Following yesterday’s post about my short white-work course and my beginner’s efforts, Now I have the opportunity to browse through our teacher’s work book and see how a professional stitcher can make these pieces look like works of art. The initialled letters are stunning in their detail, and the miniature panels that are samples of various stitches and their filler lace-like stitches are exquisite. Gorgeous! Let’s take a look….
June 3, 2014
June 2, 2014
Sometimes Often I get a little stir-crazy at being housebound and less mobile. It’s difficult when taking morphine based pain relief, it makes me sleepy and my brain doesn’t make sense of much.
I know I have the attention span of a gnat but still have moments when I’m frustrated not to be “doing” something constructive.
I used to embroider constantly, tiny detailed work in miniature was my favourite but all the projects I’d been working on have lain untouched for almost four years now because I quickly discovered that making one mistake after another and unpicking a lot was more frustrating than not stitching at all.
To be honest I’ve been too tired and too sore to miss it most of the time, the idea of stitching again is nice but in practice it’s just too much effort. Back in 2013 however I saw a two day embroidery course to teach basic white-work (white embroidery on white background material) and since it’s something I’ve wanted to learn for years and years, decided to give it a go. During the entire time of the course it bucketed down rain , outside was stormy, dark and grey and I struggled with low light, as the flash photos were even worse. Luckily we used additional lamps to embroider by … hats off to the embroiders of centuries past who worked with candlelight and less than perfect daylight conditions.
The working of white-work turned out to have more steps that I ever imagined, it’s interesting to know and I’m pleased I had a go, but if I’m really honest my piece isn’t going to get any more work done to it now that the course has finished. The course was also given entirely in French, a good test for my rapidly rusting language skills. The top photograph is of the teacher’s amazing work: I’m not certain if that’s inspiring or intimidating.
It’s concentration intensive and whilst I persevered for two days I’m just not going to carry one with this, or any sort of embroidery until I’m fully recovered from my accident. Still, at least learning more about the “process” is somewhat satisfying in it’s own way. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone sometimes, even if you only discover that you’d rather to retreat back into it again afterwards.
The first step is to outline your leaf with 2 millimetre long running stitches: first you make a line all around (it looks like – – – – – ) and then you turn around and come up in the centre of one stitch and go down in the centre of the next one. This looks a little like a miniature chain stitch in the end, but it’s very tightly packed…
Now build up thick layers filling stitches within your outline stitch, following the natural form of the leaf and raised in the centre to give it a three dimensional, more realistic look. (don’t take any notice of the other outlined leaf at the moment, I was in a queue of students waiting to learn the next step so started to outline a new leaf whilst I waited).
Now begin to Satin stitch over the padding and the outline stitch, taking care to keep the stitches even and parallel, but at the same time “turning” slightly around the curves to follow the form of the leaf. (For me at least this is harder than it looks).
… Working your way up the leaf. (We were told to always start the Satin stitch at the outside thinnest part of the tip of the leaf).
One leaf completed…
Now outline and pad the centre of the flower… Satin stitch first in a north-south direction and then Satin stitch it again in an east-west direction to give it the necessary fullness.
Again, I found the Satin stitch a bit of a challenge. In the next photograph I’m working on the split leaf, I have outlined and padded one half, but you only Satin stitch between the small pencil markings of the central section of the leaf at this point.
Now you outline the other half of the leaf, stitch the padding and it’s only at this point that you Satin stitch over the remain padding and outline stitches as you work up the leaf. (There was a queue again to ask the teacher questions so I started to pad another leaf).
My split leaf doesn’t look particularly natural, but for a first attempt, I’m happy enough. The plant stems need to be started by the flower and worked towards the main stem. Yes, they have to be padded too! (but not outlined). When the main stem is reached, taper off the stitches so that you can blend them in smoothly later when the biggest stem is worked.
The main stem being padded, ready for Satin stitching…
This is as far as I managed in the two days of the course. Here’s another piece of the teacher’s work to show how beautiful white-work looks when worked properly in expert hands…