These three week cycles seem to come round awfully quickly! Three weeks ago I’d just finished another section of this gorgeous stitch-a-long by Faby Reilly…
At the beginning of this SAL Faby explained that there would be two levels of stitching, intermediate and advanced, so I knew at some point there would be some stumpwork to try. I’ve done a little stumpwork over the years but not a lot, so I was looking forward to it. This next section has a beautiful stumpwork dragonfly, it was a bit of a challenge but I love it.
The changes in stitches happened from the beginning with the stems stitched using whipped back-stitch instead of just plain back-stitch. I thought it might make it look a bit bulky but it doesn’t, it seems to smooth it out and raise it off the background.
Once all the background cross-stitch was complete, there was the dragonfly’s eye to stitch, this is padded satin stitch using the cross-stitch underneath to pad it out to a lovely curved shape.
Next to stitch was the body / tail of the dragonfly. This is stitched using woven picot stitch. Basically a framework of three straight threads is made by looping thread round a pin or needle and the threads are then woven from top to bottom. The difficulty is keeping the width even as you progress down. My first attempt was too fat, my dragonfly didn’t look at all aerodynamic! I cut it off and started again. This time I put the tip of my needle in the loop next to the base threads as I was pulling my thread through. This meant I could pull the thread more firmly without distorting previous rows and keep a neater line. I also carefully moved the anchor pin a few milimetres further out once I’d woven about a third of the tail, this helped keep the base threads taut. It worked, I’m happy with my second tail, the end is anchored to the fabric with a couple of little stitches.
The final piece of stumpwork was the wing. This is stitched on organza incorporating wire to hold it’s shape. This again took two attempts, but that’s because I had a bit of a senior moment and didn’t follow the instructions properly!! I had a few days away in the Lakes this week with my daughter so I’d quickly packed a few needlework projects to do in the evening, including my dragonfly. I didn’t realise that I hadn’t packed all the instructions, the vital page with the outline for the wing was missing! In a moment (or several hours!!) of madness I thought Ooh, I’ll just use the outline from the cross-stitch pattern…of course that is printed at 10 to the inch, my stitching is 16 to the inch, so I now have a beautiful, large dragonfly wing, bigger than the whole dragonfly!! Once back home I found the correct size and made another one…the wire is shaped and then stitched to the organza with an overstitch or buttonhole. I found a lovely organza in my stash in lovely shades of blue and green, it works really well. I used buttonhole, the first time I’d used a single thread and it took forever! This time I used two threads and it did cover more easily..but it isn’t as delicate. I also used some of the metallic thread to add a few veins on the wing. Once it was stitched I applied a fine line of fraycheck on the edge before cutting it out right next to the stitching. The wires are then inserted through the linen and attached on the back. I’m pretty pleased with the wing, I think my double thread for the buttonhole has made it a bit bulky, but I didn’t fancy doing a third wing! Next time I’ll follow the instructions more carefully!!
By the time I post about my dragonfly again I’ll hopefully have finished the final section, then we just need to learn how to stitch it all together. If you fancy making this needle-case, just follow the link to Faby Reilly designs, she’s got lots of beautiful cross-stitch designs.
This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea, we all post our progress on our own choice of embroidery every three weeks, please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching.