Monday, 25 June 2007

Let the Stitching Commence

Just when I thought it was safe to start stitching, I have a little more prep to do. I have completed transferring the design by stitching through the tissue paper but now I have to remove the tissue paper! This is nearly as tedious as stitching along all the outlines in the first place. Little pieces of tissue trap under the stitches and have to be gentle pulled free. I have a pair of Berlin Irons that made this process easier. I decided to remove the tissue only from the butterfly that I am currently working on (not because that is as much tedium as I can stand at one sitting, honest). My theory is that the tissue will help keep the white background clean. I also decided to stitch in guidelines to show the direction of the stitches on the fore wings. First I stitched in the lines on the left fore wing. When I came to do the right wing, I could not get the angle right; it conflicted with the left wing all the time. Eventually, I covered the left wing with paper so I could focus on each wing individually.

© Jennifer Ashley Taylor/Carol-Anne Conway

Finally, I can begin to embroider. YIPEE!
First the head - vertical layer foundation in 2 strands of flat silk over 2 layers of self-padding. I had originally requested black silk for this project but Jennifer Ashley Taylor of Needle Artworks, who supplied the design, materials and advice, suggested that I use charcoal grey (very nearly black) instead. It was a good suggestion, I think - thanks Jennifer. The body is stitched in two sections, also in vertical foundation in flat silk. I used one layer of self-padding for the body. The stitches of vertical layer foundation should be perfectly parallel, but on the first section of the body; mine fanned a little at the bottom edge. This was not intentional but I liked it, so repeated it on the second section.

© Jennifer Ashley Taylor/Carol-Anne Conway

Now for the part I have been longing to do and dreading I will make a mess of - the fore wings. I started at the outside edge and took great care to get the angle of each stitch correct - I found the guide stitches really helped. I also used a gauge to keep the stitch length consistent. I used a single strand of flat silk in the darker shade of blue. I am really pleased with the first row. I don’t always get a sharp edge on my shapes but this time I have. I think using a single strand of silk helped, as did the stitched outline, which seems to support the stitches and hold then in place. I really concentrated on placing the needle tip exactly where I wanted the stitch and then keeping the needle upright while making the stitch.

© Jennifer Ashley Taylor/Carol-Anne Conway

I found each subsequent row a little more difficult. Since the rows are contoured, I found it difficult to keep track of which stitches are in which row (maybe that is not important). Also, as the wing gets narrower, it is necessary to drop stitches from each row. It was difficult to decide when to drop a stitch so as not to leave a gap. I really took my time and removed stitches if I wasn’t completely happy with them. So far so good, I think. The dark blue is nearly complete on the right wing and it is time to start blending in the paler blue.

© Jennifer Ashley Taylor/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching


Thelma said...

On my!! It is looking so beautiful!! Wow!! You are doing a fantastic job.

Morwyn said...

I haven't done thread embroidery in many years,but looking at your work as me ransacking my studio, searching for my floss again! Gorgeous work!

coral-seas said...

Thank you both for your comments. Morwyn: I have been following the Bead Journal Project blog ( and the work that you and your fellow BJPer's have done has me wanting to try bead embroidery. I spent the evening going through my beads; I was amazed to see how many I have. I found a broach in a charity shop yesterday that has given me an idea. All I need now is some time to give it a try!