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Historical Sampler – Lattice and Multi-Coloured Detached Buttonhole with Metal Return Strawberries

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20 October 2008

Historical Sampler – Lattice and Multi-Coloured Detached Buttonhole with Metal Return Strawberries

I put some little chain stitch sepals on the rasberry pink Cascade Thread split stitch strawberry.

I really should do the sepals *first*, as that gives me the maximum room to work with them. Not having room has been causing me problems in embroidering them.

Lattice Strawberry

Next I created a latticed strawberry.

I satin stitched the strawberry in YLI red,

laid a diamond lattice in Lurex,

couched down the lattice intersections in No. 1 Jap Gold (which gave invisible couching stitches)

embroidered the sepals in satin stitch, going horizontally across each sepal

outlined in Super Pearl Purl :


When I did the outlining, I left a little gap for that sepal that overlaps the strawberry a bit.

I’ve found that in placing the Purl, it’s easier to hold it in place with my fingers then do the *second* couching stitch which anchors it in place. Then go back to do the first couching stitch, which needs to go somewhere *exactly* (eg the starting point at the top edge of the strawberry)

Detached Buttonhole with Metal Return

I’d experimented with this method before, with the second bud of “A Rose and Two Buds”

I’d thought my problem was the number of return threads used over the area, and had been adjusting that.

This is my attempt on the actual piece (left for further working on) :



Zimmerman says “This variation…can be made dense enough for full fabric coverage”.

Well – I wasn’t getting anything close to full coverage! I found the buttonhole stitches were slipping around all over the place as I worked, making it very difficult.

(I commented in another entry that I’d tried Passing Thread and found that I could lay it as Return Threads successfully. I didn’t change them to Lurex because traditionally they did it on Passing Thread so I should be able to as well and Lurex would not necessarily be any less slippery)

In creating the next strawberry, I was able to successfully do this stitch – given that it had an extra step.

Multicoloured Strawberry with Detached Buttonhole Stitch with Metal Return

The instructions for this strawberry were taken from “Elizabethan Festive Creations” by Shirley Holdaway.

I’m not going to enumerate the instructions step by step, but I will show what made the difference.

Shirley puts down a foundation layer of chain stitch before laying the Return Threads


(I find that the passing threads refuse to be straight. I maneouvre them into place with a needle before embroidering on each one)

I found this foundation layer to make all the difference! It was much much easier to control the detached buttonholing on the Passing Thread.

A feature of this strawberry is that it used two threads pf two different colours at a time. (Is it sad that I found that exciting?


In the future I think I will use just one thread for this type of buttonholing. I think two threads provided a little *too* much coverage and hid too much of the glitttering Passing Thread Returns.

This is a photo of Jane Zimmerman’s Detached Buttonhole with Metal Thread Return (page 20 of “The Art of Elizabethan Embroidery”) (Each petal in done in a different method)


You can see that the Metal Return threads are far more visible. (She doesn’t say how many strands to use)

The outline in Super Pearl Purl on my strawberry helps the Returns stand out a bit.


The sepals were done in Vandyke stitch. I find this gives neater sepals than using satin stitch horizontally, but I feelit doesn’t give as  much historical character.

For the pink parts of the strawberry, I used Splendor Filament silk. The rest was YLI silk. I lost some of the effect of the green combined with the pink Splendor because the Splendor is much thicker, and much nicer. YLI turns out looking like DMC, I think. It’s worth investing in the more expensive silk threads, although I can’t afford much Filament Silk!

The difference will be visible between them, in the layer of red (YLI) and the bottom layer of pink (Splendor) in close up.

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Blogger Plays with Needles said...

You are inspiring me to do some Elizabethan embroidery, Megan! All of these strawberries are luscious -- but as a group, they are just fabulously fun since they are all different. I liked to see the buttonhole with the metal return. I don't own the Elizabethan book and I think that's a mistake!

Monday, October 20, 2008  
Blogger Dragonsally said...

Its just getting prettier and prettier Meeges.

Monday, October 20, 2008  
Blogger Jeanne said...

I love the fact that you're trying all of these techniques! What a wonderful amount of research!

The detached buttonhole with a metal passing thread was the technique I used on the top layer of my peapods on the Tudor Purse. It seemed to cover pretty well, but it also had the base layer. I found it easier to lay the row of metal thread, stitch over it, then lay the next row. That allowed me to get the rows as close together as they needed to be for coverage.

Good luck with the rest of the piece - I'm enjoying your progress!

Monday, October 20, 2008  
OpenID paulahewitt said...

great strawberries. I think you are right about the single strand - it would be nice for more of the gold to show through

Tuesday, October 21, 2008  
Blogger Elmsley Rose said...

Jeanne :

Interesting that you were taught to do it with a base - since I find it much easier that way.

And I think laying one return at a time would be a good idea as well! I think i'll do that in future!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008  
Blogger Jeanne said...

Actually, my comment was a bit misleading. I wasn't taught to do it with a base. It's just that the peapods have two layers - one with just the silk/cotton thread as a return, and then another one on top (with the metal thread) and unattached at one end so you can see the peas inside. You can see it on my blog by scrolling down a few posts.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008  
Blogger Gina-B said...

This is such beautiful work, your comments on what you've found easy (and not) have been really interesting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008  
Blogger Elmsley Rose said...

Thankyou everyone for your compliments :-) :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008  

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