Archive for the Category » Gold and Silk Butterfly for SilkLover «

The Embroidered Frame

The last time we saw The Gold and Silk Butterfly for SilkLover, it looked liked this :


Then I replaced the Electyra Beetlewing head with more raised chain stitch in the same purple as the body. I felt the beetle wing just didn’t work texture-wise.


I was talking about placing a net over the body in my last post. But, as a re-start of embroidery after a long break from embroidery, I thought I’d work on the embroidered frame first, as something simpler and more “Zen” to do.

The First Component of the Frame :


“Ok, to work Buttonholed Herringbone Stitch, first work a row of Herringbone Stitches. Next using a blunt needle throughout, bring your needle up at 1 and work a buttonhole stitch over the first thread as shown below. Continue working stitches over this first arm of the herringbone stitch making sure to pack stitches close together as shown. When you get to the top of the intersection work a buttonhole stitch over the crossed end and then continue down the other side of the herringbone stitch. Repeat till all of your herringbone stitches are covered with buttonhole stitches. Its really simple but so effective!”

Here’s my first line of Buttonholing over Herringbone stitch, in a purple a couple of shades darker than the body, along the bottom :


I discovered the hard way that the ‘scallops’ needed anchoring to the ground every centimetre or so. I went back and put tiny anchoring stitches in.

The next line (up the left hand side) looks much better, as I anchored as I went :


I could have buttonholed over the top intersection of the herringbone stitch, as I did to form the curved scallop on the bottom. However, I thought leaving the little crosses uncovered echoed the anntenae of the butterfly.

I’ve still got the right hand side to do.

Second Component :

I’ve got a thick gold thread which I’m going to couch along the top.
I couldn’t buttonhole/herringbone along the top. I’m right up against the EverTite frame there.


Third component :

I’ll couch the same thread used to outline the butterfly itself (another gold thread of mysterious type and origin), just touching the outer edges of the ‘scallops’


Fourth Component :
Rather magically, I found that I had a bag of seed beads that complemented the colours of the piece really well.


I’m going to fill in the 4 corners of the piece with beads :

Here in the top two corners, to fit between the angle of the couched threads and the downward curve of the top scallop :

IMGP0547 copy

and here in the bottom two corners :

IMGP0551 copy

Each corner will be squared off by the couched thread, not rounded as shown in the photo. It’s kinda hard to hold the thread square holding a camera and having only two hands….

Doing this slightly ornate thread, I think putting a net over the butterfly’s body might be a bit much. I’m thinking of simply couching his/her outline in gold thread, and adding a bead eye.

Decorating the Butterfly’s Back

I can’t embroider right now, but that doesn’t stop me doing a bit of reading and thinking!

I was hanging out in “Art of Needlework”, by Lewis F Day

(downloadable for free, all sorts of interesting stuff in there).

I was reading about interlaced stitches.

Here’s the Interlacing sampler Mr Day provides :


Here’s the body in question that I want to cover in a fairly open diaper pattern……


I’ve talked about the difficulty of adding a decorative thread pattern on top of the body before, because the body is wrapped stem stitch bars, so using those threads as a ground will muck up their tension and allow the (purple) ground to show through. (which might be an option in the end, anyway). But I think it needs some decoration, to fit in with the highly coloured and detailed wings. I’m pretty sold on using the metallic copper thread that I used in the wings.

I want a vaguely rounded decorative stitch and so I favour (A) from the Sampler. The wings and the shape of the body are all curves, so I want a pattern that is a bit neutral, or curvy.

I like (B) but I don’t think it’ll work in metallic thread.

Btw, although I loved the idea of using an Electyra Beetle wing for the head, I don’t think it works, and have since replaced it with a purple head.

Back to the interlacing sample,…… as typical in books this old, the explanation on how to do the stitches is pretty brief. And I’m hopeless without step by step instructions anyway.

The stitch instructions for Sample (A) are


Could someone possibly explain this in words of one syllable for me?

(To see the whole section on Interlaced Stitching, search on “Interlaced” within the document).

I’ve got lots of options from Mary Thomas’ book as well. I’m after something that is curvy, and impacts on the ground (the stem stitch) as little as possible, preferably only going *into* the ground at the edge of the body.

