It was one of those days. You know the kind – when nothing goes quite right, when the whole day slips by and it seems like nothing significant was accomplished?
We all have days like that now and then!
I try to redeem days Those Days in one of two ways: either by learning something from the day’s events (or non-events) and why they transpired the way they did so I can handle them better in the future, or, if that’s even a lost cause, by putting myself to one small but significant task, to set me up for a better day the next day.
On this particular day, I took the second route. I undertook the tiniest of tasks.
I’ve had a stitch sample hanging over my head for a couple weeks, but I didn’t know how I was going to approach it. I needed to force myself just to start.
Starting is often half the battle, isn’t it?
The sample in question will be embroidered on dark fabric. It will involve a few different, uncomplicated stitches. And it will be embroidered with a limited palette of…yes…metallic threads.
Two hurdles loomed in my mind: dark fabric and metallic threads.
I decided to overcome the first hurdle (dark fabric) by using this product above – it’s DMC’s Embroidery Tracing Paper. You can find it sold with needlework supplies at sewing and craft stores here in the US.
The package contains four 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of transfer paper that works essentially like carbon paper of old. There are two yellow sheets (for dark fabrics) and two blue sheets (for light fabrics).
The non-wax transfer medium on one side of the paper can be brushed, erased, or washed off the fabric when the embroidery is finished.
Taking my quickly doodled-up design drawn on regular tracing vellum, I placed a small cut of the transfer paper color-side down on the fabric, then placed my doodle on top of it, and adhered both to the fabric with some very lightly placed scotch tape.
The tape keeps the design from shifting and eliminates having to hold the transfer paper and design sheet in place with my other hand – which could result in smudging some extra transfer paper residue onto the fabric’s surface.
Then, I just took a ball point pen and traced over the design, pressing the transfer medium on the DMC paper onto the fabric.
The transfer – which is on a dark navy blue linen (you thought it was black, didn’t you?) – came out clearly enough.
The image above is under a rather bright light, so the linen looks strangely blackish gray.
The lines from the transfer paper don’t come out bright yellow, even though the color of the transfer medium on the paper is a bright yellow. The transferred design lines come out much lighter, like you see above.
The lines are perfectly visible, but they aren’t sharp, precise lines. They’re a little soft and fuzzy and a little thicker than I generally like, when it comes to design transfer.
It may sound a bit persnickety – after all, the design is on the fabric, and it was done quite painlessly, right?
But this is The Thing: your design transfer has a huge effect on the outcome of your embroidery. The more precise you can make the design transfer, the better.
Enter: the Bohin extra-fine ceramic chalk pencil. I do like this thing very much!
It looks like this in the package:
There are different brands of these types of pencils out there, but I’ve had this Bohin one for a while and it’s always been quite trusty.
Bohin makes five refill colors for it, in white, gray, aqua, yellow and pink. The gray works great on white fabric and the white works great on dark fabric. I haven’t really had much use for the other colors.
The lines are nice and fine – much finer than most chalk-type pencils – and they’re more stable than regular chalk lines. They don’t rub off as easily.
So I gave the design on the navy fabric a jolly once-over with the ceramic pencil, and it sharpened up the lines quite nicely.
I should have quit there. After all, I had accomplished a small significant thing: the fabric was prepared, the design was transferred, and the project was mounted on stretcher bars, ready to stitch.
But I couldn’t resist trying the metallics.
I don’t use metallics often and I rarely stitch on dark-dark ground fabrics, so this little piece is a challenge – an opportunity to work with a thread I don’t normally work with, that I invariably find difficult to work with, and in colors that are out of my normal comfort range.
Dark fabric. Metallic threads. Stitch hurdles.
Perhaps getting this far wasn’t a Huge Accomplishment, but sometimes, it’s the little steps that make the biggest difference.
Tomorrow, I’m going to show you some exquisite stitchery.
See you then!
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