Stitch of the Month
April 2006: Leaf Stitch Variations

by Kathy Fenchel

The leaf stitch is an extremely versatile stitch. Depending on the thread that is used, you can create grass, flowers, fur, trees, and feathers - even leaves on a tree!

The traditional leaf stitch is diagramed below.

Diagram 1
(Click on the image for a larger picture)

An adaptation of the above pattern has been used to create the foliage on the tree below. The adaptation, shown in Diagram 2, includes flipping the leaf from top to bottom and reducing the number of stitches in each leaf. In addition, the leaves do not lock together as they do in the traditional diagram. The leaves are scattered and were stitched with an overdyed thread.

Diagram 2

Figure 1


Adjusting the basic stitch so that it creates a diamond shape is a wonderful way to stitch an evergreen tree, which can be further embellished to become a beautiful, glitzy Christmas tree.


Figure 2
The adjacent pine tree was stitched with an overdyed silk on Congress cloth. This technique would be very effective if stitched with two or three strands of Burmilana or Impressions on 18-ct. canvas. The stitches could then be gently brushed to create a textured evergreen tree.

The points where each leaf stitch meet provide a perfect spot to couch strings of beads to create the illusion of swags of holiday garlands!

The adaptation of the leaf stitch that has been diagramed below is great for stitching fur on an animal. The variation is in the sequence of the stitches, as well as the fact that all of the stitches enter the same center hole. If you are using this stitch on a small animal, such as a mouse, you would use the smaller version. Obviously, for a larger animal you would use the larger stitch. It is important to note that the last stitch on each "leaf" is the center stitch. This is the variation that causes the stitch to have the appearance of hair growing on an animal. Another possible variation is to vary the color of each stitch so that subtle shading occurs. Try stitching all of the stitches in a color that is slightly darker than the final center stitch. This will give depth to the area you are stitching.

Diagram 4
(Click on the image for a larger picture)

Flipping the leaf stitch and adapting the length of the stitches can create an expanse of grass. Again, the difference from the traditional leaf stitch is that the stitches all enter the same center hole. If you decide to use this stitch for grass, stitch the center stitch first!

Diagram 5
(Click on the image for a larger picture)

Another use for the simple leaf stitch diagramed above is to create flower stems. Lengthen the center stitch (1 to 2) to create a stem. Add a cluster of French knots, several bullion knots, or lazy daisy petals with beads clustered in the center. Experiment!


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