Working on silk gauze is definitely addictive ~ and much easier than you think!
What is silk gauze?
Silk gauze is a woven mesh of silk threads - it will look very different to you if you've only stitched on fabrics
typically used for counted thread (linens, evenweaves, aida, etc.) - and because it is woven very evenly, we can stitch on it in the same way.
If you needlepoint it will look very familiar to you - just on a smaller scale.
The important difference is the size of the threads themselves. In other cross stitch fabrics, the threads in the weave are thick enough to make a very solid ground to stitch on, but especially in the finer count linens, this make those holes where we put our needle
quite small. The beauty of silk gauze is that the threads are so very fine - compare a 40 count piece of linen next to a cut of 40 count gauze and it's obvious. There are still 40 threads per inch - but more space between threads, making the holes a LOT easier to see! Click on the thumbnail image here to see for yourself!
But, I can't see to stitch that small…
For most of us, this really isn't true. The real key is your lighting and some sort of
magnification. That might mean a good pair of reading glasses or a magnifying device of some sort plus the best light you have shining on your work. We all have our little "stitching nest" where everything is "just so" - right? Once you get the lighting and magnification "just so" in your nest, it will truly make ALL the difference in easily stitching these little treasures.
Also - it will make a very helpful if you stitch with something dark in your lap, whether it's your dark blue jeans or a separate cloth. The threads in the mesh will stand out against that dark background.
Another thing to note - when stitching with white or other pale colored threads, keep in mind that these will be a bit harder to see because they don't contrast so much against the threads of the mesh/gauze. If this is your first time stitching with gauze I would recommend that you stay away from designs that have a lot of white or pale colors.
Do I have to learn a new stitching technique?
Not really. There isn't room for a full cross stitch - you really only use "half" stitches - so instead you will usually make continental, tent, and basketweave stitches. How easy is that! Stitch diagrams are included with each Petites chartpak, along with other helpful tips.
It is still an even weave fabric, and we're still counting to create the design and this also allows us to add some specialty stitches - but nothing more than you would find in any other cross stitch chart. Even though they are tiny, even a few simple specialty stitches will add pizzazz.
What kind of needle should I use?
I use a size 28 tapestry needle on the 40 count gauze. If you are stitching on a different count, such as the Needle Nut where I used a size 26 needle on 30 count gauze, then you need to adjust your needle size accordingly.
What about the background?
My designs generally have the background filled in, and I use the basketweave stitch almost exclusively for this. Because this stitch is worked across the design at a diagonal, you won't get a striped texture across the background - and the bonus is that when using overdyed threads, you get a lovely diagonal movement across the design that is really pretty. Good examples of this are Little Bit o' Autumn and Serenity.
I always stitch the motifs and design elements first, then fill in the background last. This eliminates the constant checking of your chart because you are simply filling in - and it's fun to watch the design "pop" as you go.
It will take me forever to stitch something like this!
Do I mount the gauze to stitch on it?
Wrong! These are very stitch-able - and in much less time than you think. Remember, you're only doing one half of the standard cross stitch, and once you get to the background you simply fill in. As an example, designs such as Little Bit o' Summer take about 10-12 hours. Larger pieces such as Christmastide or We Are Blessed will of course take longer - but most of that is the large background areas, which is very repetitive and relaxing stitching.
Yes - the cut of gauze is small and won't fit into a traditional hoop or frame. There are a couple of common methods:
a. Mount the gauze on a larger piece of scrap fabric, and then place that in your hoop or frame. Diagrams and instructions for this are included with each Petites chartpak, and a photo is shown here.
b. You may also attach the gauze to a piece of mat board cut to allow an opening for your stitching. Ask your LNS or frame shop to help you with this.
Do I have to stitch this design on the gauze?
Not at all. The gauze is included in your Petites chartpak, but the chart itself is still a counted cross stitch chart - you will use it in exactly the same way you would any other cross stitch design. In fact, these designs translate easily to linens and other fabrics. Just select a fabric background color that will compliment the design and you're ready to go.
How do I finish designs stitched on gauze?
Much the same way as your other stitched pieces, just on a smaller scale. There are frames sized just for many of these to keep your piece a nice little desk-top size, as in the Holidays
or Little Bits o' Wisdom series. Many are also wonderful with more elaborate framing for an "over-the-top" look. Plus - due to their very size - many just beg to be made into fobs or other stitching smalls. For example, I've always thought that Random Threads would make a wonderful needle book!
A final word…
Please enjoy yourself, don't be shy ~ you will fall in love with this little corner of our stitching world!