Tuesday, January 25, 2011

English Garden...Fly Stitch Leaf Tutorial

The fly stitch leaf is my very favorite style of leaf to stitch. I have shown you this technique before...done in perle cotton. Today, I'm stitching some leaves on the English Garden block in silk perle. I started this motif with a vine done in stem stitch. I created the vine by taking my pencil and drawing a "wandering" line with some little "branches" coming off of it to fill in the general area I wanted to complete. Then I stitched from left to right...little back stitches with the thread always hanging down below the needle...and there was my stem stitch. Here is the finished vine and leaves...
And here is how the leaves are done. First, I like to start with a simple detached chain stitch (lazy daisy) starting at the tip of the leaf and working back about 1/4 to 1/3 of the length of the leaf. You can also see that I have drawn the general shape of the leaf with my pencil, this will keep me on track. Some folks put a pencil "dot" at the leaf tips and sides...but I find that the entire shape is what I need to create a nice shaped leaf. After completing the detached chain stitch, bring the needle up at the left side of the leaf...right next to the start of the detached chain stitch.
Now, from here on...we'll be stitching fly stitches. Fly stitches are really similiar to detached chain stitches...but instead of having the needle going up and down in the same starting spot...you have space between them. So here is the beginning...needle up at the left side of the detached chain. Needle down at the right side of the detached chain...staying close to the top...and on or just outside of the pencil line of the leaf shape. You don't want to see pencil lines when you have finished your leaf.
Start pulling your thread through and needle up at the bottom of the stitch...just like you would when completing a detached chain stitch. Get ready to anchor the stitch loop down.
This next photo is a little blurry...but that is my needle at the bottom of the stitch...going back down into the fabric...just couching the last fly stitch in place. This will anchor the loop down...just as you do with a detached chain stitch. These little "anchors" will become the spine of the leaf. They can be right down the center...or curve them to the left or right to get more "bend" in the leaf.

Once you have anchored the stitch...do the next one. Needle up again on the left side...needle down on the right side (following the pencil line of the leaf shape)...and needle up at the bottom and down again while couching he thread in place.
Keep going until the entire leaf shape is full. As you begin the leaf the stitches get wider and wider apart at the top...because the leaf is getting wider. Towards the halfway point of this specific leaf shape, the leaf starts to narrow and comes to a point at the bottom end. The flystitch is the same technique...the space between your needle up (left side) and needle down (right side) just differs depending on the shape of the leaf. Don't stress over it...just stay with the line.
If need be...you can also add a single stitch at the bottom of the leaf to fill in any remaining space...or to make a stem. Now, wasn't that easy!

I like to fill my leaf with stitches...so I snug them close together...but another option is to open the stitches by dropping down a little between each of the fly stitches. This produces a more "spiny" style of leaf. Try that out as well...

Tomorrow, we'll stitch some flower heads on those stems!

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