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Jane Zimmerman’s “Art of Elizabethan Embroidery” Sampler and more….

In my post on Elizabethan Stitches, Jane Zimmerman’s name came up an awful lot.

I value Ms Zimmerman as an embroiderer that has been teaching for 40 years, and, as her career winds down, is continuing to provide information to the Elizabethan, Blackwork and Canvas embroiderer via her new website.

I reviewed her book “Art of Elizabethan Embroidery” at

This is available from her site at

It states on the website that she won’t ship overseas, but (being an OS customer) I asked her about this, and she said that she is willing to ship her books overseas as long as the customer is willing to pay the postage.

“Art of Elizabethan Embroidery” has a colour page showing a completed sampler.

Elizabethan Panel

Parts of this sampler are then used through out the book as black and white illustrations.

The instructions for the full chart were available from her site recently as a 6 day Christmas special but she has decided to make it available in the longer term (information about the sampler is not currently on her website). Edit 17/1 – the chartpak is now available on her website, under “Instruction Kits”

Her description of the sampler is

“My personal “piece de resistance” of teaching projects is available as a chartpak for the first time – and a very special chartpak. All 25 images used in the instruction booklet are now in full color!

In was during the second half of the 16th Century that Tudor needlework “burst into flower”. Barbara Snook, English needlework teacher and author, wrote that it was during Elizabethan England that garden and country flowers…appeared on coifs and bodices, on tunics and skirts, on collars and dresses, on men’s indoor hats and upon gloves. They flowed over bedspreads and long pillow covers and over cushions, not in any riotous abandon, but with great vigour and variety in treatment, exquisite treatment and sensitive drawing….I have always been fascinated by Elizabethan embroidery history, this whimsical design of 16th century domestic linen work being a culmination of years of study.

The project is executed on closeweave linen in polychrome silk floss and gold metal threads and paillettes, using 20 surface embroidery stitch variations and techniques, some obsolete for over 300 years. The stitches include the elusive plaited braid stitch in addition to open Ceylon, heavy chain and many variations of detached buttonhole.”

$45 + $5 S&H

You can contact Jane re the chartpak at

as it is only available at special request, not generally through her website.

This is an opportunity to do Metal Thread Double Detached Buttonhole on Silk Thread, or one of the other variations of Detached Buttonhole that I mention as listed by Ms Zimmerman in my Ellizabethan Stitches post and my book review post under instruction. And also to see the individual elements in better detail, being in colour in the chartpak.

Ms Zimmerman does ask her customers to note that she is not often at the post office so it may take some weeks to receive an order.


I have recently bought one of her 3-in-1 CDs – 3 books in one.

- The Art of English Blackwork

- The Greater Tudor Era 1585-1625

- The Art of Stumpwork

These are described in greater detail at

The individual books have sold out but you can still get them as the 3in1 while stocks remain.

I’m looking forward to them eagerly. You can zoom in 300%!


I can’t finish my look at what Ms Zimmerman offers regarding Elizabethan education without mentioning the educational material she offers on her site.

Under “Stitches and Techniques” she is regularly adding information on Needlework Techniques .

She already has two papers on Or Nue, which I found very informative and I’m looking forward to :

CHAPTER 3 – The Traditional Techniques of Metal Thread Embroidery, Part I
General – Handling Japanese Metal, Smooth Passing and Fine Braid
CHAPTER 4 – The Traditional Techniques of Metal Thead Embroidery, Part II
Solid Filling with Japanese Metal, Smooth Passing and Fine Braid
CHAPTER 5 – The Traditional Techniques of Metal Thread Emboidery, Part III
Novelty Solid Filling with Japanese Metal, Smooth Passing and Fine Braid
CHAPTER 6 – The Traditional Techniques of Metal Thread Embroidery, Part IV
General – Handling Twist, Crinkle, Purl and Plate
CHAPTER 7 – The Traditional Techniques of Metal Thread Embroidery, Part V
General – Techniques of Raised Work

and also Needle Stitch Variations (which is on canvas work – her other big interest, although I don’t know a thing about it.)


she has

(1) The Medieval Embroidery Technique of Or Nuè
(2) English Medieval Embroidery
(3) The Art of English Blackwork
(4) Elizabethan Era, Part One
(5) Elizabethan Era, Part Two (Costume)
(6) Elizabethan Era, Part Three (Household Furnishing)
(7) The Art of English Canvas Embroidery
(8) The Art of Stumpwork
(9) The Golden Age of Samplers
(10) 18th Century English Embroidery
(11) Eastern Embroidery

The underlined papers are the ones that are currently available.

All of these papers are in PDF format, for free.


