Blanket stitch is the name embroiderers give to a variation of buttonhole stitch. When we leave a larger gap between the stitches, the stitch we call it blanket stitch. Originally stitches around the edges of blankets gave a practical finish. The good news is this stitch is much more versatile than you may first think.
I used it for the larger flowers and leaves in the basket and for the shell on my little hermit crab below. I think you will agree that the end results differ. Read on to see other ways of using this basic stitch and how to expand upon it.
You can use buttonhole and blanket stitches in both freestyle and counted thread projects. You can even use them to create the fabric itself, as in needlelace.
Check out my hardanger bookmark to see how I made the edges neat without folding over the fabric and creating bulk.
Another needlework technique that uses buttonhole stitch is cutwork, where the stitching creates joins across cut areas of fabric.
So are you ready to learn how to do it?
You can choose whether to work with or without an embroidery hoop. Which option you go for will depend to a certain extent on your tension.
Working in the hand is quicker but more likely to pucker the fabric if you pull too tightly.
Figure 4 shows the finished row of blanket stitch.
As you can see, it's tricky to get the tension on each stitch the same with this method of stitching. I made life even more difficult for myself by using a slippery, shiny, rayon thread when stitching this sample.
If you pull too tight, then a ridge can form under the row of stitches. So let's look at a way to avoid these issues.
The video above shows how to work blanket stitch and buttonhole stitch on a hoop.
It is easier to keep the tension even by working in a hoop. If possible, secure your hoop in a stand. Then you will have both hands free to manipulate the needle and thread.
You will need to use the stab stitch method, which is a little slower.
Fig 8 shows the resulting row of stitches, which has better tension throughout.
I used Perle cotton number 8 for this sample. The pen marks will disappear within 24 hours.
You can fancy up your stitches by whipping the corded bottom edge with another thread.
You will get a different effect depending on the combination of threads used.
Here I used the same type of thread for the whipping stitches -- perle number 8 -- while choosing a different colour.
This technique is really simple.
As you take the needle only under the previous stitches and not through the fabric, thread up a blunt needle to make your life easier.
The photograph above shows ferns stitched by placing two rows of blanket stitch back-to-back and then whipping the looped edges together down the centre. In fact, this variation even has it's own name - barb stitch.
I used hand-dyed Perle cotton number 8 to decorate this section of a crazy quilt block.
Of course, not all your blanket stitches HAVE to be the same length.
You can increase the length over a series of stitches, and then decrease again to form "hills" and "valleys" as in fig 10.
Or you can create alternate long and short stitches.
You don't even have to work along a straight line! You can create circles (or wheels) by taking the needle down at a central point each time.
Give it a go! I am sure it won't be long before you start including buttonhole or blanket stitch in your embroidery projects.