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 – 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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Embroidery in progress: An Elizabethan Stumpwork Bride’s Bag – 5

The next flower to be tackled on this second side of the Elizabethan stumpwork bag (from the book ‘Festive Elizabethan Creations’, by Shirley Holdaway) was a bluebell. Basically, they are stitched in the same way as the foxglove flowers, only smaller.

I started to stitch them late one evening, so there aren’t any ‘in progress’ photos for the first flower, as the light was too bad to take photos. The second flower came out differently to the first one, as I didn’t bother reading through the instructions a second time, so it came out wrong (there’s a lesson in there somewhere!). Take no notice of the ‘squashed’ foxglove flower in the photo below – it hasn’t been given its padding yet!

As with the foxglove flowers, I began each flower by outlining the shape with chain stitch in one strand of Anchor, then I filled the shape with detached buttonhole stitch, using two strands of the same shade (and a tapestry needle in stead of a sharp, so that the needle didn’t catch so easily on the surrounding fabric or embroidery already completed).

Then I used the half cone stick as before, tacking it to the fabric while the fabric was still in the hoop, to get the placement of it correct, and then working the lifted up detached buttonhole stitching with the fabric out of the hoop, as it was almost impossible to get the ‘catch stitches’ at each side of the rows in place with the fabric in the hoop.

Unlike the foxgloves, which just had plain rows of this stitch, the bluebells had a nifty ‘turn back’ at the end of the petals. This meant turning the fabric up the other way, and working a few rows back in the other direction. Using a slightly darker shade starting from this point also accentuated the turn back. I also had to make a wavy edge to the final few rows, to make them more realistic, which I achieved by looping the foundation thread from the right to the left in short sections, and working each petal end individually.

This turn back part was where I did it wrong on the second bluebell. If you compare the two flowers, the one on the left has a straight edge to it where the turn back occurs, whereas the one on the right doesn’t. This is because I forgot to use a foundation thread when I worked the first turn back row on the right hand flower. Although it’s OK (meaning, I couldn’t be bothered to unpick it), it annoys me now! It could be seen as the ‘variation of Nature’, I suppose, but I’d wanted them to be the same 😦

Shirley Holdaway recommends stitching small blue beads at the mouth of each bluebell flower, but I felt that that would be too much for such a small flower, so I left them plain.


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