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Historical Sampler – Stylized Borage

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13 September 2008

Historical Sampler – Stylized Borage

This is from

and is a Pillow for a cross with depiction of stylized vegetal ornamentation

Late 16th – Early 17th century


I am going to do a borage from it. It’s very stylized.



I had originally drawn it leaving room for the paillettes in the centre, but decided to modify the petals and ovary to meet in the middle, and will put the paillettes over the top.

Hence a little design line modification using thread instead of pen :



I’m going to do it in Laid Embroidery, with the two horizontal petal in silver, and the others in gold. (with matching couching threads in silk)

I attempted a petal in silver passing thread.

I did not have a good time. *grin*

The passing thread is quite stiff, and the petal quite tiny. I lost the ‘pear’ shape of the petal, and got an oval instead :


I was using Mary Brown’s Technique for laying thread for irregular shapes. It ends with only one thread in the middle. My attempt just doesn't look 'good'.

It took 2 hours, and I just couldn’t get the passing to obey me, even tho I had my nose to the canvas, and was keeping the tweezers in my teeth in between very frequent uses of them in an attempt to bend the thread into shape.

I think it’s a case of inexperience with using the passing thread (this is my first time) in combination with a very small irregular shape.

I'm going to have another go using a modern silver metallic thread, that should be more malleable to my needs to get a better petal shape.

I'm having thoughts about using Lurex for the gold petals - that'll be more malleable than the gold passing.

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Blogger Plays with Needles said...

How do you keep the silver thread taut as you stitch? I know how frustrating it can be when you spend two hours and it doesn't come out like you want. That's the way Japanese Embroidery can be for me sometimes. Oh well, it's all part of making you a better stitcher. Have a great day!

Saturday, September 13, 2008  
Blogger Elmsley Rose said...

Well, since it's laid work .....

I couch it firmly on the first stitch so I have a solid basis, and then use fingernails and prayer and tweezers to keep the metal thread where I want it to go.

I generally lay it where I want it to go, hold with with a couple of fingernails then put the needle through for the couching thread with the other hand and then (angling the needle inwards to get a small stitch) stitch it in place.

I keep it under light pressure as I stitch. It doesn't need to TAUT taut - just kind of lying in the right place until it's secured by couching stitches. You can adjust it by pulling up the couching stitches a bit with the tweezers and pulling the metal thread (carefully!) but it's not something you really want to do because you might hurt the metal thread.

I haven't found tension to be a problem = it's more keeping it in place and getting the couching stitch on. The laid metal thread is just lying on the ground after all.

The Curves and corners are the places to be careful - I mentioned in a post that plunging the metal threads tended to pull on them and distort them.

It's very fiddly. You really need 3 hands to do it properly if you are trying to bend the thread constantly as well, and it was just too hard.

Does that answer your question?

Saturday, September 13, 2008  
Blogger Paula Hewitt said...

so if you are holding the tweezers in your mouth, how do you swear at the embroidery?

i admire your patience and fortitude. I know the final outcome will be worth it

Saturday, September 13, 2008  
Blogger Elmsley Rose said...

Thankyou, Paula!

The laid work with the stylised borage did take a lot of patience, because it was just so fiddly! But I think it's turned out well :-)

Saturday, September 13, 2008  
Blogger JoWynn Johns said...

You're braver than I, using a new technique/material on your sampler. I always try first on a practice cloth. Saves unstitching, and I get to keep the practice cloth for future reference. That's what I'm doing now--figuring out how I want to stitch various parts of my jacket scarf and trying out different threads.

Sunday, September 14, 2008  
Blogger Elmsley Rose said...

Well, it's laid work (so doesn't intrude through the ground until you've finished, except for the couching stitches), and passing thread is for laid work.

So I didn't think I'd go wrong! It didn't even occur to me to practise on my doodle cloth.

Famous last words!

Sunday, September 14, 2008  

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