Tag Archive | traditional embroidery stitches

A Heart a Day: 2

Heart Felt Wishes to you all! I love hearts, I love the shape, I love to decorate the house at Valentine’s Day, and I have a lot of hearts… so I decided to post A Heart a Day for the entire month of February.

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

Joni Mitchell

Happiest of heartfelt wishes for a wondrous day! ~Christen

Tambour Embroidery

Vintage Purses with Tambour Embroidery

These three purses are from my vintage purse collection. All are embroidered with tambour embroidery, possibly French. Clockwise from the left:

  1. Handbag with plunger clasp and chain handle: black moire silk with cream and pink roses and sage green leaves. Circa early 1900’s.
  2. Handbag with double frame and cloth handle: black silk satin with light pink, deep pink, crimson, and mauve colored roses and olive green leaves. Circa early 1900’s.
  3. Handbag that flips open flat with chain handle: black faille with pink, red, yellow and orange roses and olive green leaves.
Close-up view of vintage tambour embroidery
Close-up view of vintage tambour embroidery

Tambour embroidery, introduced to the Western world by France, is a continuous worked chain stitch formed with a tambour hook, which forms a loop similar to a crochet chain. The stitch is formed on the fabric with the thread held underneath in one hand while the other hand inserts the hook down through the fabric to catch the thread. The needle is brought back through the same hole, forming a loop. The following stitches are formed a short distance from the previous stitch, catching the loop of the last stitch at the beginning of the next.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

Bead Embroidery vs Thread Embroidery

I love to embroider, which I am sure you can tell. I have two books that are specifically focused on embroidery. In the Hand Embroidery Dictionary there are over 500+ stitches, both traditional stitches and unique stitches that I developed for the book. In my book Beaded Embroidery Stitching, I offer you both traditional bead embroidery stitches as well as unique techniques that accommodate the special characteristics of the different bead shapes and sizes.

Below, I show you how various forms of thread embroidery can be adapted to bead embroidery and bead woven stitches. The use of beads in the bead embroidery and bead woven stitches certainly do bring a surprisingly visual and dimensional aspect to the work.

Here is an example of two crazy pieced sections of fabric. The first is worked in traditional thread and silk ribbon embroidery stitches, along with embellishments such as tatting, rosettes, charms and buttons. In the second piece, you see traditional stitches translated into beaded embroidery, with the stitches worked in seed beads in sizes 6°, 8°, 11°, and 15°. Embellishments include lace, larger beads, charms, and buttons.

This is an example of a sashiko pattern, the first is embroidered with perle cotton; the second is embroidered with 11° seed beads.

Here is an example of the cross stitch worked in perle cotton, and size 11° seed beads.

Here is an example of two brooches, worked in similar design. In the first I embroidered the Brazilian rose, and traditional leaves and French knot stitches in perle cotton; with a couched cord frame. In the second, I embroidered the a rose with size 11° seed beads, and added in bead woven leaves, and charms; with a beaded couched cord frame.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

Recycled Blue Jeans and Denim Fabric

JEANS, when did you get your first pair? I grew up wanting to be the “ballerina” in Elton John’s song “Blue Jean Baby”. I can hear you singing, “can’t you see her, tiny dancer in the sand”.

In high school I embroidered jeans and work-shirts for friends and family. In fact the reason that I now wear a thimble while stitching is from being poked so much by working on the heavy jean fabric. I have recycled a pair or two (that did not fit anymore), and used them in various projects. I also like to work with denim fabric (sold by the yard), because it provides a nice firm base to work on.

“Blue Jean Baby” is stitched onto a pant leg, from a pair of old jeans. I removed the pocket first, and used it and the pocket from the other leg in the examples below. I appliqued a lace heart, and many hand made flowers into the heart vase. I added vintage and new beads into the centers of the flowers. I embroidered ribbon down the side edges using traditional embroidery stitches. The little cat (made from a quilt from 1880’s) was a gift that came along with an eBay purchase, and Marcia Marcantonio is the creator. Thank you Marcia, I think that your gift is quite at home here.

