The humble running stitch is such a building block of embroidery that it rarely gets a chance to be the star of the show. But why not? The simplicity of this stitch, both in practice and in looks, should be a virtue!
So for an uncomplicated and elegant Mother’s Day gift, I turned to the regular rhythm of the running stitch! A rich spectrum of DMC embroidery floss travels from inky navy to cloudy gray atop a natural flaxen background. And the Essex Yarn Dyed fabric is so simply beautiful that I even left the pretty selvage as is!
Just because it’s super easy to sew, doesn’t mean the Running Stitch Mother’s Day Scarf isn’t very special. Hand-embroidered stitches, a distinctive play of color and cleanly finished side hems make this a wonderful gift, lovely enough even for dear mom!
To make one 17-inch by 85-inch scarf:
- A Running Stitch Scarf Kit, in a blue or peach colorway. Each kit contains 1 yard of Essex Yarn Dyed in Flax, 100% cotton thread to match the fabric, and 5 colors of DMC embroidery floss (The blue colors are 3750, 3842, 996, 828, and 762; and the peach colors are 543, 3824, 3340, 3341, and 967.)
- A blue Chaco Pen or other temporary fabric marker
Tear the fabric into two 18-inch wide pieces from selvage to selvage. You want to tear it, rather than cut it because that will make the straightest edge.
Press the two pieces flat.
Cut one selvage off of each piece, so that each piece has a selvage edge and a cut edge.
You'll be sewing the two lengths together into one longer length with a French seam. Pin the pieces wrong sides together along their 18-inch cut edges and sew them with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
Turn the fabric so that the wrong sides are now facing out. Press and pin the seam flat.
Sew the two sides together with a 1/2-inch seam allowance, thus encasing the raw ends of the previous seam.
Press the 1/2-inch seam to one side and pin it in place.
The hem will be sewn down with a blind stitch. For the example photos we used red thread but you will use the matching sewing thread to make an almost invisible seam.
Blind stitch the hem down to the fabric of the scarf by inserting your needle through the top of the seam and exiting 1/2-inch to the left.
Then take a tiny stitch from the fabric directly above the exit point. Enter the needle again through the top of the seam directly below the exit point of the tiny stitch and again, pull the needle ½-inch through the top of the seam.
Keep stitching like this to secure the entire seam. The photo above shows the wrong side of the seam.
And above is a photo of the right side of the seam.
Marking for Embroidery
On the right side of the fabric, use the fabric marker to make two vertical lines 1/2-inch from each of the long torn edges. Make the lines from selvage to selvage.
Then, mark the following horizontal lines across the 18-inch width of the scarf, parallel to the selvage. Start 1/4-inch from the selvage:
- lines 1-5: 1/4-inch apart
- lines 6-9: 1/2-inch apart
- lines 10-12: 3/4-inch apart
- lines 13-14: 1-inch apart
- line 15: 1 1/4-inches from line 14
- line 16: 1 1/2-inches from line 15
- line 17: 1 3/4-inches from line 16
Mark the same horizontal lines along the other selvage end.
Arrange your five embroidery floss colors into a pleasing gradient of color and assign each color a letter, A, B, C, D, and E. (Our blue color order is A- 3750, B- 3842, C- 996, D- 828, E- 762; and our peach color order is A-543, B-3824, C-3340, D-3341, and E-967)
Tie a small knot at the end of a 22-inch length of color A and thread it onto an embroidery needle. Pull the needle from back to front, coming out at the intersection of the first horizontal line and the left vertical side marking. Sew along the horizontal line with a small running stitch. You can take several stitches at a time.
The stitches should be about 3/8-inch on the right side of the fabric and 1/8-inch on the wrong side.
Once you reach the right vertical line, tie a small knot on the wrong side of the fabric.
Stitch along all of the marked horizontal lines in the same manner, in the following color order:
- lines 1-3: color A
- line 4: color B
- line 5: color A
- lines 6-7: color B
- line 8: color C
- line 9: color B
- lines 10-11: color C
- line 12: color D
- line 13: color C
- lines 14-15: color D
- lines 16- 17: color E
Repeat this on the opposite end of the scarf.
Once both ends of the scarf are embroidered, trim all of the knots on the wrong side of the fabric so that their tails are 1/4-inch or less.
Press the torn sides over 1/4-inch twice towards the wrong side along the entire length of one of the torn edges thus hiding all of the ends. The 1/2-inch side marking should be along the outside of edge of the fold.
Using the sewing thread sew the fold down using the same blind stitch technique detailed previously.
Sew down the entire side this way and then repeat for the opposite side.
Spray and press the scarf to remove the fabric marker and you're all done!