Stumpwork petals worked using a variety of techniques to test the best method

Delectable Morsels – A slow moving Bouquet!

The Next Delectable Morsels Package

A couple of months ago, Alison sent out the next ‘Delectable Morsel’s’ package. This time with a ‘bouquet’ theme. We don’t have to use the theme Alison provides. It is merely inspiration for the threads and other goodies she has supplied us with. But as soon as I saw what was in the box, I knew exactly what I wanted to do! Sadly, it is one very slow moving project, and there is still not a lot to show you. However, I have made some improvements with my stitching, which I wanted to share with you.

The goodies we received

Like our first package, this one was also beautifully presented. It really looked like a box of chocolate – my hubby thought I was hiding chocolate from him!

We received a beautiful silk, some stumpwork wire, a few ‘beetle wings’ and various threads. Again, I didn’t take a photo. Maybe next time.

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So, what is my idea?

This is something to get me out of my comfort zone! I have decided to make a bouquet of flowers that is completely free standing. With a lot of stumpwork flowers, the flower is attached to the main fabric, with one or two petals being stitched directly onto the background fabric. I thought for quite a while on how I could change this to a complete freestanding work, and I think I have it worked out. Time will tell, but first, there are a lot of petals to stitch!

Stumpwork petals worked using a variety of techniques to test the best method


Oh, so many petals!

I have decided I will make four flowers of five petals each. One of the reasons I’m struggling to get to the end of all those petals is the monotony of it all! I had originally thought I’d be able to make this piece up in a couple of days. But there have been times when I really haven’t done much as I’m just not that excited by doing another petal. One thing the RSN Certificate has taught me (especially in the canvaswork piece), is that perseverance does pay off. The other motivating factor is the improvement I can see from the first petals, to the most recently stitched ones.

Techniques tried in stitching the petals

It has been a while since I have done any stumpwork embroidery. One of the problems I have always had are the ‘holes’ I create between the buttonhole edge around the wire, and the stitching on the inside of the shape.

For the first few petals, I used the same technique I always have. Not surprisingly, those ‘holes’ appeared. This method is to buttonhole stitch around the wire, and then fill the inner petal.

I then had a flashback to the stumpwork day class I attended a while ago, and remembered there was a step I was missing! Here, Rachel taught us to overstitch the wire to the fabric, and the very last step (after she had cut it out), was the buttonhole stitch. I also attended a class on stumpwork with Lizzy Lansberry. She did almost the same thing, but added the buttonhole stitch before it was cut out.

After remembering these points, I thought it would be a good idea to look up the RSN’s guide on stumpwork, and see what it had to say. This book is available from a number of retailers, including AmazonThe Book DepositoryAbe Books (for second hand copies) and the RSN itself. After a quick read, there was one additional point I was forgetting – a split stitch around the inside of the petal, next to the overstitch. The long and short stitch is then worked. So a lot more like traditional long and short stitch, just with a bit of wire! Through a few different attempts, it appears the best way to fill the petal, is to stitch the long and short stitch into the overstitch a little. This could of course be completely wrong, but it does seem to be an effective way in reducing the number of ‘holes’ on the finished petal.

Examples of poorly worked stump work petals
Improvement can be seen in the working of this stumpwork petal
An example of overstitching the wire and applying split stitch before long and short stitch is applied


What’s next with all these petals?

I have decided to take a slightly different approach to the last few petals, in what I hope to be an exercise in efficiency. The first step is to complete the overstitching and split stitch on all the remaining petals. Then, complete the long and short stitch. I’m not sure if I will do the buttonhole on a petal by petal basis, or leave it all to the end. I’m thinking at this stage to do it on a petal by petal basis, as it does hurt the fingers a little!

I also want to find out what happens if I couch down some of the metallic threads between the wire and long and short stitch. Part of the approach I’m taking with these delectable morsels packs is to experiment and try a few new things. So whilst the couching idea might hide some of those holes, I also want to try it just to see if it works.

The next step will be ‘constructing’ this bouquet. My plan for this is to use felt as the centre, cross my fingers, and hope that it makes a flower!

35 thoughts on “Delectable Morsels – A slow moving Bouquet!”

