A Design for Many Different Filling Patterns

Ann Kennon from Australia is a member of the New South Wales Embroiderers’ Guild. She sent me a photo of her recently completed beautiful work. I was given permission to feature her embroidery on my blog because I think you too will be impressed by the choice of all the filling patterns and how they are assigned to the different areas. The distribution of denser and lighter patterns was very balanced and made the project a masterpiece.

She wrote:

“In March last year I ordered and received from you a pre-transferred linen – a “wreath” of leaves. I decided to give myself a challenge and stitch a different filling pattern in each leaf. This, of course, meant that I had to find 38 different patterns. My books provided a number, but the filling patterns on your blog, and in the Roserich book I bought from you, were invaluable, and make up almost half of the patterns I used.”

Can you figure out the patterns posted on my blog?

No traces of the blue outlines can be seen in the photos. Asked how she washed out the colour, Ann replied:

“I did find it difficult to remove the pre-printed design. First, as you had recommended in your blog, and using an appropriate amount of the washing powder you sent, I soaked the embroidery for 2 days, This made no impression on the pre-printing, so I took the fabric out, made up another similar solution with more of the washing powder and soaked the fabric again for another two days, with much the same result.  Having washed that solution out of the fabric, I then put it in a soaking solution using Vanish Napisan, which is an oxygen-based bleach (no chlorine).  After another 2 days the pre-printing was lighter, so I washed the first solution out, made up another and soaked the fabric again. After this there were only a few small patches where the blue was still showing, so I made up the concentrated paste recommended on the container. This was only to stay on the fabric for 5 minutes.  After the 5 minutes there were only small traces of the blue, so I washed the fabric under running water, then soaked it in clean water to ensure that all the bleach was removed. The traces are no longer visible – it all looks white.

It might have been better to put it in the Vanish Napisan from the beginning, but I don’t like using bleach (even the oxygen-based one) if normal washing does the trick.“

I am aware that unfortunately it is difficult to wash out the pre-printed outlines. In the meantime I have used many contacts to find out if there are better options. I learned from French embroiderers who use other powders to print their designs that they also use sodium percarbonate (= the main active ingredient in many household detergents with a bleaching effect, which are advertised with terms such as “active oxygen” or the prefix “Oxi-“) to remove the colour of the lines. They also told me about their experience that washing out becomes more and more time-consuming the older the outlines are.

At the moment I am testing different powder compositions for their durability and washability. I will report the result later.

Sofa Cushion Cover 2

I now have a wide variety of designs on the subject of „pomegranates and birds“. Visitors to my exhibition have already been able to take a close look at some of the embroidered items.

Christa Waldmann designed a second pattern for me to match the pattern of sofa cushion cover 1.

She skillfully arranged the branches with the pomegranate blossom buds so intertwined that the structure forms a nest on which the bird perches. The ripe pomegranates with the tempting fruits are close enough to be pecked at.

This time I used 17/cm count handwoven linen. The many satin stitches can be embroidered particularly well on the very dense fabric. The pattern was transferred using an iron-on pen.

The thicker stems were embroidered with Satin stitches, which first became wide and then simple Stem stitches. The motifs were surrounded with Stem stitches.

Only the motif areas of the bird were traced with wrapped Chain stitches.

The feather dress was modeled with Blanket stitches.

The eye has been outlined with wrapped backstitching

and the pupil filled with Satin stitches. The beak was also represented by Satin stitches.

The slightly larger leaves were designed as divided leaves.

The pomegranate blossom buds were first given a center Blanket stitch eyelet and then – working from the outside in – filled with a Satin stitches using two strands of 6-ply stranded cotton.

The braiding of the branches was then worked out with Coral Knot stitches.

The large leaves were given different filling patterns.

The pomegranate areas were filled with Diagonal Cross stitches. The large pomegranates also received an edge with a curved line pattern.

The bird’s head was decorated with Bullion stitches and Bullion knots, the bird’s back was decorated with the Limetrosen square eyelet pattern Magic Net.

The bird’s belly was filled with Wave stitches and the tail feather was given the square eyelet pattern “Federkleid (- feather dress)”. The remaining feathers were embroidered with Wing stitches.

By alternating between striking and less conspicuous filling patterns, the design could be presented well in terms of embroidery.

However, you can also use completely different filling patterns that slightly change the effect.

