“Stitch Glitch” is a little series of articles here on Needle ‘n Thread, where we look closely at certain aspects of particular embroidery stitches that are sometimes difficult to figure out. For example, in past Stitch Glitch articles, we’ve explored how to work isolated French knots (method 1 and method 2), how to invisibly join chain stitch circles, how to take sharp corners or make scallops with stem stitch, how to restart new threads in the middle of a line of Spanish knotted feather stitch, and a few other similar topics.
Most of the topics in Stitch Glitch are reader-generated. Normally, these articles come about because a reader wants to know “How do I…?” and a photo tutorial is generally the most helpful way to answer.
If you’re not familiar with the Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch, you might check out the video for it. It’s a fun stitch, and once you get the rhythm down, it works up pretty quickly.
So here’s the question:
I’m having trouble keeping it continuous when I change threads. Also, if I work it in a shape that meets itself (such as a circle), I can’t figure out how to join the beginning and the end and make it look natural.
It’s a two-part question: a. when to change threads in the progress of the stitch, and b. how to join circles (or a line that runs into its beginning) invisibly.
Today, I’m going to address two things: a variation on how to end a line of Hungarian braided chain stitch so that the last stitch is woven (you don’t normally see it this way in books), and part “a” of the question above – when (and how) to change out threads in the middle of working a line.
Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch – The End of the Line
When you come to the end of a line of Hungarian braided chain stitch, you have a couple options. You can end the line with the last stitch taken as usual, or you can make some slight alterations to accomplish a “weave” with the last stitch.
In the photo above, “B” illustrates what the Hungarian braided chain stitch looks like if you end the line, taking the stitch as usual without making any alterations. You can see that the last chain stitch looks somewhat loose and brings the line to a narrower point.
“A” in the photo above illustrates how you can end a line of Hungarian braided chain stitch so that the last stitch is woven like the rest of them.
This is how you do it:
Here we are, at the end of the line. (It’s a very short line!)
I’m ready to take the last stitch, and I have the threads of the previous stitch open, so that I can easily weave my next stitch in there. If I wanted to accomplish and ending that looks like “B”, then I’d just pull the threads through at this point. But instead, I want a clean cut at the end of the line, with the last stitch woven, like “A”.
So I’m going to take one more stitch.
Instead of starting the last stitch, though, below the previous one, I’m going to start it next to the previous one, and kind of “tucked in” underneath the loop of the chain stitch on the right. You can see the smaller arrow in the photo above pointing to the space between the start of the previous chain stitch (that’s still open) and the needle coming up in the fabric for the last stitch.
Now my needle’s in the “weaving” position of the last stitch, and I’m ready to tighten the working thread to close the loops of the previous stitch.
The threads are tightened up, I’ve pulled the working thread all the way through, and it’s time to end the stitch (and the line) by going down into the fabric right next to the beginning of the second-to-the-last chain stitch.
You can see that this creates a straight end to the line, with the last stitch woven like all the other stitches in the line. This is a good way to end the Hungarian braided chain stitch when you are butting the line up to another line. It makes a nice, clean finish that keeps the thickness of the whole line to the very end.
You can also make slight adjustments where you begin and end that last stitch. You can start it underneath the second-to-the-last chain stitch, closer to the center, and end up with an end that isn’t quite as straight. So, in the sample on the right in the photo above, I started and ended the last stitch higher up than the end of the previous chain stitch and tucked underneath a bit farther.
Play with various positions for that last stitch, until you get the look you like.
Starting a New Thread in a Line
Now let’s look at how to change threads in the middle of a line of Hungarian braided chain stitch.
When you’re running out of thread in a line of Hungarian braided chain stitch, the time to change threads is when you arrive at this movement of the stitch. The chain is open, so that the weaving can be done easily, and we’ll actually leave it open, start the new thread, and then end the old thread.
With the loops of your last chain stitch open, bring the old thread up in your fabric away from your line, preferably somewhere where it won’t make a noticeable hole or anything like that in your work. You might bring it up on another design line, for example. If you can’t find a place to bring it up to the front of the fabric, just hold it out of the way on the back of your work.
Now start your new thread and bring your needle to the front where you would normally begin the next stitch.
Situate your needle for the “weaving” part of the stitch, and pull on the old thread to tighten it around the needle.
Here’s the needle with the new thread ready for the stitch, with the old thread tightened around it. Make at least two stitches with your new thread, and then…
Turn the work over and weave the old thread under your stitches and snip off the excess.
And that, my friends, is how you invisibly and easily begin a new thread in the middle of a Hungarian braided chain stitch line.
Next week, we’ll see how to join circles invisibly.
If you have any Stitch Glitch questions – any individual stitch dilemmas that you’ve faced that you’d like explained – feel free to leave your question below, and if I can, I’ll write up a tutorial to help you!