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.
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.
This photo has come out a little bit more realistically than previous ones (my camera doesn’t like taking photos of black silk). The thread colours are really jewel-like, and this image gives a hint of that.
This week, I’ve been working on filling in the scroll on the left of the panel by Alison Cole. The outline is couched in gold Elizabethan Twist, using Gutermann thread. The ‘points’ work out more successfully if they are done as two separate lengths, as, even with tweezers to pinch the tip, it is hard to get a sharp point simply by turning the gold thread back on itself. It is better to take the thread to the back, and re-emerge a short distance away before continuing. To colour in the scroll with the silk thread, Alison suggests working a couple of rows of stem stitch filling in from each of the sides, then filling in the centre gap last (rather than working from one side to the other), which I found to work very well.
Before stitching the scroll, I worked the stems for the currants and blackberries – both of these have gold kid leather leaves, like the forget-me-nots did. I really enjoyed making the redcurrants – they are made using a largish red bead, which is then wrapped carefully with one strand of red thread, and just before finishing off the thread, a tuft of black and gold threads together are secured in the top end of the berry. Leaving a tail of red thread enables you to attach the currants to the fabric. The blackberries were also great fun to make. I was very pleased with these! They need a tiny layer of black felt for padding, then little iridescent purple and blue-black beads are sewn all over the black felt, creating the berry. The sepals were a pain, though! They are really tiny needlelace picots, and they are each only about a quarter of an inch long, made after the berries (so there’s hardly any room to manoevre the needle). They look great now they’re finished….but I’m so pleased they’re finished! They are a bit ‘loose’, and not very tidily-woven, but they are lucky to be there at all, and not in the ort heap! This image below shows how ‘raised’ the berries are, and how much they catch the light:
I’ve been getting on with this Illuminated Floral stumpwork panel by Alison Cole, and it’s really starting to look good, now.
The stems of the star flowers (on the far left) have been stitched in chain stitch – the pansy stems (centre) in split back stitch, and also the forget-me-not stems (on the far right). All stems have one side couched with gold thread alongside them, as a highlight. I was a bit bemused by the forget-me-nots (which I have always thought were BLUE flowers), being stitched with PINK thread. Maybe in Australia they’re pink… Anyway, the forget-me-not leaves are partly stem stitch filling, and partly gold kid leather applique pieces. These have to be absolutely tiny – I kept trimming more and more off the leather, but they still looked huge. I still think they’re a bit too big, but they’ll have to do now.
The instructions said to just fix them at the base of each leaf, but when I tried that, the gold leaf on the kid started to lift off, so I had to add another tacking stitch at the tip of the leaf, to hold it all down.
The pansy buds are worked with two layers of felt padding, long and short stitch filling in lilac silk on top, and then the sepals are a blend of green silk and gold thread in the needle together, making tiny chain stitches. As I’ve mentioned before, my camera is having trouble taking photos of black silk, so these are coming out looking a bit ‘washed out’ – really, this is a very vibrant piece of embroidery!
As I’m getting more into the stitching of this stumpwork panel, I am able to use more of the colours, which is always good! I’m not one for designs with limited colour palettes, and red is my favourite colour, so I’m a happier bunny now that the design is ‘livening up’ with some detail 🙂
I’ve now stitched the trellis in gold over the sepals and buds of the pinks (using just one strand of Madeira #3). The emerging petals from the buds are tiny detached chain stitches, and the ‘base petals’ of the pinks are worked in long and short stitch filling. The detached petals will be fixed half covering these detached parts, to give a 3D look to the whole flower.
Next, I moved on to stitching the strawberries in the bottom right hand corner of the panel. These were made as the buds were – using two layers of felt first for padding, then covering with the red silk. Stitching straight on to the black fabric, rather than through the gold painted fabric, was a real relief – much nicer to stitch on.
I did feel that the ‘seeds’ on the strawberries turned out a bit too minimalist for me – they were worked in one strand of Madeira #3, and I think they sunk into the red stitches a bit too much, so that they hardly show now. I might go over them again.