    1. Thanks Bella. It’s a lovely variegated thread. So I don’t have any say in where the colours land, but it is giving a nice, varied look amongst the petals.

  1. Your frame does look like mine! Very brave to do 20 petals as I am finding 10 already quite a lot. The way Helen teaches stumpwork is to couch the entire thread and than cover the thread in buttonhole stitch. Next you do the splitstitch as close to the buttonhole as possible and then do the long and short stitch. I find it doesn’t leave any holes at all. Helen gave as advice to angle the long and short stitch over the split stitch and then tuck it under the previous long and short stitch. Hope that helps! Looking forward to seeing the finished piece!

    1. Thanks Marlous, I might try that with one of the remaining petals. I think I did it with one but without much luck. It seems to be a technique with lots of different ways of getting to the end result. I guess it’s a case of working out which one works for you!

      1. I know, the RSN will probably be telling me off for doing things my way, especially since I am leftie! 😉
        I have found the even though it takes a lot of perserverance to do many petals, they get better and become quicker to stitch!

      2. Despite the large number, I do like seeing the improvement. It’s been a good little sampler to test these things out.

    1. To be honest, I’m not sure. The stems will be wrapped, and then I will make a judgement on what else needs to be done. A couple of woven picots maybe…

  2. My goodness, I sympathise. Do you remember the bunch of violets I did? Petal after petal, after leaf, after leaf….! But I’m sure it will look good when you’ve done – and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve learnt a whole range of tricks to deal with those particular challenges!

    1. Oh I remember! It’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one who has done this sort of monotonous project! But, it is a challenge, and if it works or not, we will see. But it is the process I’m more worried about!

    1. Thanks Cathie. It’s a lovely variegated thread, which normally drives me bananas, but is working well for petals!

    1. Thanks Dima. It’s quite a fun technique, although it can be monotonous doing all the same thing for each individual element.

  3. It’s always interesting seeing your technique improve as you stitch a number of identical elements. The questions is, will you end up restitching the early ones as I have done in the past!!

    1. Thanks Alex. Normally I would restitch the original ones, but I don’t think I will for this project. It can be my show of improvement!

  4. Fascinating. This is totally new to me – I’m trying to get my head around it! I learn so much from you Catherine, I really appreciate the time you take to make your posts this detailed and informative 🙂

    1. You are very kind Bella. I hope I can pass on as much as I can, that people like the long and detailed posts, and that we can all learn something!

  5. Hi Catherine,
    What kind of thread are you using? It is a beautiful variegated colour! I think your holes might have something to do with how taut your fabric is and how much you pull on your thread. Relax just a little and you shouldn’t see holes. Had an eye-opening experience a couple of days ago with a student. She did get the whole long-and-short principle for the silk shading (and the shading looked really really good!), but she had a completely perforated edge on the outside of her split stitch. I might add that you tend to get holes more easily on silk fabric and on very fine linen.
    Happy stitching, Jessica

    1. Thanks for the tips Jessica! I do have my fabric pulled quite tightly, so I might relax it just a smidge. The fabric is also really fine, and it seems to attract holes just by putting a number 12 needle through!
      The thread is a beautiful thread by Cottage Garden Threads – stranded cotton thread. I’m not usually a fan of variegated threads, but it is working well with the shading on these guys!

  6. Your petals look lovely, Catherine.
    I don’t have any experience with stumpwork petals but I know from other intricate stitching that I’ve always been sorry, when I have found a way of stitching something complicated, if I haven’t stitched all similar pieces at the same time. I have found that when I return to the project a few days later somehow it is difficult to remember exactly how i went about it to begin with. So possibly if I were stitching petals I would do the same process for each petal before going on to the next.
    I’m enjoying reading about your stitching and look forward to seeing this project completed one day.
    Barbara x

    1. Thanks Barbara, and you have made some excellent points. I think there are a few techniques and you are right, complicated things, when stitching them at the same time is of great benefit. Not only do you improve and refine your stitching, you also develop a way of stitching those elements. Silk shading is another technique where I can recombined within the same piece, stitching it as ‘quickly’ as possible. This seems to eliminate changes to your stitching style which develop, for whatever reason!

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