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Posts Tagged ‘Victorian box project’

…are one of my favourite stitches. I must have worked hundreds of thousands of french knots from the odd few dropped into something else…

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…to the full on french knot extravaganza that is the (still unfinished) Victorian box project.

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I find them invaluable in upcycling jewellery. I’ve added them to rings, earrings and pendants and the lovely textural quality of the closely packed knots never fails to get people’s interest. This one is set in a vintage silver setting and is available here in my Etsy shop.

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So when a friend asked me to upcycle a pair of earrings for her, my first thought was french knots. The earrings were a pair of sterling silver creole hoops which had been partly channel set with some baguette cut marcasites. Unfortunately the marcasites appeared to have been stuck in with school glue and most had fallen out. A local jeweller told her that it would cost far more than the earrings were worth to have them reset properly. So rather than scrap them, she asked me to work some upcycling magic!

I cleaned them first, to get rid of the glue residue and bring up the silver.

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Then I worked a row of french knots in silk thread on a piece of dyed pelmet vilene, carefully cutting it down to fit the channel which is about 2mm wide!

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Breathe, be grateful and relieved that you haven’t cut the thread or trimmed the vilene down too far and do the other one!

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As she lives locally I was able to take a slight detour on my daily walk and post them through her letter box. She was delighted!

I also found an interesting pendant when I was sorting a lot of broken jewellery and immediately thought french knots.

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I used some variegated silk thread again and stitched one french knot through each hole. Each knot has two wraps and is big enough that it won’t slip back through the hole.

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They fill the space nicely.

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The purple and gold of the thread made me think of drifts of pansies.

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So that’s what I named it and it’s just gone into my Etsy shop here. I think it will be a long while before I get fed up with these gorgeous little stitches, which is just as well, considering there is a still a long way to go on the Victorian box!

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As promised, I have finally finished sulking about it and there is progress on the upcycled Victorian Box Project! I finished the remaining veneer with a light sanding…

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…followed by the magic of clear Danish Oil and beeswax polish.

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Then at the weekend I added some more french knots onto the edges to help counteract the shrinkage, sealed the back and applied the scissors!

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I knew it was never going to be a perfect fit, but it’s looking acceptable.

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I used a pva type glue both to seal the back and to attach it to the box. It’s not too harsh and seems to have stuck pretty well.

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There are a few small gaps to sort out…

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…but mostly, the fit is pretty good.

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This is by far the largest piece that needed replacing, so I should now be able to get on with the patches and the smaller pieces and fingers crossed they work up a bit more quickly!

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I put the final french knot into my huge piece for the Victorian Box Project  two days ago and after nearly 15 months, it was a fabulous feeling!

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I stabilised the back before I sent to bed so it could dry overnight and the next morning got the box out ready to attach the stitching. So excited! I laid it over the top of the box and stretched it over the sides and that was then I discovered that it had shrunk somewhere and wasn’t going to fit. Fortunately I have some leeway around the edges, but it’s back to the drawing board for the moment.

So to cheer myself up I picked up the brown and gold sea glass watch case pendant I showed a couple of posts ago.

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I love those tiny nuggets of very rare yellow sea glass I picked up at Seaham and the colours work perfectly with the watch case.

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I’ve also started a real upcycled piece, creating something from nothing. I started with an offcut of some hand made felt I was cutting up for another project and a piece of bent gold coloured wire that came out of a job lot of broken jewellery. Trimming the felt slightly I evened up the shape and attached the wire with straight stitches in fine silk thread. The longer stitches were topped with french knots – what else! – in a heavier mercerised cotton and I used the same thread for running stitch around the edge.

 

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I attached a pelmet vilene backing with beaded blanket stitch…

 

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…and an odd link I took off a vintage rolled gold watch strap yesterday will make the perfect bale to turn it into a pendant.

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Wow! Thanks for all the comments on my french knots project. In light of some of the questions I thought I’d post a recap (since it started about a year ago).

This is the beautiful flame mahogany veneered Victorian box I bought for a fiver on ebay last year.

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The box is basically in good shape – the joints are sound, as are the hinges, but the lost veneer is a huge issue and when I got it, someone had started to upcycle it by sticking various oddments of broken jewellery etc to the missing areas.

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They were easily removed and I had the idea of making a series of patterns in pelmet vilene to match the lost pieces and then encrust them with embroidery. I’d done some small scale encrusting work before, mostly with my embroidered jewellery

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and I favour a mix of eyelets and french knots.

I made a pattern for the missing veneer on the top and sides of the lid and chose a selection of threads in shades of green and orange for the embroidery.

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Last August it went off on holiday with me and I made a start, also incorporating some of the sea glass I love by stitching the nuggets down under a piece of chiffon.

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How pristine the vilene looks there!!

It soon became apparent that this was going to be a very long project and I don’t do well on long projects due to a very low boredom threshold. However, what has helped is the unstructured nature. As there is no design, I just load my needle with a length of thread and work french knots and/or eyelets until it runs out. Working so many means that I can do them without thinking and as I’m placing them without spaces, I can embroider in less than perfect light levels and while other things are going on – like meetings. And boot sales, hence the progress I’ve made since last week.

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Yes, all those knots are french knots,

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not punchneedle, although I can see the similarity. Had it been punchneedle though, I would have completed it a long while ago!

And so you can get an idea of how it will work:

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I can see the end in sight – well of this bit at least, as there are other much smaller areas of missing veneer which will need the same treatment. It’s been one of the longest continuous projects I’ve done to date and amazingly, I still don’t hate french knots!

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