Updated January 29, 2019
I turn to the same stitches over and over again, no matter what the project is. These stitches are so flexible that they seem to work on almost any canvas. Change the thread (or even the thickness of the thread) and the stitch changes. Make them in overdyes and get another look.
Here are my Top 5 background stitches. They are pictured below.
1. T Stitch, this stitch was invented by Tish, one of the founders of Sundance Needleworks. It is a phenominal stitch. It gives light coverage (every other intersection is unstitched). Because it has stitches which slant both ways, it does not have a direction, which means that an area can be any shape and work with this stitch. I use T Stitch so often it’s hard to pick out one piece with it but you’ll find it for the window in the PaintedPony canvas at the top of this article.
The look changes so much depending on the thread you use:
- with a thick thread the open intersections will almost disappear.
- with a thin thread the look will be very lacy.
- with a matching thread the thread the color of the canvas will add texture not color.
- with a hand-dyed or overdyed thread make all the in one direction first, then do the stitches in the other direction.
2. Ming, a stitch developed by Brenda Hart, is a very pretty background stitch, especially for rounded areas. I really like its honeycomb shape and it’s so fun to stitch. Because the shape is rounded, it makes a great background when the focal point is rounded. I like its quiet feeling so I also like it as a background for busy designs. I used it for the ice on the polar bear cub below.
3. Criss-Cross Hungarian, this stitch is another directionless stitch, like T Stitch. It’s little sets of Hungarian stitches which intersect. It leaves single intersections open and these can be filled in with little cross stitches in a different color or thread. I love doing this for night skies. It’s the background in the popsicle for my recent shading class, below.
4. Offset Scotch, does away with the problem of Scotch Stitch backgrounds looking too square and boxy. By moving each row one or two threads, the pattern is broken and a great background, which is quick to stitch is created. The pattern is strong, but still works with many designs. The background of this Cooper Oaks Provencal lady, below, stays in the background in spite of the strong color because of this stitch.
5. Diaper is a stitch made in columns of alternating Mosaic and Cashmere Stitches. It is easy to stitch if you remember to stitch in columns, not rows, and it has almost but not quite a stripe feel. If you want to make the stripes more prominent, try alternating the direction of the stitches in each column, or use threads with the same color but different textures. I like the look of it so much I have made wider versions of it and used it in the Mr & Mrs round & stitch guide, below.
Let me know (by leaving a comment) if you liked this idea and we’ll do more of them.