Sen’nohana by Margaret Lee

9th October 2020

The term ‘Sen’nohana’ means ‘a thousand flowers’ in Japanese. It seems apt that the Japanese would have such a succinct and beautiful term, as flowers have always been an important part of Japanese tradition. They are steeped in meaning and highly valued as gifts, particularly due to the strong symbolism associated with different blooms.

Just as in Western culture, the Japanese have a ‘language of flowers’, called Hanakotoba. Each flower holds a meaning, and the combination of flowers can deliver complex messages provided both the sender and the recipient understand the language being spoken. 

This then means that the Japanese art of flower arranging, Ikebana, has always gone far beyond simple aesthetic considerations.

Even in the most minimalistic of arrangements, careful thought is put into the choice and positioning of every flower to ensure the meaning for the arrangement is clearly understood.

From cherry blossoms to chrysanthemums, the presence of flowers in Japanese art and life is all encompassing. There are literally thousands of flower images and symbols to be seen throughout the culture. This extends then into the traditional Japanese styles of embroidery and beading, which Margaret Lee has so expertly captured in her project Sen’nohana from our new book A Passion for Needlework | Blakiston Creamery.

Worked in traditional Japanese beading technique, Sen’nohana is truly a breathtaking project. The front of this hard-shell bag or purse is festooned with curling stems, sparkling leaves and brilliantly coloured flowers, all carefully worked in tiny Japanese seed beads. Each flower is exquisitely designed, making full use of the glorious colour which emerges when the light hits each perfectly positioned bead.

The design is worked using the traditional, two needle technique. One needle is threaded with a double thread to lay the beads and the other is then used to couch the bead down and ensure it is secure. 

Changes in tension are used to create a raised effect on some of the blooms and, when all of the flowers are complete, the whole piece is finished off by filling the background in a scatter pattern using striking dark amethyst beads. The result is both stunning and dramatic.

The perfection of this project comes from the careful placement of the beads which can take some time. Because of this, the completed evening bag is single sided, with the intricate design on display on the front and subtle brown taffeta fabric covering the back. 

Margaret did acknowledge, however, that some stitchers will enjoy the beading process so much that they will want to create their project two sided. In order to satisfy everyone, extension packs to complete the second side of the bag sre available for purchase as an optional extra.

Although Sen’nohana might not be decorated with exactly a thousand flowers, there are more than enough to ensure total pleasure in completing this project. What there might be are a thousand beads, each laid down and secured with care. And what there is guaranteed to be is a thousand moments of sheer pleasure whenever you or anyone else sees this exquisite project. We feel that the subtle message of love, patience and devotion will be clear for everyone to read.

Make Your Own Sen’nohana

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Sen’nohana by Margaret Lee from the book A Passion for Needlework | Blakiston Creamery is an elegant hard-shell bag richly embellished with Japanese-style bead embroidery.

Printed Books

A Passion for Needlework 3 | Blakiston Creamery

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Sen’nohana includes everything* you need to re-create this enchanting bag: Fabrics (pre-printed), fusible wadding, fusible interfacing, hard shell bag frame, embroidery threads, beads and needles.


Sen’nohana – APFN3 Kit

Step 3 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit | Bead Pack

In addition to the full kit above, an extension pack is available to complete the second side of the bag.


Sen’nohana: Extension Pack – APFN3 Kit

*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the book.

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