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Posts Tagged ‘ribbon embroidery’

As is always the way, the final leg of the stumpwork garden only took about half an hour. First I finished the last of the kale/chard slubby silk picots. I was a little uncertain about them to start off, but they’ve worked up into a very healthy looking clump.

Then the courgette leaves. I’d already decided I was going to cut them out of some painted fabric. However, when looking for a source picture, I found countless photos of courgette leaves online, all different, which didn’t help and was probably why I left this job until last.

The first tentative one looked OK in terms of size and shape so I cut out another couple and laid them over the courgettes. They weren’t quite right. They looked flat and completely obscured the courgettes, which is what the leaves do in real life, but I didn’t want to lose the stitching underneath. I was resigning myself to stitching in minute veins to make them look less 2D when Debbie, one of the friends I was stitching with, suggested I put a tiny pleat in the base.

It was like magic. Suddenly the fold suggested veins and depth.

As there was to be no stitching of veins, the last stage passed in a flash. I pleated each leaf and used the thread to attach each one to the courgette plant. Pleating the leaves also meant they would no longer lay flat and solved the second issue about covering and losing the courgettes.

The leaves stand up beautifully (the fabric is backed with a light weight interlining to help stop it fraying which helps) and are only connected at the base of the leaf so as you move the stitching you can still see the courgettes, even though the leaves cover them. A genius solution!

My completed vegetable garden. It’s been a delight to stitch and had a lot of interest (for me!) on Instagram where it’s currently my most interacted with post, so other people seem to love it as much as I do.

I also ought to post a shot to give you an idea of scale.

And against my hand – please excuse the state of my fingers – it’s that time of year when I seem to be constantly peeling and prepping fruit and veg from the real garden.

I’m definitely going to offer this as a workshop. I’ll suggest some different vegetables and lay outs so not everyone has to stitch an identical copy and it’s a good introduction to some raised embroidery techniques. Anyone interested, shout up. Contact details are on my workshops page (tab at the top).

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Some stitched vegetable gardens came up on my Pinterest feed a little while ago and as I love stumpwork ideas, I saved them; whereupon more appeared of course… So naturally the only thing to do to get them out of my system was to stitch my own garden. It’s tiny – the piece of silk dupion it’s stitched on is 6cm by 10cm, or about 2.5″ by 4″.

Garden path first. I used satin stitch in varying scraps of greyish brown thread for the uneven slabs.

Then a darker variegated brown to edge the slabs before I started my strawberry patch. This has whipped back stitch stems, trios of lazy daisy leaves, scarlet French knot strawberries and loose white French knots for the strawberry flowers. Working French knots deliberately loose so you can put something in the centre is a little more tricky than it looks. There is a fine line between getting a firm knot with a space in the middle and a scribbly pile of threads!

Next, the peas. Feather stitch pea sticks for them to scramble over and then whipped backstitch stems. The pea pods are two parallel satin stitches and once they were completed (all 32 of them) I used a very fine pale green silk thread to give them tiny calyxes.

Then I half hid them with silk ribbon lazy daisy stitch leaves.

Onto the rows of veg next. The peas had taken a long time building up the various layers, so I went for a quicker result and three dark green silk ribbon ‘roses’ (woven spider’s web stitch) became a row of blowsy cabbages.

These were quickly joined by a little row or emerging seedlings in fine silk lazy daisy stitch – probably radishes – and then I started a group of cauliflowers with clustered French knot florets and overlapping cast on stitch leaves.

It was fiddly to work the cast on stitch leaves in such a small space and at such a small size, but leaves come in various shapes and sizes anyway.

The loose French knot practise on the strawberry flowers came in handy for the carrots.

My idea was to stitch loops which I could then cut to form feathery foliage, through the centre of the carrot tops. The smallest section of my cordonnet stick was the perfect size to stitch the loops over.

Loopy carrot tops.

Each set of threads has been fastened off separately underneath so they shouldn’t come out once I cut them. Very pleased with the result!

Lettuces and courgettes are next. It may only be a tiny piece of stitching but it’s taken a lot longer than I expected. Working small doesn’t always mean finishing things off more quickly…

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Back to the workbench for a day last week and several successes. I found this lovely starburst engraved vintage watch case in a pile of assorted oddments and decided that was a perfect starting point.

Just right for a subtly variegated peach and cream ribbon rose.

Then it was time to audition some gold tone pendants for the bottom of the case. This dyed howlite teardrop from an odd earring tones in really well with the colour of the rose.

And finally I finished it off with a vintage reclaimed gold tone chain.

