Brazilian Embroidery Instructions


Loretta's Custom Stitchery

If you are unfamiliar with the term, Brazilian Embroidery, let me tell you a bit about it.  The rayon threads used were originally manufactured in Brazil and the dimensional techniques using them, although used for centuries in Europe, came to us along with the thread from Brazil.  These rayon threads are manufactured in shaded and variegated colors as well as solids and come in several different weights and twists. Now the threads are manufactured here in the United States by EdMar Co. and others. 

Some special needles are used for Brazilian embroidery.  Although crewel or embroidery needles in sizes appropriate for the thread weight work for most stitches, a milliners needle is needed for bullion and cast-on type stitches.  They are used because the needle has a small eye that is not wider than the long shaft.  This makes it easier to pull the needle through a long series of wraps or cast-on stitches.  Large darners are also used for the heaviest threads and in some applications.  

Brazilian Embroidery Threads

The threads manufactured by EdMar come in seven different weights from Nova, a heavy weight 6 ply thread with a medium twist to Glory, a fine weight 2 ply medium twist thread.  The thread has a Z twist, meaning the plies are twisted together in the opposite direction of perle cotton, which is an S twist thread.  For this reason, some stitches are done "backward" so the plies will not become untwisted while working.  If you are unfamiliar with Brazilian embroidery threads, here is a comparison chart with perle cotton and rayon threads. Notice the difference between the Z and S twist of the threads. 

Couching: One of the simplest stitches used in Brazilian embroidery is the couching stitch.  It is done by taking a very long stitch the whole length of a branch and then couching it down with tiny stitches using the same thread on the return to the base.  By leaving the long stitch a bit loose, you can follow the curves of the design line as you couch it down.  If the stitches slant the same direction of the thread twist, they will lay neatly  into the thread.  If there are little side branches, add them as you couch down the main stem as shown in 9-14. 
Stem Stitch:  This basic stitch will be used often for stems.  Worked in Z twist Brazilian threads, you will work from left to right and throw the thread above the line with each stitch.  Worked in a perle cotton or other S twist thread, the thread will be held below the line with each stitch. 
Leaf Stitch:  This variation of the satin stitch is a basic for creating leaves in Brazilian embroidery.  Anchor the knot within the leaf and come up at A, at the tip of the leaf.  Go down at B, about 1/3 in from the tip.  Work alternating from the left and right of the tip and always go back down at the vein, but move the stitches down the vein as well as down the edges.  Like any directional satin stitch, keeping the angle pleasing is something that requires practice. 

Bullion Stitch:  This stitch is best worked with a milliners needle. 1.Come up at A and pull the thread through.  Insert needle at B and back out at A but do not pull the needle through the fabric.  Hold the needle and fabric in your left hand and pick up the thread at A with the right hand.  2. Wrap the point of the needle with the thread in a clockwise direction if you are using Brazilian Z twist thread, or counterclockwise if using perle cotton S twist thread.  The wraps around the needle need to be at least equal to the space between A and B.  For a loop that stands above the fabric, the wrapped area of the needle needs to be MORE than the distance between A and B on the fabric.  3. When you have enough wraps on the needle, gently hold the wraps with one hand and pull the needle through the fabric and wraps with the other.  Pull the thread in an upward motion until the bullion wraps are nearly down to the fabric. Straighten out the wraps with the point of your needle, rubbing them under the core thread.  Now pull the thread down toward B. If you hold the wraps at the thread end under your thumbnail as you pull the thread down it will help keep them tidy.  Finally complete the stitch by taking the needle down and out at B.