Off With the Butterfly’s Head!

I put up a photo of the “Finished Butterfly” yesterday.

This morning, I realised that the Head just wasn’t working. It’s part of an Electyra beetle’s wing (I have yet to post on attaching it) which I thought was pretty cool – but it isn’t ‘sitting in’ with the rest of the embroidery. I intend to replace it with a head done in the same way as the body, to bring it together a bit more.

I also asked if anyone could think of suggestions to cover the raised stem stitch of the body.
I got two replies. One, I’ve lost – I’m so sorry. I’ve just searched all my e-mail (it was a mail).

The other was a comment on the entry by Rachel of VirtuoSew Adventures. She suggested Cloud Stitch.
“Open Filling Stitches” was the phrase I needed! (of which Cloud Stitch is one).

I found it and other open filling stitches in Mary Thomas’ Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches.

I took a liking to Fancy Stitch, but I intend to use copper Kreinik filament to cover the body, and the twisting of the thread needed in that stitch – I can just imagine going insane because part of the filament has broken, and I’m stuck out in the middle of the open network of stitches. It needs to be simple.

I’m going to look more into Open Filling Stitches. I don’t want to use the threads of the purple Raised Stem Stitch band to provide the base of the stitching, because that will pull the threads apart to expose the felt. Raised Stem stitch is just wrapped around a line of thread – not directly tied to the ground itself.

I’m thinking of laying the base small vertical stitches on the body/head of the Butterfly in the green Gilt Sylke Twist thread that I wrapped the antennae with (I have to post on that, too :-). That would bring it together further, and green, copper, and purple look good together.

So next time you see the Butterfly, he/she (it’s up to Julie to decide) may look a little different :-)

Finished but with a Question

I’ve skipped two posts on how I finished the Butterfly (coming up!) but I had a question I wanted to ask of y’all.
Here he (she?) is :
I think the purple body (done in raised stem stitch band) is a bit plain. But it’s going to be just about impossibly to embroider *into*. The rows of packed stem stitches will get all mucked up.
I’ve considered couching over the top in copper Kreinik, but I don’t know what pattern to use since the body changes in shape so much.
Any ideas? Or do you think it’s ok as it is?
Do you know what the head is made of? *grin*. It was easier than I thought!


Where I last left you I’d outlined the big front wing in purple DMC and was going to add a second outline – of the knitted gold thread.

That’s the front wing finished. :-)
The small back wing was still in the small frame that I had used for it when filling the wing in with split stitches and purple ‘wing pads’ in the same design as the front wing.
The colours in the various photos below look different practically every time, but this is pretty accurate – a bit pink on the copper split stitching…..IMGP0259
I was going to make this small back wing a detached piece. With an extra trick – because this back wing would stick up from the main forest green ground with the big front wing, it’s underside would be visible. I needed a neat backing on the back wing.
I’ve never read of anyone putting a separate backing on a detached wired piece, but I thought I’d give it a go anyway.
This is what I finished up with :
The ‘plunging wires’ of the back wing aren’t plunged through the main ground yet – my finger is just holding the back wing in place. This photo shows where I end up at the end of this post. The rest of the text talks about how I got there.
I used two pieces of florist’s wire instead of just one to wire the back wing, because they were of a fairly light gauge, and they had to support two layers of material, (the split stitched front and the backing fabric).
Below, the wiring is part attached to the edge of the wing. I used the darkest copper DMC thread to attach the wire using a simple oversew stitch. (Buttonhole stitching that wire was yet to come)
I attached the wires counter clockwise around the wing because I’m LH.
You can see that I began at the front tip of the wing, where it would be attached to the main ground. And yes, that DMC thread on the needle IS copper, even if it looks purple! Really!
And here it is, finished. I put a bit of a bend near the end for fun when photographing it. IMGP0275
I could have used any suitable piece of material as the backing, but I noticed that the purple ground I’d been split stitching on went well with the forest green main ground the front wing was on, so I thought I’d simply use the unused part of the material that was in the small frame.
I took the piece out of the frame, and doubled the material over. I pinned it in place to make sure the back covered the front, and cut along the folded edge along the bottom to give me a front of the back wing and a backing piece, in two separate pieces. I couldn’t just sew along the bottom fold, because the bottom of the back wing has small curves in it.
I then addressed the issue of the wires extruding from the front split stitched piece. I needed them coming out from the back of the backing, in order to be eventually plunged down into the main ground to attach the back wing to the main piece.
So I plunged the wires through the backing piece. Just a hole with a large needle and hand feeding the wires through one by one – no loop required.
I sewed a buttonhole wheel where the wires emerged on the backing piece to keep things neat, and strengthen that hole.
I also removed the paper from the wire to avoid any problems with the paper ‘gathering up’ when I plunged it through the main ground. Taking it through the backing piece has loosed the paper, as you can see in the photo.
I then buttonholed right around the edge of the wing from the front in order to hold the front and the backing pieces together :