Next I came across a couple of heart shaped wooden blanks and a large enamelled metal daisy from a 1980s earring. I’d always intended to set the daisy on the heart, but felt it needed a pop of colour. The remains of an embossed silk carrier rod were perfect not only to become leaves but an odd thin wispy piece was flexible enough to cover the centre of the flower.

The silk carrier rod is nice and stiff so the leaves have enough body to stand out on their own.

I wasn’t sure whether to finish it as a brooch or a pendant but I had just the right vintage beaded chain to go with it and decided that pendants are probably a bit more commercial than brooches. I considered adding a brooch back so it could be both, like some vintage pendants, but the heart is flat at the back and commercial brooch backs would stand too proud to be comfortable to wear.

I was really on a roll at this point, so I moved onto a teardrop shaped pendant which was missing an internal drop. Perfect place for a piece of hand made felt with threads embedded into the top layer, I thought, and decided I’d probably add beaded blanket stitch to edge with some tiny seed beads to pick up the blues and give it a bit of weight to hang properly.

But then I found a lovely brass teardrop pendant which worked well hanging from the top loop too! I polished it and reset the stones and considered putting the two tear drops together and not using the felt at all, but then it was just a pretty pendant that could have come from any High Street shop, rather than one which had the textiles component I try to make a feature of my upcycling. So I tried it with the felt and now I really can’t decide whether I prefer it with or without the pendant.

Is it too busy with the pendant or too plain without? Any thoughts gratefully received!

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As promised from last week, here is the second china pot fragment, this time filled with ribbon embroidery irises, which have worked out rather nicely. The flowers are lazy daisy stitches with a stitch threaded through the bottom of the chain to give the falling petals, the leaves are done with ribbon stitch and the stems are two rows of split stitch.

I ended up finishing it late at night and the only photos I have of the finished piece have huge shadows round the sides of the pot which look like stains! Anyway, it was done in time for Mothers’ Day and went down well.

I’ve been working away on a couple of upcycled pieces of jewellery. The first was a fairly easy conversion from a broken 1907 silver and hardstone shamrock brooch to a pendant. The c-shaped catch was in good condition and substantial enough that I could twist it round to create a hanging loop. There was very little left of the pin hinge so I was able to carefully saw the remains off and neaten up the scar.

With the addition of a jump ring and a silver chain it’s good for at least another hundred or so years.

Available here in my Etsy shop.

The second make was a bit more of a puzzle. A chunk of abstract fused silver with two holes and a short length of tube on the back.

I wondered if the tube was supposed to be a bale, but it was very narrow and you would have struggled to get anything but the finest chain through it. And a very fine chain would have been out of proportion to the chunky pendant. So I decided to use the top hole as the hanging point and removed the tube. That left me with what to do with the second hole. I couldn’t hang anything from it as it was too far up, so I went through my odd stud earrings to see if there was anything to inspire me. I found a couple of round studs with semi precious cabochons in silver settings which were attractive before a little frog stud tumbled out of the bag. I’m not sure why I tried him in place, but he somehow turned the abstract chunk of silver into a sort of stylised lily pad.

He just works perfectly!

Mr Frog is available here in my Etsy shop.

As our second Mothers’ Day under lockdown in the UK rolled around, it reminded me of the memory journal of my beach walk on Mothers’ Day 2019 which I finished on Mothers’ Day 2020.

And that in turn reminded me that I have two pieces still to do for my Kew memory journal from June 2019. The recent needlelace sampler was a half hearted attempt at testing out some ideas for a piece based on the magnificent Chihuly Persian Chandelier which hung in the middle of the Temperate House.

But I’ve decided that I need to stop faffing and get on with it, so this morning I assembled some delicious Mulberry Silks, my tiny antique crochet hooks and a piece of lovely indigo dyed calico.

Time to stop overthinking and see what happens…

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I took a bit of a break from the ongoing long projects this week and have enjoyed learning and working a couple of new stitches. The first was a little canvaswork piece with a hearts theme. I do enjoy the odd spot of canvaswork and I immediately thought of Rhodes Stitch, worked as hearts. A quick Google showed me that you can work the hearts in a variety of sizes, although as they get bigger they do get bulkier. I found some yellow canvas and matched it with some daffodil yellow stranded silk and some variegated stranded silk in purples and golds that reminds me of pansies. The small yellow hearts were pretty straightforward, although having to fasten off after each heart because any carrying threads were visible was mildly irritating.

Then I added pansy coloured larger hearts to the middle. The bottom one was the fourth attempt.

  • Attempt  1 – too far up.
  • Attempt  2 – I miscounted the placement of the first stitch but didn’t realise until I tried to put the penultimate stitch in and there wasn’t enough room!
  • Attempt  3 – Stitched it perfectly – on the wrong side…
  • Attempt  4 – Count twice, stitch once. Check carefully which side is the right side. Finally, success!

