Embroidery in progress: An Elizabethan Stumpwork Bride’s Bag – 2

I’m really enjoying making this. It’s actually coming on quicker than I expected, now. After my first weekend working on it, I’d done this much:

During the following week, I tried to spend at least an hour per evening on it, and I was surprised how much I got done. Six hours’ stitching later, it looked like this:

Stumpwork bride’s bag – first side nearly finished

My serious attempt at finishing the first side of the bag over the next weekend nearly worked , and I ALMOST got it finished – but I realised I was starting to go too fast to be doing it neatly, so I gave in just as I was attaching the gold cord around the heart shape, and have left it for a couple of days.

Stumpwork cornflower

The cornflower was my favourite flower to stitch on this side of the bag. The instructions said to do detached buttonhole filling stitch for each of the petals, and then do lifted up detached buttonhole stitch on top, for the outer half of each petal, to give a more 3-D effect. But I’ve decided that there’s far too much lifted up detached buttonhole stitch in this project, so I’m altering the pattern as I go. On this flower, I just omitted the second layer. I think it looks fine with just the one layer of stitching. I used three close shades of Anchor stranded cotton (going from light at the centre, to dark at the edges – Anchor 175, 176 and 177) to give more depth to the flower. The beads are what livens it up, anyway, and I think they look better attached to the base layer of buttonhole stitches than a ‘floating’ layer. They were first attached using invisible thread in a grey colour, and then the silver filament thread was stitched along the petals and through each bead (Mill Hill silver lined delicas), holding them in place more securely. I used a similar shade of blue bead, but in a frosted finish, for the centre of the flower. The calyx was worked in trellis couching.

Stumpwork strawberry

The strawberry, according to the instructions, should have been in plaited stitch over chain stitch couching, but again I changed it to be satin stitch couching, with size 15 gold beads stitched randomly over the area. The sepals are in Vandyke stitch, but I wasn’t too happy with how these came out. I had reduced the total size of the bag design by 10%, so that the finished embroidery would fit the bag handle that I’d bought, and I think this meant that working Vandyke stitch on such a small scale wasn’t likely to be as successful as the version in the book. Well, mine certainly wasn’t! I unpicked my first go and tried again, but I’m still not very happy with it.

Stumpwork cowslips

The cowslips came out better. I loved the yellow of these (Anchor stranded cotton 305). I never wear yellow, but I love stitching with it! The satin stitch flowers worked well, due to a split stitch outline worked first, to give a good edge to the satin stitches. And the single bronze-coloured bead centres set off the flowers well, too. The leaves were supposed to be in Vandyke stitch again, but I did them in close fly stitches, in a pale grey-green (Anchor stranded cotton 858).

The gold cord is something I’ve had in my stash for years, so I’ve no idea what brand it is, but it’s very flexible, and a lovely shade of gold, without being too ‘brassy’. The instructions said to do braid stitch, with three strands of fine gold thread, but that sounded nightmare-ish to do! The gold cord worked well once I’d got it through the fabric to start couching it down with gold sewing cotton – even with an awl, it was hard to get it through.

One more stitching session, and I should have the first side of the bag completed – then I can start on the ‘foxglove side’.


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5 thoughts on “Embroidery in progress: An Elizabethan Stumpwork Bride’s Bag – 2”

  1. The more I see pictures of stumpwork, the more I want to give it a try. Really, seeing this piece move along is really inspiring!

    1. I am always changing things with other people’s designs – but I hardly ever plan all the changes before I start. It’s part of the creative process, I think.

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