After some judicious Fray Stopping, I cut the wing out.
Because I’d stitched the front and back together with dark copper thread, the copper stitches showed very obviously on the plain purple back. So I couched down some smooth purl to cover the copper stitching on the purple backing.
I added some of that thick gold knitted material to the very edge of the wing. (So – around the wing for the fourth time!)
On the back, I pinched the purl covering the red stitching on the back together with the knitted wire on the edge with my fingernails, so the back had the two rows of gold metal thread touching as much as possible. In some places, (bottom front, mainly) they were too far apart for this.
The purple of that DMC thread that I used to outline the big front wing and the purple material used for the backing of the back wing matched! Serendipity! There was still a bit of a border of purple fabric that I’d left when cutting the detached wing out, and I left that there when I attached the gold knitted thread, so it looks like the back wing has been edged in purple thread in the same way the big front wing has. The width of the purple fabric edge varies slightly, but I was unable to get too fussy with it, without the risk of cutting into the split stitches of the wing itself.
The couching of the thick knitted metal thread to the edge of the back wing isn’t very good. I was fighting my way past purl on the back and pushing into the buttonhole stitching on the front that I’d used to attach the front and the back of the back wing together, and I was tired at the time.
The stitches are at an angle, instead of being perpendicular to the couched thread. Oops. The gold couching thread needed to travel over the purple border, because the purl is behind the purple border on the backing.
I haven’t plunged the wire of the back wing onto the main ground containing the front wing yet.
Taken from the side, this shows how I shaped the back wing a little, for interest.
This photo also has quite accurate colours.
Next…..antennae, legs, and the butterfly body! Then the attachment of the back wing, and I’ll be finished! (except for the finishing).

