Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Needles Pulling Thread

I love children in picture smocked clothing, especially during various holidays.

Maybe if you squint really hard, or use vast amounts of imagination, this might closely resemble an odd shaped Valentine.
Or, I could try to convince you that I am just an eager beaver and already at work for next Christmas.
In the spirit of keeping it real, I confess this post was started months ago, but was interrupted by a sudden trip to Minnesota.
Fortunately, tartan plaids and Santa are timeless.  This can be completed at a later date!

I must admit that I do not exactly love the process of picture smocking.  Give me geometric smocking, and I am good to go!  Picture smocking is, for me, more challenging and time consuming.  I think part of it has to do with counting and keeping my place on the smocking plate.  Geometric smocking seems easier to do on the run, in the car, in front of the television, or while trying to convince your husband that you really are able to stitch and listen to him at the same time.

When I first learned to picture smock, I was told to use a Long Darner 7 needle.  Much of the available literature on smocking also recommends the use of  this needle.
Many years ago, a friend watched me struggle with picture smocking.  She suggested the use of the larger Long Darner 5 needle.
Now, the Long Darner 7 already seemed like a sword in my hands.
Use something even larger, longer and more sword like?

As the obedient child of a school teacher, I followed rules.
I kept plodding along with the Long Darner 7.

Then, wonky eyes became a part of my life.
Determined to convince myself that I could still sew, smock and embroider, I decided to step outside my regular needle box and try something different.

Guess what?
That friend was correct!
I found it much easier to picture smock with a Long Darner 5.
It still is not perfect, and I still am very, very slow.

I have started suggesting this size needle to other friends and customers, with pleasant results.
I have also begun to see the Long Darner 5 needle referenced in more of our literature.

The goal of perfect picture smocking is to have the strands of floss, usually four in picture smocking, lie side by side.  This creates a "ribbon" of floss, and the cable stitches are "stacked" to create the desired figures.

The larger needle prepares a larger tunnel in the fabric through which the floss travels.  This results in a smoother ribbon of floss.  The longer length also allows you to use it as a level, and maintain straight stitches.  Straight stitches are mandatory for perfect picture smocking.

A Long Darner Needle 7 measures approximately 2.25" in length.
A Long Darner Needle 5 measures approximately 2.50" in length.

If nothing else, your husband will not argue with you when you are holding one of these in your hands!
Give it a try and let us know your results!

Happy Picture Smocking!

Needles available at BessieMary.


Julia said...

I've done very little picture smocking, but would love to do more. Thanks for the tip.

Rachel said...

Not only do I have some 5 darners by my chair, but also some pleated up tartan! Yep, you convinced me away from to the 7 to the 5. Wonderful!

nonie everythingsewing said...

Thank you so much for this information. I am not crazy about doing picture smocking just love the results when it's all done. I will try your tip and change needles.


DawnB said...

I wish I had a #5 darner, I am doing a small amount of PS and thought that the larger one would be better because I'm not very good at PS but not one to be found in my large collection of sewing needles. love the tartan !!

Anonymous said...

Try a 24 tapestry needle. Great results!

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