Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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The Christmas Chicken Part II: Whitework Card Embroidered on Red


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I’m not exactly sure if this really a Christmas card. It was supposed to be! I’m supposed to be embroidering baby booties, Christmas cards, and a Christmas ornament right now. But I already demonstrated (much to my embarrassment, in retrospect) how easily distracted I can get when it comes to needlework!

Whatever the case, though, I finished embroidering the chicken.

Inspired by Christine Bishop’s book, Schwalm Whitework Embroidery, I adapted her little chicken design to a card. After drawing out the pattern and dotting it up for piercing, I transferred the pattern to a red piece of 5″ x 5″ textured cardstock and started stitching with #80 DMC white cordonette. For different parts of the design, I switched to #60, and I even used #50 at one point.

Hand Embroidered Card: a Schwalm-ish Chicken on Red Cardstock

My plan is to mount this on white card stock. As luck would have it, I have just about every color of cardstock except white!

With the eyelets, I was originally planning on open, un-stitched circles, as seen on the card before it was embroidered.

My idea was that the white from behind would show through and make the dots white. They would. But I held the card up to blank paper, and it didn’t look quite as I had pictured it. So I decided to outline each eyelet with little stitches.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t pierced the cardstock for those stitches. I contemplated going back to the drawing board (piercing foam) and carefully pricking in a few hundred little holes… but then I opted for the lazy approach, and just used my needle, pricking and stitching at the same time.

Taking that approach didn’t cause any trouble – it was rather easy, actually – but I did notice that it slightly dents in the card, more so when pricked before stitching. Still, in the finished scheme of things, it didn’t make any noticeable difference.

Hand Embroidered Card: a Schwalm-ish Chicken on Red Cardstock

Overall, I like the little fellow a lot. But, this is the thing: it took quite a few hours of stitching to finish this little 5 x 5 piece of paper. And in the long run, though I do like the idea of time and effort going into handmade cards, I’m not sure if 6 hours a card is a feasible idea!

That being said, I’ve got a couple other Schwalmish schemes bouncing around in my head. I’ll let you know if they come to fruition.

If you’re looking for patterns for stitching your own Christmas cards, I recommend Erica Fortgens book, Merry Christmas Embroidery on Paper. I really like it. I’ve made a few embroidered Christmas cards with her patterns, if you’d like to give them a look.

I like the fact that, on many of the patterns, you can take just one little element and situate it in the corner of a card or gift tag, or in the middle of a miniature card. If you’re not familiar with any of Erica’s books, you might want to check them out!

You’ll find Erica Fortgens paper embroidery books through the following book affiliates:

In the US, her books are available here through Amazon.


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(6) Comments

  1. So sweet! And you know, if anyone had a mind to, it seems like it would be fairly easy to change the Christmas Chicken into a Christmas Partridge. You know? Add the floopy loopy feathers (I believe that’s the technical term) to the top of the head instead of the little comb…maybe attach a little pear charm as an embellishment? But keep it all on the down low so you don’t hurt the Christmas Chicken’s feelings. -Jeannine

  2. Mary, I REALLY like the red and white embroidery, and I think a campaign for the Christmas Chicken would be worthwhile. After all, isn’t a chicken a more worthwhile symbol than the turkey? Prettier, and gives us eggs AND meat AND feathers. You can eat every part of the chicken except the cluck, well that’s what my Dad used to say!

    Definitely approaching the Silly Season at my place , wouldn’t you say?

  3. Wow, Mary! This looks incredible. I’ve stitched a few cards lately but I’ve only used a back stitch on a simple design. Your card is amazing!

  4. Thanks, Patty! It was fun to stitch, but took perhaps a little too long for a card. I think the second time around, it would probably go a little faster, but still I’m not sure if a 5 or 6 hour card is very “efficient” – some people don’t keep cards, after all!

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