“Butterflies and Snapdragons” (a pocket from the pants), was featured in my book Ribbonwork Gardens, by C&T Publishing. The middle embroidery was worked on another portion of the jeans. “Flower Child” (a pocket from the pants), was featured in my book Ribbonwork Flowers, by C&T Publishing.

These two pieces begin with the same pair of jeans (cut from the other pant leg), and one of my favorite fabrics, the vintage floral print that the hearts are cut from. The heart shapes are bordered by a dyed leaf trim, and are surrounded by silk ribbonwork flowers and leaves, and silk ribbon embroidery.

“Country Hearts” Wall Hanging was featured in my book, The Embroidery Book, by C&T Publishing. Each square was cut from the same pair of jeans, and I used the vintage rickrack trim to cover the raw seams. The embroidery stitches are worked in perle cotton threads. The embellishments include vintage tatted lace, ribbonwork flowers, vintage buttons, and glass beads.

“Denim and Dresden” is featured in my book, Creative Stitching, Mixing the Old with the New, by C&T Publishing. I used jean fabric for the base of the piece, and I think that it compliments the vintage feed sack fabric so nicely. The embroidery is worked in perle cotton, cotton floss, and vintage tatting threads. The embellishments include yo-yo’s and vintage buttons.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

Artistry in Alchemy

The term gold-work embroidery was originally used to describe a form of decorative embroidery that employed real gold threads in a mixture of surface applications and techniques that use both laid and stitched yarns. The term now is extended to gold-work and metallic thread embroidery and includes all metals: gold (though this proved costly for most industries and was not used much after the 10th century), silver gilt, silver, pewter and copper, and metallic (alloy or synthetic) colored threads and yarns.

Vintage French Handbags with Metal Thread Embroidery
Vintage French Handbags with Metal Thread Embroidery

These two examples of incredible metal-thread embroidery are part of my vintage purse collection. The handbag I purchased at an estate sale, has copper, green and bronzed colored embroidery threads. The coin purse is mainly copper and silver colors, and I found this on eBay.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

Stitched Adornments

Vintage Floral Embroidery

Vintage Floral Embroidery

Floral embroidery is a descriptive term that was used for both thread embroidery (silk, wool or chenille); and ribbonwork flowers (a piece of ribbon or fabric that was stitched with a needle and thread). The flowers were arranged in sprays, or as a single bud on men’s waistcoats, ladies gowns, shawls and other accessories. Popular stitches for the embroideries were satin, long and short, and stem. The chain stitch that could also be worked with a tambour needle is often used as the only stitch in the design.

Ribbon work flowers such as aerophane or crepe floral embroidery (used in the late 19th century) had the details of leaves and stems stitched in with thread embroidery. The ribbon, a thin silk gauze or crepe would be cut then gathered with stitches to form each petal of the flower. Narrow silk “China” ribbons were available in shaded colors, and were first used in ribbon work floral embroidery. This narrow silk ribbon could also be threaded into a large eyed needle and stitched into flower shapes (usually a straight stitch) with added silk thread embroidered accents. The combination of ribbonwork flowers and silk ribbon embroidery gave the design dimension. The top image is from a satin purse, with the ribbonworked flowers and leaves of stitched chenille. A gift from my husband for my birthday, probably circa early 1900’s. It is incredible in person.

Vintage Floral Sewing Bag

Vintage Floral Sewing Bag

The second image with the whimsical floral vignettes was made, I believe as a sewing or knitting bag, but I use it as a purse, circa 1940’s judging from the fabrics used. Some of the flowers are made with ribbon, some with fabric scraps, some with added felt details. Primitive embroidery and beading were used to enhance the floral sections. I found this lovely treasure on eBay, and I adore it.

Happy Stitching! ~Christen

National Sewing Month

Day 19

Question: Do you like to embroider over a pattern or print: I like the fact that I can follow a guide, but mix it up a bit and add more color to the piece. You can find the following pieces in my book the Hand Embroidery Dictionary by C&T Publishing.

20″ X 19 1/2″

Glamour Girl by Christen Brown

This piece started with the fun print that was used in all four blocks. I loved the colors that were used and found additional fabrics in both stripes and prints in those same colors. I also incorporated a few precious strips of vintage batik fabrics. The piece is embellished with rickrack trim, grosgrain and novelty ribbons, embroidery, beads and sequins, and novelty buttons.

