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Elmsley Rose

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Elmsley Rose

31 December 2008

Attention all Elizabethan Stitchers (Detached Buttonhole Stitch, Elizabethan Embroidery Stitches)

Jeanne of Just String is sharing with us her wealth of knowledge of Elizabethan Stitches and doing a series of Stitch Studies.

for 3 posts (so far) on Detached Buttonhole, with details I've never found anywhere else. She has started from the basics -

  • Detached Buttonhole
  • Detached Buttonhole for Shapes
  • Detached Buttonhole with Return
and means to move onto variations of Detached Buttonhole, and other Elizabethan Stitches at a later date.

The posts are very clear, and with lots of photos.

Also, she'd done a really good post on Spiral Trellis Stitch at before she decided to launch into a more formal series of studies.

She's a little busy at the moment gestating, but I certainly look forward to more Stitch Studies in the future.

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30 December 2008

Historical Sampler – Snowdrop III

In the picture of the “hoods” (otherwise known as the green biohazard symbol), the hoods had a little turnover in white on their outside, and then the interior in green.

I simplified this, giving the shape of the hoods in silver (to represent white) and just giving the shapes of the hoods.


They were very small to work with. I found that since a number of couching stitches were needed to direct the passing thread, they were quite visible.

I went back over with some green Satin Stitches to cover part of these couching stitches.


I then outlined the edges of the SnowDrop in silver passing.

Luckily it is at the border of the piece, or the resulting blood may have ended up on the canvas. Getting the passing thread through the canvas, even using a needle grabber, is a bit of a pull. I can rarely get it through without using a needle grabber.

Sally worked out why some of my photos are fuzzy, even the camera says they are in focus. I’s me – I have a slight tremour. Ooops. At least the photo with the close-up of the hoods (and satin stitching) came out clearly – that’s the one I really wanted to show.

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24 December 2008

Historical Sampler – SnowDrop II

Last time, I’d just sewn the felt in place.

Here is the outlining in split stitch :


I used 3 threads of DMC, because the felt was fairly high, although it was only one layer.

The act of outlining it (squishing it in towards the middle a little) made it go a bit higher).

This photo tries to show how it is sticking up :


Then to Satin Stitch :


Then to realise

  • I was using the wrong thread. I was using a bright white instead of the green toned white I’d chosen. It was like a star had fallen on the canvas -  the eye was helplessly drawn to the snowdrop because it was so *bright*
  • The shapes of the petals weren’t quite right

So, after a little frogging and redrawing :


This time, I used thread padding for the small sections, rather than felt. I found it to be more accurate in this case.

You are supposed to shape the felt so it lays just inside the margins of the shape.

If you do lay it to the borders of the shape, then do outlining, then do satin stitching, you end up with a shape that’s just a little bit bigger.

If you look at the first photo, you can see where a vine has been narrowed where it lays between two fragments of the right petal because of this.

Given the pieces were so small, and I had no desire to cut such particular shapes (not simple squares) “slightly smaller than the outline”, the thread padding was a lot easier.

I pierced the thread padding stitches into the middle of the split stitch outlining stitches, so the shape stayed the same size.

More Satin Stitching :


Finished the Satin Stitching :

snow_6 (oh drat, fuzzy)

Instead of adding white to the edges of green ‘hoods’ in the middle I’m going to use silver passing thread – a little point to made the tip of the hood and a line up each side to make the edges. Hopefully then they will then look less like a green biohazard symbol. (They need curved edges)

I copied the green from the Medieval Flowers book – bright, hey.

I’m going to outline the edges of the petals in silver passing thread as well.

For the centre – an underlay in red (not a bright red like the book, I don’t want it to look Christmassy, even if it is the season) and then gold Lurex in a star shape on top.


I also need to put some more threads over the top of the centre of the Calendular – there is some base showing. The original threads seem to have slipped over…….

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20 December 2008

Historical Sampler – A SnowDrop to the Rescue

I needed to find a motif to cover over the waspish bee. It was a bit tough, because there was the main area of his body, then legs extending for quite a distance.

I found that my main influence was the bulk where the body was – I needed something to cover that entire.

