If you have the DIY Stitch People book and you’ve read our philosophy explained page, then you’ll know that we believe the best way to customize an individual for a portrait is by focusing on the way they reflect their personality through their hair, clothing and jewelry!
Today we’re focusing on jewelry! Perhaps your mom has a favorite necklace she has worn since before you were born or maybe your aunt has a set of earrings passed down from your grandmother or maybe you know someone who just loves a bit of sparkle.
This blog post will give you some info and ideas of how to add those special pieces to your Stitch People. If you need some practice, you will find patterns for jewelry on page 126 of the DIY Stitch People book (2nd Edition).
Type of thread to use
You can use any type of thread to create your jewelry but if you’d like to add a special touch, here are the types of thread we recommend.
DMC Light Effects FLoss
Although this type can be a little fiddly, it’s also a great metallic thread to use since it adds so much shimmer! It comes in 35 different colors plus is stranded so you can get a range of thicknesses for your jewelry. If you choose this type of thread, we’d recommend also purchasing a thread conditioner to run over the thread before you use it so it prevents shedding and piling which metallic threads can be prone to.
Metallic Sewing Thread
You can also buy metallic thread that is made for sewing machines to use in your portraits. Although made to use in your sewing machine, you absolutely do not have to. In fact this thread has some benefits for hand embroidery. It is made to go through the riggers of machine sewing so it is much stronger than stranded floss. It is less likely to pile and shred. It is also very thin, which is perfect for some of the more delicate pieces of jewelry you might embroider, say on a bride.
Satin or Silk Floss
Although it may not have as much shimmer as metallic or light effects thread, satin or silk will add a slight reflective effect. Perfect if you are going for a more subtle effect. It comes in hundreds of shades and colors and can be found in a stranded floss form so you can change up the thickness easily. The trouble with this type of thread is that it can break fairly easily which can be frustrating but if you are gentle and only using it for small accessories, it is great. Perfect for jewelry.
Other supplies you can use
Goldwork is a form of hand embroidery that has been around since the Medieval age. It is used to create gorgeous 3D embroidered pieces that sparkle and shimmer. There are several types of gold work supplies that lend themselves well to Stitch People jewelry. Gimp for example has a braided texture, comes in lots of colors and can be shaped well. Purl is a memory thread that can be manipulated into different shapes and can be pulled apart to create a curly effect. Flattened coil can add a subtle beaded effect to your embroidery. Although gold work supplies require an initial investment, you will likely only be using a couple of inches at a time so they should last you a few dozen portraits!
Sequins come in lots of shapes and colors and sizes. They are a quick and effective way to add sparkle to your portraits. For your Stitch People, it would be best to use them sparingly for example to reflect a large pendant on a necklace as if you use too many, they can quickly overwhelm a piece.
Again, they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They are a great way to add a really cute detail to your Stitch People. They are amazing as earrings or use several to reflect a necklace.
General techniques for creating jewelry
To create an almost unlimited amount of types of jewelry, surprisingly you only need to know a few techniques. Techniques you’ve probably been using in your Stitch People all along!
Tip – As jewelry can be delicate and sometimes fiddly, instead of using the holes in your Aida fabric as you would when you cross-stitch, bring your needle up through the fabric itself. This will add much more stability for those little details.
It’s as easy as it sounds. You are literally just making one straight stitch. Coming up to the front of your fabric and then plunging back down to the back will create one straight stitch. You can make very long or very short straight stitches depending on the jewelry you are creating. For earrings you may want to make tiny straight stitches but for a necklace chain you may want to make very long straight stitches.
Couching is a wonderful method that gives you an abundance of options for jewelry. And it’s so simple! You are simply tacking down thread in the shape you want using tiny straight stitches. This is particularly useful in necklaces where you would like a curved rather than straight effect. Couching is also how you would sew down Goldwork materials to your portrait.
I know, I know. you hate French Knots but they LOVE your portraits! It is worth getting over the hump and learning how to do them properly because they give you so many options for your Stitch People portraits! For jewelry they make great earrings or pendants for necklaces. You can vary how big they are and how much they stand out from the fabric by adding more wraps to your needle. You can also create the effect of a large and complex piece of jewelry by wrapping your needle fairly loosely!
Below are just a few of examples of pieces of jewelry you can add to your portraits!
You’ll find the pattern for a simple necklace on page 126 of the DIY Stitch People Book 2nd Edition. This simple necklace is made from 3 straight stitches in metallic gold sewing thread!
Necklace with a pendant
You’ll find the pattern for a Necklace with a pendant on page 126 of the DIY Stitch People Book 2nd Edition. This necklace was made with 2 straight stitches topped with a French knot using DMC Light Effects in Silver.
This necklace has a nice loose curve. It was made by making a very loose stitch and then couching/tacking the thread to the fabric in the same color thread. It was made with 2 strands of DMC Light Effects Floss in Silver.
Wearable Art Necklace
This wearable art necklace was made by combining 2 strands of light blue floss and one strand of metallic sewing thread to make the chain. The “art” is made out of a silver sequin which was sewn down with one strand of metallic sewing thread.
French Knot Earrings
These French knot earrings were made using 1 strand of Artiste Brand Satin Floss in Fluorescent Pink.
Straight Stitch Earrings
These straight stitch earrings were made using 1 strand of stranded floss!
These beaded earrings were made by sewing 1mm gold colored bead to the fabric using metallic sewing thread.
French Knot Necklace
This French knot necklace was made using a series of French knots with 1 strand of purple satin floss.
This beaded necklace was made by our talented friend Mercedes Ghiglieri. She used 3 tiny beads strung together and then to the fabric for the chain. She then couched a straight bead below using purple floss to represent the pendant.
That was just a quick run down of the some of the possibilities for jewelry for your Stitch People! The possibilities are almost endless just like the different types of jewelry!
Thank you to Heather Munns and Mercedes Ghiglieri for the kind lending of their photos as inspiration.
How have you reflected a favorite piece of jewelry in your Stitch People portraits? Comment below or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know!