Here's how to railroad.
Bring the needle to the front of the work where you want the cross stitch to start.
Anywhere you please, slip the needle point between the two strands. Then sink the needle to complete the leg.
Your two strands will be lying perfectly parallel.
What railroading does is eliminate the twist in the thread that forms the stitch. The twist in the thread is actually transferred further up the tail of the thread, however, so you'll have let the needle dangle from the underside of your work pretty often to get rid of the twist.
Railroading also makes the surface of the work flatter, improves floss coverage, and maximizes light reflected by the floss.
Unfortunately, railroading adds time to each stitch. In an hour or so, it'll become automatic, though, if you care to invest the time in training yourself.
You don't have to railroad both legs of the stitch. You can do just the top one, if you like. This cuts the time by half, although once you learn how to do it, railroading doesn't take that much extra time. Some folks say that not railroading the bottom leg makes a noticeable difference because coverage is substantially reduced.
And you don't have to railroad every piece. Since it adds time to your work, you may want to railroad only on a piece destined for a competition or something you hope will become a family heirloom.
Those who stitch in competitions railroad all the time. Judges can tell the difference.
And if you're doing satin stitch or bargello or some other stitch which has long stitches, your work will definiately be better if you railroad. I also think railroading helps duplicate stitch work.
copyright 1996, Martha Beth Lewis
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