Variations on a theme, stage 1

Curtain Material
Curtain Material

It’s always mildly disconcerting to find myself consulted for advice, but as I inherited Grandmama’s enthusiasm as well as her skill, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.

This is the curtain material in my mother’s bedroom. The print is big, light, and painterly, with the small, vividly coloured birds to stop it becoming saccharine. There was enough left for her to make a cushion for the blanket box, and to make an applique of some of it to put on the bedcover.

Section  Applied
Section Applied

This is the section she’s applied. She wasn’t, originally, intending to do very much to it, and asked me to suggest a few interesting line stitches for the odd detail (portuguese knotted stem, double feather, chain, twisted chain…). Then, however, it revealed itself to be a demon for fraying.

No, seriously. It doesn’t look it – it’s a cotton satin, closely woven – but it started to prove truly infuriating.

So, suddenly, every raw edge has to be either machine satin-stitched (which didn’t appeal), turned under (likewise) or Properly Covered.

Stem Details
Stem Details

We fished out a variety of suitable threads, and she got started.

As you can see, in some cases she’s not just followed the line of an edge, but decided to add some further details. The blanket stitch line started off following an edge, but would have looked simply silly if she’d stopped when it started careering across the print, so she carried on.

For those craving more SlowTV Stitchery, Episode 21 is now up, in which is considered false starts and the avoidance (or not) thereof..


  1. Jen Mullen says:

    yes, to adding her own personal flourishes!

  2. Lady Fi says:

    It’s so sweet.

  3. Sue Jones says:

    Fraying fabrics are horrible to work with. It’s good to see this pretty print is inspiring your mother to do some inventive stitching.
    (The Victorians called this decorative applique of printed curtain fabrics “Broderie Perse.”) It will be a wonderful cover when it is finished, well worth all her hard work.

  4. Kathy says:

    Gosh yes, when you zoom in you can see just how much it is fraying. How frustrating, but how effective and exploratory the solution is proving to be. Hope she is happy with the finished appliqué.

  5. Terrie says:

    How nice to know the knots style and the stitching.

  6. Carolyn Foley says:

    I HATE fabric that frays, You did a good job.