Goldwork, day 2

Still only two students again today, but we both seem to stitch at the same pace which meant that Helen could demonstrate to us both at the same time and keep a close eye on our progress. So after a quick look at the views from the window it was back to finishing off the hard string padding along the birds wing.

Once this was completed the next stage was to apply a kid leather cap over the head of the bird – which took us up to tea-break (where does the time go?). After tea we concentrated on the broad plate gold ribbon beak – this was a new technique to me – but, after a shaky start, I began to find my feet and really enjoyed the process. The trickiest part was catching the ribbon at the tip of the beak and then casting off.

After lunch we made a start on couching Japanese thread over the body of the bird – by this time my eyes were starting to struggle and, looking at the pictures, I can see that my brickwork stitching could have been better. Helen gave us a demonstration of the basket weave stitch over the wing – but I think this will need to wait for day 3 to finish it off.

So that is my progress to date – it is really difficult all the techniques demonstrated into each day – so I have had to do a little homework each evening – but I hope it will be worth it and I have loved learning new techniques. Tomorrow will be a ‘cutwork’ day.

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Bird on a wire.

Let it rain, let it pour! Who cares when you can spend the day at Hampton Court stitching. Today is day one of a three day goldwork course with tutor, Helen Stevens. We are attempting to recreate her design ‘Bird on a Wire’. This is how it should look….DSC_0068

I chose this course because I wanted to learn how to do basket weave – which is the stitch used on the birds wing and broadplate goldwork using flat metal ribbon – as on the birds beak. It will also give me a chance to improve on my cutwork – perfect! So what do you get in the kit? Pretty much everything you need! The booklet is full of colour photographs showing each stage covered.


Surprisingly there were only 4 people booked on this course but,  as the trains were as reliable as ever, two people did not make it in on day 1. This meant that we managed to get all the padding and string work done so tomorrow we can start on adding a little gold. Here is my progress so far – there are 3 layers of padding on each of the tiny leaves, the beak, body and wings.

Can’t wait to get back in tomorrow……

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Back to Jack Crewel…

Back to the Jacobean crewel work and this weekend I have been trying to decide how I should fill the lattice work hillock at the bottom of my design. First I worked up a lattice grid, trying to ensure that squares were equal in size (not as easy as it would first appear). I thought that Battlement stitch would be a good place to start. This involves putting down successive layers of different colours. A holding stitch is then placed over every intersection of the uppermost layers. Not sure about this one, maybe I need to change the combination of colours.

The next filling used lazy daisy stitch (also known as detached chain stitch) to form a simple flower motif and intersecting squares where then filled with straight stitches worked on the diagonal of each square (going corner to corner). I am liking this combo more.


The final filling that I tried was based on a piece of work that I had seen, by Tracey Anne Franklin – but I am not sure that I really did it justice. This is my favourite filling and I think the colours work well together too! Every other square is block filled using two different colours – a cross stitch is then added to the squares in-between and the crosses were in turn held with a second cross in a contrasting colour. Does this make sense? If not, I hope the pictures below help….

I did try bullion stitch and thought that I could use these to fill the cross stitch squares – but after 4 bullion stitches, a lot of frayed wool – I am not so sure!


Day 6 of my certificate course is coming up this week, so hopefully one of the tutors can help with my decision – or suggest an alternative. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

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And sew it continues……

Day 6 at Hampton Court is looming, so I thought I ought to get back to a bit of Crewel work. Unfortunately, this weekend, I am suffering with a summer cold and end of term exhaustion – meaning many mistakes – and probably a lot of unpicking!

I have tried to finish the chain stitching and stem stitching along the two main branches – but am now not sure how to fill in some sections within the bottom part of the trunk – or whether to simply leave them blank. The heavy chain swirls are completed, but I am not sure I like the different shades of green in them.  Some of the mistletoe has also been prepared (again) for padded satin stitch.

I then used raised button hole stitch for the vine around the left hand branch. It looks very similar to raised stem stitch and was formed in a similar way over a series of parallel bars (so I am not quite sure what the real difference is). My cold really started to take hold and tiredness meant that I began to make mistakes at this point – and as you can see the vines do not look like they flow around the branch. So this will need to be unpicked along with the middle hillock at the bottom. Oh well – I still have one more weekend before my next lesson.

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Simple pleasures

A busy weekend catching up with friends has meant that I have not done much in the way of sewing – but I did get some lovely things through the post…..

Some beautiful raw silk thread from Pipers Silks, metallic leather squares and gold threads. I bought the silks for Or Nue embroidery, and the other bits and pieces for Goldwork. But what to do? And when to start? In a couple of weeks time I have a Gold work course at the RSN and also day 6 on my crewel work project, so maybe I should just wait until after that…….

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Creative with canvas

I know that I should be concentrating on my Jacobean Crewel work – but I just don’t feel like tackling a big project at this moment in time. Instead I decided to rummage through my sewing bags and found a couple of kits that I bought years ago (and I do mean years ago!). Amongst them was a little canvas work kit by Sue Hawkins – I think I picked it up at one of the big stitching and knitting exhibitions – and as I am thinking of doing a canvas work module after my crewel work – it seemed an ideal project for the week.

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I particularly liked the colours of this kit – but I am not really sure if this is the same sort of work as the canvas work at the RSN – but I figured that any practice is a good thing! The most pleasing thing was the speed at which I was able to complete the project. All I have to do now is sew the pieces together, stuff them and add the tassels.

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Bevy of beauties…

I am not really a big fan of jewellery – just can’t be bothered. But the one thing I do wear daily is a brooch and over the years I have built up quite a collection. I tend to go for anything handmade – be it embroidered, crochet, felted or enameled. Just this week one of the little boys in my class made me a Lego, cross shaped brooch with he stuck to my top with sticky tape! It didn’t last more than a day but it certainly was a talking point! My love of brooches is one of the reasons I was drawn to the millefiore kits produced by Jenny Adin-Christie. I have been working on a small heart-shaped brooch – which I finally finished this week! Love it – here are a few pictures of the finished brooch. It has to be said that the back is not nearly as neat as the front!

When ever I sew I like to make something useful, with a function. Now I need to find something new to make. Does any one have any ideas? These kits have given me a little confidence when working with metal threads, so maybe I could come up with my own design. This little brooch looks lovely grouped together with other metal work brooches.

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