This image below shows, on the left, the three leaves that go at the base of the stumpwork pinks on the gold diamond of the Illuminated Floral panel that I am making (a kit by Alison Cole). The three smaller leaves on the right are the leaves of the strawberries that will be attached on the bottom right hand corner of the panel. The filling stitch for the larger leaves is stem stitch, worked in a continuous spiral from the outside of each leaf, in to the centre. The strawberries are filled in with long and short buttonhole stitch, worked over the wire edging, so that the wire is covered and the centre of the leaf filled in in one go. These differences are what makes this kit very interesting to do – if all the fillings were the same, it would be boring to stitch!
The next piece of quilter’s muslin was used to make the star flower petals – all 15 of them. Each one was a slightly different shape.
I couldn’t manage to get them pointed enough at the ends for my liking, even with tweezers to pinch the wire at the tips of each petal, so my star flowers will look more like daisies! You can just see, in the picture, that the bottom three petals have a chip of Bright Check Purl added to the base of each petal, as accents. When Chris, my husband, saw this ring of little petals, he said it looked as if I was ‘making little sperms’. I suppose they do look a bit like that, with their little wiry tails!
Having finished making all of the detached petals for the pinks on the gold diamond on Alison Cole’s design ‘Illuminated Floral’, I now needed to attach them to the main fabric. I have been putting off this bit, in case I ruin it!
I decided to shape each petal with tweezers a little *before* attaching them to the fabric, as I felt that they might get loosened again from the gold fabric diamond if I tried to manipulate them after attaching them. Even then, sometimes I squashed one while I was trying to attach the next one! All the wires for one flower need to go down the same hole, so things get a bit fraught at this stage. A number 18 chenille needle is used like an awl, to poke a large hole in the fabric, and while the needle is still part-way through the fabric, holding open the hole, the wire of the petal is poked through. Then, the wire needs to be securely attached at the back – folding back the wire on itself helps here, to prevent the petal from wiggling about.
This view of the back of the stitching shows the wires (in white) once tacked in place with tan coloured cotton thread, doubled back for each petal.
Finally, a tiny gold bead is sewn in the centre of each flower, to finish it off, and to hide any untidiness caused by attaching several things in one place! I used the tweezers again a little, to arrange the petals again at this stage, and nothing fell off, so it must have worked 🙂
My customers often send me images of the doll’s house scale items that they have made from the kits and charts on my website. Heide is from Germany, and has been stitching my designs for over ten years. She recently sent me photos of her latest creation – a very large paisley carpet.
In 2010, Heide donated one of her earlier houses, the Big House, to a museum of childhood – but first she took out some of the carpets, and put them into her second house, The Café! But The Café will follow the Big House to the museum in 2014, so she says that again she will take out most of the carpets to put them into her third project, The B&B. In her words, ‘Double shame on me!!!’ for not letting her carpets go with the house. ‘I thought my age of 70 would make me a wise and unselfish woman, but there are obviously a lot of things I would miss.’ I think that is perfectly understandable!
This huge paisley carpet is based on a very early design of mine called ‘Phyllis’, which appeared in my book ‘Miniature Needlepoint Carpets’, but is no longer available as a kit. Heide’s carpet measures 13 by 4 1/2 inches (32 by 11 cm) – large by any miniaturist’s standards! It will fit one of the three lobbies in her B&B, which is in the process of being made.
This group photo shows many of the carpets that Heide has stitched over the years. She alters some of the colourways to suit her houses, and some she stitches as per the kit. It’s easy to see, from this photo, that Heide has a ‘favourite palette’ for her stitching! Clockwise from the top left, these carpets are: Elizabeth, Patricia, Heide’s adapted version of a carpet of mine called ‘Jessica’, Rebecca, Jessica (the same design as my original, but different colours), Carole pastel, Heide’s design based on Phyllis, and Ruth. Most of these are available from my online shop as full kits (to be stitched on 18 count canvas with crewel wool), and as chart packs too.
Having stitched all of the ‘surface embroidery’ parts of the Illuminated Floral stumpwork panel by Alison Cole, I’ve now made a start on the detached elements. Alison’s kit includes several pieces of quilter’s muslin to work the detached parts on, as well as plenty of fine wire for the shaping. I’m doing the petals for the pinks on the gold diamond first. Each petal shape is traced onto the muslin, and then fine wire is tacked on, buttonhole stitch is worked really closely over the wire shape, and then split backstitch is worked just inside the wire outline. Finally, the centre is filled with long and short stitch (see the image below – stages worked right to left). It’s essential to use a hoop for this process, as the muslin needs to be really taut. In ‘full size’ detached stumpwork pieces, the wires sticking out at the base are usually left double, but as these petals are so tiny (about half an inch long), one of the wires is trimmed off to make attaching the petal easier.
Making detached stumpwork petals for the pinks
I’d never made such small stumpwork pieces before, but once I got the hang of it, these were quite easy to do. I found it quite hard to get sharp corners, though, so mine are a bit more ’roundy’ than Alison’s! Notice on the image below, that all the ‘tails’ of wire are sticking out around the edge of the hoop – this limits tangling of your working thread as you work multiple petals.
When it came to cutting out the shapes from the muslin, it was good to leave the muslin tautly fixed in the hoop, as the tension helped when cutting neatly up to the edge of each piece – this was one of Alison’t many helpful tips in her instructions.