Thanks to my trusty “The Medieval Flower Book”, Celia Fisher, (and a quick check that it was an English native species at The Checklist of English Native Plants), I decided upon a SnowDrop.

snowpea_4  (from Ms Fisher’s book)

I had needed to select a three petal-ed flower, because there wasn’t room for 4 petals – the gap in between the petals, if there were 4, would show some pen marks, unless the flower was absolutely huge.

I decided to pad the flower in felt for several reasons

  • the ground was a bit stretched in places from unpicking and I didn’t want to embroider directly upon it
  • ensure coverage of the black penmarks
  • to improve the appearance of the satin stitching to come

(see “Some Notes on Satin Stitch” by Mary Corbet,

- the “pattern” I needed to cut from felt. As the snowpea would be in white, I used silver felt (I didn’t have any white felt) :


- the felt sewn in place :


Now, I’ve never seen flowers actually encroaching upon each other in Elizabethan/Tudor embroidery – but this is a ‘fix’ and I’ll just have to go with it.

Fitting the felt around the Campanula was easier than I expected, thanks to the tiny amount of stretch that felt has.

For the petals, I am going to use a slightly (ever so slightly) green tinged cream in DMC, single strand, to satin stitch over the top. I did start stitching in Madeira Poly cream – but it was so shiny, it made the flower stand out too much.

I may decided to do those ‘hoods’ in a different stitch for emphasis.

I’m going to have to stamp on any inclinations to do needlepainting here. The embroidery of the period was 2 dimensional. The ‘hoods’ cry out to be needlepainted.

I may also layer the centre more. I outlined it in pen because the edges were a bit hard to see – the felt ‘met’ too well in places.

I’m not overall happy about this motif – but I think it’s the best I can do in the circumstances. The size of the flower is balanced by the Dusty Pink Rose on the other side of the sampler.

Ear infection update – oh, gods! I haven’t been commenting on people’s blogs much – sorry. I’m hoping to be well enough to go to Sally’s on Christmas Day.

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17 December 2008

Historical Sampler – The Waspish Bee Gets it in the Neck, and Campanulas.

I’m just not happy with the waspish bee.

‘Tis the wrong shape for either a wasp or a bee. I don’t like the angle it sits at. I’m not happy with the colour patterning

(although Jane of Chilly Hollow NeedlePoint Adventures has since suggested turkey’ing each colour seperately to get a better pattern, I don’t want to do it for a third time, given the other problems)

and there is the basic problem that a wasp is shiny, not fluffy.


---It had to go.---


I’m going to put a second one of Mrs Christie’s flowers in it’s place. (I debated a leaf, but it’s hard to get coverage of all the pen marks).


I did wonder what sort of flower Mrs Christie’s flower was back in and put up a few possibles from Abraham Munting’s Decorative Flower Engravings – from the 1696 “Accurate Description of Terrestial Plants”.

Baroness Eowyn Amberdrake, of the SCA, suggested that the flower was possibly a campanula, one of my listed possibilities.

But were campanulas around during the 16th and 17thC in England? Were they used in decoration at all?

Here’s a Campanula Rotundifloria as seen today.


In the Medieval Flower Book by Celia Fisher, I found


The large campanula pictured in the illumination is a Campanula trachelium.

The flower shape match looks pretty good (although I did a raised centre, whereas it should have been a ‘throat’. Mrs Christie originally advised French Knots)

But were they around in England in the 16/17thC? The illuminations above are Italian and French.

I found both varieties listed at the “Elizabethan Flowers Database” 

which lists flowers known in England in the 16th C.

Further, I found them listed at – a list of English native vascular plant species was compiled by Dr Chris Preston of the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Monks Wood.

What about the other varieties of campanula listed?

They all have the same shaped flowers, but some appear in clusters of flowers and/or vary in size.

They are all of

Angiospermae (Angiosperms)

Dicotyledonae (Dicotyledons)

Asteridae (Daisy Superorder)

Campanulales (Bellflower Order)

Campanulaceae (Bellflower Family)

Campanula (Bellflower)

Mrs Christie may have intended a generic flower, or some other flower entirely, but it is possible that she was using a campanula as the basis of her design.

Let’s be brave and say it’s a campanula.


I’ll be playing with some tracing paper to find the size and placement of a second campanula.

Oh, and they come in blue-violet. It might be nice if I got the colour right this time.

