Gotta love these last minute, I-put-it-off-too-long embroidery projects! If nothing else, the finish is always a relief!
With an hour to spare on Sunday morning, I put the last stitches in this embroidered prayer book cover for my niece’s First Communion, slid the thing in a plastic bag (who needs gift wrap?) and hustled it off to the happy recipient!
So here’s a recap on the project, materials and techniques, in case you want to duplicate something similar. I suggest perhaps allowing a little more time, so you’re not hustling at the last minute!
In retrospect, if I were re-doing this project, I’d most likely select different colors on the gold-yellows. But when you’re doing a last minute project…well, you tend to settle.
Well, I tend to settle – and that’s not always the best practice.
Still, for a child’s gift, the color selections were suitable enough. I used the following DMC colors on this piece:
For the yellow-golds, I used 3820 (darker) and 725 (lighter).
For the purples, dark to light, I used 552, 553, and 554.
For the greens, I used 3345 (darker) and 988 (lighter).
For the wheat, I had a hard time settling on a DMC color that would be suitable and work. I messed with browns and tans and golds, but nothing grabbed me, so I resorted – happily! – to House of Embroidery floss, which is an over-dyed by colorfast in cold water (which is how I tested it) in #13.
This photo will give you an overview of every stitch used, and some mistakes! I didn’t re-do anything on this piece. If I ended up with a stitch that was less than satisfactory (can you say “wiggly bullions”?), I left it.
In the scheme of things, it won’t be noticed. And eventually, the cover will probably be put in a box and forgotten until my niece (Mary) is older and comes across it and says, “Oh… I remember this!” And she’ll never notice wiggly bullions – unless she goes in for embroidery. In which case…well, good for her!
All the stitching was done with one strand (from the six) of floss.
I used chain stitch around the outline of the chalice (cup) and around the host (round wafer above the cup).
I used stem stitch for all the other lines in the design, including stems, filled filigree areas on the chalice, and rays around the host.
Incidentally, one stem – the grape stem at the top – ended up inadvertently being outline stitch. I think the photo illustrates very well the vast difference between stem stitch and outline stitch. The stem stitch keeps the individual stitch and the finish looks a bit ropey. With outline stitch, the stitches blend together so that you can’t see the individual stitches as well.
The grapes are satin stitch. You can see my very old video tutorial for satin stitch here. And here’s a list of satin stitch tips that you might find helpful if you’re tackling satin stitch for the first time.
I didn’t pad the grapes or outline underneath the satin stitch – they’re too, too tiny.
I used stem stitch around the leaf and on the leaf vein, and filled the leaf with an open, light seed stitch filling. You can see another very old video tutorial for seed stitch here, and read about using it effectively here, here, and here.
The wheat kernels (center of wheat head) are supposed to be bullion knots, and the outside lines on the wheat head should be stem stitch.
I didn’t even pause to think what I was doing when I stitched the wheat, and I stitched every line in the wheat head as a bullion knot. The insides are supposed to be bullions and the outside dashes on the wheat heads are supposed to be worked in a thin line stitch (like stem stitch) to mimic the hairiness of wheat. You can see where I did it correctly on this version of the design! No wonder the wheat in the most recent version looks so very bizarre.
The filling on the wheat leaves is also stem stitch. You can read about working stem stitch as a filling here.
I finished the prayer book cover the same way I finished this prayer book cover, as far as construction goes.
On the edge of the book, though, instead of just using a white sewing thread and finishing with a tiny whip stitch, I worked a slightly more decorative edge using Palestrina stitch.
The Palestrina stitch makes a nice decorative edge – knotted, with a little space between each stitch.
I used this technique to finish one of the ornaments in my ebook Lavender Honey, and I really fell in love with it!
I used three strands of the darker gold floss for the edge stitching, and I used the stitch to bind all the folds that make the cover come together. In other words, I didn’t whip stitch it or baste it first. So it was a quick way of finishing, with a nicer looking edge.
I think this edging technique has lots of possibilities! Because you can vary the length between the stitches, you could, for example, use it as a base for a simple needle lace or buttonhole loop edge. It’s something I might experiment with a little more!
And here’s Mary, with her little prayer book. She loved it!
Several folks on Facebook asked about the dress – which is an example of my sister’s heirloom sewing and embroidery skills. You can read about it and see some close ups here.
And now it’s time to move on to other projects! Yay!