‘Wisdom’ envelope folder : getting started on the embroidery

A tracing of the design I’m going to embroider – it measures about 8 by 4 inches

I’ve spent a good few days thinking about the design for the front flap of the envelope folder that I’m going to embroider. I want it eventually to be quite heavily covered in stitches, so I’ve got to make sure that the fabric’s foundation is strong enough to take dense stitching.

Cotton batiste placed over the tracing on the light box, so I can transfer the design lines

I’m using my favourite method for transferring the design onto the fabric, which, fortunately, will  help to strengthen the Dupion silk fabric at the same time – I made a tracing of the design, then used a light box to re-trace from the paper tracing onto cotton batiste, turning the tracing paper over first to reverse the pattern. Then, I placed the cotton fabric on the back of the blue silk, stretching both into my hoop at the same time.

Sewing cotton matched to my embroidery threads

Now I’ve got a good few hours of work to do, going over the pencilled lines on the cotton fabric with tiny running stitches, to get the design to show on the *front*. It’s time-consuming, but actually quite a nice part of the project – while I’m slowly doing all this transferring of the design, I can really ‘get into’ the design itself, and plan exactly which stitches I’m going to use for each part. I could do all the running stitches in one colour of sewing cotton, but I make it more interesting by choosing sewing cottons which match, as closely as possible, the embroidery thread shades that I’ll later stitch with.

Starting to transfer the traced lines – this will be the reverse side, eventually
The ‘right side’ showing the transferred outlines

Maybe I’ll unpick each length of cotton as I go (usually I do anyway), but if the odd piece gets left in, then it won’t show much if the shades are similar. Anyway, it makes the design tracing stage more fun.


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7 thoughts on “‘Wisdom’ envelope folder : getting started on the embroidery”

  1. I wish I could remember where I first found this technique 🙂 …but I’ve been using it for years, anyway. I find it is much more successful than tracing on ‘real’ tracing paper, stitching through it on the front of the fabric, and then tearing the tracing paper away – that tends to rip out some of the running stitches.

  2. A while ago I’ve learned this technique from Ruth O’Leary Textile Art (blogspot).
    As far I could understand this technique is commonly used in goldwork embroidery on silk.

  3. Every embroiderer, faced with the challenge of a personal project, finds a way! I have an almost identical technique: http://smallestforest.net/2010/02/10/httpwp-mepeep9-6u/ but instead of using cotton batiste I use very thin iron-on interfacing. I do tiny designs and often text, and found the running stitch difficult to understand, once the piece is turned right-way-up, so I work a tiny back stitch, instead.
    Thanks for sharing, your work is amazing and so inspirational. I’m so glad I found your blog tonight!

    1. That’s an interesting variation (to use iron-on interfacing). I’ve used that in the past, but it sometimes goes ‘fluffy’ over the course of the stitching time, especially when the stitching will be dense, as this project will be. Then, bits of the interfacing make their way to the front of the fabric through the needle holes, and when the fabric is dark, it can be unsightly.

      Back stitch would make the design lines easier to see, I admit, but I should think it’d be more fiddly to unpick, which is what I prefer to do, when I’m being tidy 🙂

      I do like your description and photos on your blog, though – very clear.

  4. I’m excited to see this filled in a little bit. I am using this transfer method as I am using a dark, heavy fabric to work on and this looks like it would make it actually possible to transfer. Mine is looking good so far, but I’m not sure about filling in based on pretty general outlines, as I’m just starting..

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