The Nutcracker by Natalie Dupuis

22nd September 2023

If ever there was a needlework technique that has a highly distinctive look and a completely different finish to any other method of stitching, or nué would have to be a hot contender.

So when it came time for Canadian needlework artisan Natalie Dupuis to create her project for The Design Collective 2 | Christmas, it was only fitting that she would choose a magical technique to commemorate such a magical festivity.

‘Designing a needlework piece with Christmas as the theme
has to be the most squeal-with-excitement challenge I have
ever accepted.’

Or nué, or shaded gold, is a beautiful thread technique where pairs of metal threads are couched to the fabric with silk or cotton, with the positioning and colour of the couching stitches forming the design.

In some ways this is not an easy technique to explain, as the core principle is to use couching stitches, which are usually designed to be hidden when holding elements in place, as a mosaic to build up an image.

Here is how it works… you begin by transferring the design, which is a little more detailed than your standard outline. This will include filling in some of the areas in colour as well as adding grid lines. 

From there, you lay horizontal rows of metal threads sitting snugly next to each other, with couching threads strategically placed vertically along each row in different colours to form the design.

It’s a little bit like a digital picture, where each couching stitch is one pixel and as you lay more and more stitches, or pixels, the overall image begins to take shape.     

While the technique itself does require an exacting approach and is well suited to anyone who enjoys counted techniques, it is also highly addictive. As the design is worked row by row, it’s one of those cathartic activities where you say to yourself, ‘I’ll just do one more row then finish up… ok, maybe one more…  really just one more row now’… you know how it goes!

Now, let’s talk about the stunning image that Natalie has blessed us with. The Nutcracker is resplendent in all his glory as he stands at full attention dressed in a regal uniform complete with sparkling paillettes on his boots and hat and shimmering gold thread epaulettes on his jacket.

‘I love the bright and playful colours from the costume of the nutcracker soldier used by Les Grands Ballet Canadiens. The primary colours recall festivity and a childlike simplicity, which is perfect for the holiday season.’

Natalie is an absolute master at designing the most beautiful and intricate imagery specifically for or nué, and her latest piece, The Nutcracker, is quite possibly one of her finest accomplishments to date.

Read all about her backstory as to how the Nutcracker came to be and enjoy detailed step-by-step images to help you re-create this joyous, festive project, all in our new book The Design Collective 2 | Christmas.

Make Your Own | The Nutcracker

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

The Nutcracker by Natalie Dupuis is small panel featuring the beloved Christmas decoration.

Printed Books

The Design Collective – Christmas

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for The Nutcracker includes everything* you need to re-create the festive panel: Fabrics (unprinted), wool felt, mount board, feathers, tissue paper, embroidery threads, paillettes and needles.


The Nutcracker – TDCC 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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