Victorian Pincushion on spindle stand: 4 – stitching the needlebook

I’m currently stitching this gorgeous pincushion on a wooden base from a Victoria Sampler chart booklet in my stash. Having stitched the pincushion itself, I’m now stitching the smalls – starting with the little needlebook.

Victorian pincushion embroidery by Victoria Sampler

This pretty needlebook takes motifs from the pincushion itself, as well as a Bargello wave along the bottom. Three little square eyelets at the top will become the method of making the ‘pages’ of the needlebook hold together – I’ll be threading ribbon through those at the final stage.

This didn’t take long to do, and I was quite pleased with how it turned out…..until I realised just as I was finishing the stitching that I had miscounted somehow, and made it eight fabric threads too long! I think it was when I was working out the placement of the little pearl beads.

Not being a perfectionist, rather than unpick loads and do it correctly, I decided to make my needlebook just a bit longer than the Victoria sampler one! It just means that I have to make sure the reverse side of the needlebook is adapted to be exactly the same shape as this front panel, and adjust the shaping when I assemble it.

Victoria Sampler embroidery needlebook

It was easy to make the adjustment for the extra length on the reverse side, as there is a lot of ‘blank space’ between the eyelets and the main design.

Victoria Sampler embroidery needlebook

Shhh!! No-one will notice…..

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Kitting up for an alphabet quilt

I have a soft spot for simple, old-fashioned cross stitch designs. I buy vintage ones whenever I can. This particular chart pack, though, has been in my stash for years, but I’ve only recently worked out what I can do with such a large design!

ABC 1

The chart pack was a free gift that came with World of Cross Stitching magazine, ages ago. It  is by Faye Whittaker, of All Our Yesterdays. She specialises in cute images of Edwardian-looking children, usually seen only from the back (so no fiddly facial features to stitch!). If it was stitched on 16 count evenweave, the chart says, the whole sampler would be 38 inches high. I haven’t got that much wall space left in my house if I made it as a picture, so I had to come up with a different idea for how to use this pretty cross stitch chart.

What I’ve decided to do with these designs is to make an alphabet lap quilt, with each letter stitched individually on white 28 count Zweigart Cashel linen fabric (over two). I then only have to handle small pieces of fabric at a time (9 x 9 inches cut size, for a finished 7 x 7 square), and not have to struggle with one huge piece, if I were to stitch the whole alphabet in one go. I estimate I will need one and a quarter metres of 55 inch wide fabric to make this though (the finished quilt will be about 39 by 65 inches, including the fabric borders).

Each letter will be bordered with a red fabric stripe, except for the corner squares between each letter, which will be a plain blue square. That’s the plan, anyway. For the cotton fabrics, I raided my stash and found these two red patterned fabrics, and the plain blue, which pick up colours from the threads to be used for the cross stitch.

ABC 2

Although I’ve attached the threads onto a DMC thread sorter, I’m actually using Anchor threads for this piece, so I had to use a conversion chart to work out the Anchor equivalents, as the colour key for the chart lists DMC thread colours.

ABC 3

The chart comes as one large foldout piece of paper, like a map. That’s quite tidy to store, but a nightmare to stitch from, so I’ll have to scan it all in and divide it up into the individual letters, to make it less unwieldy, and more portable.

ABC 4

The chart has an upper case alphabet (the one I’m going to stitch), and also a lower case one, for if you wanted to do door name plates, and so on, but I don’t think I’ll be using that.

I’ll need to make up two ‘extra’ motifs at some point, as I want to stitch seven rows of four squares, which is the 26 letters of the alphabet, plus two more at the bottom corners to balance the design. I think I’ll take two of the child motifs from within the chart, and adapt them a bit, changing the colourway, and making them look unique enough that most people won’t notice that they appear twice in the design. If I use one of a child who looks off to the left, for the right hand corner, and one who looks off to the right for the left hand corner, I reckon that should do it!

This will be a good project for when I’m out and about, as I could just take one letter with me at a time. So many of my stitching projects are kept on frames, and so aren’t very portable, but this can even be stitched in the hand, without needing a frame at all if I keep my stitch tension relaxed, as each letter is only about five inches wide and high.

It’s not a quick project, though, so expect only occasional updates!

