14 March 2018

Working with Blending Filament

I mentioned at the end of my Christmas Gathering post that I would have a post about working with blending filament, which, let's be honest, is like trying to stitch with fairy hair. There are oodles of hints, tips, tricks, etc. out there for making it a less frustrating experience, and I suppose every stitcher has their own preferred method. I thought I would share mine. I used it a lot in Christmas Gathering, but it doesn't show up well in photos. No matter how hard I tried--different lighting, different angles--I couldn't get a good shot of the sparkliness of this piece. So you'll have to trust me that it is super sparkly, which I achieved by using a slightly unconventional approach to blending filament.

First of all, I don't use it as-is: I strip out the sparkly filament from the nylon thread (that's not the unconventional part). You do this the same way you separate strands of floss, by holding one and pulling straight down on the other. I figure it's going to separate anyway while I'm trying to stitch with it--it always does--so why not save the annoyance. Separate it and get it over with. 

Second, I don't use it with floss. I know you're "supposed" to combine it with floss and stitch with them together, but I don't, for two reasons: 1) The difference in texture creates the same problem I mentioned above: the filament is going to separate from the floss and do it's own thing and you end up having to fiddle with it constantly to keep it neat. 2) The filament is almost always going to be buried in the thicker, heavier cotton floss, resulting in occasional peeks of sparkle instead of the overall shimmery look you want. It's a lot of annoyance for very little sparkle.

So, I complete the floss stitches first, and then go back and stitch over them with blending filament (this is still not the unconventional part). Here's a little tip for you if you mark a working copy like I do. Use a lighter colored pencil to mark the completed stitches that will need to be overstitched with blending filament. As you add the blending filament, mark those completed stitches again with the darker colored pencil you're using for the rest of the chart. This is an easy way to ensure that you know exactly which stitches need blending filament added, and that you don't miss any.

Third--here's the unconventional part!--when I go back and add the blending filament to my completed stitches, I use a half stitch in the opposite direction of the top leg of the completed stitch.

The top leg of my completed stitches looks like this: \\\\\\\\\\
So I stitch the blending filament like this: //////////

The reason I do this is to prevent the blending filament from slipping down between the threads of the top leg of my completed stitches, which it will do, for the reasons I mentioned above. Stitching in the opposite direction ensures the blending filament lies completely on top of the stitch and catches the most light. I've tried countless times to get a shot that shows this--not with great success, as you can see--but if you click on these pictures to make them a bit bigger, you might just be able to make out the iridescent/pinkish blending filament on top of the white stitches.

So that's how I use "fairy hair". It might be a bit of an odd method, but I find that it works well for me. I don't cringe when I see blending filament show up on a supply list for a project! If you struggle with blending filament, I hope this is helpful to you.

Happy Stitching!


  1. Thanks for the pointers! They actually all make sense. Good to know.

  2. Thank you for this, I will definitely give it a go!

  3. Fabulous tips, Honeybee! I never knew that about separating the filament from the core. I will have to give it a try.

  4. Excellent tips Honeybee. I really adore that stitch...it is gorgeous! Would you consider showing it at our birthday party at the end of the month? It is so pretty and striking. RJ

  5. I have never used blending filament (I didn't even know it existed), but I am going to look for it now for a future project that I have. I like your method. It seems perfect to make things sparkly.

  6. Not a big blending filament user, but thank you for sharing the tricks up your sleeve.
    It’s important to have maximum sparkle once you decide to go for it!

    Loving your beautiful Christmas stitchery all over again.....that teeny little fat red bird.....:):)

    (Potpie sends snorts of love.)

  7. Hi, Honeybee! I am new to your blog. What fantastic tips! All of them... not just the "unconventional" step. Quick question - what do you do when a piece calls for blending filament to be used on its own (without blending with DMC)? I stitched a Santa recently that called for blending filament for designs in his robe, and it was a nightmare working with it. Any tips? donahue73@gmail.com - Thanks! Meg

    1. Welcome, Meg! Whenever a design calls for blending filament to be used on its own, I always substitute Rainbow Gallery Petite Treasure Braid. It is much, much easier to work with and I think it gives a nicer result.

  8. I love the idea of stitching over top in the opposite direction - makes so much sense!

  9. Again, you gave me a smile. Love reading what you're doing. Sure wish we lived in the same neighborhood so you could personally inspire me on how to finish some of my smalls. I'll just have to keep searching your beautiful finishes and improvise. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  10. I am going to try this, I never had any luck and was always so little sparkle I would take it out. Thank you for the advice.

  11. Hi,
    I’ve been following The Copper Fox since 2015 and love it, you and of course Tiger Lilly!!
    I’ve never commented before but I am now because I’m concerned that you haven’t blogged since 14th March and I’m worried that all is not well in your life?! I hope I’m wrong but I couldn’t wait not knowing. Nicky

  12. I check several times a day to see if you have posted! I hope all is well. We miss you!

  13. Great tip! (Another comment from Beverly). I, too, substitute Treasure Braid which is much easier to use
    Do you happen to have a name/designer for your lovely stitched piece? It’s so pretty.