There’s more on the site, including cyberclasses – but you can look yourself, – her home page is


(Picture from her instruction kit)

Attention all Elizabethan Stitchers (Detached Buttonhole Stitch, Elizabethan Embroidery Stitches)

Jeanne of Just String is sharing with us her wealth of knowledge of Elizabethan Stitches and doing a series of Stitch Studies.

for 3 posts (so far) on Detached Buttonhole, with details I’ve never found anywhere else. She has started from the basics -

  • Detached Buttonhole
  • Detached Buttonhole for Shapes
  • Detached Buttonhole with Return

and means to move onto variations of Detached Buttonhole, and other Elizabethan Stitches at a later date.

The posts are very clear, and with lots of photos.

Also, she’d done a really good post on Spiral Trellis Stitch at before she decided to launch into a more formal series of studies.

She’s a little busy at the moment gestating, but I certainly look forward to more Stitch Studies in the future.

Learning Silk Shading/Long and Short Stitch/NeedlePainting

I was reading a book a couple of days ago, and noticed something funny. I compared it to my other books.

It’s about embroidering the second and consecutive lines in Long and Short stitch.

The first line is staggered to two lengths – that’s a given.

“(on the second and consecutive rows) you need to remember to stagger the length of the stitches at both ends”

- “Beginner’s Guide to Silk Shading” by Clare Hanham

“Although these stitches (on the second and consecutive rows) are worked in long stitch only, vary their lengths slightly to give a soft uneven line, not a straight one”

- “Redoubte’s Finest Flowers in Embroidery” by Trish Burr

- “Beginner’s Guide to Goldwork” by Ruth Chamberlain
(I put in the whole paragraph because I couldn’t find a single brief statement)

So it looks like those rows can be done in different ways.

“Embroidery and Tapestry Weaving, and About Slips”

I published this post awhile ago, but there were a lot of formatting problems because I copied the headings and links from my Word documents.

Having discovered Windows Live Writer, I can re-write this post, properly formatted (it was annoying me *grin*)…..


I’m picking the eyes out of “Embroidery and Tapestry Weaving” by Grace Christie (aka Mrs Archibald Christie

“The drawings illustrating design and the practical application of stitches have been taken almost without exception from actual Embroidery or Tapestry; the exceptions, where it has been impossible to consult originals, from photographic representations obtained from various sources, among which the collection of M. Louis de Farcy should be mentioned.”
and the embroideries and tapestries she was looking at are almost 14-17th Century.

It’s at

Mary of reviews the book at

There are a couple of links to the Gutenburg project – I’ve found the one given above the best for on-line perusal.

Mrs Christie goes through a great variety of stitches and for many, she provides construction details and (black and white drawn) pictures of various flowers and leaves using that particular stitch, that she’s taken from those old embroideries.

I intend to use some of these in my sampler project, so I’m gathering them together.

I just found a really good paragraph of information on Slips, in her Applique Work section.

” To return to the discussion of applied embroidery—let us suppose the embroidered piece to be just completed on its linen ground, still stretched in the frame in which it was worked.

In another frame, stretch the background material and trace upon it the exact outline of the piece to be applied.

Cut out the embroidered piece carefully round the edge, allowing about one-sixteenth of an inch margin outside the worked part, leaving, if necessary, little connecting ties of material here and there for temporary support.

With fine steel pins or needles fix the cut-out work exactly over the tracing already made on the ground material, then make it secure round the edge with rather close stitches of silk placed at right-angles to the outline; with fine materials the raw edge of the applied part can be neatly tucked under and fixed in place by this overcast stitch.

A cord is next sewn on to hide the fixing and give a finish to the edge.

The colour of this cord is important, since its colour may increase the expanse of either the applied part or the ground.

Sometimes a double cord is put round, and in this case the inner one is attached to the embroidery before it is cut out of the frame, and the second attached afterwards.

The inner one is often of a colour predominating in the embroidery, and the outer one of the colour of the ground.

Gold cord is very usual; if a coloured silk one is used it must be a perfect match.

The ordinary twisted cord looks best attached invisibly; to do this, slightly untwist it whilst stitching, and insert the needle in the opening thus formed.

Some kinds of flat braids look well with the  fixing stitches taken deliberately over them and forming part of the ornamentation (see fig. 91).

Bunches of silk are sometimes couched round with a buttonhole or other stitch, but whatever the outline may consist of, it should be a firm bold line.

Even more than simpler work applied embroidery needs the finish of some light work upon the ground. Gold threads and spangles, arranged in fashion similar to the sprays in fig. 112, are very often used. Sometimes, instead of this, some small pattern in outline is run all over the ground in order to enrich it.”

There is more to be read in the section, including the fact that the slips were sometimes slightly stuffed, to give them a rise.

I want to do a slip in my sampler, hence my interest. I haven’t read this particular information about slips before.

My collection of slips links are :

Project : A Small Panel of Slips

by Lady Kateryn Rous

see for notes on more information on Elizabethan canvaswork.


