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The Bullion Stitch

Bullion Stitch

Time for a tutorial on the bullion stitch. The bullion stitch is so versatile and often used to add a special touch on smocked garments. The stitch is very flexible in that it can be a variety of sizes and go in any direction, which means it can easily span pleats.

It also is the basis for making all kinds of creations such as Bullion Flowers:

Bullion Roses

and all manner of animals!

Bullion Animals

I have a new pattern in the works that uses the bullion stitch, so a post on how to do it is a must! First up, the key to a great bullion stitch is using the right needle. Below is a photo of the wonderful #7 Darner used for smocking, and a #7 Milliner or Straw Needle.

Needled Compared

Notice that the eye of the Darner is longer and fatter than the rest of the needle. The Milliner is narrow and the width of the entire needle is almost the same. That difference is the key to making great bullions without pulling your hair out. The thread gets wrapped around the needle and the needle pulled through the wraps, so having a consistent width for the needle is important. For my bullion below, I am using two strands of floss, but you can vary the amount depending on how big and fat you would like your bullion.

Step 1 bullions

Knot your floss, thread a milliner's needle, and bring the floss to the front at A. Insert the needle at B (the length of the finished bullion) and come back out at A. Don't pull through! Wrap the floss around the needle clockwise for the number of wraps you would like. I am doing 10.

Bullion Stitch 2

You want a consistent tension, but not too tight - the needle needs to come through.

Bullion 3

Place your thumb on the thread and hold in place. With your other hand, pull the needle through. I know, its a beautiful image of my thumb, but the key I found is anchoring that thumb and keeping it right there as you pull. This is stitch that you feel rather than look at! Without removing your thumb, pull the thread down towards B.

Bullion 4

Again the thumb! Take your needle to the back at B and you have a finished bullion!

Bullion 5

A curved bullion stitch is made by increasing the number of wraps while shortening the distance from A to B. If the bullion is very curved, it can be anchored by coming up on one side and going down on the other in the direction of the wraps. If you look closely at the bouquet above, you can see that all the flowers are made by lying one bullion next to another! Please don't be intimidated by bullions. I taught my 8 year old niece and she was whipping them out with no problem! I am off bridal dress shopping with my daughters and mother. Yes, my oldest daughter is engaged! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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