Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tips & Techniques - Stitching With Variegated Fibers

Even though I've been stitching for 35+ years, I'm nowhere close to what I would consider "expert" level, and I love to continue learning new things that can help me improve my needlework.

Recently I attended my first ever stitching retreat.  While I was there, a fellow stitcher and I were discussing using variegated or overdyed fibers.  I've used them before, but not often.  I've always heard that when you stitch with them, you should make each full "X" and then move onto the next stitch vs. stitching one leg (or half stitch) down a row and them coming back and stitching the other leg.  This picture shows a piece I stitched using that technique.

It looks nice enough, but has sort of that "stripey" look that you'll get.  I'm not particularly fond of that look myself.   

Here's where the tip comes in.  My stitching friend had mentioned instead of stitching in rows and getting that "stripey look", even if you are making full Xs for each stitch, to jump around and give it a more blended look.  For me, this was a SMH (smack my head) moment!  Why hadn't I ever thought of that?!  And why hadn't anyone ever told me that before?!

Soooo....I decided to take some of my stitching time today and put it to the test.  In the picture below I used two different DMC variegated threads I had in my stash (the pink is #48 and the green is #122).  I did this as a controlled test, meaning both techniques were stitched from the same length of floss from a cut strand and threaded into the needle the same way to ensure there would be an accurate comparison as to how the different techniques would look.

You can see on the left I stitched in rows, starting in the bottom left, working to the right (using all full Xs).  I zigzagged my way back & forth until I ran out of floss on the strand I cut.  On the right I used 2 more plies the same strand of 6-ply floss and randomly jumped around with my stitches, to give it a more blended look instead of stripes.

I'm curious...which look do you like best?  How do you normally stitch when you're using variegated or overdyed fibers?  Feel free to comment below.  

Happy Stitching!


  1. You've made some interesting points about variegated thread. I rarely stitch with variegated thread but when I do I still use the cut and loop method. This gives a more subtle effect as there's often a dark colour combined with a light within the two strands. You get more of a blended than a striped effect. I'd love to see how this looks alongside your experiments above. :)

    1. Hmm...interesting thought! I just might have to try that. :)