Strawberry Fayre: part 1
Time to start a new project! Not that there aren't any W.I.P.s left... However, I have the perfect excuse to start this particular project: YOU. It feels nice to be important doesn't it? The latest Carolyn Pearce project 'Strawberry Fayre' featured in Inspirations #95 generates quite a buzz in the worldwide embroidery community. And rightly so! It is every bit as cute as Carolyn's other world-famous project: Home Sweet Home. There is however, a bit of a downside. As with the Home Sweet Home workbox, this project requires an awful amount of speciality threads and finishing materials. We all know that, depending where you are in the world, these are a nightmare to source. Inspirations does offer a kit, but at AUD$255.00, that can be quite steep. Quite frankly, if I wasn't an embroidery tutor who wants to be at the top of her game, I would probably not have bought one. So, what should one do if one desperately wants to stitch this particular project, but doesn't have access to either an elastic wallet or a well sorted needlework store? Follow me along on this blog! Over the comming months I will be stitching the project using the kit provided by Inspirations. I will show you what's in it and talk about readily available substitutions which would do the job beautifully too. Now, let's start!
I have decided to start with the front and back heart. They require the most and similar stitching. This will give me a good idea of the threads used and thus of possible substitutes. But first things first. When the Inspiration's kit arrived, I was a little disappointed to find that the fabric included isn't the original one used by Carolyn. It is a little difficult to convey in a picture, but the fabric in the kit has a looser weave and is slightly stiffer. It does not feel as nice as the fabric which came with the Home Sweet Home kit. Fortunately, back then, I bought 10 meters of this fabric and still have enough left to use for Strawberry Fayre!
And that's not the only change I've made. Ever since I attended the Royal School of Needlework, I love to work on a slate frame. As a slate frame takes some time to dress, you don't want to use it for small scale projects. However, the amount of stitching on the front and the back heart do justify the use of a slate frame. I've also swapped the permanent marker for an aqua trick marker. In order to transfer the design, I made a copy of the pattern sheet and thickened the lines with a permanent black marker. The lines were now clearly visible when using my lightbox for transferring. And that's when I found a little mistake on the pattern sheet. There's a stem missing (see arrow in picture above). Happens to the best of us :). I've also added my initials and the year to the back heart.
Let's talk about the actual embroidery. I'll start with the stems and move onto the flowers and leaves in future posts. A combination of four different threads is used to stitch all stems on the front and the back heart: Au ver a Soie antique metallic #223 black copper, DMC stranded cotton #937, Gumnut yarns 'stars' stranded silk #606 rainforest and Gütermann sulky rayon no. 40 #1177 light avocado green. The pattern advices you to stitch the thickest parts of the stems with two strands of the Gumnut silk using Hungarian braided chainstitch. I have to admit that I struggled with that. Using two (or more) strands of a particular thread poses its problems when maintaining good tension. In this case, we are advised to use a spun silk which is already a bit 'fluffy'. Now add these two characteristics together and you are in for trouble. In this case: you'll bound to lose definition in your stitching. Normally, the Hungarian braided chainstitch produces a nicely defined braid. Well, it might be me, but I couldn't do it. Looking at some of the close-up pictures in Inspirations, neither always could Carolyn. However, her stitching on the front and back heart look immaculate. That puzzles me a little. Or could it be she used two different threads or batches of thread?
So, if you are going to stitch this project using more readily available threads or your own stash, I propose that you'll use a #12 perle for these parts of the stems. You could for instance use Anchor #265 or #266 these are not variegated, but still a good match! Unfortunately, DMC does not have a good match. And if you want to have an almost perfect variegated match, you can use House of Embroidery #6a Privet.
What I really like is the adding of a stem stitch outline to the Hungarian braided chainstitch using a darker shade of green. It really lifts the previous stitching! This again is outlined with a stem stitch line using the Au ver a Soie metallics. Not nice to stitch with as this is a metallics. Can't be helped, the effect is lovely :). You could substitute this thread by using a single strand of either DMC or Anchor metallics. Us the 'darker' of the gold options. DMC Diamant even has a copper colour, but bear in mind that this thread is thicker than the Au ver a Soie.
Next up is something pretty puzzling. The thinner stems should be stitched in chainstitch using two strands of the Gumnut again. Now that's straight forward, although I would swap for the perle #12 next time :). But then it gets a little strange. One should whip the chainstitch with one strand of the Gütermann Sulky? Huh, you can't see that! Not in the pictures and not when you work it yourself. So, I omitted that on all but one stem :). This rayon thread is also used for stem stitching the tendrils. Not a nice task either as this rayon thread untwists itself faster than woman can stitch. It is therefore an excellent idea to swap it for a single strand of either DMC stranded cotton #704 or Anchor #225.
