What Are You Stitching?

22nd April 2022

Crewel embroidery has been practiced since Tudor times, and it continues to be much loved today. This type of wool embroidery lends itself to the Jacobean style from which it originated, but there have been many beautiful and clever variations on traditional Jacobean crewel since then. Here are a number of crewel projects from our readers for you to enjoy.

Catherine Schuler

‘I just completed The Strawberry Thieves from a kit by Needlewoman Studio. It was a pleasure to stitch, although I took some liberties with the directions. I never could follow a recipe! It’s eventually going to be finished into a cushion.’

We can’t see any liberties taken, Catherine. All we can see is beautiful embroidery! We’re glad you enjoyed this project and it is going to look fabulous as a cushion.

Dorothea Oberdorf

‘I made this cushion for the wedding of a friend. I wanted something that expressed all my good wishes for their life together in a traditional yet modern way, but I couldn’t find anything I liked. So, I mixed up elements from the designers I most admire.’

‘The grapes I borrowed from Late Harvest by Anna Scott (from Inspirations issue #95) to wish wealth, peace and joy. The thistle represents standing against plight, which I took from a Jane Nicholas stumpwork design. The sea shore and ropes were inspired by Elisabetta Sforza for luck on journeys and a constant widening of their horizon. 

The Iznik tulip and cornflower came from Margaret Light, representing richness and trust respectively. The oak (consistency and reliability) and the pomegranate (wealth, richness in mind and fertility) were inspired by Phillipa Turnbull.’

‘It was a joy for me to rummage through my embroidery books and visit all the skilful designers who gave their instructions for creating my own project.’

What a wonderful piece, Dorothea. It is so carefully thought out and exquisitely put together. We’re sure all the designers you borrowed from will be thrilled to see how you have paid homage to their work to create something completely unique.

Christine Igot

‘John Henry Dearle who worked for Morris and Company and was Morris’ assistant designed three embroidery patterns for a folding screen in the mid-1880s. They were sold as kits or as completed wall hangings or screens.’

‘They are called Parrot Tulip, Large Horned Poppy and Anemone. One of the screens is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.’

‘Way back in 2005, the V&A in collaboration with Coats Crafts, Wm Briggs and Co and Anchor UK put out freestyle embroidery kits of these three designs. The kits contained all the threads and the image printed on cream sateen.’

‘It is 2022 and I have finished the first of my three kits! The V&A called it ‘Swirling Leaves Panel’, but it is the Dearle Anemone design. It has been one of my WIPs since 2019. I’ve really enjoyed doing it as it has helped me improve my long and short shading technique. Plus, I’m a big Morris fan and collect Arts & Crafts furniture and objects.

Now on to the two others as my brother has promised to make me a mini version of the wooden screen to house them. Hopefully, I won’t take as long to get them finished! I’m so glad I bought all three kits at the same time as they no longer seem to be available.’

‘My advice: never give up on a work in progress if you really like it! And always buy a pattern or kit you like when you see it, as you never know when it might be discontinued!’

Fantastic advice, Christine. This is a magnificent finish. Seeing it complete must give you all the inspiration you need to do the other two in the series. It is definitely going to be an heirloom when finished and mounted in your own, custom-made screen.

Do you love stitching crewel embroidery? Do you prefer the Jacobean style, or do you like exploring other styles like the Arts & Crafts movement?

Whatever style you like to stitch and whatever medium you like to stitch in, we’d like to see it. Send us a picture of your work and a bit of information about the project and your stitching journey to news@inspirationsstudios.com

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