Recently I started an on-line embroidery course with Nicki Franklyn from The Stitchery, she does beautiful, delicate stitching, very pretty. The course is called Stitch a Garden, it can be any garden, she is stitching Beatrix Potters garden up at Hilltop as an example, making a picture of the layout of the garden, she’s covering lots of techniques and ideas, such as stitching trees, pots, paving, colouring your fabric, choosing stitches etc. I’m really enjoying it though I haven’t started a map of my garden yet.
I’ve been mulling ideas round, I decided to make a textile book of the garden, mainly because I have an awful lot of pictures! I’m hoping to do little scenes of features in the garden as well as ‘maps’ of the three different areas in our back garden.
Stitching the ‘trees and shrubs’ sampler has given me a good page size and now I’ve sussed out that I can plot the maps more easily if I just draw them in portrait shape rather than the landscape plan which I see when I look out of the window (don’t know why it took so long for the penny to drop!!) I’ll hopefully start to make some progress.
In the meantime I decided to stitch one of my favourite trees in the garden, a magnolia stellata. In the spring it is covered with delicate white blooms, it’s only small, probably about 5′ tall and 6′ wide, though it’s probably over 25 years old as I think it was one of the first things I planted in the garden.
As you can see the tree blooms before any leaves appear. The flowers look a lot more delicate than their bigger cousins, magnolia soulangia. They’re like pure white little stars.
For the background I chose quilting cotton I bought from a destash. It’s a funny sort of fabric, like a duck egg blue background with smudges of brown and green…I know, I’m not really selling it and that’s what I thought at first, thinking of it in quilt making terms. However, for little embroideries it’s perfect, just a little colour variation in very neutral colours.
First I drew the tree, looking at it through the conservatory window. I traced it using a light box onto the fabric and started to stitch the trunk and branches with stem stitch. My original plan was to use three different shades of grey/brown but in the end I just used two, I thought I might use the lightest shade for adding extra thin branches later but I decided it wasn’t needed in the end.
I then started adding blossom, I used the DMC thread B5200 which is like the brilliant white paint version in thread! I very rarely use it as it is SO white, but that was just what I needed for the magnolia. I did think of varying it with some using the usual white DMC but in the end I just kept going with the brilliant white. I stitched two or three fly stitches on top of each other and then a straight stitch in the middle. I chose fly stitch as I thought it might be not quite so ‘straight’ as a straight stitch, giving the slightest of bends to the petals.
I added a few seed stitches at the base of the tree to ‘ground’ it, and at that stage I was pretty pleased with it, trying to decide if it was finished or not.
I put a photo on our Skipton Stitchers whatsapp group, asking if I should add a few french knots, or leave it. Someone suggested adding a pale pink straight stitch to the flowers. At first I hesitated, as the stellate flowers are pure white, however I decided to try. I wondered about adding a silver grey/green calyx too but when I tried it was totally lost on the background. I carried on with the palest pink just in the centre and I think it does just lift it, though it doesn’t show up well in the artificial light photo below.
Today at Skipton Stitchers we’re having a mini workshop on Inktense pencils, I think it might prove useful for stitching my garden.