nice thick line, and will make your design stand out from a distance. It's also great for forming corners and curves. But you could work this design using a different stitch- back stitch and stem stitch would both work nicely. 

If you don't know how to chain stitch, I recommend checking out some video tutorials on Youtube. But I will share some simple instructions for how I do it:
1. bring your needle up through your fabric from the back.
2. insert the needle back into the point you just came through, and (with thread under the needle) bring the tip of the needle up through the fabric a short distance away. (however far away you bring the tip up will determine how large your stitch is.) 
3. just keep repeating these steps and it should give you an interlocking stitch, as you see in the photo above- almost like a chain.

Once you've got the hang of chain stitch, just keep working it around all the lines of your design! 

 finally: trim your fabric and the ends of your threads. Place your lovely ampersand on your wall, bookshelf, or elsewhere in your home for all to see!

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