I finished the embroidered scarf last night.
One of the things I really love about sewing is that sometimes I’m creating something that’s only ever been in my head before. That’s what this project was like. I’m not saying that I’m the only person who’s ever done a running stitch scarf, because I’d already seen a couple of scarves that were an inspiration towards this one, but this particular scarf came out of my own head, inspired by the materials I had available.
It was a scrapbuster. I had about 50cm of black cotton jersey left over after my first #sewdots dress, and I’d bought some dirt cheap embroidery silks, from Ebay. I mean cheap – I think they cost under £4 for 20 colours. They weren’t a brand I’ve ever heard of, but they were nice bright colours and it’s always handy to have some embroidery floss to hand, I reckon. So I had a full set of 20 colours, and I arranged them (or rather most of them) into a sort of spectrum.
My chosen technique was to cut the 50cms of jersey into two pieces of 25cm which was now the width of the scarf. The jersey was a good 150cm wide, so that was the length of my scarf. I put the two layers back to back, and starting in the middle, I drew a line along the length of my scarf with my tailor’s chalk wheel. The plan was to do a running stitch along the line, trying to stick to 5mm length stitches. I tried the old embroiderer’s trick of marking the stitch length on my thumb. It kinda sorta worked!
I was using a totally plain running stitch. Having done one line, I then used that to draw the next line, parallel to it, 5mm away. I used my Janome clear ruler, which made the process very easy.
I was being vaguely influenced by the Sashiko embroidery I’ve seen on my Instagram feed. However, I wouldn’t presume to use the term “Sashiko” for what I’ve done! Mine doesn’t have that beautiful symmetry and perfection. I’ll be honest, my stitching was very far from being precise! But I kept going, and it was pretty much parallel, and I managed to get the same number of stitches in each line. It was a long job, but it wasn’t complicated. It was the sort of work I could do while watching tv of an evening.
I’ve left the sides with about 2.5cm of no embroidery. I haven’t hemmed the sides, I’m leaving the jersey to curl naturally, I didn’t want to put knots into this, so I left the thread ends loose at each end, to act as a fringe.
And this is how it’s ended up…
But I have to say it was not an easy process. Firstly there was the issue of having to thread my needle with a piece of embroidery floss of at least 180cm. My grandmother (and my maiden aunt, Tante Madeleine, who taught me embroidery) always insisted that you should sew with short threads, anything longer than about 30cms was an “aiguillée de paresseuse” – a lazy girl’s needleful. And they instilled this wisdom in me for a very good reason – sewing with long threads is a flipping nightmare! It twists and knots like nobody’s business.
And secondly, the embroidery floss I was using was really low quality. It had been dirt cheap for a reason. It was very “splitty”, and to make matters even worse, some of the colours only had five strands, instead of the usual six. The red only had four. If anyone reading this is moved to try embroidery, my advice is definitely, pay for the good stuff!
To end on a more positive note, I know I’ve complained about the embroidery floss I was using, but it does have a lovely shiny quality, which I think makes it really pretty.