Stitches

Let us guide you through the same stitches that were used in the Quaker Tapestry, including the Quaker Stitch, in our series of detailed videos.

These videos are free to view but if you like what you see please do consider making a small donation by way of thanks. The videos faithfully bringing to life our Quaker Tapestry Stitch Guide Book, available to buy online and in our museum shop.

Threading a needle with wool

If you have never used wool for embroidery before it is worth having a go at threading the needle this way. Wool is very different from cotton or silk because it’s so hairy. You need to control the hairs when threading the needle and this method should help you. If you have never done this before you may find it tricky to begin with but keep trying.

Stem stitch outline – Transferring a pattern from paper to woollen cloth

Before you can embroider your design it must first be transferred onto the calico or cotton cloth (backing cloth), which will later be attached to the woollen cloth (front cloth). A simple line drawing on paper is all you need, similar to those in children’s colouring books. This video shows the stitch used to bring the pattern through from the calico cloth to the front woollen cloth. A more detailed explanation of the transfer technique is shown in the Stitch Guide Book.

Stem stitch

This is a very ancient stitch, used in basket making before embroidery was invented. It was found in crewel embroidery from the fifth century and is therefore sometimes known as crewel stitch. It can be used as an infill technique or as a single line.

Whip stitch

Whipping a stitch is more of a technique than a stitch. It’s a method of coiling a thread around another stitch to make it thicker. There are many crewel embroidery stitches that can be whipped to add colour and texture.

Split stitch

This creates one of the finest lines in embroidery and is therefore useful for fine detail.

Quaker stitch

The founder of the Quaker Tapestry, Anne Wynn-Wilson, created this unique stitch. It is worked using a combination of the stem stitch and the split stitch, which forms a cord or rope-like stitch. Worked with one thread, it produces a fine flexible line with no stray ends and is therefore very good for the lettering. It can also be worked using two or four threads together to create larger cords or lines of stitching. In this video it is worked using two threads (one long thread in the needle, double backed, with the ends knotted together. Remember – if you are working with one thread of wool, do not add the twist – the twist is only needed when using two or four threads. Information about lettering is in the Stitch Guide Book.

Chain stitch

One of the oldest and most versatile stitches, it forms an interlocking flat chain and can be adapted for a large number of variations. The detached chain stitch is also known as the Lazy Daisy Stitch because of its petal-like nature. Open Chain stitch or Fly stitch is a variation of the chain stitch which is used widely in the Quaker Tapestry. All of these stitches are included in this film clip.

Bayeux Point

Bayeux Point is one of the ‘crewel embroidery’ stitches used on the Quaker Tapestry. It’s more a technique than a stitch – a method of laying threads which has gained its name from the 11th century Bayeux Tapestry. In Bayeux Point the majority of the wool thread remains on the surface, so it is a very economical and suitable technique for decorative work. There are examples on the Quaker Tapestry panels of embroidery of quite complex embellished Bayeux point, where the step two and three stages of Bayeux are replaced with other stitches to hold the fabric in place. You can also use just the step one, (the foundation layer) by itself if the shape to infill is small.

Peking Knot

Knot stitch or Peking Knot, as used in Chinese Embroidery is very versatile. It may be used as a seeded filling or a rough knobbly texture. Single knots can represent a full stop, a button or fine lace, or be used as solid filling for curly hair or flowers.

Feeling inspired? Why not try your hand at one of our exclusive Embroidery Kits or treat yourself to a creative learning experience on our Embroidery Workshops, held here at the museum.