Spring 2024: Google ended its email subscription service in 2021. I believe I've found a replacement, but haven't had time to test it. I have been stitching a little bit here and there and have some posts ready for when the email subscription is active again. Fingers crossed, I'll have time to rouse this blog out of its dormancy sometime this year.

24 November 2017

Vegetables or Dessert?

The work on the antique violets is progressing along nicely. I've completed a second motif which is a copy of the first. I like the reverse S curve on the one stem with its little hint of Art Nouveau.

Society Silk Violets: one of the violets from an antique stamped embroidery

There are only three unique motifs on the doily. Each one is repeated once to create a total of six violet bunches. The duplicate motifs have very slight variations and I'm adding other differences such as not using the exact same colours on the stems. The flowers, of course, can't be duplicated as you can't exactly replicate thread painting--and I never want to!

Here's the doily with the two completed motifs:

Society Silk Violets: first two motifs embroidered with antique silk floss

I decided to enhance the antique stitching experience by using some vintage English embroidery needles. I bought these from Lacis years ago, and this seems like an appropriate project for them.

Society Silk Violets: deciding whether or not to use antique embroidery needles or new ones

The old needles are just a tiny bit longer and the eye is slightly smaller than my usual Bohins. I'm a die-hard fan of Bohin needles, but the vintage crewels work fine.

With the completion of the second motif, it's time to make a decision about what to stitch next. Do I keep working the violets or start on the border? I'm not looking forward to stitching the border and its ornaments. It's a lot of repetition which bores me to death. I'll like it when it's done, but I won't like stitching it!

In a perfect world--where I'm not easily bored--I would stitch the border last. I prefer to work from inside to outside so as not to create any unnecessary wear on the outer stitching. Also, in this particular case, I would prefer to stitch the white embroidery last to avoid the possibility of getting the white unnecessarily dirty.

As children, we're often told to eat our vegetables or we won't get any dessert. I approach tasks the same way. I usually do the 'vegetables' first and leave the 'dessert' for the end.

On this project, the scalloped border/ornaments are the vegetables and the violets are the dessert. I think I need to 'eat my vegetables' and start working on the border. I mustn't gorge on the dessert (violets) and leave the veggies (border) to the end!

There are 16 scallops/ornaments. I'm going to tackle half of them and then go have some 'dessert'. I'll stitch the ones around the completed violets. That way I avoid some of the issues with potential wear on the threads. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep things fairly clean, but since this is a table linen it has to be washable anyway.

The Japanese silk embroidery floss that I'm using for the border divides into three strands. Each silk strand is about the same width as a single strand of DMC floss (gold thread in photo below).

Society Silk Violets: modern Japanese silk thread used with antique threads

First, I split stitched the outlines on the ornaments inside the scallops.
Society Silk Violets: beginning to stitch the embroidered border

Then I stem stitched the spiral at the end, morphed it into satin stitch and then back to stem. The silk thread is very easy to stitch with. It has quite a bit more twist than the antique floss.

Society Silk Violets: progress working the white silk border on the antique stamped linen

Four ornaments down, four to go and then on to the buttonholed scallops.

I'm being good. I'm eating my vegetables, but I can't wait to get back to dessert!



  1. I'm loving seeing this project develop. The violets look great! So glad I found your blog via Mary Corbet. And I'm looking forward to seeing the "vegetables" very much: in the past I've often had difficulty keeping buttonhole borders even. Do you work your buttonhole over split stitch?

    1. Thanks, Dinah. I am not working the buttonhole over split stitch, but I have put a single line of padding along the edge of the buttonhole just inside of the outer edge.

      Stay tuned, there's more coming about the 'vegetables', um, I mean, buttonholing!

  2. I love the idea of using flat silk for the scallops

    1. Well, I hate to disappoint, but the white thread for the scallops is not flat. It's twisted, but not tightly so. In fact, when I did the stitching tests with the white thread, ironing seemed to burnish the thread into a beautiful shine and it looks a little bit flat. It's definitely a filament silk--and washable. That's the important part! ;-)

  3. Such a pretty design. I love the vintage feel and that you are embracing the whole experience and using vintage needles!

    1. I'm finding that I am liking the vintage needles perhaps a little too much.

      They are too expensive to get attached to, but I am enjoying them!

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm enjoying working on it!

  5. Your work is exquisite--and I'm another veggie before dessert person. Otherwise, nothing would ever be finished.

  6. Good for you for getting some of the border done early.