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Elmsley Rose

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Elmsley Rose

27 February 2008

Rust Red Iris - Flower Base Colours

It's the base of the iris next, not the right bud.

Here's the base of the iris, and then the specified DMC threads

Call me crazy, but I'm having trouble here.

There is definitely a cream patch on the left hand side, much lighter than any of the other colours.

There is one of the khaki greens used (second thread alone), and this is used heavily in the front part of the base - in three separate sections. You can see where I've marked up where the various colours go.

From the left - (well, I'm not sure - it's all a blur!), then
cream overlaid by khaki,
green that is 5th thread along,

Then a ruff of lightest green (third thread along) and light gold (second thread along)

and then at the back, the two darkest greens (6th and 7th)

Having written that out, it's not as bad as I thought. It only leaves green #4 unloved. I'll try some in the front section on that blurred section.

But still, that cream patch. No way is it light gold (otherwise the lightest colour).

I'm sure it's my problem picking out the colours. This is my first project. And it doesn't really matter as long as it all looks good. This base is bringing together the blue-greens of the stem with the yellow-green of the leaves.

Writing this out has helped heaps.
And I can see a bit of re-working on the horizon. I shall call it 'playing'. *grin*

Green! Green! It's all green!

Anyone reading this, please don't spend one iota of a second trying to work it out. The scans are way too off (and too unclear on the threads). I'm just muttering to myself - and it did help me to write it out.

It'll be interesting if I do introduce the cream and it does look totally out of place. There's always the problem of getting the colour printing correct in books as well.

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Rust Red Iris - The Stem

It was exciting changing to a different hue of green.

The stem was in stem stitch (appropriate enough).

That lightest part of the long part of the stem. I did that in a slanted stitch (so it ended up with the stitches closer together than stem stitches) to make it stand out more. In the design, that colour looks a lot lighter and stands out more, but I do have the right colours.

On getting the right colours to use for the project - I have 4 boxes of DMC thread, very few of which have thread numbers on them. Kit sent me her DMC colour card, so I was able to match the colours. I still can't believe how many shades of green there are. I have 4/5 of a box of green and I still had a lot of trouble getting the right ones.

It's going to be a race whether I receive all the terracotta colours from the on-line thread company in the mail before I get up to needing them. The colour card was too old to have them, and there was just no way I was going to be able to match them from the picture in the book (yes, I spent an hour trying). And no numbers on the cards meant trying to match the thread colours to possible colours on the computer screen as another alternative .... uh uh. I just bought 15 terracotta/mahogany shades new. It was a lot easier!

Something about working with the design. I find that I alternate between working with the design as closely as possible, and working 'freelance' to make the piece look 'right'. It's not possible for me to follow the design perfectly so I do need to add in some adjustment factor for where I've made accidental changes. I'm just talking about placing single threads and stitches here.

Given that sort of thinking - the cream foldover halfway down the bud has some light brown markings on it. I didn't do them. I thought it looked fine as it was. I have had trouble with threads (even tho they are single threads) looking too bulky, and have actually groomed them in with a fingernail on occasion to get them to physically blend. I just wasn't go to go there with the brown when I was already happy.

Onto the right hand bud, which I'm looking forward to. It managed to loose it's frilled edge when I sewed the long leaf, so I drew it back in, and did a few extra stitches on the leaf edge to compensate where I'd made more of an 'innie' on the bud. I did outline the outline - I don't know how the frills disappeared!

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Dark over Light in Needlepainting

Mary C (NeedlenThread) just said something important to me. She thought I might have had problems with those leaves because I did the darker colours before the light.

That doing the lighter colours then blending over the dark works much better

Light, then dark

Light, then dark

Trish Burr said to work down from a certain part, but I worked up, just because it was easier for me physically and I didn't know any reason not to.

Light, then dark.

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25 February 2008

Rust Red Iris - Leaves take 2

That's much better -although I might revisit the light gold on the tip of the long leaf.

