Fiber Friday: Algonquin Embroidery

Indigenous Stitching Tips, Tricks & Traps

  • Indigenous embroidery differs from European embroidery because it doesn’t use a hoop.  A hoop is a useful modern tool that makes it easy to embroider. However, all wearables and decorative objects aren’t going to fit in a hoop. Also a hoop can distort some fabrics. If you learn how to embroider off a hoop, then using a hoop is an easy transition. But, if you can ONLY use a hoop, being off a hoop can be a difficult and frustrating process to master.
  • Good lighting is essential. If you use a lamp a daylight bulb works best.
  • Thread has a grain that runs from the cut end to the spool. Threading the cut end makes threading easier.
  • “Long Thread, Lazy Gal!” For faster stitching and to keep thread from becoming tangled it should be half a wing (finger tip to elbow – single), or a wing (finger tip to shoulder – double).
  • Needle your thread instead of threading your needle. Choke your thread between your thumb and index finger, then move your needle to it.
  • Pray on your thread by running two fingers over it to condition it from the oils in your fingers. Ask the thread to bring abundant blessings to the garment and anyone who wears it.
  • “The Knot Is The Tie That Binds!” An overhand triple knot for the “Three Sisters” (corn, beans and squash) with a tail is best. We are stitching for the next generation, and a single knot and short tail can come undone with repeated washing and wearing.
  • Keep a supply of Band-Aids and some antibiotic salve in your embroidery supplies. At some point everyone pricks a finger. My favorite antibiotic salves are either honey with CBD oil or black walnut with honey. They both work great!
  • If you add appliqué techniques to fabric that you intend to embroider (with or without beads), you really need to add a stabilizer to the background fabric. I select the stabilizer based on the fabric and/or garment. See the PDF Pellon Guide at Seed 2 Runway link @ Wool on wool appliqué doesn’t require a stabilizer backing.
  • When adding beads to wearables, “button/craft” thread is best. My Momma was a Home Economics teacher for 42 years and taught me this. I didn’t follow her teaching when I added beads to the silk dress shown below. Instead I used Nymo nylon beading thread. When dress was dry cleaned, I lost beads. Lesson learned!
Silk Printed with Natural Dyes Embellished with bead embroidery

Published by Carola Jones, Artist

Indigenous Artist, Writer, Designer | Internet Techie | Pow Wow Dancer | Lover of Dyeing Cloth Especially With Indigo, Madder & Marigold | 4th Generation Hand Embroidery & Sewing Enthusiastic | Working Traveler | NC Toisnot & Mattamuskeet Tuscarora & FL Seminole | Algonquin Gullah Mixed Blood

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