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Velvet Stitch & Smyrna Stitch

Velvet Stitch & Smyrna Stitch

Based on cross stitch, this lovely stitch is an example of a loop, or pile, stitch, in which loops of yarn formed by the stitches create a pile on the surface of the canvas.

Used in embroidery as well as needlepoint, velvet stitch was first seen in the reign of Charles I and was again widely used in the 18th century in Savonnerie tapestries.

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It became very popular in the 19th century, when Victorian tufting, or plush work, was used. The main work was in a flat stitch like tent stitch, with velvet stitch used for areas requiring high relief, such as flowers, fur and feathers. Velvet stitch can be worked over two threads of single canvas or over one or two (double) threads of the double canvas. Worked over one thread, it resembles boucle yarn. Practice it over two threads first. The loops may be cut or left uncut.

Velvet Stitch

  1. Starting at lower left and working from left to right, make each stitch as follows. Bring needle out at 1.ake it to the upper right over two canvas intersections and insert it at Take it to lower left under two inter­sections and bring it out at 3 (same hole as 1). Take it over to 4 (same hole as 2), leaving a small loop of yarn, which you hold with your left index finger. Bring it out at 5, with point of needle under loop.
  2. Take needle diagonally over two intersections to the upper left and insert it at 6. Bring needle out at 7 (same hole as 5) and repeat. Begin new row at left. These diagrams show velvet stitch worked over two threads of single canvas, but the same technique can be used when working it over one or two (double) threads of double canvas.

Smyrna Stitch

Another stitch based on cross stitch, Smyrna stitch forms a square, raised stitch that is traditionally used in the geometric patterns of stitchery.

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Although Smyrna stitch is seen most often in the textural work of the 1950s and ’60s. it had a brief period of great popularity in the Victorian era, often embellished with beads. Smyrna stitch may be worked over two threads (as in the next project), three threads (as the Victorians did) or four threads. It is formed by working a basic cross stitch and then an upright cross stitch over the top. Smyrna stitch may be worked in a single colour, or you can do complete stitches in alternating colours for a chequerboard pattern. For a different effect the base cross can be worked in one colour and the top one in another.

Making Smyrna Stitch

  1. Starting at upper left and working from left to right, make each stitch as follows. Bring needle out at 1, and insert it at Bring it out at 3 and insert it at 4 You now have the basic cross. Bring it out at 5 and insert it at 6. Bring it out at 7 and insert it at 8. You now have an upright cross stitch on top of the basic cross stitch. Always follow the same sequence so that all the stitches finish with the same stitch.
  2. Continue in the same way to end of the row, then way back from right to left beneath the first row. Top holes of new row should be same as bottom holes of previous row.
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