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15 December 2008

Historical Sampler – Waspish Bee II


He looks a little more wasp-ish with long feathered legs added.

In spite of a middle ear infection, I started on the wings.

This is done according to a method in Jane Nichol’s book – the cordonette is made of wire buttonholed onto the needlelace pad.

(I also saw an interesting method for a leaf, where the wire is up the middle of the leaf, so it’s bent from the middle, rather than the edges – I’ll keep that in mind for another day, tho I have no idea whether it’s period or not)

I decided not to have long extruding wires that would be inserted through the ground, but the shape only, to be bound at the edge to the body.

This meant I had two loose edges of wire that needed to be buttonholed in.

I started buttonholing part of the way along from a loose end – you can see the disruption in the stitching. It was then possible to go all the way around, incorporate the two loose ends (and add a few extra stitches just there) to finish where I’d started.

You can see the bottom wing filled with detached buttonhole stitch. And terrible stitching it is. I don’t think trying given I had an infection was a very good idea.

I’ve done that smaller wing since, to no better effect, and will be removing them both and starting again.


I also thought it would be better if I buttonholed along the length of the wing, rather than across the width as I did (which only gives between 2 and 4 stitches and if you miss one loop, you’re stuffed)

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12 December 2008

Historical Sampler – The Waspish Bee

I cut my turkey knots.


And discovered a problem.

Looking directly from above, you can see the steel blue stripes, which lighten up the motif.

But looking at the sampler in general, you get this very dark ‘splotch’.


I gave him some eyes and legs anyway, before deciding to start again.

Note : I do not recommend removing Turkey Knots. It takes awhile.

Also, since I was going for a wasp, rather than a bee , well, they have different shapes. The wasp has that narrow waist.


I wanted a wasp with as little yellow as possible (since there was already so much yellow and orange in that area, and one without black, since I’d just made that mistake)

I came up with a paper wasp, indigenous to England


I choose threads that were a little lighter than I wanted. Turkey’ing them seems to make them darker.


The trimmed and sculpted wasp was still a bit unclear in it’s outline….


so I added a split stitch outline around the edge, slightly under the outside Turkey Knots, to give more definition.

Here, he also has seed beeds for eyes and the thick part of his lower legs done.


The remaining legs will be done in feather stitch with fewer threads to make a more delicate line.

I’m disappointed that the pattern didn’t come up more clearly – particularly the outline of the yellow in the mid-section.

I’m going to do his detached wings as two pieces (not 4) as the smaller set are just too small, and will be horribly fiddly. You can see the outline of the small set drawn on the ground, particularly on the left side.

I won’t be putting on the wings until much later, but I will add in his antennae, as they will be easy to keep out of the way. I’d buttonhole some wire in brown.

The wings will also be in mid-brown.

I’m still not happy with the colours of the body. But if I try to go darker, I end up matching the calendular. Any darker than that is too dark.

I don’t know if I like him or not. Maybe when he has wings.

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10 December 2008

Historical Sampler – A Pansy and a Waspish Bee



done in split stitch. It looks a bit funny, but I’ve orientated it in the same direction as my pansy below.

Here’s my interpretation


I outlined the edges in split stitch (orientated differently to the filling stitches) to give clear edges to the petals.

I used some flat silk (the orange colour) that Paula Hewitt gifted me. It was like embroidering with cream!

The Waspish Bee

I needed to fill some space around my calendular flower. (Mrs Christie’s flower) (Yes, it is quite probably a calendular – I have to do a post on that) and I wanted to do a bee.

This was because I’d found a bee in Jane Nicholas’ “Complete Book of Stumpwork Embroidery” – one using Turkey Knots for the body.


I actually used the body shape from “Elizabethan Needlework Accessories” because I thought it a bit shapelier.

I had trouble when it came to picking the colours. There was already so much yellow (snail), orange (calendular) and gold (leaves).

For this reason, I changed to colours more suited to a wasp – a steel grey and chocolate brown.

For how to do Turkey work, I have Janet Perry of Nuts About NeedlePoint to thank.


she points to

(ANG Stitch of the Month)


(Jane at the Chilly Hollow NeedlePoint Adventure).

I found both tutorials very useful. Thanks Jane!

I did find Turkey work a bit boring and a bit difficult to work. I’d hate to do a whole rug in it!

