Add Color & Texture to Hand Embroidery with Easy Woven Filling
by Mary Corbet
Hi, there! Mary Corbet here, popping over from Needle ’n Thread and teaming up with DMC to share with you a tutorial for an embroidery filling technique that offers plenty of opportunities to play with color and texture in surface embroidery.
The technique is called woven filling. It’s a terrific way to fill up large spaces in hand embroidery and needlepoint. And best of all, it’s super easy!
First, I’m going to demonstrate how to work the woven filling. Then I’ll share some samples of different filling patterns with you, and finally, I’ll show you how I used the technique in a little autumn embroidery motif.
Tutorial: How to Work Woven Filling
Woven filling is simply weaving on the surface of your embroidery fabric or canvas.
Like weaving, you begin with warp threads, which are vertical threads, and then you weave through the warp threads with weft threads, which are the horizontal threads.
To stitch the warp threads, bring the needle and thread to the front at A, take them to the back at B, to create a long straight stitch.
Come to the front again at C, right next to B, and go down at D. Continue filling your space with long, parallel straight stitches in this manner. On the front of the fabric, you’ll have long straight stitches, and on the back, short little spaced stitches around the perimeter of the design area.
Once the vertical warp threads are in place, thread a tapestry needle with a new thread. Bring the needle and thread to the front of the fabric near the top of the area you’re filling.
Using an alternating over-under weaving sequence, pass the needle and thread through the warp threads in a straight line to the other side of the area. Don’t pick up any fabric.
When you reach the other side of the warp threads, take the needle and thread to the back of the fabric and pull through. Straighten the woven line using your tapestry needle.
Bring the needle and thread to the front of the fabric just below where you ended the first woven line, as shown in the photo above.
Return to the opposite side of the filled area. As you return, alternate the over-under sequence opposite the sequence used in the first pass above.
So, in this second pass to the other side of the area, pass under threads that you crossed over in the first pass, and cross over threads that you passed under in the first pass.
This will create the basket-weave effect of the filling.
Continue this sequence with each pass, always alternating over-under, opposite to the sequence used in the previous stitch, until the warp threads are covered.
With each sequence, use the tapestry to push the previous line up and straighten it, if you need to.
Here you have the complete woven filling! Simple, don’t you think?
Making Patterns & Adding Texture with Woven Filling
Even though the technique is so simple, you can make it quite exciting and interesting by mixing up colors and thread types in your filled areas.
I like to make patterns with color, by using a repeating sequence of colors in both the warp and weft threads. This can create a plaid-like filling.
You can add texture by using different threads for the warp and the weft filling. In the examples above, I used pearl cotton for the warp threads and DMC embroidery for the weft threads.
It’s also possible to shade woven filling, by working the warp and weft threads in a sequence of shades of the same color.
You can even add another layer of color and interest to your woven filling, by weaving diagonally through the first two layers of filling.
Working a practice sampler of 1” squares on even-weave fabric is a great way to get a good feel for what you can do with woven filling. Experiment with different threads, color sequences, and spacing to discover new and exciting possibilities!
Putting Woven Fillings to Work in Surface Embroidery
There are plenty of places you can put woven filling to work for you in surface embroidery projects. For example, because of its characteristic basket-weave pattern, it’s the perfect filling for baskets!
For the basket above, I used DMC Pearl Cotton #5, DMC Tapestry Wool, and DMC embroidery floss.
For the basket outline, the top and base are whipped chain stitch in two colors of brown in pearl cotton. The sides are worked in stem stitch in dark brown pearl cotton.
The warp threads (the vertical threads) of the basket are three shades of brown pearl cotton.
To add texture to the basket, the woven part of the filling is DMC tapestry wool in a medium golden brown.
The pumpkins are made with pearl cotton in bullion stitch, using a variety of oranges, including color #51, which is a variegated pearl cotton.
The stems are worked in drizzle stitch in pearl cotton, in brown, and the tendrils are also worked in drizzle stitch, using 2 strands of DMC embroidery floss in a medium green.
If you’d like to work up your own version of a pumpkin basket for your autumn decor, you can download and print the PDF pattern (with three sizes of baskets) by clicking the link below:
I hope you have heaps of fun working woven filling all over your next embroidery project!
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