When I first found this pattern of a large sailing ship, I wanted to appliqué the sails on. That turned out to be a bit more difficult than I thought it would be; not because appliqué is too hard, but because non-blank pretty patterned fabric is hard to get for a girl who lives downtown, far away from the fabric stores of suburbia. I could go raid my mother’s quilt fabric cupboard, but that is a bit rude.
So instead, I decided to treat it like a filling stitch sampler, using a different stitch per sail. I poured over my slightly battered copy of The Anchor Book of Crewelwork Embroidery Stitches (Eve Harlow, 9780715306321), looking for both my favourites and a few weird stitches I had never tried before. Here are the fun ones I used on the sails.
This is triangle buttonhole filling, which is done in the exact same way as a regular buttonhole stitch, but each set of four stitches starts at the same spot at the top of the triangle. In order to keep it straight, I traced out horizontal lines with a ruler as I traced my design.
Square buttonhole is an adorable variant to a buttonhole stitch, which gives you an adorable grid. The key to this one is to leave a gap between each set of four stitches that is the same width as those four stitches. Then, when you do the second row, the top of the buttonhole stitch overlaps the gap that you left above.
Faggot stitch is meant to look like a bundle of wheat or sticks, held together in the middle by a rope. Usually done in one colour, I decided to do the loops around the middle in a darker shade of blue just to add interest. That meant doing all my vertical, parallel stitches first, changing threads and going under the threads, around once, and back down underneath the bundle that created. Any more than one twist around was too thick for such small stitches.
Couched trellis is super simple but also looks super elegant. Again, I traced out my grid as I was tracing my pattern so that my lines ended up more or less straight. You need to do your large grid first, then you go back and tack down the intersections, couching them. I did a tiny cross stitch over each intersection, first going vertically and then horizontally on all of them to keep the look super tidy and consistent.
The overlapping, non couched trellis must have a name, but I do not know it. I basically did a first trellis pass, then went over the area again with a different colour, just next to the original trellis. This effectively tacked the previous trellis down, although it is not as steady as the couched trellis is.
I first blogged about coral stitch back in September, although then it had beads. I simply tried to follow the curve of the sail as I stitched. I think this is my least favourite sail.
Thorn stitch is fabulous and airy, and I wish I had more reason to use it. I love how organically the x stitches climb the long vertical one, and how easy is it for it to look amazing. Or at least, how hard it is to screw up.
I wanted the last two sails to be a bit more full than others, since some like the faggot and thorn stitch ones were so airy. This chain stitch sail has an excellent texture and looks much fuller than some of the others, which I love.
This final sail is filled with an open fishbone stitch. I was thinking of doing it in herringbone stitch, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it working with the odd shape of the sail. I knew I wanted threads that crossed, to mirror the thorn stitch a bit, and open fishbone fit the bill perfectly.
After doing all the sails, I simply took a dark navy thread and backstitched the rest of the boat. For the waves, I used DMC Color Infusion Memory Thread, which I had never used before. It is a thread wrapped coppery wire that has quite a bit of flexibility. I played a bit with it and managed to get a super tight corckscrew. I used an awl to make a largish hole in the fabric (without tearing it) to tuck the wire in at one end of my waves, then couched along the lines with a colour one shade lighter. The wire allowed me to tweak my waves a bit after couching, which was interesting. It also let me really decide what direction I wanted the wire to go before couching it. I would twist it into shape and it would stay. All in all, I can’t wait to find another project I can use this thread on.