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23 February 2008

Rust Red Iris - Left Bud Completed

I'm not happy with the shading of the two leaves. Hey, they are supposed to be the easy bits!
I'm going to re-do them

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20 February 2008

Rust Red Iris, The Beginning

I have already started on my new embroidery project.

It's the "Rust Red Bearded Iris" from Trish Burr's Long and Short Stitch Embroidery Book.

This is being made for my friend Sally for her birthday in August

I'm doing it on a piece of linen which has a 2 inch edge of cutwork lace. (It's a bit crumpled in the scan)

This is backed with muslim, and the lace is currently rolled up and bound up with the muslim to protect it and keep it clean while I embroider, just leaving the plain linen area in the middle exposed, where the iris will go. I put a couple of extra strips of muslim down the sides to further protect the linen.

  • transferred the design (oh, *wonderful* transfer paper, rather than free hand drawing, and on a smooth material),
  • drawn in the directional lines in pencil
  • started on the left hand side bud.

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Ongoing - Upcoming Projects

  • An illumination project, in which I will do a friend's name in watercolour pencils (I haven't used them before)
  • Finish the illumination of "In the Forest" (see the tag on the left hand side of the page)
  • Two flowers from Trish Burr's Long and Short Stitch Embroidery (one already started) for two friends.
  • To convert my 30 x 50 inch rectangular frame to a 'sit on' frame, with a bit of googling on the net and asking of advice to find a suitable carpentry pattern. And a friendly carpenter.
  • A long term project on my rectangular frame, in ecru or ivory cotton or silk (I haven't decided yet) and DMC floss.

This will be my "historical embroidery project". I won't call it my "Elizabethan embroidery project" because I want to include some stumpwork. My "Tudor period project" ?

I want to try out all of the period stitches possible. I'd like to use lots of different patterns for flowers and leaves, and a few insects.

It'll be a kind of 'spot' sampler, but brought together with vines, or an interlace pattern. Well, I guess a spot sampler with a vine is pretty much what Elizabethans did do a lot of the time, if they varied the motifs a lot, as I intend to do.

I'll use patterns from where ever I can find them (including my new embroidery books!), and also do a little gold work as part of it. Mary C was kind enough to send me a sample bag of different gold work materials, and I intend to use them in different ways on the piece.

I expect that I will be working on this for a year or so.

One thing I do know is that I won't be using plaited braid stitch on the vine or interlacing (or only a little). I think I read in the Plymouth Diary that an inch takes an hour. Ouch.

I'm just starting to think about the colours that will be suitable. I've read (somewhere) that they used up to 20 different shades of a single colour. Wow.

I'm greatly looking forward to it.

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Embroidered Book Cover - Finished!

This is old news now, since I finished about 5 days ago.

I was just given a digital camera for my birthday - ideal for taking photos of the book - but we've been having a fight and the camera (actually, the computer) won. For the moment, anyway.

I wanted to show the book spread out, both front and back sides - but it was too wide for the scanner, so I haven't.

* Buttons for the Spine

I was going through my button collection, selecting a couple to weave or buttonhole cover or whatever, when I discovered two round silk velvet buttons in black that were absolutely perfect.

You can't really see them, since this is a scan of the book, but the threads are wrapped around them.

They fit in so well with the black silk velvet of the base cover it was a case of "simple. Job done".

* Buttons/beads for the ends of the strings

Now here, I ended in disappointment. The thicker cover meant the strings had to cover more ground. By the time they wrapped around the spine buttons, there was very little length left. Less than an inch. Putting decorations on the ends of them would have looked crowded, as they would have hung right up beside the spine of the book.

I could have tied more string (assuming I had some waxed string to match, or even contrast nicely) but I thought "enough".

I will "do" buttons another time. I was looking forward to them, but design needs must.

* I put a gold cord right around the edges of the cover. I thought it pulled the design together nicely. It was actually some gold fringeing that I unravelled!

