Tag Archives: Wallhanging

Dollhouse scale William Morris ‘Orange Tree’ wallhanging challenge!

Do you sometimes feel that you’d like to have a go at an embroidery kit of some kind, but feel that maybe it’s beyond your capabilities?  I was talking with Sally Watson, the editor of the fabulous free online magazine ‘Artisans in Miniature’ recently, and she told me that she’d never felt she would be able to tackle mini needlepoint  – but then she said that she finds knitting Kaffe Fassett designs simple!!! I can’t knit at all, so I issued her with the William Morris ‘Orange Tree’ wallhanging challenge!

I told her that she could try stitching the kit for free, if she’d publish her results in the AIM magazine, to show others how she got on. She was up for it, so if you have a look at Issue 63 of the online Artisans in Miniature magazine , which has just been published, you can see how she got on.

I was really impressed by how methodical she was, and how it turned out in the end, despite her emailing me several times saying she wondered if she was doing OK.

Here’s the original version that I stitched, based on William Morris’s late Nineteenth Century wallhanging, that has been photographed for the front of the kit packet. The finished dollhouse wallhanging measures 3.5 inches square, and is stitched on 22 count canvas with two strands of Anchor stranded cotton floss. Everything you need is included in the kit, such as a colour block chart and detailed instructions, plenty of thread, a generous piece of canvas, the wooden pole, and ribbon to make the hanging tabs, backing fabric and a tapestry needle, so you can be stitching within minutes of receiving this kit in the post.

As a special offer, until midnight this Sunday, 16th July, you can order the kit for this William Morris wallhanging from my website, and when you use the code ORANGETREE10 at the checkout, you get 10% off the usual price. So, be like Sally, and give it a go  🙂

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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.

As a special offer for new customers on my website, use the code FIRST TIME 10 at the checkout to receive 10% off your first order!

Dollhouse needlepoint kits

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I got my wallhanging back…for a while!

In 2010, I wrote on this blog about a large wallhanging with a Zen Buddhist saying on it which I’d stitched for a Unitarian Chapel that I used to attend – the blog post is here . In that post, I explained in detail how it had taken almost a year to make.

The wallhanging measures about three feet by four, and is stitched on linen with Appleton's crewel wool for the floral areas, and Anchor stranded cotton for the lettering

The wallhanging measures about three feet by four, and is stitched on linen with Appleton’s crewel wool for the floral areas, and Anchor stranded cotton for the lettering

Even when I wrote the original blog post, I had already stopped being Unitarian, and my dilemma at that time was that the Chapel still had the wallhanging. Recently, though, I heard that the Chapel is probably due to close, as there is now no regular Minister and the congregation has dropped to just one person! And he’s 82 years old. So, I contacted ‘the congregation’ and asked him if it would be possible for me to have the wallhanging back. I really didn’t like the idea of the wallhanging languishing in a damp building for ages, not being seen at all. Surely, I’d be able to find somewhere better for it?

Each letter was outlined in back stitch, padded with stem stitch, then satin stitched across the stem stitch padding

Each letter was outlined in back stitch, padded with stem stitch, then satin stitched across the stem stitch padding

Hanging 2a

I got it back within days, fortunately. It did seem strange to have it back in my possession, when I’d never thought I would have it (or, possibly, not even see it again). So, then I had the issue of deciding what to do with it. I certainly didn’t want to just roll it up and store it in my loft, as that was as daft as leaving it in a building that no-one uses any more. I tried placing it against the wall of my living room, to see if it would work to hang it there, but it just looked completely out of place – it’s very big (about three feet by four), and was made for a public space – it just looked silly in a living room!

For the flowers, I used stitches such as French knots, coral stitch, buttonhole stitch, stem stitch, seeding, satin stitch and trellis couching

For the flowers, I used stitches such as French knots, coral stitch, buttonhole stitch, stem stitch, seeding, satin stitch and trellis couching

Then I remembered a couple of friends, who are Universal Sufi, the same as me and my husband. They have a large house in Germany, which they run as a khankah (a Sufi house where people come to study, and to dance). They have large ‘public rooms’ that I thought might be suitable. So, I emailed them and asked if they’d like it, but also made it clear that if they thought it wouldn’t be suitable, then I wouldn’t be offended – I didn’t want them to have to take it under sufferance! But they said,’Wow!’ when they saw the pictures I emailed them, and so, a few weeks ago, I delivered the wallhanging to them. It now has a new home in a place where it will be really appreciated, and the spiritual phrase on the wallhanging will hopefully inspire lots of people. It might even tempt someone to start embroidery – you never know!