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Victorian pincushion on spindle stand: 3 – assembling the pincushion

I’m currently stitching this gorgeous pincushion on a wooden base from a Victoria Sampler chart booklet in my stash. I’m up to the part where I need to assemble the stitching to make the actual pincushion.

Victorian pincushion embroidery by Victoria Sampler

This is my completed pincushion stitching, before I started to make it into the pincushion.

Victoria Sampler ribbon embroidery beaded pincushion

To make the pincushion pad, I rolled a strip of 2 ounce wadding into a ‘cinnamon bun’ shape, and stitched a few tacking stitches over the end of the  strip to stop it from unravelling. I made a stiff card base for the pincushion, a little bit smaller than the diameter of the wooden circular base, and made a hole in the centre of the card.

Victorian pincushion by Victoria Sampler

Then I trimmed the fabric to within an inch of the embroidery, and made a line of running stitches round the edge, 1cm in, with strong quilting thread. I placed the wadding shape on the card, and then the embroidery on top, and pulled up the running stitched line to gather the fabric onto the dome of wadding.

Then I laced back and forth across the card circle’s base, to pull the fabric tightly to the circular shape.

Next, I used the Perle 12 mauve thread and, following the tacked lines on the circle, I pulled the thread up through the centre hole of the card, wadding and embroidery in the centre, and down over the edge of the shape, six times, to make the divisions on the pincushion, finally tying off securely underneath. Then I removed the tacking stitches.

Lastly, I stuck the pincushion to the wooden circular base, making sure it was centred.

Victorian pincushion by Victoria Sampler

To make the edge look neat where the pincushion joins the wooden base, I made a thick cord using lots of the Perle 12 mauve thread. Tilting the pincushion so that I could see what I was doing, I stuck the cord around the edge, a little at a time, using tacky PVA glue, tucking in the last bit to make it look like one continuous cord (I glued the very end bit first, before trimming, so that it didn’t suddenly unravel when cut!).

Victorian pincushion by Victoria Sampler

Ta-da!! One very successful pincushion on a spindle base!! I used vintage cotton reels from a sewing box that I bought in an antique shop to fill the spindles around the base, using shades picked from the embroidery colours I’d used.

Victorian pincushion by Victoria Sampler

Lovely, isn’t it? Now I need to make the strawberry emery and needlebook that go with this.

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Victorian pincushion on spindle stand by Victoria Sampler: 2 – beaded flower border

I’m currently stitching this gorgeous pincushion on a wooden base from a Victoria Sampler chart booklet in my stash. I’ve done the ribbon embroidery centre of the design, and now I’m up to the beaded flower border.

Victorian pincushion embroidery by Victoria Sampler

As I said last time, I found, as I started to stitch this border, that it really helped with the placement of the embroidery stitches for the flowers to EXACTLY  copy the position of the tacking stitches from the chart as I was marking out the fabric in advance of doing the stitching. What I mean is, if the central vertical tacking stitch line, for instance, goes over four threads each time, then reproduce that – don’t do six threads, then four threads, then five threads, etc., as if it doesn’t matter, because it will make counting out from a tacking stitch line to the starting point of a flower more difficult if your stitches vary in length from the chart.

I found this out when I started doing the first little beaded flower:

Victorian pincushion embroidery by Victoria Sampler

The actual flower is easy – two tiny seed beads stitched in place on each side of a square, with a larger pearl bead secured in the centre. What was really difficult at first was working out the exact PLACEMENT! I kept getting it wrong! Each beaded flower is quite a long way away from any other element, and to count out from a ribbon embroidery stitch was too hit and miss anyway. The tacking stitch lines made it easier.

Victoria Sampler embroidery beaded pincushion

What I also found to be really helpful was to first make a cross stitch in beige thread that matched the fabric as much as possible, in the space that the pearl bead would eventually be stitched, and then place the little green beads around the four sides of that cross next, and stitch the pearl bead in place last, pulling it into position so that it nestled down among the green seed beads.

Victoria Sampler embroidery beaded pincushion

Finally, once the beaded flowers were all done, I added the outer border of dark green leaves using the silk ribbon.

Victoria Sampler ribbon embroidery beaded pincushion

At this point, it was important not to go ‘Great! I’ve finished it!’, and undo the tacking lines, as they are necessary for the assembly part next.

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