Flowers for Elizabeth embroidered sweet bag: 9 – stitching the border, and the initial on the back

This is how far I’ve got with the ‘Flowers for Elizabeth’ sweet bag that I am stitching from the design in Issue 51 of Inspirations magazine. I’ve been stitching the border recently, and the initial for the reverse side of the bag.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

The border is composed of two rows of Interlaced Chain Stitch. It’s a simple stitch to do – you stitch the Chain Stitch line first, and then take a new thread (in a different colour, in this instance), and interlace the new thread down each side of the chains, without going through the fabric, so that the chain stitch ends up looking bi-coloured. It really helps to use a tapestry needle, and not a sharp needle, when doing the interlacing!

It is important to get the direction of the lines of Chain Stitch correct, as when you interlace the sides, it highlights the direction somewhat. I started in the top left and bottom right for each colour of border line, working outwards from those two points around the bag’s edges. That is, I didn’t start in one corner and go all the way round. Does that make sense? Hope so!

Once I’d done the inner border line, I couldn’t resist adding the little sequins, rather than waiting till last. These are tiny ones – only 3mm diameter. I had to buy what seemed like millions to get hold of these at all (from Etsy.co.uk), but they are very pretty. Larger ones wouldn’t have looked as dainty. The instructions called for 2mm sequins, but I couldn’t find those anywhere.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

The outer green border was then stitched like the inner border, so now it’s complete.

I’ve just noticed, as I’m writing this, that I missed describing the little ladybird on the small leaf in the lower left hand corner at the time that I stitched it. That was stitched after the Satin Stitch for the leaf had been done, mainly by eye as I couldn’t mark the shape on the fabric due to the Satin Stitch of the leaf itself. It’s worked in Padded Satin Stitch for the body, with the dots, legs and head in Straight Stitch.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

In the magazine’s instructions, I felt that the next part was a bit of a cop-out. It just says to ’embroider the leaves, strawberries, flowers buds and tendrils in the same manner as the front’. What it doesn’t tell you is that you have to design it yourself! They give you a basic alphabet outline to start with, which needs enlarging, but all the flowers, buds, leaves and strawberries have to be added by you…..

It’s not so difficult for me to design something like that, as I do embroidery designing for a living, but I really think they should have bothered to design the letters, or at least design something generic as well for people who couldn’t design their own.

Anyway, here’s the letter J that I designed for mine:

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

This is only three inches high, so the embroidery has to be quite fine. The strawberries are about 3/8 inch diameter, but I still padded them with two layers of Satin Stitch padding in the same way that I had for the larger ones on the front of the bag.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

The other elements were stitched as on the front, too.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

I’m really pleased with how this turned out – it’s very pretty, but still readable:

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Seen from this sideways angle, you can see how the padding really makes a difference to this piece.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

That’s all the embroidery done. Next up is the assembly…never my favourite part, but I want to see this finished now!

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Flowers for Elizabeth embroidered sweet bag: 8 – stitching the large and small leaves

Now that I’ve stitched all the flowers, buds, and strawberries on the front panel of the ‘Flowers for Elizabeth’ sweet bag (from Issue 51 of Inspirations magazine), I’m ready to start stitching the large and small leaves. And there’s quite a lot of those in this design!

As with all the other elements, I had already outlined each shape with Split Stitch, using one strand of Au Ver a Soie silk thread.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

So it was simply a case of working Long and Short Stitch shading over the whole of the large leaves, starting at the outer edges (and covering the Split Stitch as I went, to make sure I got a smooth outline).

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

I decided to do all the lighter green first on all the large leaves, and then do the darker centres in one go, too. That took quite a long time.

I also stitched the smaller light green leaves as I went over the design. These just needed Satin Stitch to be worked over the whole surface, angling the stitches in to the centre vein of each leaf, so they were quick to do.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

The little pansy leaves were worked in the same way, in the lightest grey green.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

The single honeysuckle leaf had one small area of the lighter green.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Then I went back to the large leaves, and filled in with the darker green (as in the far right hand large leaf). To complete each one, I stitched a line of Stem Stitch in brown down the centre vein (as on the left hand large leaf). This helped to disguise any scruffy Long and Short Stitch shading that didn’t quite cover the fabric properly!

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

So, here is my front panel, now that all the embroidery on the main area is completed. I’ve still got the border to do, and the sequins to attach to the background randomly. It’s turning out really lovely, and I’m very pleased with this.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

After the border (which shouldn’t take long), I’ll be stitching the initial on the reverse of the bag, too.

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Flowers for Elizabeth embroidered sweet bag: 7 – stitching the honeysuckle and forget-me-nots

I’ve reached the part of this ‘Flowers for Elizabeth’ embroidered sweet bag from Issue 51 of Inspirations magazine where I am about to start stitching the honeysuckle and forget-me-not flowers in the bottom left hand corner of the front panel.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

When I traced the original design onto my fabric, I was aware that the honeysuckle flower and part-flower were ‘detailed’ (to put it politely), but when I came to actually stitch them, I realised that the design was actually more like an Escher drawing – it was really an impossibility to stitch the flowers to make them look real, as some of the lines were missing, and extra ones had been added that made no sense. And by then, I’d traced them onto my fabric as shown on the design sheet, so I had to make the best of it!

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

I kind of simplified the petals as I stitched them, but it was a pain, and I didn’t enjoy this part of the embroidery. I know honeysuckle flowers are rather ‘random’, messy flowers, but I wasn’t sure that this was captured successfully in the rendition of these.

The next part was the forget-me-nots alongside them. I was pleased with how the smaller buds came out (made from French Knots with two strands of Au Ver a Soie silk thread). But the larger ‘full on’ flowers I think I made too spaced out, so they have ended up looking a bit spindly. They are stitched by making five Granitos Stitches in a star shape first, then adding Straight Stitches in between, and then one small French Knot to each centre.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

So, not as successful as the pansy or strawberry flowers, but it’s coming on – that’s all the flowers stitched now. Next up are the leaves.

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Flowers for Elizabeth embroidered sweet bag: 6 – stitching the pansies, strawberry flower, and butterfly

This ‘Flowers for Elizabeth’ embroidered sweet bag from Issue 51 of Inspirations magazine is gradually coming together. I’m up to stitching the pansies now, plus the white strawberry flower, the green strawberry  and the insect in the middle…. I’ve been busy this week!

I was really pleased with these pansies. They were stitched in a similar way to the strawberries that I did last week – using layers of Satin Stitch padding first on each petal, and then a top layer of Satin Stitch outside the edges of the Split Stitch outlining. The Au Ver a Soie silk thread makes the Satin Stitch come out beautifully smooth.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Just a few Straight Stitch highlights radiating out from the centre of each flower gave them a lot of ‘personality’, along with a French Knot in the centre of each to complete them.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Then I stitched the little green ‘unripe’ strawberry, in the same way that I’d done the larger ones before.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Again, the white strawberry flower and bud were stitched with Satin Stitch padding under the top layer to make the petals nicely rounded….

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

…with Straight Stitch highlights and a French Knot centre to finish them off.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

There’s a kind of ‘Tudor Rose’ flower in the bottom right hand corner of the sweet bag. Not exactly sure what kind of flower it is, but it’s embroidered in the same way as the other flowers, in two rounds of petals.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

In the centre of the bag, on the original design by Susan O’Connor, is a moth. I don’t like moths, so I drew a butterfly instead, and then chose my own colours for it.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Here’s the whole bag front so far, so you can see how it all fits together.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Coming on nicely, isn’t it?!

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