Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Pulled Thread Sampler Pincushion

Some time ago, I experimented with stitching a small pulled thread sampler, without an embroidery frame. 

I enjoyed the more tactile experience of actually holding the fabric in my hand while I stitched. You can read more about that by clicking here.  

Below, you may just be able to see how I used the edge of the fabric for trying out some of the stitches, before embroidering them on the sampler itself. The pile of books are all stitch dictionaries I refer to.

The embroidery was finished ages ago and I took it out of the cupboard the other day to damp stretch it, or block it, on my cork board. It's amazing the difference that makes, turning a crumpled piece of fabric into a pristine looking embroidery. Walking past to my printer, my husband noticed it straight away and stopped to comment.

Looking back over the stitches on the little sampler, the stepped satin stitch is the most striking. Although it's an easy stitch to embroider, being made up of straight stitches all lying quite predictably next to each other, it makes a big impact. Perhaps it's the play of light over the stitches, or may be it's the way your eye is drawn down over the steps, along a strong diagonal. It's a 'big stitch' and it does need quite a bit of space to show it off to full effect.

One of my favourite stitches is diagonal cross filling, which I did in band number four. Once the first row is in place the following rows are very quick and easy to do. I kept the tension light this time, so it's more of surface stitch than a pulled stitch and it reminded me of smocking.

For the sampler I used 28 count Zweigart linen, with DMC pearl thread no. 12 for the pulled work, and no. 8 for the satin stitch. The stitches are worked over 4 threads, except for the eyelets and the satin stitch leaves. 

The bands on the sampler are made up of nine different stitches. From top to bottom, the stitches are:

1. Pulled satin stitch
2. Four-sided stitch
3. Spaced pulled satin - 2 pulled satin, skip 5 threads 
4. Diagonal cross filling
5&6. Flowers - surface satin leaves, eyelets over 2 threads
7. Cobbler filling
8. Algerian eyelets over 3 threads
9. Pulled stepped satin stitch - 5 stitches on a step

 Next time I'll show you what I want to do with the little sampler. 

'Till then, take care and happy stitching!


  1. This is such a beautiful sampler and when stretched the fabric looks so pristine.
    I wonder what you are going to do with it.

    1. Thank you! I love using a variety of stitches, a bit like your crazy patch.
      The damp stretching is like magic to me. You can see in the photo how crumpled the fabric is outside of the pins.
      I think I gave away in the title what my plans are :)

    2. Ah, so you did! A good reminder to read the title more carefully!
      What do you usually fill your pincushions with?

    3. I meant to go back and change the title but pressed publish instead :)
      I usually have a big bag of inexpensive, white, fluffy stuffing from a craft store that I use. I call it polyester but it may be something else. It's convenient for me to use that.
      I've also used fine bird seed that has been microwaved for 3 or 4 minutes. It's nice and heavy. But I had to unpick all my birdseed pincushions before we left South Africa because we were advised that they may not have passed customs in Australia. Rather safe than sorry. When I have enough I use the scraps of threads that I collect in a jar. I'd like to try crushed walnut shells sometime.
      Do you have a favourite for stuffing pincushions?