This design of peacocks and flowers was taken from a Time Life book on couture embellishments, and embroidered on a full skirt. It still attracts attention, and now full skirts are back “in”, I shall probably fish it out and start wearing it again. Although it has always been a challenge to find a suitable top!
I worked this as a teenager, and wore it at a cousin’s wedding. The design was worked at three places around the skirt, with each third showing two peacocks confronting one another across the sprig of flowers. The original design used two shades of grey-green, several shades of grey, lemon and white on a red satin background. I simply changed the two shades of grey green to a dark yellow and a chestnut brown to work on the bright turquoise/teal background.
The design attracted me because – alone of the surface embroidery patterns I had seen up to that point, it included more than the basic stem stitch, satin stitch, and long and short stitch. The peacock’s back was worked in Pekingese Stitch, deliberately worked loose and spaced so as to create a slightly mottled effect. The flower centres used a whipped spiders web wheel, worked close and tight so as to be slightly raised. The branches were worked in a combination of Coral Stitch and Scroll Stitch – neither of which I remember seeing used in a commercial design up to that point.
It was quite fun to stitch, but the deadline made life a bit exciting, and my mother had to help out with some of the embroidery so that I could get the job done!