Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fly, Stitching Fly Stitch - A T.A.S.T. Challenge

Fly Stitch, you say?  Sure, I can do Fly Stitch.  Sounds like fun!  I even have flies ....
Seriously, though.
     Sharon Boggon of periodically has embroidery challenges as part of her Take-A-Stitch Tuesdays -- a different stitch each week. In addition to her elegant crazy quilts, Sharon also has one of the best online stitch directories. There are several, but hers is one of my favorites.

Week #1 was the Fly Stitch.
"I can do this," I said to myself . . .
I found inspiration for a truly hairy fly on the Internet, Googling "coloring pages" images. Once I had my fly, I let my imagination take over. The fly's nemesis is a cute little fly-(stitch)-filled frog.
I did this ENTIRE design with fly stitch (except for two little loop stitches that I'll talk about later). As I stitched, I took pictures and wrote some notes, so this is basically a picture tutorial.
My first love is Brazilian embroidery; I really like working with this Z-twist rayon floss. I selected EdMar's Glory in Dark Emerald Green (#160) and added Avocado Green (#215) for the fly. Glory 215 seems to be a nice froggy color, so it was a good choice. The frog's tongue is stitched with Glory 204 (a nice bright fuchsia).
From the waist down, the fly is stitched with Dark Emerald Green using the Brazilian lazy daisy stitch. This is basically a fly stitch with a 6-wrap bullion tack. (I think of a lazy daisy stitch as a closed fly stitch. Could be.  It's possible...)
The idea for this "fill" technique comes from Maria Freitas of (also manufacturers of the rayon floss we use). She used it for one of her bird designs several years ago. I think it makes a nice fly, too.
The Brazilian lazy daisy is also known as the Two-Step Lazy Daisy. Instead of just tacking the loop, you go into the fabric about 1/8" away (longer tack), come up inside the loop and wrap-wrap-wrap, 6 times). Finish the 'bullion' and go down and out through the fabric and on to the next stitch. Easy as pie!
Here are some step-by-steps:

Wasn't that fun? Here's a close-up picture. 
I added some separate fly stitches at the bottom of the fly because I always think they are kind of hairy. (Most of the ones I see close-up are flat, the victims of my fly swatter, so I can't really judge.)
For the fly's upper body, I added fly stitches from the outside to the center, adding a longer tacking stitch.  (After I laundered out the blue lines, there was some extra space, so I added more fly stitches with Avocado Green, as you'll see later.)
I only needed six feet for the fly (Spiders have eight feet). I needed to start fly stitching from the outer edges (toes) back to the body, so I carried the floss on the back side, slipping through one fabric thread now and then so it wouldn't show on top.
 I made the frog's antennae with a fly stitch. The tacking stitch was a 12-wrap bullion, right between the eyes.
      Speaking of eyes, I used 6mm fire polish beads for the fly eyes. For the frog, I found some cute little fiber optic beads.
Now it's on to the little frog. Its lily pad is stitched with Dark Emerald Green using a 'side fly' stitch. The frog is stitched entirely with fly stitches (you could say the frog was working up an appetite for lunch), although they are fairly similar to blanket stitch here. The frog's tummy is stitched with bright Fuchsia and overlapping fly stitches, with the tacking stitch at the bottom. Here are some pictures:
 I attached the frog's beady little eyes with straight stitches, although a fly stitch would have worked as well. For a 'smile', I made a 20-wrap Glory bullion from ear to ear (if frogs have ears), and tacked it in the center, the same as a fly stitch.

The frog's tongue is chain stitched continuously. I suppose one could stretch their imagination here and call it a "closed fly stitch".  By the way, that little bitty green fly already "velcro'd" to its tongue is just a couple of straight stitches (also known as parallel satin stitch), and the wings are little loop stitches that I've had in several of my books on Brazilian dimensional embroidery (tie a knot in the floss on top of the fabric and when you go down and out, the knot stops on the surface and leaves a little loop). 

I added the threaded needle to the fly so I could legitimately name this design: "Fly, Stitching Fly Stitch".
This is the finished frog:
I decided to dress the fly with a cape. I had some sheer 2" green ribbon in my crazy quilt and ribbon embroidery stash, so I traced the fly's wing lines onto the ribbon with the Sharpie and Micron Pigma pens. I worried about the ribbon raveling, but it didn't.

The wing was stitched in place with the lighter avocado green Glory floss, and I continued a zipper line of fly stitches up its back to fill the open space. Here's a picture of the fly with its wings attached.
..and a couple more:

To finish my T.A.S.T. Fly Stitch challenge, I thought it would be fun to add a border of fly stitches. So I went back into my stash again, and found some colors.
I settled on the center color which is from Needle Necessities. It is overdyed Pearl #8, 100% cotton #866. I fly stitched the border with two strands of floss in my needle.

This was a LOT of fun to stitch. However, the fly stitch challenge happened in Week #1, and the group is getting ready to stitch Week #3 or #4.

I hope you enjoyed this little picture tutorial. Here is a picture of my Fly, Stitching Fly Stitch just before framing (no extra bugs).
As you can see from my last photo, these flies are quite at home on one of my house plants, and I am very glad they are only plastic!


  1. Such a creative way to do this stitch and very nicely done. Thanks for all the great pictures and explanations too.

  2. Thank you for your nice note, JennyPenny.

  3. How adorable is that! So well done and such a clever concept. I enjoyed each of the pictures and explanations and hope you will do more! Kathy in Fl

  4. Thanks, Kathy. I'm having SO much fun doing this - it's like teaching a class but not having to change out of your grubbies .... (Good thing I don't Skpe)

  5. I enjoyed reading about your fly, fly- stitching (although I think it's the frog who's actually doing the fly stitching). I am looking forward to seeing what you do with future stitches.