Stranded thread

Stranded thread is the most common thread used for embroidery and comes in different variants. In the first photo from the top, there's a variegated thread, satin floss, light effects (metallic effect) and regular cotton thread.

The stranded thread splits into six individual strands, and you can stitch with anything from one to six to give a different effect.

Before you thread your needle, separate each strand individually before putting them back together to prevent them getting twisted and knotted.

Winding your threads onto the card bobbins provided with each kit should avoid them getting tangled. Writing the thread number on the card keeps your threads organised for future projects. 

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Satin stitch

Satin stitch is used to fill in shapes with blocks of colour. You need to work a series of long stitches all in the same direction, all close together to avoid any gaps.

Mark out the shape you want to fill in, then bring your needle out at the corner of the shape, decide which way you're going to work, then put your needle in on the opposite edge of the shape. Bring your needle back out on the original edge of the shape, and make your next stitch directly next to your first. Keep repeating this, always bringing your needle out on the original edge, and putting it in in the opposite edge, so that your stitching has a nice padded effect to it. When you've worked across the whole shape, fasten your thread off so it doesn't come undone. 

You can make your satin stitches quite large, but for very large shapes, consider whether you want to split them into smaller shapes to avoid long stitches which don't hold to the fabric properly. 

Slip stitch

Slip stitch can be used to appliqué one fabric to another, or to join two pieces of fabric together. 

For appliqué, bring your needle up through both the base fabric and the shape you're stitching on, just a little way from the edge of the shape. Put your needle back in through the base layer of fabric only to create a short stitch over the edge of the shape. Work your way around the shape, coming up through both layers and going into the base layer only. Adjust your stitch size as you go round a corner to keep stitching neat. 

To join two pieces of fabric together, pin them so you have one on top of the other, edges matching. Knot your thread and bring your needle up through the top layer only. Then for each subsequent stitch, bring your needle up from the bottom every time to create a loop of thread around the outside of the shape. For your final stitch, bring your needle up through the bottom layer only, and create a small stitch which doesn't show on the outside to loop your thread through twice in order to fasten your thread off.

Split stitch

Split stitch is a linear stitch, that is worked in a line. It's best worked in stranded thread, using an even number of strands.

Bring your needle up from the back of the fabric at the start of your line and then put your needle back in to create the first stitch. Before you pull it tight, bring your needle back out halfway along the stitch you've just made, and split the thread of that stitch, with an equal number of strands sitting either side of the needle. Now pull the stitch tight. Make your next stitch, putting your needle back into the fabric working in the same direction as your first stitch, dont' pull the thread tight. Your stitches should be the same size. Bring your needle back out, again halfway along the stitch you've just made, which should be in the same place as where your first stitch ended. Split the thread of your second stitch and pull tight. Continue to work your way along the line, repeating the steps to create a textured line.

Stem stitch

Stem stitch is a linear stitch. Bring your needle up from the reverse of the fabric and make a small stitch along the line of the pattern. You need to bring your needle back up halfway along the stitch you've already made  - which is easier if you don't pull the thread from your first stitch all the way through, so you can see the half-way point. Repeat this, creating your next stitch the same length as the first one. The second time you bring your needle back up this will be at the same point your first stitch ended.

Keep repeating this, each stitch will overlap your previous stitch by half a stitch. 

Star stitch

Star stitch

To create your star, bring your needle up from the reverse of the fabric at A, leaving a short tail of a couple of centimetres (1 inch) at the back of the fabric, and create a vertical stitch by putting it back through to the back of the fabric at B. Bring your needle out at C, ensuring that the stitch you’ve created on the reverse of your fabric traps the tail from your first stitch to secure your thread. Put your needle back in at D, and so on, working your way round, coming out at E (trapping your thread on the reverse one more time for good measure) and in at F. Finish your star by coming out at G and in at H. Make your final stitch by bringing your needle out as close to the centre of the star as you can between G and A, and then make a small stitch to tie down your threads, putting your needle back in between B and H. Fasten off your thread by threading it under a couple of stitches, then put your needle back through the new loop that creates twice from the same direction. Pull tight to secure.

Spiders web stitch

Bring your needle out in the centre of your spider's web at A, and create a series of straight stitches for the spokes. Put your needle in at B, before bringing it back up again at A and down at C. Work your way around the circle like this. Work either clockwise or anti-clockwise. The grey circle in the diagram is illustrating that you're aiming to form a circle - but you don't need to mark this on your fabric. Create 5 or 6 spokes.

Once you've got the spokes in place, bring your needle back out at A, and thread it under the nearest spoke. Then slide your needle back under the same spoke from the same direction as the first time you went under the stitch. This creates a loop which anchors it to the spoke. Now move onto the next spoke, again threading your needle under the spoke, and then sliding it under the spoke a second time from the same direction. Keep doing this, working your way around the circle.

Avoid catching the fabric as you do this. Tension of your stitching is really important, if you pull it too tight you're going to mis-shape it. Once you've filled each spoke, put your needle through to the back of the fabric and fasten off.

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