How to Deal with Isolated Stitches

Ah, that lovely Christmas chart with the stars twinkling in the night sky! You know it's going to be smashing on the dark blue fabric you've selected!

Then you get into it. How the devil are you going to do those single stitches that are out there in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to anchor them to when you begin and end the thread? Ack!!

Here's what I do; you might find this a workable solution, too.

Suppose the chart calls for 2 strands of floss. Thread your needle with only one. Leave a long waste tail (about 3"). Stitch each leg of the stitch twice. That is, stitch // and then \\ (not / and \ as usual and back again with / and \). This gives you the -look- of two strands. Run the thread to the back of the work.

Now tie a knot (gasp!) with the two ends, as small and as tightly as possible. Clip ends to about 1/4".

A second idea is simply to carry over. Sometimes this works if you are stitching on aida and can arrange to carry diagonally across. It seldom works on evenweave because it's too "open," and your carry-overs will show.

A third approach is to stitch with the normal two strands. Catch the beginning tail on the back and then weave the ending tail several times into that same "stitch" on the back of the work. This isn't as sturdy as the previous method, but if it's a framed piece, it should be ok if you don't treat the piece roughly during the rest of the stitching.

Which brings me to my next suggestion: save these isolated stitches for last, when you will be handling your piece as little as possible.

For a piece that will be washed, I'd recommend omitting these isolated stitches. Perhaps you can substitute a bead or a button?

copyright 1996, Martha Beth Lewis
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