The top heart went quicker but I was more careful with my counting this time. Then I tried out a new Rhodes Stitch version I’d come across while looking at the various sizes for the hearts – a Rhodes Stitch Butterfly. It’s a straightforward and very effective shape to stitch, but once again, careful counting is your friend. I decided to do two stitches for the body and I think that makes him nicely chunky.

The second new stitch was one I’ve had in mind to try for a while. I’d been asked to make a Mothers’ Day card for a friend and I was inspired by some cards online using sea glass fragments as pots with drawn plants. What if I used a piece of sea washed pottery as a pot and the woven feathered chain stitch I’d been wanting to try out to make a trailing plant? Feathered chain stitch first.

Then you fill in the loops with needleweaving, rather like making a picot but with only two threads. I definitely improved as I stitched these two stems – no guesses for noticing which leaf was my first one!

Moving onto the middle stems. The needlewoven leaves remind me of quaking grass.

After the final two stems, some French knots flower buds in silk ribbon and the pottery shard to check the scale. You can get a better idea of the size against my hand.

Lastly I filed a little off the bottom left hand corner to correct the shape and added a shadow in split stitch just to ground the pot.

Very pleased with the result. I used coton a broder and it has given the leaves a lovely sheen. I think a fine perle would work well too and a subtly variegated thread might look even better. I’m so pleased with it I’m just about to start something similar for my mum.

Stay tuned!

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Well, almost two, as I’ve only just restarted it. I also decided to stitch onto silk and found a scrap of this lovely midnight blue silk dupion to use for the second take. The snowflakes are also neater this time round, so perhaps it was all for the best anyway.

Part of the reason that the snowflakes brooch is only partly completed is that I’ve finally managed to get all the padded applique reeds done for the Kew Memory Journal.

Next I need to stitch a sample one and see if I can carefully colour the metallic fabric with alcohol inks without it running into the background fabric to get the red/orange flame colours of the Chihuly glass.

I was looking for fob watch cases a few weeks ago and after having been distracted by finding the box of clock hands that was with them, I finally started sorting the fob cases out this week. In with them was a lovely mid-century silver tone ladies watch case which sparked off an idea to upcycle it into a pendant.

First I stitched a silk ribbon rose and rosebuds onto a scrap of pink silk dupion and added foliage in fine green silk thread.

Then I gathered it round a couple of circles of buckram the same size as the watch case….

…before inserting it into the case. Luckily the front section comes off easily.

Then to finish it off I added a sterling silver chain and found a little silver and marcasite swallow to hang from the bottom loop.

This isn’t available in my Etsy shop at the moment because I’m hoping that some of my upcycled jewellery will be stocked by a shop in Horncastle which champions in upcycled items and if I’m successful, this will be one of the pieces that will go there. Fingers crossed!

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Cleaning a load of broken vintage jewellery the other day I immediately spotted two obvious opportunities for upcycling in the form of the two brooches in the middle, both missing the central focal stone.

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And both crying out for ribbon roses! First the gold and pink diamante brooch.

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This has a silk ribbon rose stitched onto coloured pelmet vilene with nested detached chain stitch leaves and a shiny rayon french knot nestled in its heart. Available in my Etsy shop here.

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If the round brooch was small, the bar brooch is even smaller, with the central bezel tray I was looking to fill measuring just over 1cm wide!

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Time to scale down to 2mm wide silk ribbon and single strands of silk thread to create a tiny spray. I love the way this turned out – even though I know it’s stitched, at first glance it looks like micromosaic!

Also available in my Etsy shop here.

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I was playing with some scraps of upcycled felt a while ago that I’d made in the washing machine from some 100% wool garments that were past wearing. I added some broken jewellery pieces and a kilt pin that had been part of a job lot of broken/unwanted jewellery and came up with this little pendant brooch.

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From this brooch came the idea for a workshop and some more samples. Firstly, an octagonal piece of broken earring, a scrap of felt and sheaf stitch, detached chain stitch and french knots in a funky variegated thread became this brooch. Finished off with beaded blanket stitch around the edges and blanket stitch to attach it to the pin.

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I realised that some little metal tags from my found objects box looked like the bodies of fish and so I started another sample, stitching them down with long and short stitch to create flamboyant tails.

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Palestrina and feather stitch creates fronds of seaweed and also helps hold the ‘bodies’ of the fish in place, and french knots form the sea bed.

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I like all my samples, but those fishes have a special place in my heart – they came out exactly as I’d imagined them!

