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Sunday, April 22, 2007

How-To: Start Threads with the L-stitch

Don't you hate it when you don't have enough threads on the back of your canvas stitches to anchor thread ends? Or when you're using slippery threads like those made of rayon (Marlitt, Neon Rays, Patina, etc.) and simply running through existing stitches isn't good enough? Try the L-stitch! This is composed of two stitches, each over 1 canvas thread, that meet in an "L" shape.

Sounds easy, right? It is, but it's tough to find a good explanation of the L-stitch online. Here is how I do it.

Step 1: Figure out where your L-stitch is going to be. This needs to be in an area that will be completely covered. If you're going to be working an open stitch with the thread, find an appropriate area nearby. If you're going to be working a dense stitch like satin, place the L-stitch in the to-be-stitched area.

In my example here, I'll be using this red rayon thread in an open stitch on top of the white star stitches, so I know I don't want to do the L-stitch under this area. However, I know there will be padded satin stitches nearby, so I'm starting my L-stitch in the area where these satin stitches will be.

Start with a waste knot outside of this area. Make sure that this waste knot is at least at a bit of a diagonal to where your "L" is going to be. The reason for this will become apparent shortly! Come up where you want the point of your "L" to be - where your two individual stitches will meet.

Step 2: Sink your needle just one hole away from where the thread came up. In this example, I moved one hole to the left.

Step 3: Pull until the stitch lies snugly on the canvas.

Step 4: To start the next stitch of the "L", bring the needle up one thread away from where the two stitches will meet. But wait! Do you remember the suggestion that the waste knot be at an angle to the L? This is why! You want a diagonal stitch on the back that will cross the thread going to the waste knot. This will give you the best anchorage on your L-stitch.

Check out the picture here. You can just see the tail on the back going to the waste knot at lower left. Because step 2 ended at the left side of the horizontal stitch, and we want the diagonal stitch to cross the tail thread, we have to bring the needle up just one thread below where the stitches will meet. So the tail thread goes this way -- / -- , and the step 4 diagonal stitch goes this way -- \. Does that make sense?

Step 5: Sink the needle into the hole where we started the stitch in step 1.

Step 6: Pull snug.

Step 7: Flip the canvas so the back side is facing you. Remember the diagonal stitch on the back that we made in step 4? We're going to run the thread back under that stitch, so both ends of the thread going to the L-stitch are trapped by that diagonal.

Step 8: Pull....

Step 9: ...until it's tight. The result is similar to a half hitch knot on the canvas.

Step 10: A finished L-stitch! Now you can stitch with the thread in the needle without worrying that it's going to work loose! Once you stitch over the L-stitch with your dense stitching, you can simply cut off the waste knot and trim any excess threads on the back.

In the next post, I'll explain why my previously worked white L-stitches in these pictures have tails sticking up through the canvas!

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