Wings and Cat Hair

For some reason, my cats are shedding at the moment. I’m finding that I take two stitches, remove a hair, take another two stitches, remove another hair … I’ve given up. I’ll go over the finished piece with Scotch tape at the end and get them all at once, and embroidering the minimum of hairs INTO the piece in the meanwhile.
I haven’t posted for ages. (wot? health again?). The majority of the work in this entry has been done in the last couple of days – big but easy steps.
Most of the time since I last wrote an entry has been spent on making the basics of the back wing. IMGP0259
Note the sequins (in two different sizes) where the wing starts to narrow. These are my interpretation of the circles drawn on the original illustration of the wing.
I put a good 1 cm border of FrayCheck around the outside of the big front wing and cut it out.
I had my dupion selection, and I tried the wing on the Lilac background.
Ignore the purple border around the wing – that’s going to disappear in a minute.
The lilac looked so cool a colour – almost silvery – in comparison to the wing’s colour. I wasn’t sure whether to use it or not, so ‘lived with it’ for a day, and decided ‘not’.
None of the other colours of dupion were quite right either.
So I went for the forest green dupion I had in my stash.
The colour of the forest green dupion shown in the photo above isn’t right – way too aqua – but I just had to include this photo because Jasper stuck his head in for a sniff just as I tookit. We were outside on a cloudy day.
The photo below is taken under my daylight lamp and the colours look a lot more accurate :
You can just see a series of sequins applied down the right top side of the wing.
It’s a pity that I can’t get anything but glare from the copper wing veins in the photos.
The green certainly looks one heck of a lot better than the lilac ground! I backed it with muslim to support what was already a relatively heavy wing, and a lot more weight is going to be added to the piece.
The next thing to do was to appliqué the wing onto the ground.
I tried cutting slits every centimetre at an angle, right up to the edge of the wing. (You can see them as white marks in the photo)
But no matter how hard I tried, I ended up with a couple of millimetres of purple showing when I rolled the border under.
So instead, I cut the purple border right to the edge of the wing, and sewed the edge down with tiny stitches every few millimetres using one strand of the darkest copper/orange DMC colour thread. Yay FrayCheck!
Onto the border for the front wing …….
Firstly, I’m putting on an edge in a purple DMC thread that matches the purple of the wing pads.
I couched down a full thread (6 strands), using an extra strand as the couching thread. I found that I needed to use my right (non-sewing) hand to keep the DMC thread twisted as it kept seperating into the six strands as I couched it down.
I sewed the thread exactly on the edge of the wing, the needle coming up in the middle of the couched thread, and then going down on the inner (wing) side. There were a few split stitches that I’d snipped with the scissors as I cut the wing to the edge – and hopefully this couched-down purple thread will hold them in place.
The wing is quite raised – that original purple ground was backed in muslim, and has the raised borders of the wing pads and the outline. You can see in the photo below that it has a little height.
I’m going to put a second border line around the wing….and then it’s onto more work on the back wing….. :-)
I’m also talking to the members of the Stumpwork group on Stitchin’ Fingers about making the Butterfly body – that’s going to be a lot of fun!

Front Wing 98% Finished

I’ve run out of the Kreinik Blending Filament I was using between the different shades of DMC, so some not yet outlined.
Don’t the wing pads look 100% better with the couched outline? Rachel Wright of Virtuosew Adventures visited me around Christmas and identified the the thread as an unusual knitted thread. It looks like that ‘pipe’ of ‘crochet’ you make with nails and a cotton reel, only with a cotton core.
It’s slightly off-gold, to go with the copper Kreinik. (Poor Jerry Kreinik, head of the company, passed away recently, if you hadn’t heard.)
I didn’t dare plunge the ends of the thread. A thick thread (thicker than any metal thread I’ve used) plunged at the edges of fraying material that I’d had to oversew several times?
Call me a coward, but I just didn’t want to make large holes on those edges. So I matched the ends of the thread up as well as I could on the top of the fabric and it looks fine, unless you have your nose to the exact spots. Not as neat as plunging, but I thought it the best choice in the circumstances.
There are also a couple of different sized sequins yet to be attached.
The selection of silk dupion pieces to select from for the final ground has arrived and is waiting for me at the post office. I’ll be able to get it on Friday!
I’ve started the smaller back wing.
This will eventually have some technical ‘tricks’ added to it, but the first step is to create and add the wingpads, then fill in the outline with 3 colours of reddish-copper, same as the big wing.
It’s a bit hard to interpret which shade goes where, unless you have the original illustration in front of you. And I changed it a bit.
You can see the darkest colour right around the edges of the back wing, then the intermediate colour around the wing pads and extending down the back tip. The lightest colour surrounds the wingpads.
My photo shows the lower outer edge mostly done. As with the big front wing, I couldn’t always include all 3 shades where they are shown in the illustration, because there simply wasn’t room – hence my ‘re-design’.
I transferred the outline of the small back wing to some miscellaneous purple fabric using my trusty Clover Charocopy chalk transfer paper.
I then went over the outline in stem stitch. The chalk will rub off over time.
I then created two more wingpads on a seperate hoop, using the purple shot with red dupion. *This* time I used FrayCheck to outline the edges of the wingpads before cutting them, and it was far far easier to sew them onto the wing outline without the edges of the wingpad dupion fraying.
Once the wingpads were down, I used a micro pen to mark in the borders of the 3 colours. I had trouble getting the front tip in a nice rounded shape, as you can see by the multiple re-drawings at that point.
This shouldn’t take long …. then onto some exciting stuff!