Cast-On Buttonhole Stitch: This is another stitch that needs a millinery needle to work easily.  Come up and out at A.  Go in at B and back up at A but leave the needle there in the fabric just like doing a bullion stitch.  Grasp the thread a few inches out from A with your right hand.  Put your left index finger on top of the thread and give it a twist down and around the thread picking up a twisted loop.  Drop the loop over the end of the needle and snug it to the bottom.  Continue twisting loops and dropping them on the needle until you have the desired number.  Wrap the end of the thread behind the needle once in a clockwise direction.  Hold the loops and pull the needle through the fabric and loops.  Pull until the thread and loops are snug.  Take the needle down and out at B. 
Variations on the cast-on Buttonhole Stitch - Loose Cast-on:  If you want the cast-on loop to be fluffy or looser, insert 1 or 2 extra large darners next to the working needle as it is planted in the fabric for the cast-ons.  Cast on over all the needles.  Pull out the extra ones before pulling the thread through with the main needle.
Up-Down Cast-on Buttonhole Stitch:  For the basic cast-on, you dropping half hitches onto the needle.  For this one you are making both the halves of a tatted double stitch rather than making all the stitches just the first half. Some designers call this the double stitch.  After making the first cast-on loop, put your finger under the thread next time, bend the index finger to grab the thread and twist down and out to make the loop.  Drop it on the needle.  Alternating between the two stitches will create an up-down cast-on buttonhole stitch, which is identical to tatting.  When you have completed the number of cast-ons, pull the needle through and finish the stitch in the same way as the plain cast-on buttonhole stitch. 
Double Cast-on Buttonhole Stitch:  For this variation you will need two working threads, so either put the needle in the middle of a strand of thread and knot the two ends together, or thread the needle with two strands of thread.  After knotting the ends, bring the needle up at A.  Take the needle down at B and back out at A, leaving the needle in the fabric.  Hold the work so the needle is pointing away from you.  Arrange the threads so one is on the left of the needle and one on the right.  Pick up the left thread with the right hand.  Make a twist around the left index finger and drop the twisted loop on the point of the needle.  Snug it down.  now pick up the right thread with the left hand.  make a twist around the index finger of the right hand and drop in on the needle.  Snug it down.  Alternate between left and right threads until you have enough stitches cast onto the needle.  take the needle and threads down at B.

Drizzle Stitch:  This stitch is similar to the cast-on buttonhole stitch except there is no fabric "bite".  This stitch just stands up off the fabric where it is made.  Begin by bringing a knotted thread up where you want the drizzle stitch to stand.  Unthread the needle.  With a pincushion under the fabric, insert the needle with the eye up right beside the spot the thread came up.  Now cast on stitches over the eye of the needle.  When you have enough, thread the needle and pull through to the back.  Since you have cast-on just half hitches, this stitch will spiral around the core thread. If you want it to stand up with a ridge along one side, do the up-down cast-on method.  

Detached Buttonhole Stitch   

This is the primary stitch used in needle lace, but in Brazilian embroidery we use it a bit differently.  Here rows of detached buttonhole stitch are worked over a single straight stitch, or added to the outer edge of other stitches.  The final petal or design element is worked generally stays loose from the fabric except at the beginning join point.  

Begin with a straight stitch as a foundation.  A tapestry needle which has a blunt point will be easier to use for this stitch.  Come up at one end of the straight stitch.  If you are only working one row, work clockwise.  If making more than one row, some have found it best if the final row is worked clockwise, but alternating rows in between will be worked counter-clockwise.  On the example, the first row is being worked counter-clockwise and the second row clockwise. 

Each stitch is worked by forming a loop in the direction of the work and taking the needle behind the foundation or stitch in the previous row and over the loop of thread.  When you reach the end of the row, making the desired number of stitches, reverse the direction of the thread loop and work back in the loops between stitches.  Keep the stitches somewhat loose but not sloppy. 

When extra stitches are required in a row, you may increase by making two stitches into one loop, or by making stitches both into the loops between stitches and the little e that is formed by the stitch.  Some suggest that making stitches in the e's creates a sturdier petal. 

Finally, after all rows have been made, overcast back down the final side to the fabric and take the needle down to the back.  The petal may also be finished by taking the needle down at the tip of the petal, thereby holding it in place, rather than leave the petal free of the fabric. 


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