Being the grand-daughter of a German economic refugee comes with an innate suspicion of the French and anything French. So when each summer all our fellow Dutch countrymen clogged up the Route Soleil to holiday in France, the Grimms went East. However, since a few weeks, I've come to like something typically French... Oh, dear!
It all started quite innocent with me coming across an embroidery blog. I added it to my Feedly reading list and was treated to lovely Boutis embroidery. Of course I knew that Boutis embroidery originated in France. But what harm can it do to read a blog about it? Well, as things go, after a while reading about it wasn't enough. I started to wonder if I should try my hand at this particular elegant form of white-work. The hack with the Grimm's family values! And so I ordered my Boutis Christmas Ornaments kit from Averyclaire NeedleArts.
The kit soon arrived and it contains everything in abundance to make the three ornaments. And since Karen, the woman behind Averyclaire, added a cute lavender sachet, everything smells so nicely. For those of you new to Boutis, it is a padded embroidery technique using two layers of very fine cotton batiste. This creates a lovely contrast between the 'see through' areas and the padded elements. Added bonus: although the cording (padding) needs to get used to, the whole stitching doesn't involve complicated stitching. When you can do running stitch, you can do Boutis.
I started with the Noel and Holly ornament. Doing all the running stitches didn't take long and it was fun to do too. Once I figured out that the cord only fills the channels between the running stitches when you double your thread, they were no problem at all. The berries were no problem either. But how do you cord such a 'weird' shape as the holly leaf. Never daunted by anything embroidery, I decided to stuff them as much as I liked. Since I wasn't a 100% sure that's the way it's done, I contacted Karen via email to check. She was super-fast in answering my question and yes stuffing them to your hearts content is indeed what you do.
We also chatted a bit about the right approach to filling the snowflake. It's the design I like the most. Here you see a picture of all the cording done. You can see the large holes in the fabric at the back through which you pull the cording. They do vanish quite well after soaking in water.
All in all it is an elegant new white-work technique that I would like to pursuit more. And since Karen mentioned that she will bring out more kits and instructions in the future, I will get ample opportunity to do so! Just one thing remains: How do I tell my family?
P.S. Dear French readers if you feel that I should try other typical French things in order to start to like you even more, then please leave your suggestions below! It is also okay to poke fun of either the Dutch or the Germans or both in your comments below :).
As promised in last week's post, this week we'll explore some of my students' embroidery projects. First up is Elizabeth's stumpwork piece she started last week. She brought along with her a beautifully illustrated children's book. The colourful and witty illustrations are by Lilo Fromm. Do check out her website (and scroll down a bit as it starts rather 'grey'!) as there is inspiration to be had. Her illustrations would be wonderful as canvas embroideries too!
Elizabeth choose this lovely illustration of the witch's house. It is a nicely layered picture, ideal for stumpwork embroidery. It does however mean, that you'll need to do a lot of stitching before you can start the nice lady and the gorgeous chap in the foreground. That said, stitching a witch's house is never dull!
This is progress after five days of stitching. We had particular fun with the broken glass windows. We opted for black silk with white sheer fabric 'glass sherds' fused with bondaweb. Cleverly stitching the partitions and the frame over the fused fabrics should ensure that they'll stay put even when the bondaweb disintegrates with time.
And what do you think of our cat with the three eyes? He, or are three-eyed cats female?, has been created by covering a black felt base with black silk chenille. He then got a felt head adorned with three silver plated spangles and tiny black beads for his eyes. I think he is an adorable witch's cat.
Although we only barely touched upon stitching the witch, we did manage to stitch her face. You can tell she is the cats mother, as she has three eyes too!
Elizabeth now has lots of fun homework to do. And once she gets stuck for inspiration, I'll get to help her on her way again. I am very much looking forward to see this lovely piece grow.
And then there is this fantastic crewel piece by Ellen. She started it in February and finished it a couple of weeks ago. It is always so nice to see how a piece eventually turns out. Five days of stitching is rarely enough to finish projects of this scale, so I am always very pleased when I find pictures in my inbox!
In a couple of weeks, a major event is going to happen. Christmas? Yes, that too. But before that, we will finally open our cooperative village store. Hallelujah! It has taken up far too much of my time and most of my stitching projects were orphaned for too long. I so hope this improves in the new year. In the meantime, meet my Holiday Stitching project:
These are the Santa's of prevention. They are keeping me sane whilst I don't have the calm and quiet to work on any 'big girl' embroidery projects. And they PREVENT me from killing any villagers who are foolish enough to position themselves between me and our village store...
But what will I do with all these charming Santa's? In comes our village Advent Windows Calendar. Our decorated window will open on the 16th of December. Want to stitch some of these charming Mill Hill Santa kits too? They are distributed by Wichelt in the US. You can order them in Europe from Casa Cenina and in Germany from CreativHorst and Stickteufelchen.
Apart from frantically stitching Santa's, I've also purchased my tickets for the Opus Anglicanum exhibition in London! And I am having fun this week with Elizabeth stitching an illustration from a fairytale book. I'll show you the pretty results next week.
Jessica M. Grimm
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