* Pasting the cover down

In period, the cover would have been pasted to the goat vellum that forms the cover that is part of the construction of the book. However I didn't want to do this, because I want to be able to take the cover off, and be able to see Helen's (the maker of the book) beautiful stitching on the spine.
This means the cover can slip up or down a few millimetres but that's not going to hurt. It's just a matter of adjusting it if I'm showing it to someone.

I am very pleased and proud of this project. And I'm keeping it for myself - which was the object of the exercise - to make something beautiful for myself (and I just happened to get involved in Elizabethan embroidery along the way! *grin)

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18 February 2008

Learning Silk Shading/Long and Short Stitch/Needlepainting

This is totally in my humble opinion, but I think the best way to start to learn the above methods would be to buy or borrow from a library

"Beginner's Guide to Silk Shading" by Clare Hanham"

That'll get you started on the simple stuff. Just doing several layers of shaded stitches. You need that information - but it's simple enough to absorb, and have a go at one of the little projects over the lending period of the book from the library. Hanham is perfect for this.

Then Trish Burr's "Long and Short Stitch".

She has heaps of information about how to stitch different common shapes, how to do wedge stitches, shorten stitches to fit particular shapes, stitching unusual shapes, the proportion of colours to use depending on the shape - heaps of extremely useful information that I found out the hard way during my book cover embroidery that you really do need.

But I think that a total beginner's brain may melt if they start with the Trish Burr. It's more a book you'll need to have on-side to refer to frequently once you have a basic grasp of the long and short stitch concept and you want to sew some weirdly shaped part of a flower, or the leg of a cat or something. And the projects she has are more likely to take months.

Again, only my humble opinion. (an d I have no affiliation with either author. This is simply my recent experience)

Gotta figure out the camera so I can photograph the book.

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17 February 2008


I've finished the book cover!!.

I just need to work out how to use the digital camera I was given yesterday, and then I'll photograph it, and write about it. I'm very happy with it.

I've also just updated my post about Making Buttons, because Scott at GarbForGuys has just done a very useful post showing how to make some different types

11 February 2008

Embroidered Book Cover - Base Cover, Take II

I ended up making the cover by a different method.

I cut two of the cover pattern from the paper copy - one in black velvet and one in burgundy velvet.
I then hemmed each of them, and sewed them wrong sides together.

I realised that I had to make holes for the strings, so I made scalloped button holes (from Dillmonte) in gold DMC. I did start off using a metallic gold thread but it was just impossible to use.

While testing the fit of the now double sided cover, I realised that I'd have to sew the edges and make sure that it fit tightly at the folded over edges at each end before I could sew on the embroidered panels. Any slackness, and who knew which way the panels would end up sitting.

I used Sally's extra strong black thread to sew the ends, and now I had my fitted cover.

I've pinned down the front cover panel and now I'm ready to sew it on, as invisibly as possible, which will mean a lot of poking the needle around just underneath the panel.

You can just see the burgundy on the inside edge, as the cover is just a bare millimetre or so taller than the height of the book.

However the angled edges of the cover of the extended back flap (just above and below where the strings come out) are just slightly turned, so you can see some burgundy there. I'll need to cover it with couched gold thread or some cord.

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9 February 2008

Blogger stuff

Just a quick note to say that I have a habit of answering people's comments in their own blogs, because otherwise they might not see my answer, sitting here in my blog.

But now there's the "post following comments to email_address", and I only just found out that this blog had that facility. So I can answer the comments here now. I found out because Celeste comes from a blog of many people, so I had to answer her comment here.

Also, *anyone* can comment if they want to. You don't need a Blogger account. Just type away in the comment form, (adding a name is a good thing tho). I really really love getting comments.

8 February 2008


Home from the library with 10 interlibrary loans of Embroidery books, I've already decided that I would love to buy a couple.

One I really like is "A Practical Guide to Canvas - Victoria and Albert Museum". (edited by Linda Parry, intro by Santina Levey!)