I needed my needlegrabber quite often to get my needle through.



Here the turkey work is covered up (to save the cut off fluffy bits taking over my sampler in a mass emigration), prior to cutting.


Cutting is next ….. excitement!

I’m going to make the top pair of wings detached. This means making a teeny pair seperately, then storing them away until I can attach detached pieces later on.

The sampler so far ……


I’ve got more space near the calendular – I’ll probably add a leaf. Plus I have great plans for those 3 leaves in the bottom right hand corner.

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4 December 2008

Historical Sampler – Dusty Pink Rose


Remembering the Dusty Pink Rose ….


here’s the first two layers



The second layer isn’t attached – it’s just sitting there.

After finishing the detached buttonholing, I took my cake wire and buttonholed (different stitch) it to the edges.



Both the edge and the ‘stickup bits’ of the stitch are done on the edge of the petal – the wire is lain down in the middle to be held down by the stitch.

I found it a lot easier to do with the rose out of it’s frame.

I then turned it over, and cut away the cordonnette from the back.

And there it was! Done! (two more to go)

I played with the edges a bit, to make them ‘interesting’, then put it on top of the rose base to see how it looked.

The colours are a bit different to the original, and a lot brighter!

It’s interesting that the colour looks different on the base compared to the detached part. One in long and short stitch, the other in detached buttonhole stitch. Exactly the same thread.

I’ve put it away safely in an envelope in my special sewing box to keep until it’s needed.

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1 December 2008

Historical Sampler – Old Flower Cultivars compared to Today’s; and Mrs Christie’s Flower

Identification of Mrs Christie’s Flower

Mrs Christie didn’t provide an actual genus name for her flower and I thought I’d better try and identify it. I should have done this *before* embroidering it – to find if it was known by the Elizabethans, and the appropriate colours.

I found the following webpage :

Notes on Specific Plants

“The following notes are based partly on visual comparison between how a species looked in historical illustrations and how it looks today. 

Hopefully, this information will be helpful in the search for actual antique varieties and for  modern cultivars with the appropriate appearance. 

The table uses the common names for plants because some gardeners are not familiar with the Latin names.  Common names and scientific names are cross-referenced in the plant database;  search on the common name to find the plant's genus and species.”

For example,

Genus : Iris
Common Name : Iris
Notes : hybridizing efforts have focused on the "bearded" species (xiphiodes and xiphium, commonly called German, English, Spanish, or Dutch iris); hybridizers have been  most interested in introducing new color combinations; the form of the plant doesn't look much changed, so choose the colors carefully and these species will still work;
other species look largely unchanged since the 1600s

The list is by no means complete, but it’s something.

Looking at

Digby lists


as being in 16th Herbals and Gardening books. I know this list isn’t complete – what about borage?

Mrs Christie’s flower doesn’t look like any of these, unless you consider it a daffodil with it’s trumpet squashed.

I turned to Abraham Munting’s Decorative Flower Engravings – from the 1696 “Accurate Description of Terrestial Plants” as this is the only book that I had that could help me. It’s late period tho – right at the end of the 17thC.

I found several possibilities


Cistus Annuus Supinus


Campanula Pyramidalis Minor


Leontopetalon Capitatum Americanam

(an American native?)

I didn’t have any luck finding colour versions of the above. I did find some more general Campanulas at

Maybe it’s not meant to be a flower in particular – just a generic flower.

Mrs Christie does talk about basing her designs on embroidery from the 10th to the 17th C in her Introduction – or I never would have used the design in the first place.

My version


I was going to cross hatch the centre in plate.

I got one piece of plate down – right across the middle. (I should have taken a photograph).

However, I found it impossible to get the plate to attach on the sides of the ‘hump’ middle. You attach plate by bending over the end into a tiny hook, and catch the thread in that. The hump was too rounded to get the plate to stay in place on the sides.

(hmmm…lesson learnt re use of plate)

So I ended up doing a smooth layer of satin stitch over the centre (tricky at the sides!), and leaving it at that.

I was going to put a circle of Pearl Purl around the base of the centre, but if you look carefully, you’ll see that the centre isn’t quite centred. Adding Purl would magnify this – that the centre is almost touching the inner layer of Jap on one side.

In spite of plans awry, I like this flower. It’s pretty.

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