Besides working on this crewel embroidery project I’ve been sharing with you recently, I’ve got a few other hand embroidery projects on the go.
I’ve added something bright into my current project mix, to bring a little sunshine into the chilly gray days of winter. It’s Modern Crewel designed by Susan Porter and detailed in Inspirations Magazine Issue #90. I reviewed the kit for Modern Crewel here, if you’d like to read my review.
There are many notable contrasts between Modern Crewel and the Mellerstain Firescreen crewel project I’ve been showing you recently.
The most notable contrast is that one is crewel embroidery and one isn’t.
The Mellerstain Firescreen project is crewel embroidery, in the most accurate and traditional sense. It is worked with wool threads. It’s worked on linen. It features a certain collection of stitches typical of crewel work.
Modern Crewel, despite the name, is not crewel embroidery. Crewel embroidery relies on the use of crewel wool to make it crewel embroidery. “Crewel” embroidery worked with anything besides wool is just “embroidery” – regular surface embroidery. It might feature a design style (in this case, somewhat Jacobean) typically found in crewel embroidery. But it isn’t actually crewel embroidery.
Design Style vs. Technique or Type of Embroidery
We’ve discussed this before on Needle ‘n Thread, but I think it’s worth mentioning again, as it is often a point of confusion when folks start talking about crewel embroidery.
Jacobean embroidery and crewel embroidery are not the same thing.
Jacobean embroidery (or Jacobean art, or Jacobean architecture) is a design style typical of a certain time period – the era of James I in England (“Jacobus” in Latin).
During that era, embroidery was worked not just with wool but with other mediums as well – silk, for example. But crewel embroidery enjoyed a great popularity then, and so Jacobean design is often associated with crewel embroidery.
So, crewel embroidery is a type of embroidery that often features Jacobean design, but it is always worked in wool. When it isn’t worked in wool, it is simply embroidery.
Modern Crewel, the title of this kit, is an interpretation of a design that would be typical of crewel embroidery in a Jacobean style. It’s worked with cotton threads and some beads. It employs some stitches typical of crewel work, and several stitches not typical of crewel, like certain raised or detached stitches – raised stem stitch and corded Brussels stitch, for example.
These latter stitches would not normally be a part of crewel embroidery. Their structure makes them difficult to execute with wool, and the visual structure of the stitch would pretty much be lost due to the nature of the wool thread.
Cheatin’ on the Transfer!
I decided to forego the more complicated transfer approach in the article in Inspirations, and opted instead to make an iron-on transfer of the design, and just iron it on. All the the lines will be covered with stitching, so I’m not worried about being able to wash them out.
I particularly like Sublime Stitching’s fine-tip iron-on transfer pen for home-made iron-on transfers. I reviewed it here, if you want to read about it. It works well! You might test blue or black to see which gives you the better line for your own vision and comfort. Blue gives a lighter, purply line, black gives a darker line. Go light with the tracing and keep the lines as fine as possible. And as always, test before using on your official fabric!
The design could be traced, with a good light box (I use this one) and a dark enough printing of the line drawing. The fabric is a natural colored, fine-weave linen, so it’s harder to trace easily. Hence, the tacking method suggested in the instructions. And hence, my “cheater” method of ironing it on.
If you opt to go with an iron-on, the image given for the pattern in the magazine is mirrored, so you can trace it as is onto a new piece of paper with your iron-on pen. No need to flip. If you decide to trace the design directly onto your fabric, you need to flip it first and trace it with the design-side of the paper down on your light table.
Organized & Ready to Go
After transferring the design and setting up the piece on an Evertite frame, I gathered everything that I need to work the piece – the threads, the frame, the magazine with the instructions in it, a pair of scissors in a leather sheath, and the needles.
I put the threads, beads, needles (tucked in a tiny needlebook from my Little Things ebook), and scissors in a separate small ziplock, and then slipped the magazine, the frame, and the zip-lock into a large mesh project bag.
Everything’s ready to go, whenever I’m ready for a bright and colorful stitching session!
From Hearty to Delicate
And I did have one opportunity to work on Modern Crewel this week. And that’s my progress!
Perhaps the most difficult adjustment to make when rotating between different projects is getting used to the difference in thread weight, stitch size, and coverage, depending on the techniques.
And that brings me to another huge contrast between this project and the Mellerstain Firescreen project.
Going from wool to a single strand of cotton is almost disconcerting. I found myself floundering a bit with the first stitches, because they seemed, suddenly, so inordinately tiny and delicate, after stitching larger, heavier stitches with wool on the Firescreen project.
That said, gosh, I know I’m going to love this project! I can’t wait til my next session with it!
Where to Find Modern Crewel
If you want to join in and follow along with this project, you can find Modern Crewel in Inspirations #90. If you don’t subscribe to the magazine, you can buy this issue through Stitchology, here.
If you live in the US, you might also check with Wooly Thread to see if they have any copies still available.
You can also buy individual digital editions through Inspirations, here. You can view them on your iPad, tablet, computer, what-have-you, and you can download and print the pattern and stitch layout pages. If you click on “Buy Digital Subscription,” you’ll then have a choice to subscribe to the magazine, or to purchase the individual current magazine, or to purchase individual past issues. You’ll find issue #90 in the list – it’s the one with the corn on the front.
You can find the kit available here through Inspirations, or you can self-gather the supplies using the list in the magazine, and even make substitutions if you want.
If you already have the kit and instructions and you were just waiting for some motivation to start, why not join me?