It has some actual charted patterns for some slips!! Only three - a pansy, a bug and a snail - but hey! that's more than I've ever seen before. The pansy is used to build a "tree" with leaves and multiple pansies - just lovely

I do hope I'm staying within "fair use" guidelines by showing just this one slip - there are plenty more in the book so hopefully it'll serve as an incentive to get the book, rather than giving it's secrets away.

Obviously, you'd need to chart up the rest yourself, and do a bit of colour variations on the pansies - but the basis is there.

There is also the pattern for a German 17thC sampler and 4 bargello patterns, in the lovely 'saddened colours'. I don't like the colour usage in modern Bargello/Florentine books - they are just so flashy! And there's more!

I also really like "The Craft of Florentine Embroidery" by Barbara Snook.

I think that it might be a bit concise for a beginner. It has the line patterns grouped together by type, 6 or 8 to a page. It's a great reference.

The more complicated patterns (like a pomengrate) or the very arched Florentine patterns naturally need more space.

She includes some additional stitches to use for borders or in conjunction with the bargello (I saw a very nice pattern on a book cover recently that had a panel in the *middle* of the design.
And then projects at the end.

I have borrowed almost every Bargello/Florentine book available to borrow in Australia by now, and this is one of my favourites.

I've also received another copy of Muriel Best's Stumpwork. I had organized to borrow this book before, but some *criminal* had cut out the most important pages from the book - the ones that tell you actually *how* to do things!

History - yes.
Practically obligatory photo of that purse that is made up of grapes, stuffed and in detached button hold stitch - yes.

A lovely closeup of a free standing bird, covered in button hole stitch, padded over a wire frame.

I've noticed that several of the birds shown in detail here have ribs on their wings, rather like bats - an opportunity to do some raised work for the embroiderer. I also like the tree, whose leaves are made of closely packed picots. "Design and Method in Historical Work" is the kind of chapter heading that I like to see *grin*

There are lots of close up photos (mostly b&w but some colour plates)

The important bits, I think, (and the pages that had been removed in the other copy) have headings like

Stiffening Shapes with Wire
Padding (felt, vilene)
Unstiffened lacy shapes
Wrapping vellum
Raised Stems and Borders

and Making People.

And then the stitches. I have no idea what Banksia Rose Stitch is, or Curl stitch, but I'll find out!

The end of the book is modern stuff, which I personally dislike (tho the pineapple is kind of cool)

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Embroidered Book Cover - Making the Base Cover I

I'm making the base cover (to sew the embroidered panels onto) according to .

Lady Martel's Embroidered Bookcover

I cut the paper pattern and it fitted nicely against the book. It was a little tricky with those sloped edges on the back flap but with a bit of paper folding, I worked out how it should go.

I was going to use a maroon thin silky lining material, but I discovered a hole. I switched to a slightly thicker lining material in tea rose.

Also, I noticed the velvet I had was polyester velvet, not silk velvet.

I cut the two pieces, one velvet, one tea rose lining, pinned the edges right sides together and started to sew.

After doing one long side, it all went to hell in a handbasket.

I don't know if the materials were too slippery and I should have tacked, or I did something else bad - (I dislike practical sewing and there's a reason!) but rounding the corner I found that the edges didn't meet anymore. There was heaps of velvet seam allowance, and very little tea rose.

I managed to sew it according to the seam line on the tea rose anyway, thinking it wouldn't matter if strange things happened with the seam allowance since it'll all be trimmed anyway.

On finishing, and turning it inside out, I found the cover was several sizes too small. Should have expected that!

So I'm taking a different approach.

I've cut another piece of velvet. I'm going to hem it to the right size, just on it's own.

I'll then sew the embroidery panels onto it at the appropriate places.

I will then cut the lining material. I've decided to go for some penne velvet purple/burgundy. I was thinking that i needed a fairly heavy cover to support the weight of the panels. (as well as to match aestheticaly in a 'heavy' sense).

I'll hem that, and then sew the two pieces, wrong sides together. This will hide any sewing on the back of the black piece from the embroidery panels.