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Being the Dame’s Dresser in pantomime involves nice quiet periods in between bouts of frantic physical activity where I am trying to haul one costume (including wig, jewellery, shoes etc.) off a huge burly bloke while trying to simultaneously shove him into his next frock and wig. So once I’ve tidied up the chaos and returned the changing room to a temporarily Zen-like place of calm, I get to stitch.

Ribbon roses at the beginning of the week for my Stitch Zone ribbon embroidery workshop the next Monday. As I was working under dressing room lights the colours aren’t great, but it’s purples and lilacs on a indigo dyed scrap of cotton.

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Then ribbon stitch leaves around the french knot buds and closed fly stitch leaves.

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Finally completing it with some tendril-like stems at the ends in split stitch and a couple more fly stitch leaves.

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At the end of the week I moved onto mushrooms! When we did the Bayeux Stitch workshop at Embroiderers’ Guild last July I was working on the baby leaf-tailed dragon, but I did have a sudden desire to stitch some big chunky mushrooms in Bayeux Stitch. I started by sketching a simple design freehand and then traced it onto some calico.

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The light in the changing room is good to stitch by but not to take photographs by and the green cap is really more of a teal.

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Salmon-pink spots, not red!

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And tan gills.

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Stalk in a darker brown which I think might have been vintage mending wool – it kept breaking.

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And then the outlining.

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A lot of fun to stitch. I’ve still got the gills to put in and the rest of the outline and highlights to do, but I’m really pleased with all the stitching (even the ubiquitous mending of seams, buttons and various fastenings etc. of show week) I got done during panto this year!

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Our March meeting at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild was Canvaswork Stitch play, led by me. Unfortunately, due to a combination of everything coming on top of each other,  being ill and then completely forgetting about the workshop until about two months before it was due to happen, I wasn’t as well prepared with samples as I would have liked. But I am pleased with what I did manage to stitch.

First sample was the same thread but different stitches.

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The upright cross stitch was a revelation. You would never guess that it was just upright crosses – I just love the interlocking texture it produces.

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Then I worked a sample which was all the same stitch – cushion stitch, but stitched in as many different types of thread as I could. I am particularly pleased with the effect of the chenille (small pale beige rectangle at the bottom), which is such a difficult thread to actually stitch with anywhere else!

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I also had a lovely time running a Ribbon Roses workshop with Selby Embroiderers’ Guild. I had been experimenting with some pelmet vilene based brooches featuring the ribbon roses both with beaded blanket stitch…

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…and also normal blanket stitch edging.

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(The second one ended up as an emergency Mother’s Day card for a friend!!)

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So I decided to turn the design into kits, which went down very well.

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And I even managed to turn my sample/teaching example piece from the workshop into a birthday card.

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And finally another piece of jewellery upcycled with a ribbon rose and beautifully modelled by my little one, who is not so little any more. :o(

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Available as always,  here in my Etsy shop.

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A silver Victorian brooch arrived as part of a job lot of jewellery I bought online last week. It was perfect – apart from the central dome, which was badly dented and damaged. I gently tried to smooth it out with a doming tool but the metal was too far gone and I ended up resorting to carefully removing it with a jeweller’s saw.

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After some filing and finishing this left me with a tempting little space to fill and I was soon stitching a minute silk ribbon rose onto some ironed out silk carrier rod.

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The completed rose (with a french knot cluster in the centre and lazy daisy leaves round the outside)  is about 6mm in diameter.

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The brooch is only an inch in diameter but the rose makes it look huge!

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The completed ‘Blush Rose’ brooch is in my Etsy shop here.

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I’ve also started work on another embroidered locket piece – this time a little larger but not much!! My idea for this one was a climbing rose on a trellis. Trellis first. This locket was a bit distressed inside so I lined it with some more of the silk carrier rod which you can see through the hole in the front.

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Next I started on the stems of the rose and because I couldn’t resist, have already put in some vivid scarlet roses (french knots of course) in a shade of hand dyed silk called ‘Tart’s Knickers’!!!

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The colours have turned out a bit dodgy on this photo in spite of going outside to make use of a rare bit of February sun!

If you follow me on Instagram you will also have seen the cushion cover which I made this week…

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… a good antidote to working in miniature! The crewel work embroidery is not mine but came from a ubiquitous suitcase of embroidered household linens which friends recently cleared from the house of an elderly relative.

The embroidery on this piece was finished but it hadn’t been made up into anything so there had been no wear or light damage to the linen and I was asked to make it up into a cushion cover, which having had a well-earned rest from the sewing machine and panto costumes, I was finally ready to do.

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I found some fantastic toning batiks to edge the front and create the back. That pop of turquoise makes the soft green of my beloved suite look completely washed out!

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It’s good to think that all the hard work put in by whoever stitched the original embroidery will finally be on show and admired after probably at least half a century.

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