When I add hand stitching to my painted fabric, I want the stitching to stand out. Today, I want to show you my latest stitch combination experiment. I call it Pekinese Stem Stitch.
In traditional embroidery, Pekinese Stitch begins with a Back Stitch. I prefer to start with Stem Stitch. I’m using size 8 perle cotton for this example, but you can practice this with just about any thread you have on hand.
To begin the Pekinese wrap, bring the accent thread up from the back of the fabric in the middle of one of the long stitches. At this point I switch to a tapestry needle with a blunt tip.
Skip the stitch next to the working thread. Pass the needle under the stem stitch where two stitches overlap. Pull the needle through, leaving a small loop in the working thread.
Moving back to the left, pass the needle under the stem stitch and the working thread. Again, you want to go under the stem stitch where two stitches overlap.
Pull the working thread snug (but not too tight!) and move to the right to the next place where two stitches overlap. Pass the needle under the line of stitching and leave a small loop.
Move back to the left, pass the needle under the line of stitching and under the working thread. Then keep going!
As you can see, the Pekinese Stem Stitch has more dimension than a plain Stem Stitch. The wrap adds depth and allows you to add accent colors to a plain line of stitching.
Why bother? Well… consider the case where you want to play with a Light Source in your composition. You can wrap the illuminated side of a shape with a bright color and the shadow side of the shape with a dark color. It’s all in the details!
Now… back to stitching… If you want to change the color of your wrap stitches, pay special attention to the over-under pattern of the wrap. It’s easy to create a little “oops” when you change colors like the one in the lower right corner of this photo.
Testing 1… 2… 3…
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s oh-so-tempting to jump right into a Real Project. But… I’ve learned that it really is worth the time to test new ideas like this Pekinese Stem Stitch on a separate piece of fabric.
In this case, I painted an extra copy of my design on a piece of test fabric. (You can see my paint process here.) It takes a bit of extra time and thread, but it makes the Real Project a whole lot easier!
For a wonderful video on the traditional Pekinese Stitch, click over to Mary Corbet’s Needle-n-Thread. Her site is my go-to resource for all things embroidery.
So, what do you think? Is it worth the extra time and thread to create a Pekinese Stem Stitch? Do you have other ideas on dressing up a plain stem stitch? Chime in with a comment below. I love to hear what’s on your mind.