Beautiful birdie: a refresher in crewel work embroidery


I’ve had a couple of weeks holiday recently, but am back and the excited to share my latest embroidery design with you..

This little birdie was loads of fun to stitch! When I did my Certificate I loved learning all the different stitches for crewel work. This was a great reminder of how to do some of those stitches!

Here’s a close up:


This guy is now available to buy in my Folksy store.

.. And I’m starting work on a little friend for him.


I love comments so don’t be shy, let me know what you think…

William Morris embroidery progress

I started this piece a while a go and it seems to be my coffee shop project..


We have landscapers terracing the hill that is our garden at the moment so this is a good way to escape the dust.


This is the view from our bedroom window ( the bottom corner is the ground floor extension)


This is the first of the flowers I’ve worked, I threw all of my RSN training out of the window and did the centre in French knots first. This meant I had to be very careful when doing the pink satin stitch. I came up over a line of split stitch and angled my needle carefully to get the satin stitch to lay under the knots. It would have been much better to do the satin stitch first and come up in the middle and go over the split stitch, getting a smoother outline and then putting the French knots in after. Hey ho, I can do that with the next one!

The green leaves I did in feather stitch, they went in really quickly – it’s a lovely stitch to use!


Lastly I outlined the flower in stem stitch.


As you can see I have a lot more coffee to drink to finish up – 3 more flowers – which I think from the plan are each slightly different and some more leaves.. Then all that stem to do – for which I am out of threads.

RSN Diploma: Blackwork embroidery week 2

A slow week for week two, I think I was quite intimidated by the blank canvas!

Having done a bit of sampling, I worked with my tutors to pick the patterns I’d like to use, then it was just a case of picking an area and getting started. With this technique there’s a lot of grey scale and a lot of interpretation, not a lot of right and wrong for the moment. I think my scientific brain is up to the counting and precision needed for the stitches, but might struggle with the nuances.. It’s a work in progress so we shall see!

For homework I’m doing more practising in blending different stitches, hopefully this will give me some confidence..

I think it’s one of those times that I’m standing on the edge off a cliff – I just need those 20 seconds of courage to take the leap!

RSN Diploma: Blackwork embroidery week 1

Having finished my Certificate in Embroidery at the RSN earlier in the summer – and nervously waiting for the result(!) – I returned to Hampton Court last week. I’m very pleased to say that I received a merit over all – getting really good marks for my Jacobean crewel work and canvas stitches and adequate for my silk shading and Goldwork – which were both fairly new techniques to me!

So now I’m back, the diploma is 6 techniques – I have to do Blackwork, advanced silk shading and advanced Goldwork. I thought I’d start with the blackwork as its the choice in the Certificate you can chose canvas or blackwork.. I felt I had a better chance at doing well with canvas and that blackwork would need a bit more experience on my part – lets hope that the last 12 months have been well spent!

I’ve had a while now to see what other people have done for their blackwork – I’m not sure if I’ve learnt lessons, but it’s given me plenty of inspiration! There have been faces – I did consider doing a photo of my son, but children are tricky as there’s less interest in their faces, from a stitching point of view of course! Architecture, plenty of ideas here – especially living in & around London for the last 15 years.

In the end this is the photo I went with:


On our honeymoon in Tanzania this lioness walked alongside our jeep through the grass posed for us and then crossed the road in front of us and took off. This was one of about 1500 photos from our 10 day trip of a lifetime and it feels nice to do a photo that means something so special to us.

So first things first and I zoomed in on the face and front leg to give plenty of scope for shading – the muscles on that front leg are going to be fun! Then I traced the major areas off and transferred that on to tissue paper. This has been tacked down onto my linen and I’m transferring the design on with small tacking stitches in a light machine thread – known as the trace and tack method of transferring the design.


(Excuse the bad photo – very hard to photograph shiny tissue paper..!)

I’m also doing a practise sample of stitches, so I can get an idea of how they work and how to do shading before I get started on the main piece..

Practise, practise, practise; learning to draw for design

One of the things that I struggle with in embroidery design is the drawing. Art at school was not my thing. I love stitching and turning pictures into embroideries – choosing which stitches to use and planning the colours – but drawing is just not may thing.

My husband suggested I ask a graphic designer for help – but the cost just doesn’t make that possible. Then I spotted a post over on While She Naps about the importance of the art in selling a design. Abby makes beautiful handmade toys and its worth checking out her blog. in her post she suggested a few drawing books which I thought I aught to take a look at.


I chose illustration school; let’s draw cute animals. Which arrived this morning. It’s a very sweet book and is just up my street. I love the style of the animals and the book has spaces for you to draw and finish off a drawing as well as giving you lots of different expressions and poses to incorporate. The author also recommends that you share your drawings and ask for opinions ‘don’t you think this one’s cute?’ that kind of thing – which my son will love!


So what do you think? is it cute? Do I need to work on my facial expressions??