A Good Idea

At 3.30am this morning, I had an idea.
I just wasn’t happy with my approach to split stitching the butterfly wing, dividing it into areas to give it texture, rather than using the longest stitches possible.
(Here’s a photo of part of it as a reminder):
If I did it again, I’d use the longest stitches possible, but I’d still be stuck with split stitches between the wing pad channels, because they are so narrow and I have 3 colours to fit into each one)
Anyway, I thought – what if I outlined the edges of the split-stitched areas? To make it look like there are veins all over the wing?
Like this :
It means that I loose the blended effect where two colours meet, but I think that it looks more ‘put together’.
I used the same thin copper metallic thread that I’d used on the wing pad veins. In this case, scanning the piece meant the copper thread really lit up – it’s not quite so obvious in real life. (Please send prayers to my camera!)
There are two types of copper/gold metal thread to go on the wing yet, so hopefully that will pull it together even more.
I did these ‘veins’ in backstitch. Couching down the copper thread would have been far preferable, giving much smoother lines, but the pain in my hands wasn’t up to holding down a light, flighty thread in an exact place then stitching it down with the other through the existing split stitches.
I’ve just been on a spending spree at a fabric shop on Etsy – a selection of 18”x24” for only $3.50USD each – tho they are coming from India, so I do hope they arrive sometime this side of Christmas.
This is for the Main Background, where the entire piece will end up attached to. (Remembering that blue/purple background I’ve got at the moment will all be covered up by split stitching).
Since telling colours on a monitor is so hard, and I use so much dupion anyway, I got a selection.
One of these just has to go with the coral/copper coloured threads in the wing. Or I shall be very annoyed. The intensely emerald green dupion I have stacks of goes with it, but I don’t want an emerald green background. I want something more neutral.
I also picked up a bright orange dupion for the backing of part of the butterfly – but I’ll talk about that when I get to it *grin* (Julie is reading these entries, so I’m not revealing any more that I have to as I go along…..)

The Large Wing

Here is the largest and most basic part of this piece – the split stitching fill-in of the large butterfly wing (it has a smaller wing to the rear). It’s only a little less than life sized in this image.
I had to divert somewhat from the original illustrator’s design in translating from illustration in shades of grey to 3 colours I could split stitch. I’ve used a little license to add in details that weren’t in the original drawing to make up for it, to be sure the wing was ‘interesting’.
I decided on split stitch rather than long and short stitch because there simply wasn’t enough room between the ‘wing pads’ to do L&S stitches in several colours.
I tried to put some texture in with the split stitching, most noticeably with the border, having a narrow band of the darkest colour, and a narrow band of the mid colour running around the outside edge, rather than always taking advantage of the maximum space and having longer, smoother stitches where I possibly could. I want that texture to be part of the definition of the wing.
The bit down the bottom tip of the wing is definitely a bit ‘suss’ in stitch direction (see how it has a ‘split’ or ‘fold’ going up it?) but I’m not too worried. That part will be covered when I add the smaller wing.
The wing pads were done on purple shot silk, with a mid-rib of purple thread + 2 strands of metallic copper thread. The veins were done in copper thread.
I did them twice, and discovered they actually looked better with less vein, not more – not trying to cover every pad of the wing pad with some vein.
I double back-stitched around the edge of each wing pad, then cut it out, and cut in little ‘v’s in the border.
I tried folding the edges over, and needle-rolling, but it just didn’t want to work. Perhaps because I backed the silk with muslim and it was just too thick?
I ended up sewing them on over the backstitching, and trimmed very close to the border. There is some ‘splintering’ of the silk at the sewn border, but that will be covered up.
If I weren’t going to use the method I’m going to use to cover the edges of the wing pads (wait and see what I do :-) but Rachel Wright of VirtuoSew Adventures suggested a good alternative today – buttonholing the edges.
It was thanks to my new “real thread” DMC colour card that I was able to select some threads, and then discover a toned third colour. Yay the real thread card  – it’s SO much better than the printed one.
The purple background (some kind of acrylic material, but I was a bit desperate) will all be covered in split stitch, then that large wing cut out.
I had some copper material I was going to use as background, but it doesn’t ‘go’ with the threads I’ve ended up with.
I had a look at my trusty
to get some ideas for the background colour.
This was the basic scheme :
I had a look through the complementary, triadic, tetratic etc schemes associated with this – the main colour in the middle being one I was using. and didn’t like any of the colours it came up with (lime green?).
I think I’ll go with a purple to match the wing pads.
It’s very Zen doing all this split-stitching, tho suprisingly hard to keep the stitches at the right angle (all pointing towards the top middle of the wing). I keep on putting them in horizontally!

