There are embroidery tools that we treasure because they are beautiful and functional, like the scissors we were talking about yesterday.
There are embroidery tools that we treasure because they’re fun and functional! I particularly like my frog button needle minder because it’s fun, or my clip-on scissor pulls because they’re fun and functional.
There are embroidery tools that we treasure because they are rare and unusual. Think: antique etuis, or hard-to-find, unique tambour hooks.
There are embroidery tools that we treasure because they have sentimental value. I can’t count the number of stories I’ve heard over the years about lucky folks who have inherited needlework supplies from a beloved mother, aunt, grandmother…
And then there are those embroidery tools that we treasure purely because they serve a specific purpose. They aren’t necessarily attractive. They might even be a dime a dozen. But hey, they work, and who’s to scoff at that?
Today, I’d like to introduce you to my eraser. I’ve been using it for years and years.
It’s not exactly attractive. It has a strange purple cast to it, adopted somehow from somewhere unknown. It’s about 3/8″ long. It’s just one of these:
I didn’t buy it for embroidery. In fact, there are Very Few Circumstances where you can use an eraser in embroidery. Try using one on fabric, when you’ve drawn with a pencil – the result is not exactly pleasing. Pencil doesn’t come off fabric the same way it comes off paper!
Gee whiz, wouldn’t it be nice if we could erase our embroidery mistakes? No “frogging” (un-stitching). No picking tiny threads out with tweezers! Just…erase away!
But alas, we can’t.
So, when do you use an eraser with embroidery?
Notice that my eraser has a hole in the end of it.
The hole is from the end of a laying tool, the tip of which is rather sharp. The eraser protects the tip. It also protects anything the tip could poke or pierce. In fact, this is where I can always find this particular eraser – it’s in my tool box, stuck on the end of this particular laying tool.
But that’s not the only place I use it in embroidery.
If you’ve done dimensional embroidery or fiddled about with various dimensional stitches, you might be familiar with these guys:
You can fill the middle of flowers with a bunch of drizzle stitches. You can make grass, seaweed, or growing things with them. Grandma’s hair looks great in grey with drizzle stitch!
There’s lots you can do with this stitch, and it’s worth learning! If you’re not familiar with it, you can check out my drizzle stitch video – it’s an older video, but it’s still clear enough to get the gist of the stitch.
The one thing I never liked about drizzle stitch is the way we’re told to stabilize the needle while working the cast-on stitches.
Normally, in most books, we’re instructed to anchor the needle in the fabric, as shown in the photo above. And this is how I worked it in the video, too, because that’s the normal way to do it. (And because it’s a lot easier to record a video with it anchored flat!) It works fine, but is there an easier way?
I always thought it would be nice to eliminate that step of having to pull the tip of the needle out of the fabric without disturbing the wraps.
Why can’t we just cast the stitches onto a needle that’s sticking straight up in the fabric?
Well, we could, but the needle needs stabilizing, or it moves around too much.
Enter: the Eraser.
If you stick your needle straight down into the fabric where you want your drizzle stitch to go (which is right next to where you brought your working thread to the surface of the fabric), you can just stick that little eraser onto the very tip of the needle on the underside of the fabric.
The hole from the laying tool (or a stiletto, or any sharp thing) makes it easier to situate the eraser onto the tip without having to look at what you’re doing.
On the back of the fabric, your needle is stabilized by the eraser while you work the cast-on stitches. You can use both hands to work the cast-on stitches and you can grab the eye of the needle while you tighten and pull the cast-on stitches down onto the needle. The needle won’t slide out of the fabric to the front – the eraser will stop it.
You don’t need any special eraser, either. If you have one of your kid’s brand spanking new school pencils (do they still use pencils in school?), you can just cut the eraser off and use it!
So, there’s a tip for your drizzle stitching!
Guess what stitch I’m playing with this week? Riiiiiiiight. Drizzle stitch! It’ll show up again a wee bit later!
You can find heaps more tips & techniques for hand embroidery here on Needle ‘n Thread, including tips for beginners and beyond, under Tips & Techniques. Browse through the list! You never know what handy tidbits you’ll come across!