Remember a few weeks ago, when we chatted about Haft Richelieu, a magazine from Poland devoted to all kinds of cutwork embroidery designs?
Well, to emphasize the point that these are smaller, manageable cutwork embroidery projects, I’d like to share some photos of some beautiful Richelieu projects with you. Joanna Jakuszewska, who designs most of the projects in the Haft publications, sent me two beautiful pieces of her cutwork, along with several issues of the magazine. (Thank you, Joanna!)
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? This pretty lily worked in cutwork techniques on using linen and one size of thread is about 6″ long and about 3.5″ wide.
The medallion is adorned with a little hanging loop at the top and a small tassel at the base, making it a perfect little hanging decoration for the house.
One of the reasons that many stitchers steer away from cutwork is that so many designs seem large. And working a large cutwork design – like a full tablecloth! – can be daunting. This is why I really love the Haft Richelieu magazines. They make cutwork manageable!
Joanna’s stitching is exquisite. Her stitches are so even, so perfect. And those picots (the little bumps on the bars)? I am green with envy at the perfection of her picots! I’ve always found perfect picots on buttonhole bars somewhat difficult to achieve! They take a lot of practice.
The very striking detail about Joanna’s work is that her cut-away areas are absolutely fray-free. There is no lingering fabric fuzz here, no fabric threads poking through. The cutwork is pristine.
Sloppy cutwork, where the fabric pokes through the edging stitches, can be a real turn-off to cutwork. I have some examples on vintage linens, where the cutwork was not particularly well done, and on showing them to others, that’s the first thing they notice. They don’t like it, because it looks fuzzy and sloppy.
Good cutwork is not fuzzy. Good cutwork has sharp, well-defined edges and even, close stitching all around, just like this.
That’s one point to keep in mind, for example, when you’re looking at vintage linens through places like eBay or in antique shops. If the cutwork looks shaggy and frayed along the edges, are you getting a good piece of cutwork, something worked by inexperienced or careless hands, or maybe a made-in-China knock-off? The latter two, especially, can result in table cloths that hang crooked, in cutwork that doesn’t hold up to laundering. Look at the edges closely, to determine the quality of the embroidery and the overall quality of the piece.
This piece is a little letter or mail pouch that can hang on your door or wall. It features two cutwork areas, one on the back of the piece, and one on the front of the letter pocket.
Another reason I like the Haft publications: there are plenty of finishing ideas for small pieces of cutwork!
Worked on a natural color linen ground, with a natural color thread, and hemstitched all around, this is another beautiful example of Joanna’s work.
These two cutwork pieces comprise two of only four pieces of surface embroidery in my household decor. I seem to give most of my embroidery away! I only have one of my own pieces, one piece by Trish Burr, and these two cutwork pieces in my house right now. I think I’m going to have to rectify that, and start decorating with more embroidered items!
So a big thanks to Joanna at Haft Richelieu for the lovely gift – the pieces will certainly be treasured, and the booklets will be put to good use.
You can probably tell that I’ve been mulling over different types of whitework lately – from cutwork, to Schwalm, to various filling patterns and the like used in all kinds of whitework embroidery. There’s a reason for that – and I promise we’ll discuss it later!
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