And that are the stems on Strawberry Fayre! Remember that, if you are going to swap out the recommended threads by my suggestions, you'll test your colour selection together! Next time we'll visit this project, I'll show you the threads and embroidery on the large pink flowers.
Hallo Jessica, wat ga je weer iets fantastisch maken ik ga het met spanning afwachten hoe het wordt. jij bent een fantastische docente waar ik veel van geleerd heb maar in de toekomst nog veel van hoop te leren. Jammer dat ik dit jaar niet op je zaterdagen kan komen het zou fijn zijn voor mijn Black work dat maar niet opschiet thuis. Wat fijn zou het zijn om bij je in de buurt te wonen de dames die dicht bij je wonen boffen maar met zo'n goede docente.
Dank je wel Mabel! Maar ze kunnen ook net zo goed naar jouw lessen hoor. Je bent mindstens net zo goed :)!
Jessica, thank you for this excellent analysis of the kit and of thread options! Love reading your posts.
Thank you Betsy!
You started! I'm one of the stitchers who doesn't want to stitch it but will be happy to follow along =D
You are welcome, Dima!
Thank you so much for sharing your progress and thread substitutes. Do you happen to know the brand of the fabric used in the Home Sweet Home? I live in the States and am wondering what brand fabric to get here.
Unfortunately, I don't know the brand of the linen cotton blend fabric so often featured in Inspirations. I ordered it from them a couple of years ago as I wasn't able to find it in England, Germany or the Netherlands. And I haven't been able to find it ever since. I suspect they have run out too and that's why they had to substitute for the Strawberry Fayre kits. I really love your suggestion for the Au ver a Soie metallic thread. Thank you very much for sharing!
I look forward to reading every single post of yours. Your work is outstanding, beautiful, your details on the projects have no equal.
Thank you, Velia!
Oh, I hope so, Rachel!
Thank you Catherine! I do hope it will be a useful resource.
Jessica, you are a hero! I so want to make this project, but looked at the needs list - and the kit price and thought, I shall have to either give up the idea of making it, or find cheaper substitutes, which I don't have the expertise to do. So thank you many times over!
You are very welcome, Erica!
Jessica, thank you very much for stitching this project and showing us excellent advice for alternatives through your blog posts. I already have the Inspirations magazine with all the pattern details etc.. I would love to stitch Strawberry Fayre but the price for the kit is quite high for my budget. I will be reading and watching your progress with great interest. I think I will be able to gather together your suggested threads and stitch this beautiful project after all! :-)
Thank you Dianne!
Jessica, thank you for sharing Strawberry Fayre and your review of the kit and substitutions Since my kit is on back order, I know I will have a long wait, but I can enjoy your progress. What fabric would you recommend for Home Sweet Home and Strawberry Fayre? Did you blog about Home Sweet Home when you were making that? I have only recently found your blog, so I missed that.
Thank you Denise! I stitched Home Sweet Home before I had this blog :). What other fabric you could use for these projects? Something densily woven. I would opt for natural fibres. The instructions advise you to back with calico, but I wouldn't use a very thin fabric. Dupion silk would probably work well or a church linen. Good luck!
Jessica, I have opted for a densely woven ( I hope ) linen which I bought some years ago at a closing down sale. I have 1.5 metres of it and decided it was time to cut into into it. Although I really want to stitch Strawberry Fayre, it will have to take second place to a quilt I want to make for my 4 year old grand daughter. I would rather be doing embroidery!
Lucky you Erica! Is it a natural coloured linen? And good luck with the quilt :).
Ruth van Kalmthout
Hallo Jessica, wat geweldig en inspirerend wat je schrijft over materiaal en je uitgebreide beschrijving van het kit wat je gekocht hebt.
Hallo Jessica en Ruth,
That's so kind of you Catherine! However, I do have a piece of wool blanketing; I just need to dig it out of my stash. I was quite surprised too that some great wool products seem to be native to Australia. Even a sales rep from a company marketing the famous Texeler sheep wool in the Netherlands had never seen anything like the wool felt or blanketing from Australia :). Maybe you should start an import business :)?
Carolyn, I have found wool flannel in packages on Amazon. It is used for castor oil packs, but has no castor oil in it. I plan to use it in place of the doctor's flannel.
Beth, thank you! I never would have thought of looking for flannel in a castor oil pack!. What a great idea! I've found them on amazon Canada but I think a local health food shop might carry it too.
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