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About Backgrounds
Part I of II (Part II in the Fall)
By Ginger McTeague

So...how DO you decide upon a stitch for the background of that wonderful canvas?

Well, there are a few considerations.

In my opinion, a background should usually be pretty unobtrusive, not to upstage the more important parts of the design. And that usually means a fairly flat stitch in a color that compliments the design but, again, does not upstage it.

A background stitch should also be pretty quick to do if there is a large area to cover.

What else? The background stitch should be selected such that it fits reasonably easily around and into the design area. You'll understand what I mean here by "into" if you think about a canvas with a bouquet of flowers in the middle and the rest is background. That kind of a design will usually have a number of little indentations where the background must fit into openings in the design and, in this case, you'll make your life a lot simpler if you select a true diagonal stitch. Straight and oblique stitches never seem to fit or to compensate as well as true diagonal stitches.

One more important consideration, and sometimes the most difficult to contend with, is how well does your background color match the color of the canvas? If you would like, for instance, to stitch a dark burgundy background on plain white canvas you are, again, better off selecting a true diagonal stitch because those stitches will cover the canvas more thoroughly than will a straight stitch.

So, let's just jump in and take the most difficult case first. The stitch diagrams that follow are for some of my favorite true diagonal stitches that will cover the canvas very well.


 2 Strands Impressions  SLANTED 3'S

This is a really easy, fast background stitch.. It's a true diagonal, over three canvas thread intersections at a time, and the rows go up and down the diagonal of the canvas just like basketweave does. In fact, it's really just a triple basketweave and will cover the canvas just as well. I especially like it because the pattern is not visually strong.

 Do you know this trick? What if your Thread-stitch combo isn't covering the canvas as well as you'd like?
 Try adding 1 or 2 plies of floss or silk.

OK. What if you'd like to add a little bit of personality? Try this.

Select a thin thread (no fatter than one strand of Impressions).
Could be a slight color contrast or could be matching color in a metallic. Add a row of backstitching every second, third, or fourth row. You will need to do the backstitching right after doing the row of Slanted 3's; it will be really hard to find the right holes if you wait until later.

  Slanted 3's with Backstitch

 2 strands Wildflowers and 1 of Overdyed Wildflowers

And if you'd like to get kind of glitzy? Here's an idea.

Slanted 3's with Tent Stitches 


 2 strands Wildflowers and 1 strand Candlelight

Do a batch of regular Slanted 3's except back off each row so that the stitches no longer share holes, but instead there is one bare canvas thread intersection between the stitches of each row.

Then choose a metallic and put a tent stitch over each of those bare canvas thread intersections

Note: It would be nice if you could do the tent stitches as you go but they would get hidden under the slanted stitches

See diagrams below:


 Slanted 3's with one bare intersection between rows

 Tent stitches added in the bare spot


NUBUKO Here's another true diagonal stitch that covers the canvas well.
Try it...you'll like it!


Again, if you want to add some glitz, do Nubuko this way... every second or third row, do the small stitches in a metallic


4 ply Soie Crystale and 1 Candlelight


 Nubuko with Glitz




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