Where, oh where, did my header come from?

Jacobean Style Fire Screen

Jacobean Style Fire Screen, worked to go with the living room fireplace

I designed and embroidered this piece shortly after I was married. It was my first design for Our House, and I suspect it gave my husband fair warning (if he hadn’t already guessed) that furnishing it would not be a simple matter of a trip to a furniture shop!

I took some  of the motifs from a tablecloth that Grandmama stitched using surface embroidery and needlelace. Then  I combined them with some Jacobean leaf shapes and the occasional curlicue. The snail and the butterfly are added because Jacobean designs often included bugs and animals, and although our house is nearer to Arts & Crafts in style than Jacobean I wanted to work on a Jacobean crewel-style design.

Fragment of the Jacobean Firescreen design

Fragment of the Jacobean Firescreen design, battlement couching and Pekinese Stitch

Second Jacobean Fragment

Second Fragment of the Jacobean Firescreen design, star stitch and fishbone stitch

I had enormous fun playing with ornamental stitches and threads. There are Persian wools, soft cottons, pearl cottons, stranded cottons, rayons. The butterfly even had some metallic thread in it, and I don’t often use metallics.  Stitches included  Battlement Couching, and Pekingese Stitch using overdyed chenille thread, and open Fishbone stitch in a crinkly overdyed rayon.

That rayon thread is much more difficult to embroider with than the chenille, but I am realising as I photograph and study some of my past embroideries that I seem to use a great deal of it. I should have a stern word  with myself about that, because every single stitch with that thread is accompanied by muttered swearing – which can’t possibly be good for me!

I seem to be going through a phase of gold and teal at the moment, so when I wanted a picture of some of my embroidery to put in my header, this seemed the obvious one to pick. I’m not wholly happy with some elements of the design, but every time I see it I remember the fun I had making it. So it is a good representation of the sort of  “virtuosewer” I would like to be.


  1. karen says:

    Hi Rachel. This is a beautiful piece. Have you tried the damp stretching yet?

  2. admin says:

    Hi Karen

    I’ glad you like it! I stitched it about ten years ago and there are things I would do differently now, but I still smile most times I look at it – which has to say something, right?

    I’m going to try damp stretching the class piece I wrote about on Feb 9th, just as soon as I can find a suitable piece of cork. Would a cork noticeboard do? If I can get the hang of it I will probably use it quite a lot in future, as I am planning a really big project, which is going to be made of up several small ones…

  3. Lady Fi says:

    Wow – what an amazing work of art!

  4. Rachel says:

    Glad you like it! It was great fun to do.

  5. Janice says:

    I love the header, and the main photo of the piece. The thing about headers, though, is that you can change them whenever you want to and it isn’t tricky to do. I change mine as the seasons progress. You might decide to change when you feel you’ve turned a corner with your embroidery and become the ‘virtuosewer’ you want to be! Although you seem pretty accomplished to me, now!

  6. coral-seas says:

    Hi Rachel, thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. A belated welcome to blogging. Your Jacobean design is lovely and amazing for a first design, I’m not surprised that it still makes you smile.

    I look forward to seeing some more of your embroidery.

  7. Rachel says:

    That’s an idea – when you see the header change you will know that something marvellous has happened!

  8. Rachel says:

    Thank you. It’s only been a couple of weeks, so you’re not that belated!

  9. […] It looks prettier in real life than in the photograph. I used some of the motifs as inspiration when I designed the Jacobean Firescreen. […]

  10. […] my absolute favourite of the chain stitches, and pops up in all sorts of projects. I used it in the Jacobean Firescreen that I’ve used as my header picture, and the Jacobean Work panel that I’ve yet to find […]