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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: Lettering & Text 6: Buttonhole and Stem Stitch

 

Today’s tutorial on hand embroidered lettering focuses on combining buttonhole stitch and stem stitch, on letters that have thick and thin lines. The word I’ll be embroidering on the sampler is “over.”

If you’re just joining in on this series of tutorials, you might want to check out the tutorial on stem stitched lettering. Additionally, it is necessary to know how to work the buttonhole stitch.

For the word “over,” I’m using is DMC’s Alsatian Twist (size 12). It is a super-nice thread to stitch with, very smooth and it doesn’t twist up much at all when you’re stitching. I really like it!

Anyway, on with the instruction!

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

Begin your thread with the tacking stitches I described in the first stitching lesson. You can tack these stitches in the middle of the thicker part of the letter, since they will be covered up with the buttonhole stitches.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

After starting the thread, I came up with my needle and working thread at the top of the O, and turned the hoop so that the O was resting on its side and I was stitching from left to right, as in the photo above.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

I buttonhole stitched the side of the O, from left to right, down to the base.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

When I arrived at the base, I moved from buttonhole stitch to stem stitch (an easy transition, as the outside “rope” of the buttonhole stitch is simply stem stitch), and I stitched the narrow part of the letter O, across the base, in the direction of the arrow in the photo above, turning my hoop to accommodate my stitching direction.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

Now, with the O resting on its other side, I moved back into the buttonhole stitch up the side of the O.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

When I got to the top of the O, I reverted back to stem stitch to close the gap at the top of the letter.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

And there’s the O.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

To end the thread, take the needle to the back and run it under the stitches on the back of the O.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

For the next letter, V, I started as I did with the O, making the anchor stitches in the wide part of the letter.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

I began with a straight stitch first, from the outside of the thickest part of the V, towards the inside, then bringing my needle back up on the outside of the letter, where the rope-like edge of the buttonhole stitch will be.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

Then I began the buttonhole stitch down the side of the V, keeping my work turned so that I was stitching from left to right.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

As I moved towards the base of the V, where the letter became narrow, I switched to stem stitch.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

The right hand side of the V is worked solely in stem stitch.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

For the E, it was easier to turn the work completely, so that the letters were upside down. I began with anchoring stitches on the top part of the E, which is a thin line. The anchoring stitches will be covered by the stem stitch.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

The thin line at the top of the E is worked in stem stitch.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

In the photo above, you can see where I am moving into buttonhole stitch. The last stem stitch is on the lower line, and my needle is going down on the upper line of the thick part of the letter.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

I worked the buttonhole stitch down the thick part of the E…

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

… and at this point, where the letter narrowed again to a single line, I moved back to stem stitch.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

After finishing the base of the E, I had to move up to work the center cross on the E, so the needle needs to come up there. Instead of carrying the thread straight across the back of the fabric to that point….

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

… I turned my work over and ran the thread under the stitches already there.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

And that completes the first three letters.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

For the R, begin the same way as for the V, with the anchoring stitches and then a straight stitch on the edge of the letter.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

Work the buttonhole stitch down the thick spine of the R, anchoring the buttonhole stitch by stitching directly over the last stitch with a tiny anchor stitch. Then, stem stitch the rest of the thin lines on the R.

Hand Embroidery: Lettering and Text in Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch

And that’s OVER.

Visit the index of these hand embroidered lettering lessons for more tutorials!

Enjoy!

 
 

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(19) Comments

  1. What a great application for buttonhole stitch, and such lovely stitching. But I do have a suggestion, how about posting a photo of the whole project as you finish each lesson? I do plan on printing the whole thing out for reference.

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  2. Thank you for the demo. Could you please include a photo of the entire piece as it progresses? It is nice to see the up close pics as tutorials but the additional overall view is inspiring too.

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  3. Hi, xena –

    Use a #8 pearl cotton. This is sold in most hobby / sewing stores in the needlework section, and it comes as a ball instead of a hank. It's sold usually for tatting or crocheted lace thread…

    Hope that helps!

    MC

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  4. Mary, this is a wonderful tutorial, I’ve followed all the steps so far and my sampler is coming along beautifully. I was just wondering what size needle you used for this step?

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    1. Hi, Rachel – I’d guess either a #5 or #7 crewel. I don’t remember off the top of my head, but I’m guessing closer to the #5, as the thread is a little heavy, though not as heavy as a #5 pearl cotton. Hope that helps! ~ MC

  5. Hi there. I am making a baby blanket and would like to use this stitching technique for the name. I absolutely love the way the letters look. Do you have the alphabet template somewhere on your site? I would like to use the same template for my letters. Also, if I use regular DMC floss will it still look okay in the end? Thanks for your reply.

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    1. Hi, Bridget – I’m afraid this is just my handwriting, doodled up in various ways. So there’s no alphabet template for it. If you’re own handwriting won’t work for you, try looking through your computer fonts. Maybe there’s something in there that would work. Hope that helps! ~MC

  6. what a wonderful and beautifully photograghed tutorial. i love each and everyone buti really enjoyed the drizzle stitch. i can honestly say that was a new one for me, and i cannot wait to try it on some linen. thank you seww much. i look forward to yer emails dailly.

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