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 Stem & a Fill on Jacobean Sea – Stitching Progress


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I’m pretty excited to get back to stitching this morning! I love developing an embroidery project and seeing how my ideas are going to pan out.

Believe it or not, I’m always unsure of every new project I start. I don’t know, until it’s finished, if I’m going to like it at all. I don’t know if it’s going to live up to whatever is percolating in my head. I can’t tell you how many times I say, “Well, that didn’t work!”

But I love the exploration! I love the trial and error! And when I fall asleep at night, my head is normally whirring with The Next Step.

I wake up super-charged to get to it. And it makes a great carrot! A developing embroidery project is always a marvelous enticement to get those Needful Things finished every day, so I can concentrate on stitching for a few hours in the afternoon.

Here’s a little bit of progress on the Jacobean design I’m playing with, with some starts and stops and explanations of my thought process – what went right, what went wrong, what I decided to change and why…

Jacobean design embroidery project in silk

Many of you wrote in with some fabulous suggestions for the stem treatment that we talked about on Monday. Thank you so much! Wow! That’s the greatest thing about Needle ‘n Thread and our extended community of tens of thousands of us. You exude ideas and inspiration!

I’m still toying with ideas. The photo above shows the original treatment I had in mind, worked out so that the overstitching doesn’t look too wonky.

I’m not 100% convinced I’m going to keep this, but I decided to leave it for a while and see if it grows on me. As I move on to other parts of the work, I’ll be able to judge the stem in context.

Jacobean design embroidery project in silk

This was the bothersome part.

Eh. We’ll see…

By the way, this isn’t the “aha!” moment that I had planned to implement on Monday. I woke up Monday morning, planning to overstitch just half of the stem with slanted straight stitches, to highlight it. My plan was to leave the other half blank. But I ended up doing what you see above, and then I decided to leave it for now.

It really is no problem to remove those “V” stitches worked with the Silk Perlee. The perlee slips right out without a problem and it leaves no trace of what was there before, so if I decide to change it again, I’m not really worried about marring the rest of the stitching.

Jacobean design embroidery project in silk

After the stem, I moved on to the center of the main design element – the stylized flower-ish head central to the design.

I had two ideas in mind for this, so I decided to test the one I was least inclined to, first.

The plan was to work some long and short stitch shading in this area in the lighter aqua greens, working from dark to light to dark along the shape, and then to couch over that with a lattice.

I was hesitant about this approach because, in this particular color group, I don’t have a lot of shades to work with. It was going to be a chore to eke out the shading that I wanted, using only three shades. I thought about blending in other colors and making it a little more dramatic. But as soon as I started the long and short stitch – the second row, really – it became pretty clear that I wouldn’t be happy with it.

So I moved on to plan B, which was really plan A.

Jacobean design embroidery project in silk

Plan A was battlement couching. If you’re not familiar with battlement couching, you can find instructions for this filling technique here.

I happen to love the look of battlement couching. You can play with it a bit when you build the colors, making lighter or darker shades dominant or recessive, depending on where you place them on the grid.

There are two important keys to battlement couching: even spacing with parallel lines and flat, untwisted threads.

The first was easy enough to achieve, because I had the grid marked out on the fabric.

For the second – keeping the two strands of floss from twisting – was achieved with a laying tool. You really should get one, if you don’t have one. They come in handy for so much! You can read about laying tools and how to use them here.

Jacobean design embroidery project in silk

I worked the battlement couching with two strands of Soie d’Alger in three colors: a darker aqua-green, a lighter aqua-green, and a sand. Then I couched the top layer with a very dark aqua-green in Silk Perlee.

The tricky bit was working around the irregular scalloped edge around the lower side of the element. Perhaps a design adjustment is required here? We shall see.

Jacobean design embroidery project in silk

I decided to jump right on those scallops. I’m working them with padded satin stitch, using one strand of Soie d’Alger in the very-contrasting coral.

It might look a little startling right now, but I have a plan here! Today’s stitching session will tell me if my plan will work – or not!

And of course, you’ll be the first to know.

So that’s my progress so far. I plan to plow ahead on this project this afternoon and a little bit over the weekend. We’ll come back to it next week and see what worked and what didn’t.

Ready to Stitch Towels in Stock Again!

I’m also replenishing stock on ready-to-stitch towel sets. I’m sorry I ran out quickly last time! I’ve added a few more, for those looking for the scroll towel sets or the spring variety set. They’re both here in my shop now. Any orders placed before 2:00 pm central will ship today.

Previous Articles

If you’re interested in reading the backstory on this embroidery project, the links below will take you to previous articles in chronological order:

Jacobean Whitework on Blue

Then Trying Different Threads and Fabric

Small Progress.

The Trunk Again

Changing the color palette, ground fabric, and threads

Troubleshooting the Stem


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(13) Comments

  1. Mary, your solution for the overlay on the stem looks lovely to me. Everything flows beautifully.

    Your battlement couching idea is quite timely for me. I have a gridded area in my current project that needs a fill strategy and I wanted to try something a little different from the standard grid, but wasn’t even sure where to look for ideas. This is just the ticket! Following your link also makes me think a grid sampler would be a very useful resource so now I need to take a look at that. One thing leads to another!

  2. C’est superbe, chère Mary, j’adore ces couleurs ! J’espère que tu en feras un ebook à vendre….

  3. That stem looks beautiful! I’d had my doubts but I should always trust Mary the Artist to create something wonderful. Love the couching, too.

  4. Mary, it looks wonderful! The stems are gorgeous and I’m glad you went with the battlement couching for the flower. That’s something new to me so I’m going to enjoy watching this being done and learning something new. 🙂

  5. Looking forward to seeing the two same/different projects side by side . Love the conversation and the learning curve shared with a new generation of seamstress.

  6. I think your stems are just beautiful!! They way you worked the V stitches is just perfect for how things grow in nature. I wouldn’t change a thing!! 🙂 Hugs, H

  7. Dear Mary

    Long time no write. I been busy exercising keeping my new hip active and this takes a long time as I do exercises morning and afternoon and then walking around the grounds where I live, any way its good to be back. I really like your battlement stitching it’s such a lovely stitch and it looks great on this project and the V stitch looks pretty as well I always manage wonky V stitches compared to yours and I like the scollops and the thread you have chosen. I really look forward to your progress on this project.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  8. Can I buy a kit for the Jacobean Sea, or is it in one of your books, is it in an ebook?
    Thank you
    Patricia Foster

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