Here are a few quick suggestions to help you choose threads and stitches for your canvas. Remember, there are exceptions to everything!
There is no perfect stitch or perfect thread. The number of stitch types is endless and threads numerous. Don’t be afraid to try a new thread or a new stitch, you may be amazed at what you discover.
Choosing stitches and threads can be trial and error. The “perfect thread” may look great in the shop, but not look as good at home on the canvas. This can happen because of the other threads colors that are stitched around it or because of the light where you are stitching. Or, the thread you like doesn’t work with a particular stitch, or vice versa. Be willing to change your plans if the threads and stitches aren’t working. Ripping is sometimes your best friend when choosing threads and stitches.
Decide which areas of the canvas are focal points of the design. Emphasize these areas with threads and stitches. For example, if a Santa’s face is the focal point of the piece, don’t overpower the face by surrounding it with lots of turkey work.
Large stitches come forward while small stitches recede. Use larger stitches in the foreground and smaller stitches in the background. Choose small stitches for smaller areas so the pattern of the stitch can develop. To develop a stitch, you should be able to repeat it at least 3 times. If not, then your stitch is too large for the area.
Less is more
You should consider having areas of Basketweave on your canvas. Basketweave is a neutral stitch and allows the eye to rest. A canvas with many different threads and stitches makes it difficult for the eye to know where to look. Often the simplest stitches can be the most effective.
Consider using a textured stitch for areas that you want to come forward such as French Knots, Rhodes Stitches, Waffle Stitches or other crossed stitches. If you want a smoother look, consider a silk or floss. Stitches that lay flat on the canvas, such as Milanese or Byzantine, create a smoother look. Boucle creates a bumpy texture which is good for grass and bark.
To be or not to be?
Stitches that mimic what is on the canvas or the shape of an area are often a good choice. Fuzzy thread would be great for an animal or the center of a flower, but maybe not a house. The balloon stitch works well when stitching a full moon or circular area while brick and mosaic stitches are good to use for buildings. However, if you want a more whimsical design rather than a realistic design, then anything goes!
Bright, warm, and high intensity colors come forward. Less intense, pale, and cool colors recede.
Choosing colors and stitches isn’t an exact science so have fun with it and play with stitches and threads; you only learn when you make mistakes!