Trevelyon’s Cap – the leaf

While working with Nicola, I asked her advice on the Trevelyon’s Cap project I’m doing now. I’m not happy with it at all. The solution I was happy with a few days ago I’m not pleased with now. The long, narrow leaves just look too heavy, or too overwhelming, or too childlike or too…something! And the red flower in the middle looks the same way – but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was wrong.

Looking at photos on my computer (it’s framed up so I hadn’t wanted to carry it on the airplane) the first thing she said was “When you’re working on such a small scale, everything must be on a small scale.” Obvious, I suppose, to an artist, but it hadn’t been to me. My materials must be on the same small scale as the piece.

So we began a sampler of different combinations of threads to see what might work for the cap project. The first thing we did was to stitch a leaf in corded Brussels stitch using Mulberry silk thread. This thread is more tightly wound than the Pearsall’s silk and works far better for detached stitches. The result, above, was much finer in texture.

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Hooray! I found the solution!

Remember that blue blob that was masquerading as a flower right in the middle of Trevelyon’s cap? It’s the one for which I could find no partner in nature. Well, I finally found a solution! And best of all, I didn’t have to take out any stitches, I only had to add a few. And even more best of all, I love how it looks now!

What did I do? Trellis. Not couching, just simple diagonal stitches, which created a trellis over the top of the bottom two sections. Now it resembles a blue thistle (I know, there’s no such thing in nature, but it’s closer to something natural now than it ever was before!) Continue reading

Detached buttonhole vs chain in a very tiny space

Last time I wrote about how difficult it was to work detached buttonhole stitch inside the tiny shapes at the bottom of the purple flowers. These little petals are only 1.5 cm/1 inch long and 0.5 cm/1/4 inch wide. By the time I worked chain stitch around the edge, there wasn’t much room for any detached button hole stitches in the center! I tried doing back stitch around the edge but I couldn’t get the needle under the stitch without stripping the gold wire of the Gilt Sylke Twist. Impossible.

Although I managed to complete two leaves, they look like a mess of twisted thread rather than any recognizable stitch. Well, if the shape is too small to accommodate the stitch, then change the stitch. Seems obvious now but I was determined and only gave up after pretty obviously being unsuccessful.

So I asked myself , “What was the defining look of detached button hole stitch that I wanted here?”┬á An open, airy look. What could I use that would achieve a similar effect? Chain stitch. Good old reliable chain stitch. And it worked. It looks great. It wasn’t difficult. The gold wire didn’t strip off the silk thread of Gilt Sylke Twist. It fills the shape nicely and adds a lovely texture to the bottom of the flower.

So, after much trial and even more error, my recommendation is to use chain stitch rather than detached buttonhole stitch in a very tiny space.