The Cartouche for the Head of Nefertiti

Trials For Cartouche

Trials For Cartouche

There were many false starts when I came to work on the cartouche. The fabric is under such tension, in order to work the metal and silk stitches, that it’s hard not to create something that looks very fragile and wispy.

Here you see stem stitches, back stitches, straight stitches, chain stitches of different lengths, some worked using the same twisted thread I used for the rays of the Aten, and some in untwisted thread of the same thickness.

And I didn’t like any of them.

In fact, I ended up doubling the thickness of the thread, but not actually twisting it. This creates a more definite line, and using reverse chain stitch throughout maintains the sense of continuity with the rays of the Aten.

Trial Hungarian Braided

Trial Hungarian Braided

Once I had finished the hieroglyphs, I had to work the frame of the cartouche, and guess what – false starts here as well.

I was rather saddened that among the stitches tried was one of my favourites, Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch, and that, like several others, ended up being sliced out with a penknife. A rather nice penknife with a mother of pearl handle, from a vintage sewing set, but it’s frustrating to dismiss a favourite stitch, even when it’s because you don’t think it works in the context.

There was a lot of this!

There was a lot of this!

After much to-ing and fro-ing, and a good few “ouches” from my recalcitrant sub-scapularis muscle, I finally got the cartouche finished.

I’m not entirely sure I like the finished result, so it is sitting in the living room, being stared at.


  1. Lady Fi says:

    I think it looks great!

  2. Oh no, not the Hungarian braided chainstitch… I love that one to bits and thought it was a ‘one-suits-all’ kind of stitch. Love to see how it turned out in the end!

  3. Glenis says:

    I hope the “being stared at” results in acceptance, and not more frogging. Anxiously awaiting the next report…

  4. Catherine says:

    Oh dear, it sounds like it has been tough going! I hope the thoughts bring fruitful results! Can’t wait to see it.

  5. Carolyn Foley says:

    Oh I sympathise with you. I know this feeling well. I have a number of pieces that I sit and stare at trying to decide if I like them or not.

  6. How frustrating it is when a favorite stitch does not work as one would have liked.
    Yes, I have many ‘stare-at’ pieces, and most of them look better the longer I stare, so I have learned to not be too quick with the scalpel if I find something I don’t like instantly.

  7. Lin says:

    I admire your devotion to finding just the right stitch! xx

  8. Sue Jones says:

    I guess the outline of the cartouche doesn’t need to be particularly bold, just neat and definite enough to look tidy. The head itself is the main attention-grabber. The wonderful HBC stitch is quite a heavy line. It’s good for getting a beefy line from a fine thread when chain stitch is too weedy. Having seen the original in the flesh (as it were), whatever you had put around the cartouche looked perfect to me – not too frail, not to heavy. It is a glorious piece of work. Photos do not do justice to how the silk and gold glows on the blue fabric. I think you can safely put the penknife away now.

  9. I would never have thought of using a penknife – I would probably slice through the fabric. I hope your ruminations have a successful outcome!

  10. Susan says:

    I like the thicker thread, definitely. What if you used a thinner thread for the HBC stitch? Would that make it better to your eye? I like it, liked it before you took it out, but I think it may be heavier than other stitching on the piece.

  11. Karen says:

    Interesting use for a penknife… I hope you and the cartouche are looking at each other a little more kindly by now 🙂

  12. There was a sharp intake of breath here when I saw the photo with the penknife. But when a line of stitches isn’t right, it just isn’t right.

    Thanks so much for linking up to last week’s Stitchery Link Party. Aloha hugs!