After focusing on nothing but my Jacobean Crewelwork piece over the past couple of months, I wanted to work something completely different. Something quick and easy that didn’t involve too much thought!

At first I picked up a voided monogram piece I am playing around with (if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen it), but I just wasn’t in the mood for it. And after putting all my hand made Christmas decorations bar one in a ‘safe place’ so I can no longer locate them (so frustrated with myself!!), I decided to have a go at making a new decoration on Sunday. On a side note, here is Santa Steve, the lone handmade item that isn’t MIA- probably just as well he didn’t go missing!

A handmade Santa Christmas decoration. Made with wooden felt and decorated with hand embroidery by Catherine of Hillview Embroidery

To start my little project, I pulled out some threads I had in mind that might work one way or another- a complete mixed bag of cotton embellishment threads, metallic and silk thread in a variety of colour combinations!

Next up was to locate an appropriate piece of fabric. This also changed the original direction I thought this little project would take from principally white based to what it is! I chose a silk dupion that I seem to have an over supply of in a rose gold colour. Next time, I will take the time to back it in calico or something as you can see the threads moving from stitch to stitch a little too much for my liking on the front of the piece. I knew I should do that before I began, but laziness got the better of me!

I had my mind made up on a circular ornament, but how do I draw a proper circle? After picking up a number of objects around the place, I discovered a cup we rarely use (truly ugly!), I was able to create a circle in a size I thought would be appropriate.

Initially I was going to just delve straight into the stitching but common sense came through and I drew up a little ‘design’ (that is giving it far more importance to it than what it actually was). This was mainly done so I had a visual idea of what I was thinking – and I was able to make a couple of changes before stitching which was good, as I had a plan in front of me. Further changes were made as I stitched, but the general shape of the design was ‘set’.

To start with, I couched down using a silver metallic thread a twisted white embellishment cotton thread by Oliver Twists Fibres. My problem all round with this project was starting and finishing threads, and it was particularly difficult with this slightly bulky twisted thread. Again, if my initail laziness hadn’t got the better of me, I may not have had such a problem as I could have started and finished the threads on just the backing fabric. Definitely something I have learnt now to take away with me for future projects!

In my original drawing, I was going to do something with a zigzag line between the two couched down threads. But when I got to that point, I thought the better option might actually be some French Knots. I had originally planned to do two interlocking zigzag lines of French Knots , but I thought that might get a bit crowded. I also thought it looked ok as it was.

For my ‘star’ in the middle I used another Oliver Twists embellishment thread. It is quite a bulky metallic thread, so I kept as much thread as possible on the front to minimise the bulk. I had plans of this being all quite ordered and exact, but I was a little ‘out’ with some of stitch lengths, so I put in a few ‘random’ stitches to balance it out! So it is a star with a lot of points!

Completed embroidery for a quick and easy handmade Christmas decoration. Designed and embroidered by Catherine of Hillview Embroidery

In my little stash of metallic threads I found a thread that looks perfect for beetle legs! Anyway, to finish off my little ornament, I thought it had a good balance of bling and depth of colour to make the little crosses scattered around the star. I was probably a little heavy handed on the number of these crosses but anyway!

Putting it all together took just as long as stitching it all up! I used some mount board for both the back and front, which I gathered around and then laced the silk dupion onto. It’s probably a little too thick for this purpose, so next time I thought I would maybe try and find a sturdy but useable plastic – does anyone have any ideas? I also tend to stay away from glue, but if I was after a quick finish, maybe just gathering the circles and gluing them on would work? Not sure about the tension using that method though! Any tips on this would be appreciated!

I had originally thought I would use Palestrina stitch to stitch the two halves together. But I think the board was too thick for that to be successful, so I used the reliable buttonhole stitch instead, and was actually quite impressed with the outcome! I used a thick silk for this from Mulberry Silks, and it is a strong thread, which, combined with the strength of the buttonhole stitch, worked well for this purpose.

Completed Christmas decoration, made using traditional hand embroidery stitches and techniques. Designed and embroidered by Catherine of Hillview Embroidery

So the finishing isn’t quite up to scratch, and I should have backed the silk before using it, but I did enjoy this quick little project!

Have you made any Christmas ornaments this year?

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