Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Hand Embroidery on Waffle Weave – It Can Be Done!


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I’ve been dying to try out hand embroidery on waffle weave towels, because I see a lot of waffle weave out there in colors that I like. I’ve always thought the texture and relative looseness of the weave might be deterrents to hand embroidery, though. When BJ’s package arrived in the mail – replete with a bright yellow waffle weave tea towel – I decided to give waffle weave a try as a ground for hand embroidery.

I’ll tell you right off the bat that my approach was simple and not too ingenious. The towel was yellow. I like yellow, red, and white. So – why not big white daisies with red centers? Nothing too extravagant – I planned on filling petals and centers with chain stitch. And that’s what I set out to do.

BUT – then I got an e-mail from a reader who embroiders on waffle weave towels, and uses the weave as part of her design… and that’s when I saw a much more exciting potential to waffle weave! I’ll show you down below…

First, my dabbles with daisies on waffle weave:

Hand Embroidery on Waffle Weave Tea Towel

Using a tiny micron art pen, I drew a line of random large daisies across the lower edge of the towel. Drawing on this particular weave with a tiny pen tip is somewhat difficult, as the pen snags on the longer threads in the weave. The best thing is to go slowly and to try drawing in smooth long strokes, rather than short sketchy strokes.

Hand Embroidery on Waffle Weave Tea Towel

Once I had the daisies drawn on, I started foraging for thread. I wanted to use something a bit heavier than regular floss, with a bit of texture to it – but not as thick as #5 perle cotton. I happened to have some #8 perle cotton in both red and white, so that’s what I decided to use.

Hand Embroidery on Waffle Weave Tea Towel

Knowing that my stitching time would be a bit sporadic, I arranged everything in a bag for easy access – hoop, scissors, threads, needles and towel all fit into one of the mesh-like bags that’s featured in this month’s give-away.

Hand Embroidery on Waffle Weave Tea Towel

The first time I had a moment, I started stitching. I’m using chain stitch as a filler – nothing too complicated here!

Hand Embroidery on Waffle Weave Tea Towel

It works great! Waffle weave is easy to stitch on!

Now, this is the thing:

Janice Miller took embroidery on waffle weave to a different level of fun! She went all out, embroidering this design with a variety of stitches, and ingeniously using the waffle weave squares as part of her design. Here it is – her “To Market” towel:

Hand Embroidery on Waffle Weave Towel: To Market by Janice Miller

This towel is amazing! It’s not just the design, which I think is rather hilarious – the little lady with her perfect curls, sunny hat, breezy dress, carrying the fat chicken (which looks be-dazzled) to market – but it’s the meticulous attention to detail in stitching that’s really delightful!

Hand Embroidery on Waffle Weave Towel: To Market by Janice Miller

Using the squares created by the waffle weave, Janice filled in the dress, hat, and chicken with a checkered pattern.

Hand Embroidery on Waffle Weave Towel: To Market by Janice Miller

She filled in many places with chain stitch – the face and arms, the sash on the hat, the bow on the dress, etc. – and worked the hair in perfect bullion knots!

Hand Embroidery on Waffle Weave Towel: To Market by Janice Miller

You can see satin stitch, straight stitch as a filling, French knots, running stitch, a buttonhole wheel for the eye… an amazing variety of stitches on a really cute design, all on waffle weave!

So, now you know! Hand embroidery works on waffle weave – and it not only works, but in the hands of some stitchers like Janice, it works great!

Go grab a waffle weave towel and see what you can do with it! You can find them in most stores that have a kitchen linen section, or online through various sources that sell embroidery blanks. BJ found the yellow set at All About Blanks, for example – the set includes a large yellow-and-white checker print, a small checker print, and the matching yellow waffle weave towel.

Just as an aside on waffle weave… my shower curtain is white waffle weave fabric, and I can’t tell you how often, when in a position to contemplate the shower curtain, I have considered embroidering it. Hmmmm….

Thanks, Janice, for sending the photos! Thanks, BJ, for the towel!


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(6) Comments

  1. I wonder about doing chicken scratch on this? It’s already a very nice grid… Maybe it wouldn’t work at all due to texture? Hmm…

  2. Oh my! This post lends to sooooo many comments! Let’s start with a riddle to warm up the audience (my teenage son heard this one on “Dirty Jobs” – to give credit where it’s due!). “Why does a chicken coop have 2 doors? Because if it had 4, it would be a chicken sedan!”
    Okay, next I want to say I love anything kitchen-y. No, I mean kitsch-y. Especially kitschy kitcheny.
    And finally, are you sure you want to start with a shower curtain? I mean, that’s a lotta waffle weave! Maybe not chickens anyway, huh?
    Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

  3. How fun the result!!!
    Clever idea, Janice!

    Once I embroidered one of yours monograms on waffle weave fabric – the worst was transfering the letter…

  4. Any ideas on how to transfer a design onto waffle weave fabrics? I have some dark colored towels I’d like to embellish, but have had poor results with traditional transfer methods for patterns. Even the iron on stabilizer method would need to be printed with black ink, which won’t show up well. Any help greatly appreciated!

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