From Little Acorns – Part 2

acorn and oak leaf embroidery

I’m really sorry; sometimes I get a bit carried away when I’m sewing something and I forget to do more step by step pics. Oh well. So if you’ll remember I was feeling a bit ‘blobby’ about the acorn in it’s solo state and felt like i had just enough space to add an Oak leaf sitting behind it. It’s not how I usually plan designs – to have these kind of big changes at the late stages but that’s the evolution of design I guess. It’s kind of nice.

stumpwork hand embroidered acorn and oak leaf in silk

Do you know of all the stitches I find the one most difficult to do is satin stitch? Weird I know. I always find it’s so tricky to make sure all the stitches are laid in the same angle and look smooth etc. Anyways. So what I did was drew the leaf shape on to the fabric freehand, then starting at the root of the leaf I satin stitched in variegated silk each side. Then I added a lighter shade in back stitch to show the veins, and finally tidied it up with an outline of back stitch.


stumpwork silk acorn and oak leaf pendant

I actually love this now. It looks so rustic and the wooden frame is perfect for it.


From Little Acorns -Part 1

Stumpwork Acorn hand embroidery

I was pleased, then a bit surprised, when Craft Gossip featered me on their blog last week. Only because they called my post on the Hawthorn flower a tutorial. I didn’t think about that when I wrote it (the pictures are rubbish for starters), it’s just my normal way of showing step-by-step as I make something. But if it works as a tutorial for you, then good stuff (but don’t go selling it or copying or anything uncool like that). This week as you may deduce it is the Oak’s turn and it had to really be an acorn considering how recognisable, how symbolic and how it’s scale makes perfect jewellery fodder. So here we go:

felt shape

Having looked through my mini-library of stumpwork books I knew I wanted to do a padded slip, overstitched. So first up I drew a vague acorn shape on some wool-viscose felt to provide the base.

padded slip

Then using stab stitch I attached it to the black cotton ground  fabric, leaving space for the stuffing.


I realised at this point it would look more acorn-y the other way around, so after filling it with cotton batting I flipped it and began covering the whole thing in long satin stitches in variegated silk.

stumpwork acorn


Completely covered it’s a little stripy but I think that’s good for an acorn – see?



padded slip

You can see at this point how puffy it is. Satisfying. Then I add some detail:


Then I attempted some needlelace over the top to provide the cap. The last time I did needlelace was the first time I ever did any stumpwork, when I did my Death Cap Toadstool sampler. I found it pretty difficult back then, even though it’s actually quite simple stitches, but it’s the way all the knots you make seem to start to blend into one another so you’re not sure if you’re inserting in the right place. Especially as in this case the background is a similar shade to the thread you’re using.

stumpwork needlelace

This particular kind is trellis stitch and is worked into an initial line of back stitch and then looped knots back and forth, only attached at the edges. I used a darker shade of brown silk for this.

Stumpwork Acorn hand embroidery

Actually pretty happy with how it turned out, although I am now going to add an oak leaf motif behind it as frankly, unless you LOVE acorns, it’s a pretty boring pendant on it’s own. A brown blob.

Creating the Hawthorn Blossom

Hawthorn blossom

I was venturing into new territory with this piece: I’ve not incorporated 3 dimensional and detached elements into miniature jewellery designs, so I was a little nervous that it would work out and I could pull it off – not only as a one-off, but as a workable design that could be repeated bespoke.

Here’s how I did it:

detached wire slips

I finished all 5 petals. It probably doesn’t show up in my trademark excellent cameraphone pics, but I used various random shades of white to give a bit more depth to the overall flower. Then I cut each one out, trimming closely to the edge.

embroidered wired slip


That’s the reverse of the petal, BTW.


This was actually the most nervewracking bit – trimming close enough to remove frayed edges but not accidentally cut any threads on the slip.


Hooping up again in the ground fabric that would be the base of the piece – black cotton – I used a stilletto to make a small hole in the fabric into which I plunged the wire tail of the first petal:




After each petal I bent the wire tails back and couched over them in a strong silk machine thread before trimming them off.

Stumpwork flower

stumpwork wired flower

This is the beauty of this technique: each petal is pliable enough to manouvre individually, so each petal can be cupped and bent to make the overall flower more characterful.


The back finished off and secured, I started to work on the centre of the flower with pale spring green coloured silk french knots:

wired stumpwork blossom

Finally I used little glass beads stitched on in silk machine thread to represent the individual stamens:

stumpwork hawthorn blossom


There you go! Like the real thing? I’m very happy with how it turned out.


Last Private Commission of 2012


This is Blockhead, my talented friend Hazel’s cat. Well, one of them. She is a confirmed cat lady. She asked me to immortalise him in thread for her. Now I would not normally divert from the Mother Eagle path and do something like this, but Hazel is a very magical girl, and Blockhead is a magical cat, so all good.


cat embroidery

cat embroidery work in progress


embroidered cat portrait


He’s not completely finished, I need to make him a bit more jowly, and obviously set him in a pendant. His eyes are aqua silk and the rest cotton, built up in free running stitch, split stitch etc. He’s quite sweet I think.