The lining reaches to half way inside the back and front covers, and you sew the edges of these (invisibly as possible) to the lining on the outside of the back and front covers so there's some tension holding the cover on. (Lady Martel explains it better)

You won't be able to see the burgundy velvet lining much, unless you actually take the cover off.

I'll scan as I go along, to hopefully make it all clear.

This is definitely a boring bit - hemming velvet invisibly as possible because I don't want the stitches to show on the front of the cover.

I have also just joined every SCA Needlwork on-line group that will have me - to suck their braaains!

I found a most interesting thread in the archives of "Thimble" all about "Silk Filament, Twist and a Mystery" I think it was called - quite long, and over a couple of months.

I learnt heaps reading that.

I visited ThreadNeedleStreet for the first time, and was able to appreciate the different types of silk.

Today I hope to make it to the library since there are EIGHT interlibrary loans waiting for me. Books like "The Batsford Book of Canvas" and "16th and 17th C Catalogue of Embroidery" and some Thomasina Beck. I'm going to be a busy reader in the next fortnight :-)

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5 February 2008


I've spent the last few hours researching hand made buttons, since I intend to make some, and come up with some links.

I thought that I'd share them. The formatting is bound to come out a bit funny because I'm copying and pasting from a heavily formatted Word doc.

I used

Making Buttons created and maintained by Cathy Snell. 9/17/03

as a basis as it was the most thorough paper I found.

It has lots of different methods listed and some very interesting variations described, based on those basic methods, and lots of photos.

I found some more instructions, alternative instructions, a few more pictures (modern ones only - sigh) - whatever contributed to the subject ....

Cloth Buttons has step by step photos for a stuffed button, as well as

also described making a stuffed cloth ball button

Embroidered Buttons

Wrapped Buttons

a modern picture at

and at

More complete instructions at
including adding a bit of gold thread around them as an extra wrap and at

Buttonhole stitch buttons

“An Elizabethan Button” -

I was surprised that I couldn't find more on these.

Death's Head button

A modern picture at

The link in Cathy's doc on how to make them works *grin*

Woven Buttons

A modern pic at

and a fuzzy one at

and thorough instructions at
including some extra variations and at

and lastly, although later in period

Corded, Faceted and Basketweave Buttons

Dorset Thread Buttons


Finishing Buttons

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Embroidered Book Cover - Front Panel Finished

The making up of the Front Panel

It's a little out of square - see the top right. I hope that when I sew it onto the actual book cover I might be able to fix that a little. Other than that, I don't know what to do. I can't wet it because of the gold. I'm not that worried about it.

Getting the corners neat, and invisible from the sides and top was a bit of a nightmare. Lots of oversewing.

The difference in the couched gold on the edges - two sides with three threads, the other two with two different threads - didn't make as much difference as I thought they might, because the hemming has pulled them over to the actual sides a bit (given the panel is a few mm thick). When the panel is sewn onto the cover, it'll be raised above the velvet cover.

I've put in a panel of felt on the back of this panel, so it's of even thickness (rather than raised edges because of the folded over edges, then thinner in the middle).

I decided not to with the back flap because I decided that it was sufficiently small that it's not going to make a difference in its' er, ' even raised-ness'.

Now onto making the actual cover, according to Lady Martel's book cover making instructions (which I put in a post somewhere further down).

I'm doing the lining of the book cover in a maroon lining material (that thin silky stuff?)

Little Decorative Bits for the Completed Cover

As a reminder of what the actual book I'm covering looks like :

See how the back cover extends over the front, and the book is tied shut by strings extending from that back flap. They tied around buttons on the spine (of which you can just see the edges).

If I place the two panels where they are to go .....

and of course there will be the black velvet cover between the panels and the book, to sew the panels onto.

