Book Review: Mountmellick Embroidery

September 9, 2007 at 7:53 am | Posted in Book Review, Embroidery | 1 Comment

One of the books I picked up in Ireland is A Beginner’s Guide to Mountmellick Embroidery by Pat Trott. Mountmellick embroidery is a white-on-white embroidery, usually using natural and floral designs. A lot of different stitches are used to give the work texture and a bit of dimension. I was immediately intrigued by the different stitches presented in the book, some of them I hadn’t even heard of before, much less tried.

Being sure that I had all the materials necessary for this kind of work, I decided to work a small design from this book before writing about it. Of course, if you’re sure, something always goes wrong, which I figured out when I tried to transfer the design onto the fabric using my trusty water soluble fabric-pen. It was dried out and only able to put scratches onto the fabric instead of colour. 😉 So, my plans got a bit delayed until I could buy a new one. Everything went quite well after that, so here’s the result:

Grapes on Vine

This pattern of a bunch of grapes on a vine is one of 13 small designs the author uses as a sampler to teach the different stitches used in Mountmellick embroidery. I learned a couple of new stitches here: the cable plait stitch used for the main stem, which I really like, and the split stitch used for outlining the padded satin stitch areas for the grapes. I used a No. 20 Coton à broder from Anchor for the stitching. While the author recommends a drilled yarn for this kind of embroidery, I think this particular yarn isn’t optimal for working the satin stitches (or maybe it’s just my lack of practice). The alternative would be perle cotton, which I’ll try out for another of these nice and small sampler patterns.

To come back to the book, this really is a beginner’s guide in the true sense of the word. The author explains everything very clearly. The different stitches are presented each on it’s own page, with lots of photographs to show exactly how the stitch is worked. She also explains exactly how to transfer the pattern onto the fabric, use the different kinds of embroidery frames, and how to finish your work. There’s even a description of the knitted fringe that’s traditionally used for Mountmellick embroidery. There are lots and lots of photographs, all very clear, to illustrate every little step of the process and show the finished work. This is how I imagine a modern needlework book should look like, and everything else I get into my hands will have to measure against this one.

So, what will I do with the finished embroidery? I don’t know really, but I think it would look quite nice in frame on its own. I could make this into a fabric postcard, or put a border round it to use it as part of a quilt with its siblings that are sure to follow. For the moment, I’m undecided.

Appliquéd Pillow Cover – “You’ve Stolen My Heart!”

August 22, 2007 at 8:57 pm | Posted in Book Review, Patchwork, quilt | Leave a comment

Since I like to design my own projects, I like either technical or inspirational needlework books, but mostly not those that only consist of patterns to execute. The book I’m going to introduce today is a mixture of both the technical and the projects aspect.

Appliqué 12 Easy Ways by Elly Sienkiewicz teaches lots of different ways to do appliqué. The author uses a project with a simple heart pattern to introduce the different possibilities. The heart pattern is chosen because it has an inside and outside corner, straight lines and curves, so you get to exercise the different situations you come accross when doing appliqué. I didn’t really like the very traditional red and blue pattern the author presents, so here’s my version in a bit more colour:

Pillow Cover - Hearts

I think I already mentioned that I love to make pillow covers, as they are just the right size to try out something new. I used some of the fabric I’ve collected over time together with black to set it all off. Following the instructions, the hearts are worked in the different techniques, so you get to figure out what works best for you. I really like the book for its technical aspects. The patterns presented are generally very traditional in nature, so I’m not very likely to do any of them, but I think they would be great for somebody who wants to make traditional appliqué quilts.

Book Review: Carrickmacross Lace

August 15, 2007 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Book Review, Lace | Leave a comment

I promised to write a little bit more about the needlework books that followed me home from Ireland when I hava actually read them. So, here goes the first one:

Carrickmacross Lace—Irish Embroidered Net Lace by Nellie Ó Cléirigh is a very nice book I really enjoyed. Starting with a short history of lace-making in Ireland it goes on to show numerous pictures of old laces. The technique is explained in a very short and concise form. This should be sufficient for somebody with some experience in lace-making to get an idea of the technique, but is probably not detailed enough for a beginner. At the end of the book there are numerous patterns to work, most of them copied from original Carrickmacross patterns.

Carrickmacross Lace is an appliquéd lace. A fine cotton or organdy fabric is appliquéd onto fine net (preferably cotton), and the fabric outside the pattern is cut away so the net shows through. There are numerous embellishment techniques possible, including cutting away the net as well and using lace stitches such as described in my tutorial to fill in the open areas.

After reading that book I’d really like to try a simple motif using that technique. It definitely looks much faster than making the whole lace up from scratch! Although I don’t like most machine-made laces, a hand-made lace using a machine-made background does sound like a good idea.

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