Late 16th / Early 17th Century Embroidery “Slips”
Elizabethan and Stuart Embroidery

by Meg Andrews

Part II – Late 16th / Early 17th Century Embroidery “Slips”
Elizabethan and Stuart Embroidery II

by Meg Andrews

Elizabethan Slips

by Jane Stockton

Some Additional Useful Notes

Flickr of Slips Progression

of Jane Stockton’s Work with Slips

The practical implications of S and Z twist

Plimouth Embroider’s Story had an intriguing paragraph today at

Ah, another instance of S and Z.
In embroidery, we see the S and Z as the differentiation between the Stem Stitch and the Outline Stitch.
Depending on the direction you make your stitch it creates a twisted border that makes an “S” or a “Z”.
I can never remember which is which, but I believe the “S”tem stitch makes the S and the Outline stitch makes the Z.
In practice, most people interchange them without differentiation- but technically there is a difference. “

I was after something that explained this to me in simpler terms. I talked to Mary Corbet of NeedlenThread and I also went on a Google Hunt. I thought I’d find out more about S and Z twist while I was there. Who knew it mattered in *practical* terms ?!!?

  • From :

Brazilian Style Embroidery – From Adaption to Obsession

“One fact we should take into consideration is the twist of the fibers we plan to use.

This is important in the success of the wraps required in some of the stitches. Brazilian rayons and some silks have a counter-clockwise or “Z” twist, while most other yarns, threads and flosses have an “S”, twist.

It is very important to be able to recognize this twist because if the wrap goes against the built-in twist, the fiber components will separate as it is wrapped.

One way to identify the twist direction, after ascertaining the grain, is to take the fiber in the left hand between the thumb and index finger.

Twist the fiber.

If the twist tightens when rolled to the right, it is an “S”- twist.

If the twist tightens when rolled to the left, it is a “Z”‘ twist.”

(also from this article)……..Almost every one has tried a bullion, a very old stitch dating from Biblical times.

Don’t forget the twist. A right-handed stitcher, using a “Z” twist will wrap toward the body and away from the body if using an “S” twist. The left-handed stitcher will do the opposite

The article also mentions consideration of the thread twist in doing French Knots (and other Brazilian stitches)

has a picture to show what goes wrong if a Bullion Knot is twisted against the thread’s twist.

  • An article that talks about the point Plimouth raised about Stem/Outline stitch is

Stem and Outline Stitches – third paragraph

(and I really like the entire article on stem/outline stitch and it’s different approaches and use depending on the approach used).

Note from this :-

Embroidery floss is normally S-Twist. One exception is rayon threads, which are Z-twist.”

I’ve also read that Brazilian threads are normally Z-twist.


“Sewing thread, some silk threads and rayon threads are all Z twist.

Cotton floss, cordonnet, pearls and other cotton needlework threads are S twist.”

  • I also have a feeling that, (in the case of S twist, which is all I’ve ever used) left handed embroiderers have their thread tending to untwist, whilst right handers have their thread twist tighter, as the needle twists slightly each time it goes through the canvas. (And this is why they need to let their needles dangle and spin, to untwist the thread.)

Actually, I have both problems, but mostly the thread untwisting from it’s plies.

Dark over Light in Needlepainting

Mary C (NeedlenThread) just said something important to me. She thought I might have had problems with those leaves because I did the darker colours before the light.

That doing the lighter colours then blending over the dark works much better

Light, then dark

Light, then dark

Trish Burr said to work down from a certain part, but I worked up, just because it was easier for me physically and I didn’t know any reason not to.

Light, then dark.


I’ve spent the last few hours researching hand made buttons, since I intend to make some, and come up with some links.

I thought that I’d share them. The formatting is bound to come out a bit funny because I’m copying and pasting from a heavily formatted Word doc.

I used

Making Buttons created and maintained by Cathy Snell. 9/17/03

as a basis as it was the most thorough paper I found.

It has lots of different methods listed and some very interesting variations described, based on those basic methods, and lots of photos.

I found some more instructions, alternative instructions, a few more pictures (modern ones only – sigh) – whatever contributed to the subject ….

Cloth Buttons has step by step photos for a stuffed button, as well as

also described making a stuffed cloth ball button

Embroidered Buttons

Wrapped Buttons

a modern picture at

and at

More complete instructions at
including adding a bit of gold thread around them as an extra wrap and at

Buttonhole stitch buttons

“An Elizabethan Button”

I was surprised that I couldn’t find more on these.

Death’s Head button

A modern picture at

The link in Cathy’s doc on how to make them works *grin*

Woven Buttons

A modern pic at

and a fuzzy one at

and thorough instructions at
including some extra variations and at

and lastly, although later in period

Corded, Faceted and Basketweave Buttons

Dorset Thread Buttons


Finishing Buttons