A fox's face stitched in the technique of silk shading

A Handsome Fox has arrived 

Last time we saw the fox, I was again struggling with stitch direction and still had his face to finish off. But now, at length, he is all finished! And I think he is quite handsome too. What do you think?

Completed silk shading of red fox stitched by Catherine of Hillview Embroider and designed by Tanja Berlin


Finishing his face

Finishing off his face was a lot more straightforward than I thought it would be. No tricky stitch directions to get my head around! The amount of blending of different colours dramatically reduced as well, so all round it was much quicker than I thought it would be.

Working the colours in around his eye was a little difficult, as the stitches in the dark colour immediately to the left of the eye I only took to the line which I had drawn in indicating the area it was to cover. In retrospect I really should have made these stitches a little longer so I could take the next row of stitches in a little deeper. But all is well that ends well I suppose!

To get a ‘shiny’ nose and eye, Tanja directed us to work the satin stitch very close together. You can see on his nose there are a couple of stitches I didn’t quite place correctly. I tried to stitch over them to correct it, but that didn’t work either! But I decided (maybe because I was so close to the finish!) that I wouldn’t re-stitch it.

detail of silk shaded fox's nose


Finishing the eye

To finish off his eye, I needed to add in a pupil  (without disrupting the smooth satin stitch!), add some glints to his eye, and stem stitch around the top and one side of the eye to give him an eye lid. I followed the ordering of these stitches outlined in the instructions (the order mentioned above), but I ended up needing to re-work the glints in his eye as the stem stitch covered the first ones up! Just these few little stitches completely transformed the little guy! It’s amazing how big an impact such small stitches can make.

detail of eye on fox stitched in silk shading


The finishing touches – whiskers and eye lashes

Next up in the finishing touches were his whiskers, which are stitched in dolls hair. That stuff is tricky to control! My vacuum cleaner is going to have to pick up quite a few bits of that stuff – it just goes everywhere (as does both mine and our furry friend’s!).

His eye lashes were worked in one strand, and his mouth whiskers were worked in two strands. I’m still not sold on the double thread approach, but again, I wasn’t much in the mood for pulling them out, so in they are staying! The placement of all of these whiskers and eye lashes was a bit tricky, and not just because dolls hair is near impossible to control!

For his mouth whiskers, they were meant to come out of the small tiny stitches that were stitched in to give the effect of hair follicles. This was easy, but where do you put them after that?! On the whole, I think I could have made some a little longer, I was just really unsure what I was doing at this point!

His eye lashes had no ‘guidance’ as such – I just guessed on all fronts! Again, I think I could have made them all a little longer, but all in all, I was happy with the result.

A fox's face stitched in the technique of silk shading


And that is the most difficult piece of silk shading I have ever completed all finished! It’s a shame I didn’t keep up and get it finished in the online class timeframe, but all in all, it was a great experience.

My thoughts on Tanja’s online classes

If you would like some embroidery tuition, but can’t get to a teacher, online classes are a great alternative if you have access to a camera and the internet.

I have only participated in Tanja’s, so I can’t comment on any other teacher’s and their offering. Tanja however, gives very clear feedback, and the way she ‘draws’ on your photos to direct you to correct or tweak your work is great. She always gives very prompt replies (usually within 12 hours, but that I suppose depends on where you are in relation to Calgary time!).

In addition to the kit instructions you receive, you also get PDFs with very detailed colour photos of the area to work, and additional instructions. I admit, there were times I didn’t really understand the class notes or didn’t find them comprehensive enough, and went back to the kit notes, but that’s the great thing about having two versions – as we all learn and understand things in different ways.

The other great thing about Tanja’s online class, was that you were able to ‘see’ your classmates work, and Tanja’s comments on them, through the online class portal. When you are behind, or you are struggling to get something right, this is invaluable! You of course still have to stitch it yourself, but those additional ‘trial and error’ pictures and feedback can be very helpful.

If you are interested in participating in one of Tanja’s online classes, I recommend you join her mailing list (through her website), as you will be notified of when they are coming up through there. And if you don’t have a local embroidery shop to get your supplies – don’t worry. Tanja sends you the kit, and if you don’t have a frame or any other supplies, you can add them to your order.

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36 thoughts on “A Handsome Fox has arrived ”

  1. He’s absolutely beautiful, what stunning work! I love the idea of an online course, thank you for sharing so much useful information about it. Good luck with your RSN course! Thank you for linking up to #craftingismytherapy

  2. Oh my goodness, this is so beautiful and you have certainly done an excellent job with your stitches. The eye is amazing and so lifelike, you should be very proud of this achievement.

  3. How beautiful, you must be really proud of finishing such a complicated piece of work. Love the sound of having support via an online course, I don’t think I could stitch something as complex as this without some help 🙂 Thank you for linking to #craftingismytherapy, really glad I’ve discovered your blog!

    1. Thank you for such encouraging words! It was a huge help having the online portal there – it makes such a difference to how you view and interpret things. Thanks so much for #craftingismytherapy – I love it!

  4. Love Love Love your fox. Want to do this but right now I’m doing a magnolia with “Stitch Floral”, she is having a Stitch Along. You said Silk Shading, but the kit is with DMC cotton floss. Are you using the term “silk shading” as a process, or did you substitute the for Silk Floss?

    1. That stitch along sounds like a lot of fun! I hope you enjoy it. The term silk shading is the technique, though as this piece was stitched on calico rather than silk it is probably thread painting. Silk threads aren’t widely used as they don’t have the colour range and it is more difficult to get them to lay properly with the sheen. Enjoy your stitching!

    1. Hi Heidi. The red fox course is a course I did with Tanja Berlin. She isn’t currently offering this class, however, she does have one other that you can sign up for.
      If you would like to stitch the fox, you could purchase the design from Tanja, and I am happy to give you pointers if it helps!

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