Sunday, 19 September 2010

The first flowers

Time to start the Banner's very first flowers!

The flowers are to go on the wide border surrounding the front central cross, which will be in red velvet.  Stitching directly onto velvet is not easy and tends not to give a good result, as the pile can come through the stitches.  I looked into this a lot before starting the project, and there seem to be two main ways to handle this: place a layer of fabric such as a fine cotton or linen on top of the velvet and stitch the design onto that, through both layers, then cut the remainder of this fabric away, leaving the stitched piece behind; and stitching the design completely separately, cutting it out and applying it to the velvet later.  Both can give very good effects, though the second one is slightly more work.

You can probably guess which one I'm going to go for, can't you!  Yes, as ever, it's the more-work one.  This isn't because I always seem to make life difficult for myself (honestly!), but because it seems to me to have less potential to go horribly wrong.  If I somehow managed to make a real mess of the very last flower and it was stitched directly onto the velvet, then what would I do?  Unpicking it could damage the velvet itself, or at least leave a visible mark, which I don't want.  If it was on a separate piece of fabric, however, it would be annoying, but I could just start again with no harm done.  I always want my work to look as perfect as I can get it whatever I'm making, but for this project in particular, I don't want to take any chances.  Separate fabric it is.

Right at the start of the project I stitched a small sample piece using this technique, which worked very well, plus I've discussed the options with other embroiderers, so I'm quite confident that it'll be fine for a large piece such as this. (I can't find a photo of the test piece, unfortunately, and it's now with the Northumbria Association as part of their records.  You'll just have to take my word for it.)

So, getting down to business.  At the start of the first phase of the project, I made transfers for most of the flowers (I didn't get round to the ones for the top, having got side-tracked with the crosses), so I can get straight on with things.  Here's the transfer for the simplest flowers on the bottom border, along with some fine linen from Ferguson Irish Linen.

I ironed the transfer onto the linen:

And mounted this onto a small frame:

That's a bit different to the giant frame I've been using for the Spirograph panels!  Now I can start the embroidery.


  1. Thanks for sharing your technics, Ruth!

    For long I want to embroider on velvet - I'll follow next posts with all my attention :)

  2. Thanks Meri, but I'm afraid you might have to wait a while - I have a lot of flowers to stitch before I can start adding them to the velvet!

  3. This is soooo interesting. I just wanted to thank you for sharing it with us and wish you good luck:-)

  4. I really like the idea of embroidering the flowers separately then adding them to the velvet. Will you make them stand up a bit, like stumpwork?

  5. Not really. They'll have a little depth with the thickness of the stitching, but that's all.