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Five Tips for Stitching with Stranded Floss

by Shelly Hazard

While using floss with multiple strands can make you look upon a project with distaste, there are some very useful techniques that can be utilized with stranded floss. There are also some ways to minimize the distress that multiple strands can cause. Here's five tips for making your use of stranded floss more pleasurable.

Tip #1: Separating floss without the tangles

If you separate out two or more strands of floss at the same time, inevitably the floss will tangle and knot. However, one strand of floss can be removed without causing tangles.

  1. Separate one end from the group.
  2. Hold this end with one hand.
  3. Using your other hand, pinch all the strands on the same end of the floss, but loosely.
  4. Holding the single strand firmly, draw it out from the rest using your other hand to hold the other strands in place.
  5. Run your fingers down the single strand a couple of times to get the kinks out of it.
  6. Then smooth the other strands out. See, no knots!

Tip #2: A simple step to improved stitching with floss

Using the technique in Tip #1, pull all required strands from the main length of floss. Carefully match the ends and then thread them onto the needle. By separating your floss strands before you put them on the needle, you are removing any kinks or twists that may still exist in the floss so the floss will lay flatter thus filling in the alotted space better.

Tip #3: Untangling can reduce the tendency of thread to knot as you stitch

As you stitch you make a circular motion with the needle. Inevitably, that circular motion creates a twist in your floss which will eventually cause knotting. To help avoid this, periodically let the floss hang loose from your needlework. This allows the thread to unwind itself. If it's really twisted, you'll be able to see the needle spin. When it stops, you can continue stitching.

Tip #4: Blending colors using strands of floss

In some designs, having an abrupt color change is acceptable. In other designs, the change between colors is done in small increments using colors that are very close in shade, for example DMC floss numbers 434 through 437.

Another way of blending colors is by using different strands of floss. This method helps you mute the gap between two colors, for instance if you are stitching a light color turning to a dark color. By using some of each shade at the edge where the colors meet, it helps to mute the contrast between the colors creating a smoother blend in your overall design. This technique only works if you're using more than one strand of floss, but it can be quite effective. To use this method, simply replace one strand of the floss you're using with one strand of the new color.

Tip #5: Need a little sparkle for that stitched jacket?

Metallic thread can add a whole new dimension to your stitchery. But if overdone it can take away from the stitchery. Subtle additions of metallic thread can enhance your dancer's jacket, add a gleam to the kitty's eye, or simulate the sparkle of a snowman in the sun without taking away from the stitchery. This subtle sparkle is added using the same method as blending colors discussed in Tip #4. Replace one of the colored threads with a metallic one or simply add the metallic one if you can so that it will cover with the same weight. For a dancer's jacket, you'll probably want to use silver or gold so that the effect is subdued to visible. For a very subtle sparkle, use a metallic thread that more closely matches the floss you're adding it to.

All contents copyright 2004, Shelly Hazard. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted for personal use of the material found on this site. The materials on this site may not be duplicated for personal profit. Material noted to be by a different author is copyrighted by that individual.