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Crafts & Handiwork - Ribbon Embroidery, Counted Cross-Stitch, and Stumpwork Stitches
My daughter-in-law, the incredibly talented Mary Kay Lady, has several hobbies which include the topics listed in the title of the hub. Coincidence? I think not...
Her favorite, and the one she tells me is most soothing to work on in front of the TV - especially as some of the programs do not entirely hold her interest - is counted cross-stitch. The woman amazes me...I have watched as she stitched her way through a good two inches of work, her head bent over her work, all the while keeping one ear and half an eye on the TV program she was following.
...and she never missed a stitch or a plot point.
While browsing through a local book store - they were having their summer monster sale, and we do adore book sales - we came across a beautifully illustrated volume on stumpwork by Jane Nicholas - the illustrations on the right are from an online article about her work..
I was about to return it to the bin, but my daughter-in-law reached for it, saying, "Oh, perfect. I've always wanted to try that. It looks a bit like fancy appliqué, doesn't it?"
Needless to say, I was already lost. After reading the books we purchased, however, I am lost no longer.
Examples of Stump-work can be found as early as the seventeenth century. Designs illustrated stories from the Bible or depicted the English Stuart Court - people, castles, flowers, animals, insects and fruit were popular subjects. Once the young girls of the house had mastered their stitch sampler, Stump-work would be one of their next tasks.
Parts of a Stump-work design are hand stitched separately from the main background fabric and then attached. Many different styles of stitching were employed. Fine canvas was stitched and then appliquéd to the main fabric. Wired slips or “envelopes” were stitched to produce clothing for the characters or for flower petals, etc. Fruit and faces were sometimes made by covering wooden shapes. Many types of threads such as cotton, silk, wool, and metallic threads, were used alongside spangles, beads and metallic coils etc. Often the embroiderer would stitch her initials and year of stitching on the embroidery using small pearl beads.
Designs were usually printed on thick white satin. The individual elements of the designs were easily recognizable, but the size of people, animal, flowers etc would not correspond to any truly life-size representation. The Stag deer could be smaller than the flower sitting next to it. The stars, sun, moon and rain where often found all in the same picture, giving an innocent air to the design.
- Learn stumpwork embroidery with this free tutorial
This cute little rabbit in a basket will help you learn the basics of stumpwork embroidery. Step by step instructions and photographs.
- Home Page | Jane Nicholas Stumpwork Embroidery
Jane Nicholas is recognised internationally as being at the forefront of modern designers interpreting raised embroidery. Here you will find more information about Jane and her work, and the entire catalogue of embroidery kits, books and supplies ava
My daughter-in-law keeps telling me that this is such an easy form of embroidery that I should give it a try...and I must admit, the basic stitches are quite simple. Mastery of this deceptively simple art-form can take years.
I have made any number of crewel work pillows and pictures and enjoyed that form of embroidery very much. This is similar in that you can cover a lot of area quite quickly. The artistry comes in the placement of the design elements, the layers of elements that build up the completed work, and the delicacy of the operator.
Illustrations from A-Z of Ribbon Embroidery Ed. Sue Gardner
Three Basic Stitches
This antique form of
embroidery is enjoying a resurgence of interest. Used to embellish almost
anything from patchwork bags and picture frames to corset covers (yes, Virginia,
modern young women do still indulge in the wearing of corsets from time to
time,) and outerwear, silk Ribbon embroidery is fun and quite easy to do. Even
a novice can create elegant floral arrangements and beautiful patterns with
some simple stitches.
Straight stitch: Figure 1
The most basic of stitches can be used for numerous effects
- Bring up at A, pull through
- Insert down at B, pull through
Ribbon stitch: Figure 2
This stitch makes great leaves or petals, and works only with silk ribbon.
- Bring up at A, pull through.
- Lay ribbon flat on fabric and insert needle at B, piercing ribbon and pulling through slowly. Ribbon will curl into B, so don't pull tightly, or effect will be lost. To vary curl, pierce B to right or left of center of ribbon width.
Tip: If ribbon appears straight and narrow, make another stitch on top of first one.
Lazy daisy: Figure 3
Use for petals or leaves with ribbon, floss, or perle cotton.
- Bring up at A, pull through
- Make loop in direction of other end of stitch and insert at B, a thread or two to side of A.
- Pull out at C, in direction needle points until loose loop is formed, then stitch back down at D.
Note: To prevent ribbon from twisting when it's drawn through fabric after pulling out at C, arrange it around needle so it's flat. Gently hold in place with thumb while sliding needle and ribbon through.
From the author's collection
There are so many lovely examples of this artistic craft, but I would like to describe two of which I am inordinately proud. The lovely lady who graces the wall above my headboard is a sterling example of counted cross-stitch, lovingly completed for me by my multi-talented daughter-in-law...you know the one I mean - the Mary Kay Lady...
The pattern called for a specific color of Aida cloth (the cloth on which most of these designs are stitched) but as that color was unavailable, she hand dyed the cloth to the required shade. The design is embellished with tiny pearls and metallic beads which give it a delicate sparkle as the light catches them, while the rich silk flosses lend a gentle glow to the lady's satin gown.
The photo hardly does her lovely work justice, but the "Christmas Angel" has pride of place in my living room.
The second is the beautiful a four-season wreath pictures at the right. From the first time I laid eyes on the design in Michael's Arts and Crafts, I knew it would one day grace a feature wall in my new home. I was going to frame it, but the delicate stitchery tends to flatten out a bit when placed under glass, and ti do love the texture. It took a while to decide how to mount the piece, but I finally settled on a quilted wall hanging with a dark green border. That is still in the works. In the meantime though, the wreath adorns one of my bed cushions where I can enjoy its beauty every day.
© 2009 RedElf