In this brief blog post, let’s focus on embroidery due to its versatility. Embroiderers create both functional and nonfunctional art. The former includes clothing and home décor. The latter includes wall hangings and framed art. Such works encompass a wide scope of fiber artworks; they may incorporate as broad a range of materials. Their embroidery stitches, though, will likely include some basic ones. Let’s talk about running stitch, stem stitch, and chain stitch. Like the major needlework techniques, each of these stitches has variations. This post will discuss just the foundational ones.
When choosing a stitch, an important criterion is whether an outline or a filling of a shape is needed. Running, stem, and chain stitches are especially suited to outlining a form. Running stitch is sometimes covered with satin stitch, but it is a decorative stitch. It looks like the stitch a sewing machine performs to secure a seam. The stitches must be small and even to be appealing to the eye. Thread can be woven into running stitches to add texture and additional color to the design. Stem stitch affords no opportunities for weaving, but its outlines have more depth and complexity. Each stitch begins from the center of the prior one. The stitches overlap one another. Lastly, chain stitch, as you might imagine, looks like a chain. It is a linked sequence of loops of thread. These stitches are larger than running and stem stitch, so they make for a wider border. For this reason, they are not suited for outlining small shapes. Chain stitches are sometimes used individually or in groups of a few stitches to create flower petals, raindrops, or the like.
Now that you can identify running, stem, and chain stitches, you might see if you can identify them in the photos of the hand embroidered fiber art to the right of this post. You are welcome to ask questions; just post them in the comments section of this post. Your next visit to an art fair, gallery, or museum will be more engaging and fun for you and your friends. It will be easier for you to make choose fiber art pieces that are not only aesthetically appealing to you but have artistic integrity.
Copyright, American Brocade, 2019