Thursday, 6 May 2010


The shoulder feathers are everything that I find most challenging in Japanese Embroidery.

To begin with they are stitched in a technique called separated layer. You stitch up one side of the motif, around the top and down the other side, gradually fanning the stitches to accommodate the curve. Then there is the one-point open space! A one-point open space should be exactly that – a space the width of the point of a needle between each element. In my case they range between non-existent and gapping chasms; this particular technique is the one that I am finding it most difficult to grasp. Not only is there a OPOS between feathers but also one down the centre of each one. And finally there is the size of the feathers. They are tiny and the smaller the motif the greater difficulty I have placing my stitches accurately.

And yet, I was really looking forward to this part of the design. Every time I have seen it stitched, I have been enthralled with these little delights. The outer edges of the feathers are slightly padded to lift them of the background fabric and the flat silk is blended to give an irridescence to the feathers.

The padding is tightly twisted cotton thread couched just inside the outline. The ends are tapered so that there is no sudden change in levels.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I took a lot of care stitching the separated layer, concentrating on the angle of each stitch, maintaining an even OPOS down the middle, and ensuring a smooth outline to the shape. When I finished the first feather, I was so delighted with it, I wanted to crow like a cockerel!

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I only stitched the one feather during the course as there was much more I needed to learn before the end of the week. The remaining feathers were stitched after I returned home but with the same care and attention.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I am really pleased with them. Not just because of how they look but, and more importantly, because I didn’t think that I would be able to do these at all well.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Seeing how they turned out, I feel that I am making some progress and that is very satisfying.

Happy Stitching


Plays with Needles said...

Congratulations! Sometimes it's just getting through the first one and then making yourself plod forward..then look at it and say, "hey I did it!" -- the shading is lovely too!

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

These look lovely. The gap is just what is needed to make them look real and distinct. I think you are doing very well with these. Congratulations!

Pierrette =^..^= said...

You do such lovely work. I never get tired of looking at all your beautiful projects.

Pierrette =^..^=

Sue said...

Wow looking beautiful you must be pleased with them, I loved doing the ducks. lol Sue XX

Rachel said...

You deserve to feel pleased with yourself - I love the shading and I think you've done a great job with the spacing!