Welcome to Lesson Five of Embroidery for Beginners. This installment of the vintage embroidery series focuses on embroidering lazy daisy stitches. Although we may know how to make the stitch, it has lots of variations that you might enjoy using. In fact, this one lesson offers eleven different stitches, plus several project options. Because of this, Lesson Five appears in three articles rather than the usual two. We have a lot of material to cover.
First, if you haven’t done the lazy daisy stitch, you’ve surely seen it in embroidery. It’s that loopy stitch used to make flowers. Sometimes it appears as open leaves below a flower.
The stitch actually had several names. Early on it was called the bird’s eye stitch because workers thought it resembled the eye of a bird. Perhaps they found the stitch useful for making simple eyes for the birds that appeared on so many embroideries at the turn of the century, 1890-1910. It got its common name, lazy daisy stitch, from the way it resembled the daisy petal and its perfect use in representing the flower on fabric. In the Twenties it became known as the loop stitch although you can see that didn’t stick, although it was accurate.
Actually, the lazy daisy stitch is a single chain stitch. We covered the chain stitch in Lesson Two. Even in the Twenties the lazy daisy stitch was maligned. Many designers considered it “too easy” and thus omitted it from pieces. This is unfortunate, because the lazy daisy stitch adds so much to the mountainside and cottage flower gardens which were so popular at the time.
The point of this lesson was to show that yes, the lazy daisy stitch provides the easiest way to make a daisy. However, its use extends far beyond the simple daisy into some intricate-looking needlework.
The daisy stitch
Here you see the needle making a daisy-style flower. Begin without placing a knot at the end of the thread, as usual. Make two or three tiny running stitches along a line that will be covered by the thread to hold the strands in place.
Bring the needle, with all the working thread, up from below at the base of the petal. Put it down again in nearly the same place, perhaps a couple threads to the right or left. At the same time, hold the thread on the surface under your left thumb as though you were making a buttonhole stitch. Bring the needle out at the tip of the petal, over the thread strand or strands. Draw up the thread gently and evenly to form the petal, and then put the needle through the fabric just outside the loop. This forms a tiny stitch to hold the loop in place.
Bring the needle up at the base of the next petal and repeat.
For large petals, use a rather heavy thread. If you use stranded embroidery floss, use enough strands in the needle to give each petal a full look.
Leaf spray in lazy daisy stitch
Here is a leaf spray made in the same stitch, with a stem made in back stitch. First create the back stitch stem, and then place the leaves onto it. Work the lazy daisy stitches as you come to them, back and forth under the stem, finishing with the loop at the end.
Tree or Leaf Stitch
This variation of the lazy daisy stitch makes beautiful leaves. You begin at the top point of the leaf.
Make a lazy daisy stitch to start, bringing the needle out at the top left of the first stitch and back down at the top right. Then to secure the loop, bring the needle out just a bit to the left of the first stitches, and put it in a bit to the right. As you see, this will make the center holding stitches slant just a little.
For your second stitch bring it out a bit below and to the left of the fist stitch, and back in a little to the right and below the first daisy. Your holding stitch should appear under the first one, also slightly slanted. Continue in this way until the leaf is completed.
Separated lazy daisy stitches
Sometimes when you are embroidering lazy daisy stitches, you want a different effect. Here the stitches march in a line, creating a loose border. The stitches are made exactly the same as a regular daisy stitch. But instead of returning to the center for the next loop, the needle continues in a straight line.
Next time I’ll introduce three more variations. In Part 3 we’ll put it all together with a six-inch round medallion and a five and a half inch flowerpot that would make a beautiful scarf decoration. Both are made almost entirely with lazy daisy stitches and variations.