Hand Sewing Doodles for Every Day - Tips on the Feather Stitch

11 Jul 2012

Every time I think that I am too busy to make any art, I come across an artist who has found a way to fit fiber art into her dayeven if it is just a bit of hand sewing.

daily squares hand sewing project loomis
Four of Kathy's "Daily Squares' sewing projects.
Kathy Loomis's tiny, everyday sewing projects are the latest example. Her charming needlework doodles, each done on a scrap of fabric, comprise her "art every day" project for 2012. The handwork sketches are simple, quick, and satisfying. As she finishes each square, Kathy uses a running stitch to hold the pieces together, creating a kind of fabric calendar.

Here's how Kathy describes her process in Quilting Arts in Stitches, Vol. 7.

"I cut a 4" square of solid Kona cotton (my favorite quilting fabric, which I already own in dozens of colors) and make a little drawing or doodle with embroidery floss.

"Although I already owned bags of miscellaneous floss dating back many years, I splurged in honor of this project with three new packages of floss in a huge variety of colors.

daily needlecraft calendar
Kathy's needlecraft "calendar."
"Often I simply make doodles, practicing old familiar embroidery stitches. Spirals, circles and grids show up often. I also like feather stitches, and frequently turn them into plants with French knot flowers. For a while I carried an embroidery pattern book with me and tried out new stitches."

Here's Kathy's tutorial on how to hand sew using the feather stitch. 

Feather stitch, like a feather, arranges itself along a central spine. You can work with an imaginary line, or make a line on your fabric. I never use a marker, because you can make a nice line or crease with your thumbnail or the end of your needle.

1. Bring the needle up at the end of the spine. Make a stitch that goes down away from the spine and comes up right on the spine. The thread loops around counter-clockwise under the needle.

2. Pull the thread through the stitch and tight enough to make a V, but not so tight that the fabric puckers.

3. Your next stitch is just like the first, except this time you work on the other side of the spine and the thread loops around clockwise under the needle.

hand sewing the feather stitch
 The feather stitch.
4. Keep alternating right and left as you work down the spine. If you would like, you can make the spine a curve instead of a straight line. 

For a fancier feather stitch, make your first little V, but for your second stitch, shift toward the left. For the third stitch, shift toward the left again. Then make three stitches in the opposite direction, shifting each one toward the right.

"I love the structure of doing art every day," says Kathy.

"Each bit can be quite small, and doesn't have to be perfect or terribly well-thought-out, so you can have a little low-risk 'flight of fancy.' It reminds me, even on busy days with other preoccupations, that I'm an artist."

You can see more of Kathy's artwork and process, and get tips on how to create the French knot and the coral stitch in the eMag in Stitches Vol. 7, now available for the iPad.

P.S. How do you squeeze fiber art into your busy schedule? Do you make time for large projects or focus on small sewing projects? Share your advice below.


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Comments

on 12 Jul 2012 7:18 AM

I love the idea of an embroidered "calendar" that is created organically over time through repetition - this fits perfectly with my own approach to art quilting, in which I work by adding elements to a piece until it naturally becomes finished rather than starting with any specific plan.  I have a question - if the squares are 4" per side, do they go into a tiny embroidery hoop, or do they get stitched with no hoop and their smallness is part of what helps to keep good tension?

KennyC2 wrote
on 12 Jul 2012 8:39 AM

As a male fiber artist, I look forward to the day when the pronouns change to be all encompassing when referring to fiber artists.

libbyquilter wrote
on 13 Jul 2012 8:16 PM

once again Interweave has produced an eMag that is only available for the IPad~!!!~

what's up with that~~!???!~

nicsmomm wrote
on 13 Jul 2012 10:20 PM

Will the new in Stitches emag be available for PCs as well as IPads?

on 14 Jul 2012 7:35 AM

KennyC2 - "As a male fiber artist, I look forward to the day when the pronouns change to be all encompassing when referring to fiber artists"

I'm afraid that the English language has a dearth gender neutral pronouns, a problem that has plagued women in male-dominated areas of society for a good long time, so we admittedly do tend to jump on the very few rare chances we get to turn this problem on its head and dominate the pronouns ourselves.  

