Monday, August 6, 2012

Embroidery tutorial 6 -- running stitch

This post is indeed about a hand-stitching tutorial, but the student is me.  I was browsing around on the Interweave/Quilting Arts website the other day and discovered a mini-book that's available for free download.  It's called Hand Sewing for Quilters and includes several articles on different stitches.  I glommed onto the article on the running stitch, which of course I have known how to do for decades, but was excited to see how it was used in this particular body of work.

The artist was Julia Caprara, an influential artist and educator in the UK who died in 2008.  I had not been familiar with her name, but a bit of googling revealed that she had inspired and influenced many fiber artists whom I do know.  The article I downloaded was a revisit of something she had written for Quilting Arts magazine several years ago.

Here's the photo that sent me running, so to speak, to my embroidery bag.

Julia Caprara, Goddess Cloth -- Aegean Goddess 

I focused in on the large motif at top center, with the red arc surrounding the blue sunburst.  I've been shamelessly using Julia's techniques in my daily stitching for much of the last two weeks.

The concept of using a bunch of running stitches to make shapes rather than lines is, of course, not new (think satin stitch) but I hadn't thought to use it that way until now.  I love it and hope that after working faux-Julia for a while, I'll be able to internalize the technique and make things that look less Julia and more Kathy.


  1. Ah, Kathy I like these, I may have to borrow some of your ideas.

  2. Linda -- feel free to borrow =-- I take your ideas all the time!! besides, these aren't mine, thery're still Julia's.

  3. I can see why this Goddess cloth of Julia's sent you to your embroidery bag. It's gorgeous, and I love your spinoff cloths.

  4. Jan Beaney, a good friend of Julia's published a book in 1985, called Stitches, a New Approach. It is the UK reference for textured stitching. To buy, it is very expensive as it is rare - a friendly embroiderer may have a copy.

    Like the new stitching.

  5. Great to see you using more embroidery in your work. I am a fan of Julia Caprara as well, in fact, I studied with Opus, the UK school founded by her and her husband Alex. I spoke with Julia on the phone many times, but sadly, never met her.

    She was going to come to Canada to teach, and invited me to come, but she didn't manage to do that.

    One thing she said to me on the phone was..."you love hand stitching? So do I. Here is a tip...change your thread colour every time that your needle runs out."

    I don't do that all the time...but I still remember Julia's advice. Sometimes, I change the thickness of the thread, but not the colour.

    Enjoy hand embroidery. It is like your insides are out there for us all to touch. It's powerful.


  6. I'm rediscovering my love of embroidery and I may need to copy your embroidery project, if you don't mind.

    Love the idea of running stitches as shape. Gotta try that one, too.

  7. Vivien -- feel free to copy anything I do!! that's the main reason I blog -- to share ideas.

  8. I enjoyed this post, too, and Julia's work. There can be many variations in the stitch, as well as changing the thread color, and thickness. I love hand stitching, and as you know, I do a great deal of it in my work.