Monday, April 7, 2014

tips for cross stitching with metallics

If you don't follow me on Instagram… well why don't you??  I LOVE Instagram, it's been such a fun way to connect with my customers and find a community of cross stitchers who share my love of modern design and crafts.

I love responding to questions about my designs, my process, and cross stitching tips on Instagram too. After I posted pics of my new design, Arcadia, I had several requests for tips on working with metallic threads.  Metallics are a great way to add some sparkle and life to your cross stitch work, but they are a PAIN to deal with.  Metallic floss seems to have a mind of its own and staying on your needle and laying nicely on your fabric are just not always what it wants to do.  It also gets weakened and frays quite easily, and then you end up with a mess.

I used to dread working with metallics as much as anyone else, until I learned this technique which completely changed my mind.  As several of my Instagram followers claim, this is a game changer!

First I should state that in my opinion, all metallic accents should be done LAST.  Seriously, finish all your other stitching first, and then do the metallics.  It's hard to wait because they are so pretty, but metallic threads are more fragile and more likely to get snagged, and if you are still working on your fabric for a while, the metallic stitches are going to end up looking raggedy by the time you're done.

OK, so photographing a single strand of metallic floss is basically impossible, so in the photo below, pretend that the red floss is just ONE strand of metallic thread:

Step 1: cut 16" of metallic floss and pull out a SINGLE strand, not two. Fold that strand in half and thread the folded end into your needle eye.

Step 2: pull enough of that folded end through the eye until you can flip the looped thread over the sharp end of your needle.

Step 3: While hanging onto the doubled part of your floss with one hand, pull the needle to tighten that loop and slide the loop towards the eye of the needle. You are basically making a half-hitch knot at the end of your needle.

Step 4: pull the knot tight until it sort of "locks in" at the point where your needle ends. Now you just stitch as you normally would, essentially stitching with two strands. This method keeps the floss from sliding and twisting around, and all the fraying should happen right at the base of the needle which won't get used anyway.

This does mean that you're stitching with only 8" of floss at a time, but with metallics, anything longer than that and you will get frayed spots for sure.

If you find that pulling the little knot through the fabric is difficult, try going up to a larger needle size than you would normally use.  That will help stretch the holes out a bit, which will help the rough thread go through easier.

If you haven't tried this technique before, I hope you give it a try!  And if you have other tips for working with metallics, I'd love to hear them!