The First Noël by Wendy Innes

9th December 2022

If someone asked you to close your eyes and try to imagine what the project they were designing using these five elements might look like:

Christmas, Holly, Stumpwork, Goldwork and Calligraphy.

What do you think you would come up with? As you consider each element and try to visualise the piece, your thought process might be something like this:

Christmas & Holly = sounds like a wreath or maybe a tree design. 

Stumpwork & Goldwork = dimensional star or lettering perhaps, bright sparkling elements of some kind. 

Calligraphy = thinking of the phrase Merry Christmas… maybe too obvious, how about Joy to the World or Ho Ho Ho?!

After doing your best at playing the guessing game, you open your eyes and behold! The First Noël by Wendy Innes from Inspirations issue #116 is revealed in all its shimmering glory.

If ever there was a quintessential Christmas needlework design that was sophisticated yet bold, refined yet lavish, this might be it.

Now let’s review the key elements we were given earlier and take a closer look at how Wendy has achieved this magnificent piece.

Christmas is represented through the restrained use of three colours, red, gold and green. Stitched on what we like to call ‘Father Christmas Red’ silk dupion, the slub introduces some lovely texture and character.

How amazing is that holly? It does everything that well designed and properly constructed stumpwork should do and leaps off the piece giving a magical three-dimensional effect.

A quick side note for those interested in some technical details, one of the unique aspects of how the holly is formed relates to the centre vein of each leaf. While the outline and side veins of the leaf are created by couching beading wire, covering with stitching then applying gilt pearl purl super on top, the centre vein is also couched using beading wire but is then carefully released so you can slide a section of gilt peal purl no.2 over the wire and then couch it back down.

This enhances the aesthetic of the centre vein, allows it to sit nice and snug inside the leaf and overall provides a rigidity helping to shape the holly in a more stylised fashion.

Next, we make our way to the shimmering gold lettering and that beautiful calligraphy stitched in goldwork.

All the filling is achieved using rows of doubled Japanese gold thread couched in a brick pattern. The outline once again features the peal purl metal threads that tie in not only the edging of the holly leaves, but also the three stars twinkling overhead.

Finished off with a few strategically placed gold paillettes and The First Noël is ready to take centre stage in ushering in the festive season.

Wendy Innes has created a truly delightful piece to stitch as it has all the hallmark finishes of a sophisticated design yet is not technically difficult; it simply requires one to take a little extra care in the application of each technique.

Make Your Own | The First Noël

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

The First Noël by Wendy Innes is a festive goldwork and stumpwork panel celebrating Christmas.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 116

Digital Patterns

The First Nöel – i116 Digital

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for The First Noël includes everything* you need to re-create this festive panel: Fabrics (unprinted), wire, embroidery threads, beads, needles and paillettes.


The First Nöel – i116 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 magazine/digital pattern.

Join our FREE weekly newsletter All Stitched Up!

Back to top