Stitching on silk gauze might at first seem a bit daunting but it is really quite easy! And you get such a lovely finished result – crisp detail and intense colors that are more difficult to get with traditional cross stitching.
Click through for a few tips to help you get started.
What is silk gauze?
Silk gauze is a woven mesh of silk threads – much like a very fine needlepoint canvas. It is different from what you might be used to for counted cross stitch designs, but because it is woven so evenly, we can stitch on it the same way.
The important difference is the size of the threads in the mesh. In traditional cross stitch fabrics, the threads woven together are thick enough to create a solid ground fabric to stitch on. Especially with the finer count linens, this means the holes between those threads where we insert our needle are quite small.
The beauty of silk gauze is the threads are so fine that it leaves more space for the holes, making them appear much larger. Compare a 40 count piece of linen next to 40 count silk gauze and the difference is obvious! The holes are much easier to see.
But I can’t see to stitch that small...
For most of us, this isn’t really true. The key is your lighting and whatever magnification you might need. Perhaps that’s a good pair of readers or a magnifying device of some kind – plus the best light you have shining on your work. We all have our stitching corner where everything is set ‘just so’ – right? Once you find the best combination of light and magnification, it will truly make all the difference in easily stitching these lovely treasures.
One more important tip...
It is very important that you stitch on the gauze with something dark in your lap. That might be your dark jeans or a separate cloth. The fine threads of the gauze will stand out on the dark background, making it easier to see.
A note for beginners...
Light colors of thread (whites, pale yellows, etc.) are the hardest to see when stitching on the silk gauze mesh. I encourage you to select a design with strong colors and simple design motifs for your first project. I’ve noted a skill level on most of the design pages on this website as a guide, and this is usually why I mark something as beginner versus experienced.
Do I have to learn a new stitching technique?
Not really. There isn’t room to fill in with full cross stitches – you are using half stitches instead. Specifically, continental and basketweave stitches. How easy is that! Stitch diagrams for these basic stitches are included in each chartpak, and you can find other diagrams elsewhere online.
What about other stitches?
You are still working on an evenweave fabric, and you are still counting to create the design – this allows us to add specialty stitches. I often include smyrna crosses, rhodes stitches and tiny lazy daisy stitches, among others – even though they are tiny, these other stitches add texture and detail just as they do on your other projects.
What kind of needle do I use?
I use a size 28 tapestry needle on the 40 count gauze. A few designs are stitched on 30 count silk gauze and a size 26 needle works nicely.
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 background spaces at a diagonal, you avoid a distracting striped texture. Particularly with the hand dyed threads we have, this diagonal movement can provide pretty dimension and movement in the background.
I typically stitch the design elements first then fill in the background last. This eliminates counting because you are simply filling in. Yes, it might be a bit tedious – but it’s fun to watch the design come to life, and it’s a great task for your stitch group where you want to visit instead of count!
It will take me forever to stitch something like this!
Not so much – these are very doable in 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 no longer need to count. The background is the most time-consuming, but it’s also rather relaxing because it’s more repetitive.
Do I mount the gauze to stitch on it?
Yes. The cut of gauze is small and won’t fit into a traditional hoop or frame, and you need to support it while stitching. It’s helpful to keep it taut, although it doesn’t need to be drum-tight.
My preference is to mount the gauze on a larger piece of scrap fabric and place that in your hoop or frame. Instructions for this are included with each chartpak.
Others like to attach the gauze to a piece of mat board cut to provide an opening for your stitching. Ask your retailer or frame shop to help you with this.
Do I have to stitch the design on the silk 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 another cross stitch design. In fact, these designs often translate nicely to your favorite fabrics. Simply select a fabric background which compliments the design and you are 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 lots of framing options, including some little ready-made frames. Other finishing options include pin cushions, needle books and other smalls – and of course strawberries, as seen in my Silk Berry Collection.
A final word...
Please enjoy yourself, take your time when you get started – I always ask that you try it at least once. You will be surprised how quickly you can be stitching away!