I’ve been getting on with this Illuminated Floral stumpwork panel by Alison Cole, and it’s really starting to look good, now.
The stems of the star flowers (on the far left) have been stitched in chain stitch – the pansy stems (centre) in split back stitch, and also the forget-me-not stems (on the far right). All stems have one side couched with gold thread alongside them, as a highlight. I was a bit bemused by the forget-me-nots (which I have always thought were BLUE flowers), being stitched with PINK thread. Maybe in Australia they’re pink… Anyway, the forget-me-not leaves are partly stem stitch filling, and partly gold kid leather applique pieces. These have to be absolutely tiny – I kept trimming more and more off the leather, but they still looked huge. I still think they’re a bit too big, but they’ll have to do now.
The instructions said to just fix them at the base of each leaf, but when I tried that, the gold leaf on the kid started to lift off, so I had to add another tacking stitch at the tip of the leaf, to hold it all down.
The pansy buds are worked with two layers of felt padding, long and short stitch filling in lilac silk on top, and then the sepals are a blend of green silk and gold thread in the needle together, making tiny chain stitches. As I’ve mentioned before, my camera is having trouble taking photos of black silk, so these are coming out looking a bit ‘washed out’ – really, this is a very vibrant piece of embroidery!
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As I’m getting more into the stitching of this stumpwork panel, I am able to use more of the colours, which is always good! I’m not one for designs with limited colour palettes, and red is my favourite colour, so I’m a happier bunny now that the design is ‘livening up’ with some detail
I’ve now stitched the trellis in gold over the sepals and buds of the pinks (using just one strand of Madeira #3). The emerging petals from the buds are tiny detached chain stitches, and the ‘base petals’ of the pinks are worked in long and short stitch filling. The detached petals will be fixed half covering these detached parts, to give a 3D look to the whole flower.
Next, I moved on to stitching the strawberries in the bottom right hand corner of the panel. These were made as the buds were – using two layers of felt first for padding, then covering with the red silk. Stitching straight on to the black fabric, rather than through the gold painted fabric, was a real relief - much nicer to stitch on.
I did feel that the ‘seeds’ on the strawberries turned out a bit too minimalist for me – they were worked in one strand of Madeira #3, and I think they sunk into the red stitches a bit too much, so that they hardly show now. I might go over them again.
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After working the leaves in stem stitch filling, I’ve been padding the sepals and buds of the pinks on the gold diamond next on this Illuminated Floral panel by Alison Cole.
First, two layers of felt (a tiny one, then a larger one) are tacked on, then satin stitch is worked across the sepal or bud, then another layer lengthwise. The next part will be to work very fine gold thread in a trellis pattern diagonally across the padded parts.
From this sideways-on view, you can see how raided these buds and sepals are – the two layers of padding really work well to give interest. Unfortunately, I’ve found that taking photos of black silky fabric is not something that my camera likes to do, so you’ll have to take my word for it that the colours are much brighter than they look!
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The first step in stitching this Illuminated Floral design by Alison Cole is to transfer the pattern to the delustered satin. Alison recommends using dressmaker’s carbon, but I prefer to make a tracing of the main design lines onto dressmakers pattern tissue, and then tack through the paper onto the fabric. It’s much more time-consuming, but then there’s no risk of smudges getting onto the fabric from the carbon, and the tacking stitches can be unpicked as I stitch the embroidery if necessary, leaving ’clean’ fabric behind. The only problem I had with this stage was that the gold diamond wasn’t quite as neatly drawn onto the fabric as the pattern outline given in the instructions, so it was difficult to line the two up.
Tacking through the tracing paper to transfer the design
The gold diamond is *painted on*, with fabric paint – I had assumed, when I bought the kit, that it would be a separate piece of fabric, and would need to be appliqued on.
This is the fabric after all the tacking had been done. I used a beige/gold polyester cotton for the tacking, which showed up well on the black, but was almost invisible on the gold part – I didn’t really notice this until I tore off the tisse at the end of the tacking. That may cause me problems later, if I can’t quite see where I’m meant to be stitching! I have noticed already that getting the needle to go through the gold paint is a pain - the paint fills all the fabric holes, and makes the fabric really stiff. And I’ve got to do closely-placed satin stitches on this part! Oh dear….
The first stage of the actual embroidery is to couch gold thread around the border, and the edge of the gold diamond. This couching round the diamond helped to even out the wobbly edges of the paint somewhat, so it’s all looking a bit neater now, and I’m pleased with it. The stems of the flowers are chain stitched in Cascade House silk, whipped with gold thread. My whipped stitches aren’t nearly as neat as the ones on the kitfront photo, but I found the gold painted fabric a nuisance to stitch through at all, and to get the stitches neater I would have had to do much smaller chain stitches – and, therefore, many more ‘pushings’ though the fabric with the needle. I tried various other sizes of needle than the ones supplied with the kit, but nothing really helped. I’ve now got a hole in my finger
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