I am currently stitching the Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui as a stitchalong project. This week, I am stitching the berries on the front panel. See the end of this post for all the information you’ll need to join in!
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HOW TO STITCH THE BEADED BERRIES
These gorgeous chunky little berries really make this project into something special – I’ve been looking forward to stitching these since I started making this etui! However, from the emails and comments on this blog that I’ve had over the past few weeks, these berries have caused people the most problems with this project out of all the elements, so I’ll try to address some of the issues with this blog post.
There is a slight problem with what these berries are called, for one thing. They are described as ‘strawberries’ in the Inspirations magazine’s instructions. But until I read that, I’d always thought they were raspberries. So, make your own mind up on that one!! I think that, with hindsight, the project itself was named after the ‘dangleys’ – there is definitely a strawberry on one of the cords hanging from the base of the heart. But these berries on the front panel are not like that!
This is what they start off as – little egg-shaped bits of dark red felt. I cut out 12, as eventually I’ll need twelve for the whole project, so I’ve bagged up the spares for later (when, hopefully, I’ll still be able to find them…). I had to adapt the shaping from the drawn outline of the design, as, on the drawing they have pointed tips, just like leaves.
Then I stab-stitched three of the shapes into position on the design, using dark red sewing cotton. In the magazine instructions, people are advised to use a kind of adhesive webbing (like Bondaweb) on the TOP surface of the felt, and then, after attaching the felt to the base fabric, work Oyster Stitch through the felt and the webbing. The reasoning being, I think, that that will cut down on the ‘fluff’ of the felt getting drawn up through the Oyster stitches. But people have been telling me that that doesn’t work, and it just makes it really difficult to work the stitches through the almost ‘sticky’ layer of the webbing. I think that’s a rather strange use of a webbing fabric, and unnecessary, so I didn’t use it!
The surface texture of the berries is achieved by working Oyster Stitch with a bead added. I used size 11 Mill Hill seed beads 42012 dark red (substitute) while working the Oyster stitch all over the felt shapes with two strands of Silk ‘n’ Color 1055 dark red (substitute). This is a really good use of a stitch with beads added – it makes them look just like…..RASPBERRIES, NOT STRAWBERRIES!!
Mary Corbet has a video tutorial for Oyster stitch here.
The only thing that I would change in her tutorial is that when making the first loop (that looks like a Twisted chain stitch), I wouldn’t try to do it in a ‘scooping motion’ with the needle – I do it in two stages, as a stabbed stitch, taking the needle to the back, and then bringing it up exactly where I want it to be and making a sort of twisted chain stitch. ‘Scooping’ the needle on the fabric at this point, when there is felt padding on the top of the fabric to get through as well means that you wouldn’t be able to take a very small ‘bite’ of the fabric, so your Oyster stitches would end up being too large for this berry. You need to make five complete stitches in a row down the length of the centre of the berry, so each Oyster stitch needs to be about 3/16 of an inch long in total to fit five in. That can only be achieved by stab stitching the first twisted chain stitch shape, IMO! That’s the secret to getting these small textural stitches to fill the space properly.
You also need to remember to thread the bead on before you start each stitch, and then after making the first twisted chain stitch shape, push the bead up to the top of the stitch with your needle, just about to the point where you are going to take the needle behind the loop from right to left, underneath where the bead now sits. This will make the bead sit high on the completed stitch. Then make the final ‘chain stitch’ shape around the outside of the twisted chain stitch and bead combination, and catch that loop down to finish the Oyster Stitch.
With the centre berry, I did the stitches as the instructions recommended – a row of five down the centre, then three each side at the edges (left side first), then filled in the spaces in between with more stitches. It came out like this:
With the berry on the left, I altered that slightly, and worked the row of three down the right hand edge first, then the centre row, then the left hand row, to see if it made it any easier to get the needle under the loops when completing the stitches, but it didn’t make much difference to the ease of completion, and I felt that this berry ended up looking too ‘regimented’, with the beads in obvious rows.
So, with the berry on the right, I started filling in from the top of the berry, not doing any of it in rows, but just sort of ‘flood filling’ with stitches. Out of the three techniques, I think I like the centre berry the best, although it was tricky to do.