Hanging - 5

Each letter took about an hour to stitch

Each letter took about an hour to stitch

Hanging - 7

Hanging - 8

Finished embroidery: a Zen Buddhist wallhanging with a tale….

The wallhanging, worked in various crewel embroidery stitches, measures about three feet by four feet altogether

A few years ago, I used to attend a Unitarian Chapel near where I  live. For a couple of years, I got really ‘into’ the Chapel, and got involved in various groups, Committees, and so on. The Chapel was in a modern building, and looked quite bare inside – quite like a classroom, really – with chairs in rows rather than pews, and only a couple of framed prints on the walls.

So, I volunteered to make an embroidered wallhanging for the Chapel. I discussed what might be suitable with the Minister, then searched online for a suitable piece of text.

Unitarians are not just Christians who don’t believe in the Trinity, these days – Unitariansim has broadened out during the past fifty or so years to include people ‘of all faiths and none’, as the blurb on the leaflets goes, so I had a very wide range of texts to choose from for the wallhanging. I settled on part of a piece of poetry from a Buddhist monk and philosopher called Dogen Zenji, who lived from 1200 to 1251. It seemed to exemplify what Unitarians of all types believe:

Do not listen to the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself.

It seemed ideal.

So, I went shopping for some linen for the embroidery, and some apple green velvet for the backing fabric. I raided my (huge!!) stash of Appleton’s crewel wool and Anchor stranded cotton for the threads to stitch the wallhanging with, and then set to working out the design.

I wanted the piece to have a kind of Jacobean feel – like Tree of Life wallhangings from country houses, only more delicate. I wanted it to be interesting to stitch, as I knew it would take a  long time and I didn’t want to be bored to death stitching it, but it also needed to have impact from a distance, so the blocks of colour needed to be quite bold.

Padded satin stitch lettering

I worked the lettering first, as I wasn’t sure if the technique I had chosen would work, so if it was going to fail, I wanted to know that before spending weeks on doing all the rest of the embroidery! I used a padding technique described in Susan O’Connor’s wonderful book ‘Monograms – the Art of Embroidered Letters’ (which, annoyingly, was only in print for about 18 months, and is now hard to find, but if you get the chance, then buy it, as it’s great). The technique involved working a split stitch outline first around the letter, then working loose stem stitches in rows thickly all over the inner area, at right angles to the direction that the final close satin stitches would be placed. I used two strands of Anchor stranded cotton for the lettering, and each letter took about an hour.

Detail of the crewel embroidery

The floral swags above and below the lettering were great fun to do. I only vaguely planned the colour scheme before I started stitching, so I surrounded myself with embroidery stitch manuals as I worked, choosing different stitches all the time.

When the stitching was finished, I pressed it gently on the reverse side, over a thickly padded ironing board, then attached the embroidered piece to the green velvet. I made tabs to hang the wallhanging from, so that a wooden pole could be slotted through later.

The whole piece took about a year to do.

But here’s the problem: six months after I gave the piece to the Chapel, I stopped attending services there, as I felt that, spiritually, I had outgrown Unitarianism, and, due also to other issues around the Chapel, felt I needed to move on. But the wallhanging stayed there. Part of me wanted to take the wallhanging back (as my leaving wasn’t done under the most pleasant of circumstances), but I knew I’d given it willingly at the time, so it seemed unfair to demand it back. I just hope that the people who may see it, get something out of it. Recently, I’ve heard that the Chapel may close, as the congregation has dropped to less than ten, and the Minister has moved on with no permanent replacement in sight.

I’ve ‘lost’ embroideries of mine before, for various reasons, and each time it hurts! I think this may be a lesson in trying to not be attached to things, but it’s not easy!