Embellishing the Circles Skirt – Part Four

Shell Chain

Shell Chain

Wavy Chain

Wavy Chain

Some of the suggested stitch variations in Edith John’s books have worked very well for the Circles Skirt, others rather less so. I think these two samples might help to show why.

Shell Chain Stitch worked beautifully. In the pearl cotton thread I used, there’s a nice, crisp sense of the stitch pattern, but the stitch is still flexible enough to curve around the circular shape I wanted it to, whereas Wavy Chain stitch, a variation upon it, is a very “stiff” stitch. It is wide, but each group of stitches stems from the same point, and even using a much finer thread and shortening the stitches really doesn’t make it any more flexible.

Shell Chain On Tweed

Shell Chain On Tweed

So here is Shell Chain on the skirt. It runs neatly around the edge of one of the checked circles, and although now I have worked the sample as well I might have preferred to shorten the stitches, it was fun to do, and easy to alter to match the curve.

I tried Wavy Chain several times in various places without managing to make it follow even the gentlest of curves, and eventually decided to give up until I’d thought it out some more, and maybe even done some practice.

Wheatear Spiral

Wheatear Spiral

The Wheatear Spiral more than made up for my frustration.

It was a joy to do – the stitch itself is easy and effective, and the coral thread sings against the red and green tweed. Offsetting the spiral in comparison with the tweed also makes the whole thing more interesting, helping to connect the ground fabric and the embellishment. Maybe I should have swung the spiral further out over the base fabric, but this is what my needle wanted to do!


  1. Janice says:

    I do like all three of these stitches. Although the wavy chain wasn’t right for this project, I’m sure you’ll enjoy using it for something else. And besides that’s what you’re all about isn’t it – the perfect choice of stitch for every eventuality. And this wasn’t Wavy Chain’s moment! The wheatear spiral is a joy though. I love the spiral off the circle, and this stitch really makes an impact.

  2. Lady Fi says:

    I like that wavy chain – hope you get to use it elsewhere.

  3. karen says:

    I love how you sampled these stitches before deciding which were best for your surface…..they look beautifully executed and very much at home on your skirt….

  4. I like the wheatear spiral – and I still think you should display the skirt as a work of art!!

  5. Penny says:

    They are all lovely! I agree with ‘frayed at the edge’ you should display the skirt as a work of art (or at least wear it only to gallery openings *smile*).

  6. Carolyn says:

    All of the stitches I love, just being able to use them is a delight but being able to wear them, now that is something.

  7. Jules says:

    Oh yes, the wheatear spiral is a joy! Love the effect. It all looks looks fab, and I’m so looking forward to seeing the big reveal!.

    (Funnily enough I had to teach wheatear stitch last Friday when someone asked me to demonstrate, and I hadn’t done it for years! I’d forgotten how effective it can be.)

  8. Alex says:

    I love the wavy chain – such a pity it refuses to curve!! The wheatear spiral is stunning both because of the perfect colour contrast and the stitch shape. Definitely one I’ll be trying out on James’ cushion cover. And the handbag hugs are adorable. The bullions are beautifully neat – even the longer ones!

  9. cathy daniel says:

    I love the way you spell everything out for those of us who don’t know much about it – I still love reading about crafts and the different processes. This holds true for most crafts – trying it out first to see what it’s going to behave like. Now, can we see the skirt please!