HOW TO STITCH THE NEEDLELACE SEPALS FOR THE BERRIES
Each berry has three sepals made from needlewoven picots. One of my blog readers, called Jeanette, has given me a tip which would have made stitching these a lot easier – she said to fix a plastic A4 pocket tightly up to the base of the berry, and temporarily tape the plastic to the edge of your hoop before putting in the ‘locating pin’ for each picot, so that when you are stitching the picots, the needle has a shiny base to slide across, instead of the base fabric and surrounding stitches, which can easily get caught in your needle.
Another blog reader said that she had so much trouble stitching the picots *after* the berries, that she unpicked the berries, and then started again, stitching the picots first, and then re-stitching the berries! So, that’s another option.
This is Mary Corbet’s really good video on how to make the picots.
I stitched mine using one strand of Anchor 268 Dark green. I used a dressmaking pin as a locating pin to set the length of the picot.
With the centre berry, I found that once I’d worked the picots, the berry looked as if it was ‘floating’, as the design drawing didn’t have a stem to that berry. So I stitched one in the same style as the other two berries, but it was tricky to do after the picots had been stitched as they got in the way, and it looks a bit obvious now, I think.
Each berry has four Lazy daisy stitches worked underneath the needlewoven picots to give depth (make sure you stitch these after the picots, or you’ll keep catching your needle in them as you weave the picots), with one stitch in copper thread added too to give highlights. Then the picots are stitched down with a one strand of the same shade of green, with a bit of a twist to each one (not flat to the fabric). That bit made a lot of difference to the finished look.
So, here’s my finished berries:
I’m really pleased with how these RASPBERRIES turned out!
THE COMPLETED FRONT PANEL
This is the panel, now it is completely stitched (except for the Dorset button, which will go in the space in the centre, once it’s all been assembled). Although I’ve had to fiddle with several design elements, I’m pleased with this. The back panel should be easy to do now, and a lot quicker, as it repeats many elements from this front one. I’m also pleased, on the whole, with my thread substitutions, despite some of the green shades looking too similar to each other. Mostly, this panel has been stitched with Anchor stranded cotton thread. The carnation flower on the left doesn’t look quite so out of position now that more embroidery around it distracts the eye somewhat. But it is still in the wrong place, due to a badly drawn design, and I wish I’d noticed before I traced it like that!
Seen sideways on, you can appreciate the texture of this piece of embroidery, which I love 🙂
NOW IT’S OVER TO YOU!
I’d love to see pictures of your embroidered panels, so please send your images to firstname.lastname@example.org , before 11th April 2018. That’s not long!!
I’d really like next week’s blog post to feature some pictures of your Strawberry Fayre panels, even if you haven’t completed them yet! Just send me a clear image of the whole panel, or just a detail, or an angled side view. Images need to be in .jpg format, well lit and in focus, and as large as possible, file-size-wise, please! Please bear in mind that any images sent in might be used by me on Facebook or other social media. I’m sure other people would love to see your stitching 🙂 I’ll try to use as many as possible……
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The Strawberry Fayre design, plus the complete list of materials, appears in Inspirations magazine number 95. The publishers do sell a full materials pack (not including the mother of pearl ruler though!), but it’s rather expensive, so if you can use your stash, and just fill in with bits and pieces, then so much the better! The magazine is published in Australia – if you live in the UK, as I do, it is cheaper to buy a back copy from Manor House Magazines, and save a lot on the shipping.
To read about this project stitchalong from the beginning, start here. The post about which FABRIC to use is here. The post about the THREAD SUBSTITUTIONS that I made, plus WHERE TO BUY the threads and beads, etc., is here.
To look up all the posts in this series in the sidebar, see under the CATEGORIES list, under: Embroidery / Full size (others’ designs) / Strawberry Fayre heart etui, or use the SEARCH BOX at the top of the blog, and search for ‘Strawberry Fayre’ to get a list of all the posts (but it’s in reverse order, sorry!).
I’d be interested to see images of how your project is progressing – please email large, clear, well-focused images to email@example.com Please bear in mind that any images sent may be used in this blog and/or social media such as Facebook or Pinterest.
Are you interested in doll’s houses and stitching? Then why not visit my website, where you can buy doll’s house needlepoint kits to make all kinds of soft furnishings for one-twelfth scale dollhouses. There are over 280 kits to choose from, plus chart packs, fabric project packs, tutorials, and lots of eye candy to inspire you! Kits are available on 18 and 22 count canvas, 28 and 32 count evenweave, and 32 and 40 count silk gauze, so there’s something for everyone – from beginners to experts.