21 1/2″ x 12 3/4″

Big Leaves by Christen Brown

This piece started with the large linen leaf print. I chose Valdani perle cotton, from Rusty Crow Quilt Shop, for the embroidery stitches because of the ombre and variegated colors. The printed fabric gave me so many opportunities to use a variety of embroidery stitches. I used a wide grosgrain ribbon for the border, and embellished this with vintage wooden buttons.

12 1/2″ x 13 3/4″

Misty Blue Hills by Christen Brown

I used a printed upholstery fabric for the center that had great lines and colors that I could work with. I pieced the simple border with blue and creme colored printed fabrics. The embroidery stitching follows the pattern in the center, using a variety of stitches. I used a Sashiko style of stitching on the border fabrics. Many vintage glass, metal, shell and celluloid buttons were used for embellishments, along with two bone dragons.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

By the Shore

I love the sea, the shore, and collecting treasures along the sand, rocks, and tide pools. Growing up in Southern California is a gift that I treasure every minute of the day. Here are some examples of my interpretations of this life.

Sea Urchins
Sea Urchins

Sea Urchins, were made from synthetic felt, one embellished with mother-of-perle buttons, and glass beads; the other embroidered with hand-dyed perle cotton from Artfabriks, with a vintage brown muscle button in the center. Scattered amongst the sea urchins are a group of carved, vintage abalone buttons. This piece and the one below it, can be seen in my book, Hand Embroidery Dictionary.

Tidal Pool Rocks was a piece that I created, intending to add found objects, and other small embroideries. The rocks are made from synthetic felt, and are embroidered with a variety of solid and variegated perle cotton threads. The small bits of “sea ephemera” were created from ribbons, felt, and floral stamens. A ribbon trim poses as kelp, with found shells and starfish skeletons sprinkled around the rocks.

Tidal Pools

Tidal Pools was a piece that I created for my book, Beaded Embroidery Stitching. The felt base for this piece and the rocks above are based on the “Blowing Bubbles” project in that book. The base is made from synthetic felt, and is embroidered and embellished with seed and larger glass beads, miniature sea urchins made from silk bias ribbon, found shells, vintage buttons, charms, sequins, dentalium shells, fresh water pearls, coral beads, and abalone chips.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New

Sage and Cornflower

I have a new book coming out in March 2023 called Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old With the New, by C&T Publishing. The book has 17 projects: 3 Projects by Design with step-by-step instructions and 14 Stash Projects with creative ideas, and minimum instructions for using your stashed bits and precious treasures.

It includes loads of information on vintage stash items, embroidery stitches, embellishment stitches and tips on dyeing. There will be plenty of inspiration to help you create with your stashed, hoarded, and handed down bits and pieces of special treasures!

There are plenty of examples of innovative uses for all kinds of embellishments ― like lace, vintage linens and hankies, trims and ribbons, buttons of all sorts, and vintage notions ― through techniques and projects.

I just finished this piece Sage and Cornflower, which is an adaptation of one of the Projects by Design, Lace, Doilies, and Appliqués. The base started as half of a stained doily, which I dyed (sage), with Colorhue dyes. The (blue) lace and rickrack trims were dyed, as well as the embroidered (ocher) lace. I embroidered the piece with Finca perle cotton, Valdani carried by Rusty Crow Quilt Shop, and a wonderful colorway called Wild Rice, by Laura Wasiloswki of Artfabriks. I embellished the piece with seed and larger glass beads; vintage glass and celluloid buttons; and brass charms.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

Day 18 of FLOWERS GALORE!

Day 18 of FLOWERS GALORE!

Ribbon Embroidered Brooches

This project the Ribbon Embroidered Brooch, is a class that I just love to teach. The project is simple and elegant, and one the student can easily finish one in a few hours. There are just a few stitches, the woven rose, lazy daisy, French knot, and chain stitch, with a couched cord edge. These stitches can be found in my book The Embroidery Book by C&T Publishing.

Happy Stitching, enjoy~ Christen!