I’ve just finished making this little embroidered cottage (it’s about three inches high). Isn’t it lovely?! The design appeared in Inspirations magazine, Issue 35 (published by Country Bumpkin, in Australia, quite a few years ago, now), but I’ve been meaning to make it ever since I first saw it.
The cottage is made to have a pincushion for the roof. The button loop under the doorstep is so that the house lifts off the base, and you can store something like a tape measure or thimble inside.
As usual with Inspirations magazine’s projects, the instructions are really detailed – lots of diagrams, a pull-out sheet with the designs on, and full thread lists. Carolyn Pearce likes using lots of different threads in her projects, but I changed them to be almost all Anchor threads, as I own a full set (as I use Anchor threads in the kits that I sell on my website). I used 3mm wide silk ribbon for the roses, as I didn’t have the 2mm that Carolyn recommends in the article – so my roses are a bit ‘oversized’!
The flower borders all around the house were lovely to stitch – very small impressions of different types of early summer flowers, but each recognisable – daisies, bluebells, lavender, and so on. Almost all of the embroidery was done using one strand of Anchor cotton, with stitches such as French knots, blanket stitch, stem stitch, fly stitch and colonial knots.
I’d been unsure as to how successful the ribbon roses would be, as I haven’t done much ribbon embroidery, and this was very small scale stuff. Also, the fabric I was using was quite fine silk, and I wasn’t sure how much ‘pulling around’ it would take, if I had to tug ribbon through it repeatedly. Actually, it worked really well, and I think the roses have come out great. It’s an unusual stitch – a combination of a colonial knot, worked about an inch and a half away from the fabric, and then the needle is run through the remaining ribbon back to the fabric surface before taking the needle to the reverse, so that ‘concertina folds’ are made in the ribbon – this makes the petals of the rose. The roses are very effective, and very cute! I can see me using this stitch on other projects, now.
The assembly was a bit tricky, to put it mildly! The tube that makes up the sides of the house has to be lined with wadding and backing fabric, then a layer of plastic inserted between the layers to stiffen the structure. Considering this house is only two inches in diameter, that’s not easy!
The ceiling design is gathered over a padded plastic circle, then slip-stitched onto the top of the walls. Then I gathered a length of olive coloured silk near to the edge, using a piece from along the selvedge so that I didn’t need to hem it, and slip-stitched that onto the top of the walls too, finally gathering up the centre to finish the roof (stuffing the space with wadding to make the pincushion first). Carolyn suggests using wire-edged ombre ribbon in the article, but I didn’t have any of that, but I was pleased with my substitution. The stitched model in the magazine has ribbon roses on the top of the roof as a decoration, but I like mine plainer.
The base is made from two circles of fabric gathered over padded plastic – one has a spray of flowers the same as those on the ceiling, and the underside has my initial ‘J’ embroidered in tiny back stitch with French knots.
To join the two circles together, I used palestrina stitch around the edges. This worked successfully until I got to the ‘hinge’ part, where the instructions say to make a ribbon hinge to join the house to the base, then work palestrina stitch aross the join. Hmm, well, you try it! It’s not the neatest part of this project, so I’m not going to show you a close-up photo of it. Not surprisingly, I think, even the stitched model in the magazine isn’t shown from the back, so I suspect that that part of the project is very hard to do neatly (or perhaps that’s just me justifying myself!).
This project took just over a week of ‘spare time’ to make. The assembly took about the same length of time as the embroidery did. I haven’t decided yet what I’ll keep in the cottage, but it will have to be something, special, I think, to do it justice.