Slanted Satin Stitch: Start with a small motif as mentioned in Part One of this article. Illustrated at left is a rectangle.
Begin at the middle of the object you wish to stitch and work toward one end. When that is completed, go back to the middle and work toward the other end. Slanted satin stitch is a little easier to control than straight satin stitch — especially on fabric, such as satin or damask, where following ground threads is extremely difficult.
Notice that the blue outline is wider than desired, so I chose a spot and stuck with it. This means you have to watch the threads as you stitch. You can’t always rely on the traced lines.
The holes in this work are exaggerated by scale. They are barely noticeable at normal scale and will pop back to normal after release from the hoop, washing and pressing. The fabric used for this illustration is fine but loosely woven so that it better illustrated the use of a single strand of floss, its coverage, and what it takes to make a smooth surface. Remember I cautioned about only using one strand of floss? There actually is a way around this. While not fast, it does afford greater coverage with fewer stitches.
Here is a typical petal in a tear-drop shape. The left side has been completed and the illustration shows the first stitch on the right-hand side.
Two threads are used. To keep the surface smooth, use the technique called railroading. Place the needle between the threads. This will keep them from twisting onto each other and make them lie smoothly side by side.
This is a fussy stitch to work, and you will have to untwist the threads periodically as you stitch, prior to inserting the needle between the threads.
To use more than two threads requires a laying tool or a very dextrous thumb with a long fingernail. Laying tools go by various names. They are made to fit on a finger, or are held in the hand, being fashioned in wood with fancy turnings (tikobari) or metal. Learn to use one or two threads before venturing forth, then choose a tool that works for you.
Let’s move on to some complicated situations. Not all shapes can be satin stitched with the length of the stitches lying perfectly beside one another. There are some tricks to maneuvering around some shapes.
Wedge stitches can be used to make threads go in directions you want them for light reflection or to make a shape stand out from other nearby satin stitched embroidery.
The lavender blue lines show the direction I wanted the threads to go. This is helpful if there are several petals on a flower and you don’t want the stitches all going in the same direction on each petal. This will separate the petals when viewing them on a finished flower. Go ahead and trace directional lines right onto your embroidery to help you visualize your preferred angle and stitch placement.
I didn’t want a central vein in the flower. To avoid this, the red dots (above, left) show where shorter stitches ended. This allowed for a stronger angle, keeping long threads at the center and with a long thread which goes to the base at the left edge of the petal. This long thread helps define the angle and light reflection. Notice the difference between this edge and the short stitch on the teardrop shape of the motif above.
Notice, also, the first stitch to the right of the finished portion. It is short and pushes aside – ever so slightly – the first stitch of the left-hand portion of the embroidery. This will hide the end for a smooth transition.
Once you have mastered satin stitch, you can move on to the more advanced long and short (plumaria) stitch used in needlepainting. This requires an advanced concept of “direction”. So, learning to shape petals as above, with its wedge stitches, will help you move smoothly to more complicated satin stitching.