Art in Stitch Direction

Do you look at something and go “yeah, cool idea, but it just doesn’t look great”? Like how you can tell a 5 year olds drawing from a grad students? At least, you can most of the time.

So what makes the difference in a professional vs. an amateur embroidery design? Lots of things, really, but my number 1 is stitch direction control.

Stitches are like strokes of a pencil in a sketch. Literally, the two are identical. Hundreds or thousands of little lines that eventually make up an image somehow. One of the marks of a professional is how they use those stitch directions to enhance the image, or how well they blend them together so they aren’t distracting.

For example;

Rough Draft Watermelon Coin Pouch

Zoom in if you can to see the stitching on the mouth, the seeds, and the rind. This is a cute design, but clearly amateur. Or, in this case, only a first draft, to test the functionality of an idea.

Yep, it’s one of mine, so I feel fine nitpicking it.

There are other problems, such as it’s stitched on felt and the ribbon wasn’t placed right, and the photography is bad, all things that are both unprofessional and common in a first draft. But proof of concept was made, this pouch is functionally accurate, so I could nitpick the stitching.

Now look at this one.

Finished Watermelon Coin Pouch

See the difference?

It’s hard to articulate the differences, but its easy to recognize that there is one.

Some simple ways to make stitches look more elegant and professional are to

1) Divide large areas into smaller ones with different stitch directions.

2) On small or thin areas, use a satin stitch instead of a satin fill stitch.

3) Add an outline under satin and satin fill stitches to reduce pulling and puckering.

4) Control start and stop points. This can also help eliminate a lot of jump stitches.

If you’re not designing embroidery, these tips can also help you select good embroidery for your projects and clients. And it’s always nice to be able to articulate why something looks nice or amateur.

Happy Stitching!

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