Finishing the Glass Nile Tilapia Fish

Face Of Tilapia

Face Of Tilapia

There was a pause after I got the dorsal fin done. His lips and gill markings, and the pectoral fin, are all worked in blanket stitches, nesting them to outline the shapes in some cases and putting the edge where I wanted the firmer line in others.

I don’t have a dark enough linen thread for the dark of his eye, so the chain stitch spiral is of linen (the white) but then the dark is the navy silk perle I used on Nefertiti’s headdress. It works pretty well, I think. It looks as though he’s rolling a beady eye to watch someone he has his suspicions of!

I decided not to do anything too complicated for his head – simple irregular brick stitch. I didn’t want to split the threads, but I did my best to create a smooth surface.

Finished Glass Nile Tilapia

Finished Glass Nile Tilapia

When it came to the dragged stripes on the body, there was another pause. I knew what I should probably use, but I had to persuade myself that there wasn’t anything better. The last time I used stacked fly stitches (the fourth panel of the Persian Fantasy, which I did about twenty years ago and blogged about when I started blogging in 2010) the wretched things nearly drove me up the wall!

I think the fly stitches were better than other choices – although one of these days I may take the combed pattern as the inspiration for some Bargello work. That said, I’m not sure I like my Fishie as much as I expected to. His tail fin took some wrestling with, and doesn’t have the “flow” I was aiming for. It’s very possible that in a few months he’ll be fished out (sorry!) and reworked somewhat.


  1. Dima says:

    I think the fly stitches were worth it. It really looks like scales. I agree with you on the tail, it doesn’t really look right.

  2. Hi Rachel,
    I love your fish! He (or she) seems to be quite a character with that head. Maybe your tail would look more flowy when you do the same thing as you did for the dorsal fin? The tail looks too much like a later addition, if that makes sense.
    Love, Jessica

  3. Glenis says:

    Don’t touch his head, that looks exactly right. He’s a real character. I don’t know much about Bargello but suspect it might be too ‘regular’ for Mr Fishie. I’m afraid you’re right about the tail though, it’s going to annoy you…

  4. Lady Fi says:

    This is fabulous!

  5. Carolyn Foley says:

    I think you might find that you have been looking at for too long. Go away and come back and you might find that you like it fine.

  6. I agree with Carolyn, sometimes we need to ‘sleep on it’ and after seeing it with fresh eyes, find we love it. Personally I already do!

  7. Lin says:

    He is splendid. xx

  8. The Fish looks good, no doubt about it. I love the stripes on its body and how you varied the colors row by row. Splendid!! The tail looks a little out of proportion for the body – a cm more of length would’ve probably been better. Just a thought 🙂

  9. He looks a bit like the nasty fish which bit me on the ankle when I was snorkelling in the Maldives!! I shall have to get out my embroidery stitch book to swot up on the stitches you used!!
    note to self, stop using so many exclamation marks!

  10. jenclair says:

    I like Jessica’s idea of making the tail look flow-y like the dorsal fin. 🙂 Love the eye!

  11. Sue Jones says:

    I think he’s grand, Rachel – he has bags of character. The stitches and the slightly retro look really suit the linen thread. Good old fly stitch and chain working wonders. You’ve also caught the look of glass lampwork despite the simple stitching – most impressive. The tail doesn’t look too far off to me (particularly considering it’s glasswork) but the patterning seems to all come from a single point at the base of the spine. It might look less blobby and more natural if the stripes were slightly more horizontal rather than all rayed out from one point.

  12. Mam says:

    Isn’t he gorgeous! (I like exclamation marks, too!) There is one blue line on the tail at the top where his tail joins his body which is horizontal, not part of the “fan”. If you redirected that couple of stitches fan-wise, I think you’d have it.

  13. He looks fantastic in my opinion. I love the colours too. very good stitching.

  14. Deborah says:

    Your fish looks wonderful, such inspiring stitching

  15. Anita says:

    The fish looks great. Lovely use of the stacked fly stitch.

  16. Catherine says:

    Bargello work looks like it would have worked wonderfully on his body. I love the colours and the different threads you have used to give the different effects.
    I’m not sure about his tail either! I agree that it doesn’t quite flow with the rest of him.

  17. Alex Hall says:

    Great expression on his face thanks to that nifty eye and the stacked fly stitches work so well for the zigzags of the body.

  18. Susan Nixon says:

    His head is fabulous, as are his stripes. I don’t know what you wanted the tail to do, but I really like the curves and flows of it as it is.

  19. Terrie says:

    Lovely stitches and colour. Facial expression is cute.

  20. Karen says:

    Very effective use of fly stitch. There’s such a lot of work there, and well worth the effort.