The next flower to be tackled on this second side of the Elizabethan stumpwork bag (from the book ‘Festive Elizabethan Creations’, by Shirley Holdaway) was a bluebell. Basically, they are stitched in the same way as the foxglove flowers, only smaller.
I started to stitch them late one evening, so there aren’t any ‘in progress’ photos for the first flower, as the light was too bad to take photos. The second flower came out differently to the first one, as I didn’t bother reading through the instructions a second time, so it came out wrong (there’s a lesson in there somewhere!). Take no notice of the ‘squashed’ foxglove flower in the photo below – it hasn’t been given its padding yet!
As with the foxglove flowers, I began each flower by outlining the shape with chain stitch in one strand of Anchor, then I filled the shape with detached buttonhole stitch, using two strands of the same shade (and a tapestry needle in stead of a sharp, so that the needle didn’t catch so easily on the surrounding fabric or embroidery already completed).
Then I used the half cone stick as before, tacking it to the fabric while the fabric was still in the hoop, to get the placement of it correct, and then working the lifted up detached buttonhole stitching with the fabric out of the hoop, as it was almost impossible to get the ‘catch stitches’ at each side of the rows in place with the fabric in the hoop.
Unlike the foxgloves, which just had plain rows of this stitch, the bluebells had a nifty ‘turn back’ at the end of the petals. This meant turning the fabric up the other way, and working a few rows back in the other direction. Using a slightly darker shade starting from this point also accentuated the turn back. I also had to make a wavy edge to the final few rows, to make them more realistic, which I achieved by looping the foundation thread from the right to the left in short sections, and working each petal end individually.
This turn back part was where I did it wrong on the second bluebell. If you compare the two flowers, the one on the left has a straight edge to it where the turn back occurs, whereas the one on the right doesn’t. This is because I forgot to use a foundation thread when I worked the first turn back row on the right hand flower. Although it’s OK (meaning, I couldn’t be bothered to unpick it), it annoys me now! It could be seen as the ‘variation of Nature’, I suppose, but I’d wanted them to be the same 😦
Shirley Holdaway recommends stitching small blue beads at the mouth of each bluebell flower, but I felt that that would be too much for such a small flower, so I left them plain.