Embroidery in progress: An Elizabethan Stumpwork Bride’s Bag – 9

On the whole, I’m not too keen on assembling any embroidery that I have made. After all that work, it could go horribly wrong, so I tend to put it off!I’ve got to the point now where I am sewing the two sides of my bride’s bag together, and attaching them to the purse frame.

This shows the two sides of the bag. I realised, as I took this picture, that it’s the last time that these two pieces of embroidery will ever be seen alongside each other (unless someone in the future takes my bag apart, that is!).

I made a second set of bag sides, and some narrow strips of fabric to bind the purse frame, all from the gold satin that I’m going to use to line the bag.

Tacking the end of one length of the binding to itself, I began wrapping the binding around the frame, so that I’d have something to slip stitch the bag to, and also to attach the lining to. Hopefully, I can successfully hide all of this when the bag is finished, as, at the moment, it doesn’t look too tidy  😦


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Embroidery in progress: An Elizabethan Stumpwork Bride’s Bag – 8

I’ve been making the strap for my bride’s bag this past weekend. I switched from using a Susan Bates hoop, to using a rectangular frame for this, as I didn’t want the hoop to crush the stitches on a long length of embroidery.

Shirley Holdaway, in her book ‘Festive Elizabethan Creations’ (where this design comes from), doesn’t say how long the strap needs to be, other than to say it needs to comfortably slip over your wrist, so I overdid the length I stitched, to be on the safe side, then had the frustrating experience of having to cut off several inches of stitching and throw it away  😦

In the book, several possible patterns are given for the strap, but only the version on the cover is shown stitched, so it was up to me to decide how I wanted to interpret the pattern for my strap, as I’d chosen a pattern that was only shown as a line drawing. I started by outlining with dark green (Anchor 860) using two strands, and stem stitch. Then I worked the diamonds with back stitched sides, and individual chain stitches at each point, with a gold bead in the centre of each diamond.

The flowers were outlined in chain stitch using one strand of yellow (Anchor 295), and then filled in with long and short stitch. A  maroon Mill Hill bead was stitched in the centre of each flower to finish them off.

To make up the strap, I trimmed the fabric with a half inch seam allowance on one side, then pressed under the long edge with the narrow seam allowance first (not the embroidery, just the edge).

Then I trimmed the other long edge (leaving it wider than the first side, to allow for turning a hem). I pressed the small hem under, and  then another fold parallel so that the strap was now the correct width. Wrapping one side over the other, I then slip stitched the strap together, and pressed it gently from the back.

Now I’ve got the tricky bit to do next – putting it all together!


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Embroidery in progress: An Elizabethan Stumpwork Bride’s Bag – 7

I’ve got to the stage with this project that I often do with embroidery….I’m starting to look around for what my next project will be, so there’s a risk that if I put this one down for a while, I might never pick it up again, which would be a shame, as I’ve got so far with it! So, this weekend I made sure I gave myself enough time to get a serious chunk of the embroidery done, to keep my interest up!

This little butterfly is just a ‘filler insect’ in this projet, but I’d got to the stage where I didn’t even bother to read the instructions to see how Shirley Holdaway (in her book ‘Festive Elizabethan Creations’), expected me to do it…I’d decided I wanted it to be a yellow butterfly, with bead highlights on the wings. The wings were worked in long and short stitch, using Anchor 306 deep yellow and 292 pale yellow, and the body and antennae were worked in one strand of dark green/grey (just a spare bit I had in my workbox, so I don’t know what shade it was!).

At this point, I finished off the foxglove flowers. The instructions said to take a small ball of thread ends in pink shades, and glue them high up inside the bell of each foxglove flower, to hold the tube open. I didn’t want to risk getting glue on a part of the stitching that would be visible, so I just poked the ball of thread hard up into the flower ends, and they seem to be staying put! The method certainly works to hold the curved part of the flower up, and stop it squashing flat.

I had left the beading highlights until now, in case my thread kept catching on the beads as I was stitching other areas of the bag. So, I stitched on three or four maroon seed beads to the mouth of each flower at this point, which actually made them look a lot more ‘finished’ than I’d expected. In this photo, you can see the tiny ladybird as well. There is also a ladybird on the other side of the bag, which I like better, as it has its silver wings showing on that side .

As with the first side, the last thing to add was the clusters of frosted yellow beads, in groups of three. These are stitched fairly randomly over the bag, filling any gaps that seem too ’empty’. One cluster had to be placed quite carefully, though, as I had managed to attract a speck of soot (we have an open fireplace in our living room!) which had lodged itself onto the top left hand corner of the stitching, and trying to wash it off only made the mark worse. Fortunately, three seed beads hid the mark completely. Now I keep my stitching-in-progress covered up  🙂

So, at this point, the second side of the bag looks like this.


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Embroidery in progress: An Elizabethan Stumpwork Bride’s Bag – 6

Now that the bluebells have been finished, the next flower to tackle was the pansies on the right hand side of the Elizabethan stumpwork bride’s bag (the design is from the book ‘Festive Elizabethan Creations’, by Shirley Holdaway).

The instructions said to use the detached buttonhole stitch (again), but as I’ve said before with this project, I feel that the stitch is used too much in this project, and I like doing long and short stitch / satin stitch filling more! Also, pansies are very delicate little flowers, and I felt that a textured stitched like detached buttonhole wasn’t really right for this kind of flower.

So, I outlined each petal shape first with chain stitch, using one strand of Anchor each time, and then worked long and short stitch in the relevant colour for each petal, starting with the darkest purple each time and working down the flower to the yellow. To define each petal better, I added a straight stitch between each petal in light green (Anchor 858).The highlighting thread to make the ‘face’ of the pansy was stitched with black fine sewing cotton, as I had tried it with black Anchor (shade 403), but it seemed to be a bit ‘fluffy looking’ on such a small flower, so I unpicked it. The centre of each pansy was finished off with a gold seed bead, stitched down at three points, to make sure that the hole of the bead stayed facing upwards. Even with such simple colours used for these flowers, I felt they came out really well. I like pansies – they have a lot of character.

The pansy leaf was stitched in detached buttonhole with two strands of light green (Anchor 858), as per the instructions – worked along the leaf shape from stem to tip. Then, using a darker shade (216), I added buttonhole around the entire shape, and stem stitch for the veining of the leaf.


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