The Aztec Blind

Aztec Hall Blind

Aztec Hall Blind

Our predecessors in our current house had a somewhat flamboyant decorative style, and we still haven’t replaced the Aztec inspired wallpaper in the hall. If the combination of terracotta and ochre makes it dark, that same colour combination also makes it seem warm, which in a draughty, 100-year-old house is  a consummation devoutly to be wished. Especially since my Geordie friends tell me I’m “nesh” (translation: excessively susceptible to cold)!

Since it’s also Grade II listed, we can’t simply double glaze,  so the first winter after we moved in, my mother suggested reviving the idea of  “blackout blinds”, padded to reduce the draught. With my usual knack for complicating a perfectly simple project, I embellished the hall blind with an Aztec inspired embroidery in rusty coloured wools on a coarse cream linen.

Jaguar Head

Jaguar Head

I started with the Jaguar’s Head frieze across the bottom. The main outlines are in twisted chain stitch, and the spots and the eye are in rough satin stitch. The background lines in the lighter shade are in my favourite Cable Chain Stitch.

I enjoyed working the jaguars. The simplicity of the stitching and the rather stark line drawing combined to create something that was very easy to do.

Central Motif

Central Motif

Unfortunately I then lost my nerve. The jaguars alone could easily have created all the effect I wanted, but the expanse of bare fabric unnerved me slightly and I filled it with another motif.

There’s more going on in this one – feather stitch and star stitches, jacobean trellis couching and burden stitch (running vertically instead of horizontally).

I may yet unpick all that section and wash the fabric again to pull the threads back into line..

Although, as it stands, it provides a salutory reminder, every time I go past, that more isn’t necessarily more !


  1. Lady Fi says:

    I love that jaguar head – very striking.

  2. elaine says:

    I love the jaguar head! sometimes it is difficult to know when to stop!

  3. Penny says:

    Its wonderful — and takes you back into a history that you might not ever explored without this incentive.

  4. Sue Jones says:

    Excellent jaguars. I think the middle motif isn’t quite the right thing, because it competes with the border rather than one dominating and the other complementing. I’m not sure what would best replace it, if you don’t want a big blank space. Perhaps a tiny, simple spot motif as a well-spaced-out half-drop repeat just to break up the surface? Something like small chain-stitch circles or stepped diamond shapes?

  5. Carolyn says:

    I love those jaguars heads but I know I wouldn’t have been able to stop.

  6. karen says:

    an embroidered blackout curtain? Fabulous idea. Not sure I would have the patience to stitch such an expanse of cloth though.

  7. Terriea says:

    Very detailed jaguars heads. Living in the well maintained heritage house is such a good living environment that I looking forward to.

  8. Janine says:

    I love how you said that you have this way of making simple things more difficult. Boy, don’t I do that! But you also personalized the curtain and gave it character! I love the jaguars!

  9. cathy daniel says:

    I love the jaguar heads border and I also love the central motif, even though it reminds me of a half-peeled banana – that’s just me being silly! But if I’m allowed to say …. I think they are maybe a tad too much together. But you don’t know that til you’ve done it, do you? I don’t know when to stop either! You’re not nesh, you’re just a wuss! xCathy

  10. Jules says:

    Ditto the jaguars – great design! I understand why you felt the need to continue – I think I would have done the same and wanted to fill the space. ( Delighted to say I attempted cable chain and – knotted cable chain last week on my sampler, and I rather enjoyed them; see what a good influence your blog has been on me:))