That being said, it would be great if we could come up with a gender neutral pronoun that English speakers could agree to not hate!  

sewlady5 wrote
on 14 Jul 2012 3:53 PM

Good grief.  Women have put up with this gender thing forEVer. It's not that big a deal anymore.

VivikaEditor wrote
on 15 Jul 2012 9:11 PM

Thank you for your comments.

In response to your questions about In Stitches 7 and the iPad format, I want to share this response from our PR Director, Jaime Guthals.

Dear Readers,

Thank you for your response to the launch of our new In Stitches 7 eMag for the iPad. Here at Interweave we launched our first eMags for PCs and MACs in June 2010 – before most tablets were even on the market. Over time, we started building these eMags for the iPad platform, in part because of customer demand, and also because the iPad is ideally suited for the interactive nature of these digital publications. The decision to stop creating our interactive eMags for desktop computer viewing wasn’t an easy one, but eventually it was a business decision to move the eMags exclusively to the iPad. Software companies are putting their new development efforts into the tablet devices as opposed to the PC/MAC devices. This has resulted in very few improvements to publishing software developed for desktop computers. As a result, it costs a tremendous amount of money per eMag to build it for an acceptable PC/MAC viewing and reading experience and the sales numbers couldn’t continue to support this effort. We are happy to say that over time we have reduced the retail price of our eMags substantially, from $14.99 to just $4.99 each, and that overwhelmingly our customers have applauded this new pricing model.  

Please be aware that this business decision is happening not just in the quilting category eMags, but in all enthusiast art and craft disciplines across the company. We are constantly evaluating other tablet devices and platforms, and will be conducting additional surveys of our readers to find which tablet devices they are adopting and using the most.

If you are looking for other digital options at Interweave, currently Quilting Arts is available as digital editions through the Zinio app for the PC, MAC, Android devices and iPad (and soon on the Nook Newsstand). You can find the complete information about the digital options for our circulation magazines on our new webpage, http://digital.interweave.com/

Sincerely,

Jaime Guthals

PR Director

Interweave

Topics wrote
on 17 Oct 2013 5:11 PM

Quilters and embroiders alike share a common passion for cloth, stitch, and color! For centuries, people

Kitty@4 wrote
on 24 Feb 2014 3:43 PM

For a long while last year, I fit in daily stitching by doing it (almost) first thing in the morning: right after getting DH out the door, starting a load of laundry, and reading the Morning Office. This resulted in many projects getting a lot of work done on them: even fitting in 15 mins a day means almost 2 hours put in over the course of a week. I was shocked by how many of my pieces needed only that small amount of attention, or less, to be DONE! Having gotten out of that habit this year, I suppose it is time to begin again.

Kitty@4 wrote
on 24 Feb 2014 3:44 PM

For a long while last year, I fit in daily stitching by doing it (almost) first thing in the morning: right after getting DH out the door, starting a load of laundry, and reading the Morning Office. This resulted in many projects getting a lot of work done on them: even fitting in 15 mins a day means almost 2 hours put in over the course of a week. I was shocked by how many of my pieces needed only that small amount of attention, or less, to be DONE! Having gotten out of that habit this year, I suppose it is time to begin again.

Kitty@4 wrote
on 24 Feb 2014 3:44 PM

For a long while last year, I fit in daily stitching by doing it (almost) first thing in the morning: right after getting DH out the door, starting a load of laundry, and reading the Morning Office. This resulted in many projects getting a lot of work done on them: even fitting in 15 mins a day means almost 2 hours put in over the course of a week. I was shocked by how many of my pieces needed only that small amount of attention, or less, to be DONE! Having gotten out of that habit this year, I suppose it is time to begin again.

Kitty@4 wrote
on 24 Feb 2014 3:44 PM

For a long while last year, I fit in daily stitching by doing it (almost) first thing in the morning: right after getting DH out the door, starting a load of laundry, and reading the Morning Office. This resulted in many projects getting a lot of work done on them: even fitting in 15 mins a day means almost 2 hours put in over the course of a week. I was shocked by how many of my pieces needed only that small amount of attention, or less, to be DONE! Having gotten out of that habit this year, I suppose it is time to begin again.