The V&A collection contains many examples of this type of work, including this beautiful padded and heavily stitched hunting coat, from 17th Century India. At India's Mughal court (early 16th - mid 19th century) the professional male embroiderers were famous for their use of an extremely precise repeat chain stitch form of embroidery known as Ari work. It is also sometimes referred to as tambour (from the French word for drum because the ground fabric is stretched tightly across a frame or hoop needed for the regular chain stitch). The tambour stitch is stitched with a specialist hook called an 'ari', which is similar to a crochet hook.
We aren't going to use an ari, because chain stitch can also easily be worked using a regular embroidery needle!
To make a basic chain:
- Bring the thread up and loop it under the needle, holding the loop down with the thumb or forefinger of your free hand.
- Take the needle back into the hole from which it emerged, and bring it out a stitch length in front, with the thread loop under the needle.
- Do not pull the thread too tightly.
- To make another stitch insert the needle inside the first loop and bring it out a stitch length in front. Loop the thread under the needle to form the chain as before.
A variation on the basic stitch is to open the link and create a ladder. Work in the same way except that when you insert the needle back into the loop angle it across the loop to keep it open. Anchor the final chain with a small tie stitch in each corner.
Both versions of chain stitch can also be worked detached; scatter them lightly across the surface or use more formally for leaves and flower petals.
Lazy daisy stitch is formed by making several detached chains stitches in a circle, all starting at the centre. Worked in blue I thought mine were more like the tiny forget-me-nots which grown in great profusion in my garden at this time of year!
The long and the short of it:
Both versions of the detached chain can also be worked with different length tails. I think you could have a lot of fun with this version!
I love this little booklet of 16 stitches from Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn and not just because it's named after us! At £2.50 it's a treasure.
As well as showing you how to make each stitch the booklet is filled with hand drawn illustrations on various ways to interpret them, some of which I have been trying out these last few weeks!
The Golden Thread by Kasia St Clair examines how fabrics have changed history. From the origins of weaving, via the shrouds of Egyptian mummies and the cotton fields of the deep American south to suits suitable for space travel, St Clair shows how fabric has allowed human kind to achieve extraordinary things. It is a story of continual reinvention and ingenuity and offers us an unforgettable adventure through our past, present and future.
Threads of life by Clare Hunter tells the history of the word through the eye of a needle. It also has chapters!
Sewing is a way to mark our existence on cloth: patterning our place in the world, voicing our identity, sharing something of ourselves with others and leaving the indelible evidence of our presence in stitches held fast by our touch.
Use your phone to take a quick snap and post to Instagram and use the hashtags: #institchescreative2020 and #institches2013. If you follow both us and the hashtags you will also get to see what everyone else is creating too!
On Facebook reply to the relevant week's post with your comments and images. And don't forget to actually follow InStitches on Facebook to see what everyone else is up to.
Stay safe, stay creative and we will see you again next week,
Hazel & Terry