You can purchase both pillow patterns from me as pdf files (printout: double page) for €8.00 each.

Sofa Cushion Cover 1 (B)

After the linen has been cut and the outines have been transferred to the fabric, the embroidery work can begin. I was too hesitant on my first attempt at design transfer using blue paper. The lines are not very distinctive. Therefore, to be on the safe side, the parts that are particularly important in terms of precise work, such as the bird’s heads and legs, are embroidered very early on, when the outlines are still clearly visible and the embroidery can be implemented very precisely.

The lines of the bird heads are traced with wrapped Chain stitches (coton à broder No. 20). These stitches have a similar effect to Coral Knot stitches, but are a bit more bulky. Here it is important that the Chain stitches are embroidered first – the wrapping can also be done later.

Beaks, bird legs and eyes, small leaves and pomegranate blossoms are embroidered with Satin stitches. Optionally, coton à broder No. 25 or two strands of 6-ply stranded cotton can be used. Stranded cotton has the advantage that the two threads lie next to each other and thus cover the area better than a thread twisted together, but the disadvantage that they shift against each other and the thread tension is not always the same. To avoid this, from time to time while embroidering you have to let the needle slide down to the fabric, bring both strands of thread away from the fabric into the same tension and then push the needle back into its embroidery position.

To taper the thick stems toward the end, start with wrapped chain stitches, then continue the line first with wide stem stitches and finally with single stem stitches (coton à broder No. 16).

The thin stems can be stitched with Coral Knot stitches or with simple Stem stitches.
All areas – apart from those within the plumage – in which threads are withdrawn are first surrounded with Coral knot stitches (coton à broder No. 16).

The plumage of the birds is depicted with different stitches: Stem stitch diamonds with Satin stitch dots or Chain stitches in the middle,

Satin stitch arches and rows of Blanket stitches indicate the wings. The tail feather is worked out with wing stitches.

One bird’s belly is worked using Wave stitches (simple thread withdrawing 3:1 and coton à broder No. 25),

the other using Honeycomb Darning stitches.

The middle parts of the bird heads are embroidered with small Wave stitches over 2 threads (simple thread withdrawing 2:1 and coton à broder No. 25).

The top of the head and neck are decorated with curved lines (coton à broder No. 16).

The middle parts of the large pomegranates (Limet thread withdrawing 3:1 and coton à broder No. 25) are embroidered with Diagonal Cross stitches, the side parts are filled with Chain stitches (coton à broder No. 16). (Chain stitches next to Coral Knots always make them appear more harmonious.)

The small pomegranates and the small leaf motifs get a 2:1 thread withdrawing.

They are filled with Cable stitches or Single Faggot stitches (coton à broder No. 30).

The large leaf motifs get an openwork thread withdrawing 2:2. They are worked out using Cable stitches (coton à broder No. 30). The leaf veins can be indicated with wrapped Chain stitches (coton à broder No. 16).

The embroidery is finished – the work can be washed.

It’s obvious that many of my stitches look a little wobbly. After laundry and careful ironing they look much better.

The second step is done, the pattern is embroidered.
You can find out how to proceed in the next post.

Schwalm Parade Cushion Border (B)

One of the cushion designs shown in the previous post has met with great interest among my blog readers. Therefore, I now show this embroidery in detail. It is about a very special and rarely found Schwalm border pattern. It was embroidered on a parade cushion. The pillowcase is about 200 years old. It measures 45 cm X 82 cm. At 24 cm x 80 cm, the border occupies more than half of the cushion plate.

It is essentially early Schwalm whitework.
Coral Knot stitches are hard to find. But in addition to surface filling patterns, there is also a couple of withdrawn-thread patterns.

In addition to heart, tulips and sunflower, there are many other flowers, pomegranates and leaves in various forms. Some stems are kept wide and elaborately decorated. Blanket stitch eyelets are arranged in the shape of grapes. Instead of spirals, there are often intricate tendrils.
Not only the tree of life structure emanating from the basic vessel is interesting, but also the cross formations surrounded by the branches.

The embroidery also includes some very interesting filling patterns, which will be discussed in a separate article.

Schwalm Parade Cushion Border(A)
Transition from Early to Later Schwalm Whitework (1)
Transition from Early to Later Schwalm Whitework (2)
Transition from Early to Later Schwalm Whitework (3)