The book cover folds over the edges of the book in order to stay on. ( I have a feeling that a lot of people reading this will be saying 'oh, is that what she meant by all this front/back flap stuff all this time!! *grin*)

After the construction of the velvet cover, I'm going to have some fun playing with different little things, and making more design decisions! It won't end up looking entirely like a "Silk and Spangles" book cover from the 16th C though :-). Having the book of a Coptic construction (ie the back flap and spine buttons) is mainly why.

It's occurred to me that I need

* two new flat "buttons" - On the actual book spine they are of blue leather, but these will be covered by the velvet cover.

I could cut holes in the cover (make buttonholes) so they could poke through but the bright blue leather doesn't actually go with the book cover and it's panels.

I need to research how to make these. I've read about them, especially in 18th century Embroidery Techniques (book) but I need more on how to *make* them.

* to cover the beads that are on the ends of the strings (purely decoratively).
I found a lovely buttonhole stitch covered button method at

and want to use that. NOT in gold - I have so much gold in the piece, it's practically made it 'vulgar'.

Hand made trims (braids) for the edges of the velvet cover also come to mind (like finger looped braids) but I'll see if the cover needs them when I've gotten that far.

Incorporating the existing strings (which are plain white) into braids is another idea. No way would I cut those strings from the cover - they'd have to be incorporated as is. They are actually sewn into the book. (into little blue leather panels - you can see them on the 'naked' book)

The front cover did have two lines of black and gold lace sewn to the edges.
I put it on because it reminded me of the bobbin lace of the time.
I took it off because I thought it was excessive.
It may end up going back on again.

It occurs to me that it's been far too long since I mentioned that this lovely book was made for me by the lovely Meisterin Katarina Helene. Without the book, the project wouldn't exist.

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1 February 2008

Embroidered Book Cover - Back Flap Finished


I've put the velvet I intend using for the actual book cover behind the back flap panel for the scan.

After trimming, I gently rolled the edges between my fingers, folded them over and sewed them down so the lines of couched gold thread were right on the edges of the panel.

It is now ready to be used. It's got a bit of 3D'ness about it because the panel has a bit of thickness to it from the folded edges.

I'm thinking about cutting a piece of felt to insert in the middle of the back, to fill the rectangular gap where the edges don't meet - so the whole panel will be properly raised, rather than just being raised by the folding over of the double layer of material (brocade and muslim) at the edges.

Next is to finish adding gold thread to the front piece, then hemming it in the same way.

I'm very very pleased with how the back flap has turned out. :-)

Someone (I think it was a lady called Margaret) commented the other day that she couldn't believe that this is my first project.

It isn't.

If you pull up the posts with the tag "Embroidery" and travel backwards you will see :-

(and I will have have to do something about the specificity of my general "Embroidery" tag now I've done a big embroidery project. It was easy keeping the smaller projects all under one tag, but this book cover has resulted in a lot of posts)

* the frontspiece for the book cover (my first experience with Elizabethan work)

* A panel that was originally intended to be for the book cover, but I gave it to a friend who was very ill. I have a second unfinished panel with me, but by the time all this happened I had learnt a lot and decided to start afresh, and change the design to the current one.

It contained some very naively worked raised goldwork (just gold thread sewn over a padding of wool thread) and my first attempts at satin stitch

* a stumpwork poppy, and a

* a stumpwork dragonfly - where I learnt buttonhole stitch, and how to do detached pieces

The other embroidery I have done, which is not shown in my blog is

* one of the smaller of the Jane Nichols stumpwork projects (which I didn't end up liking)

* a stumpwork piece that was my first - I gave it away and have regretted it ever since

* 1 completed cross-stitch, and 2 uncompleted ones. I have decided that cross-stitch is beyond me. I just don't enjoy having to keep my place that closely on a pattern.

* around 5 pieces of bargello

* a piece that had the pattern already on the canvas, which I did in tent stitch - a Jacobean tree of Life bell pull. I also have "The Maiden and the Unicorn" and it's more than half done but I've lost the wools, since I'm now talking about 18 years ago.

So I've been doing bits and pieces for years. It's only now that I'm developing a serious interest in it.

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