For many of us picking stitches and threads for a canvas can be a real challenge. If we have some help with that, it makes our life easier. Most of the time that help comes in the form of a stitch guide.
Guides can range from free one-page guides to ones costing hundreds of dollars. In essence though, stitch guides all serve one purpose: to give you instructions on how to stitch the canvas.
For areas on the canvas a stitch guide will always include three things:
- name of area
- thread used
- stitch used
It’s up to the guide writer whether all areas are covered, or just some. For example a canvas stitched in Tent using floss with a textured stitch as the background might have a stitch guide that listed floss numbers, and a more detailed listing for the background. There are also similar guides that select some, but not all, areas on the canvas for suggestions.
Usually, but not always, the color name/number is included for each thread used. A more complete guide will tell you the number of plies used if more than one is needed. A guide might also include the manufacturer’s name in the list of threads.
Depending on the guide, information about the stitches can vary greatly. A free guide from a shop might list the stitch name with a page reference to a recommended stitch dictionary. Another free guide might put all the stitch diagrams at the end of the guide or only include diagrams for less common stitches.
Longer guides will include the stitch diagram where it is used and will also include in the text information about stitching the area, including notes on how to make the stitch. The diagrams may or may not have numbering, depending on the style of the author.
Some guides also include pictures of the stitched project. This is common when the guide writer or a model stitcher has stitched the project. If you are commissioning a custom guide, don’t expect a picture of the stitched design. Some writers may include a picture of the unstitched canvas as a reference.
My philosophy for stitch guides is that it should be like having a teacher at your shoulder making suggestions. It’s frustrates me when I get a guide that is seriously incomplete. What I have noticed is that you are more likely to find incomplete guides if the canvas is older or if the guide is free. In fact I’m working on a vintage canvas right now where the guide has no stitching information and no information about attaching the embellishments included. On top of that. the included embellishments are only partial and there is no information about what to look for.
Stitching a canvas like this is a challenge.
What other things would you like to see in a stitch guide?