The Design Process

This is the design I’m using to make Julie (SilkLover) a butterfly. I’ve put it up before, but that was awhile ago…
I transferred the design using 3 layers as shown in the hoop :
A layer of muslim, a layer of white satin, then a layer of thin red organza.
I learnt that
a) the muslim probably wasn’t necessary
b) having THREE layers of fabric really meant that I should have sewn them down together around the perimeter of the hoop. The hoop kept moving, sliding all over the place and scarring the organza fabric. As well as being a big nuisance to handle. It is a good reliable hoop that I was using – but it couldn’t cope with all that material, especially since oranza is a bit slippery, and so is satin.
I was left with ‘scars’ and ‘runs’ (like in a stocking) on the organza encroaching ever nearer the butterfly outline. I was running out of border. And I’ve just been through not having enough border for Roses and Pansies (solution found, and 75% done, but that’s another post – I’m way way behind in posting!)
And then Rachel Wright, of VirtuoSew Adventures came to visit over the Christmas break. She and her husband were out from England to visit Australian relatives, and did me the honour of coming to visit me in my flat!
We had a lovely, lovely time. It wasn’t long enough. My cat Jasper sat in her lap – and he doesn’t sit in MY lap! Rachel reminds me a little of a cat herself  – very feminine and graceful.
She got to see the 16thC sampler ‘in the flesh’ (the first embroiderer to do so) and she showed me one of the two main panels of “Dreams of Armana” that she’s working on.
We also brainstormed the design for the butterfly. It was loads of fun :-)
I’m not going to reveal the full design here. I’m going to describe it step by step as I do it. I know Julie is reading along, to watch her piece being created, so I want my vision for the design to be a surprise!
I went on to try what I’m going to call the ‘wing pads’ in organza over muslim, to be appliqued to the main ground.
If you look at the design at the beginning of this post, you can see them – long ovoid shapes with plenty of veins in them.
I put a wing outline (using the transfer paper ChacoPaper – good stuff) onto my newly chosen background material.
This too is very thin – Rachel said it was a form of organza, but tougher than the stuff I’d been using before. She gave me a technical explanation, having a background in weaving, upon which I have notes – but I’m too tired to look them up now!
A few chalk lines from a tailor’s chalk pencil gave me lines against which to place the pads.
(Licking the point of the pencil first gives a better line, I’ve found)

When I placed the cut-out wings onto the outline, I found that leaving out two of the side pads looked better (there were originally two on each side of the main one).
But then, I found I’d made a terrible mistake.
I hadn’t read up on applique before starting this, and I haven’t done it before. I didn’t leave any border on each pad. So I sewed them down using tiny stitches across the cut edge of the organza, down onto the copper cloth.
I found that again, I was getting little ‘runs’ in the purple organza, same as I had with the red. (And I have a new swear word in my vocabulary).
They didn’t matter so much – they were tiny, from where the needle entered the organza (I was using a 12 Sharp), and the copper metallic veins distracted the eye.
But then they started to come away from the sewn edges.
I did a good patch up darning job on one which looked fine, then saw more coming up, and thought …… this just isn’t going to work.
So I’ve started anew.
The first thing I did (for a change from stitching as much as anything), was to colour in a copy of the design.
I used blues, although I’m actually using brown/orange thread to fill it in.
I’ve managed to do a fair bit of work on it. Photos and details next post……. :-)
I’ve just figured out today that I do have to make and applique on the wingpads before any more stitching to fill in the rest, otherwise they are going to be awfully fiddly and difficult to insert ‘within’ the stitching.
So…..back to wingpads. Luckily, I have the more of the blue-shot-red=purple silk that I used for RosesandPansies. That should do just fine, especially if I include a hem on them this time!