First Voluntary Project – Second Installment

Blanket Stitch Leaf

Blanket Stitch Leaf

The leaves that went with the Rose were worked in Blanket Stitch, set back to back down the central vein of the leaf, and outlined in Stem Stitch. In fact, if you look closely at the photo it seems that I worked the outline first and then the blanket stitch, stitching right over the outline. The leaf is really rather too large and the stitches ended up a little floppy. I think that now I would work the blanket stitch more closely, but keep it shorter, leaving unstitched fabric between it and the outline.

Sword Stitch Chrysanthemum

Sword Stitch Chrysanthemum

I’m calling this a chrysanthemum, but heaven knows what it was intended to be! The outline is in Whipped Stem Stitch, using two different, but very close shades of pink. The petals contain scatters of Sword Stitches. I think I would now make the sword stitches much smaller, if I were going to use them, and maybe vary the colours as well. The long skinny leaves that run behind the flower are worked in Closed Herringbone Stitch – strange to see that one popping up when I’ve used it so much in reverse on the Map of Amarna! The calyx is worked using several rows of stem stitch – I’d work these much more closely now, and maybe even use two different colours.

Vankdyke Stitch Leaf

Vankdyke Stitch Leaf

I’ve used Vandyke Stitch for leaves on other occasions as well. It creates a slightly unnatural leaf, because the central vein is raised rather than indented, but it creates a variety of texture that can be very useful.

It can be a slightly tricky stitch to get right, since if the tension is wrong (and it goes wrong very easily!) the central braided spine becomes decidedly wriggly. It’s easier in a round yarn rather than a stranded one, so as I look at these two leaves,  I’m really quite impressed with Teenage Me!


  1. Anita says:

    Rachel,I’m impressed too.I love the sword stitch.I’d stitched something similar in one of my sampler but with Ermine stitch.Is the blue one chain stitch-rosette? .I know you’ll write about it in next installment,just curious….

  2. Lady Fi says:

    Wonderful stitching. That sword stitch is just gorgeous.

  3. Elmsley Rose says:

    I think you should be Very Impressed with Teenage You! You are having to be pretty picky to find problems, I think, for a first piece! 🙂 🙂

  4. deanna7trees says:

    oh such beautiful stitching.

  5. This is beautiful work. To know such a variety of stitches as a teenager speaks of a wonderful or some wonderful mentors. How I wish there was someone with this knowledge in my past. Don’t be hard on the teenage you, praise her instead. I do.

  6. Penny says:

    You should be proud!! Obviously your talents and skills were developing early. My first attempts at embroidery were in my 20’s and not NEARLY as skilled as yours. Thanks for walking us through it — the knowledge you bring now is very interesting.

  7. karen says:

    the teenage you was indeed very talented!! I wasn’t stitching as a teenager…dread to think how I miss spent my youth!

  8. You chose colours and stitches very well indeed. I really like the brown and white stitches below the leaf in the first photo, they build an interesting surface.

  9. Sandy says:

    Your chrysanthemum looks to me like a Tudor-style pink or carnation, actually. It’s a pretty flower.
    What is the brown and white stitch under the rose?
    You know, none of the stitching is done *badly.* For a beginner (at any age), it’s done really well. And at least you were doing something with your hands!

  10. Janice says:

    I also think the chrysanthemum looks more like a carnation – but who knows?! The important thing is that you did it all very well indeed. And really, it’s astonishing to see how fascinated you were right from the beginning in what different effects the different stitches could achieve.

  11. Teenage me couldn’t sew more than a button, so I’m certainly impressed! 🙂

  12. Rachel–As far as your skilled stitching goes, I think that the ‘teenaged you’ was an embroidery prodigy with the patience of a saint!