Drawn thread embroidery is one of my all time favorite forms of embroidery. For many ladies it has the (undeserved IMHO) reputation of being difficult and/or tedious. Join me in Valley Forge for my Royal Prince Embroidered Carriage Cover and Pillow Sham class and I will do my best to dispel that reputation. (And failing that, I will suggest surface embroidery stitches to do instead!)
Why do I like drawn thread so much? First of all, there is one and only one correct place for your needle to go in and come out. No agonizing over whether the stitch is too long or too short, no special tapes to make sure your stitches are even, no tracing an intricate design, and no stress over making both sides symmetrical. When you stitch along a withdrawn thread your stitch will by definition be on the straight of grain.
And although it sound contradictory, drawn thread is, at the same time, very forgiving. In most cases, if you pick up four threads instead of three, no one will every know.
Another common complaint is all the tedious counting. In my projects, I do my best to minimize the counting. Whenever possible I measure, rather than count. It is much easier to measure 6 inches than to count 253 threads!
As in all forms, of embroidery the proper tools and supplies are important. Individual task light and magnification are essential. If you can't easily see the individual threads of the fabric, you need more light and/or magnification. I can't emphasize enough -- light, light, and more light. The choice of fabric is also important. While I have seen lovely drawn thread work done on fine batiste, that is not my choice for this project. A fine linen with threads loose enough to withdraw easily makes life so much easier.
And finally, most drawn thread projects have both challenging elements that require your full concentration, and elements of virtually mindless stitching. This allows you to work on the element that fits your mood at any given time. I find hemstitching extremely relaxing -- no looking at the directions, no color changes that require constant starts and stops, no changing needles for different stitches -- just peaceful stitching. At other times I prefer elements that require careful planning, preparation, and attention to detail resulting in the satisfaction of a finished project that looks much more difficult than it really is.
So whether you stitch with me in Valley Forge, participate in a drawn thread class through your local chapter, or find directions online or in a book, I hope you will give drawn thread embroidery a try.
You can sign up for Jane's 'Royal Prince Embroidered Carriage Cover and Pillow Sham' class and other classes being taught at the SAGA Valley Forge Retreat in October by visiting the SAGA website www.smocking.org.