I have finished the pansy! Not quite as quickly as I would have liked, but better late than never.
Difficulties finishing the petals
One thing I found quite difficult was adding in the final shade of colour on each petal – we saw here my first attempt at one of the front petals. I decided it wasn’t going to do, so out it came! After re-stitcing it again, I still wasn’t happy with how the stitches were sitting. I think I was again cramming too many stitches in, as they were sitting too high off the fabric and the remainder of the stitches. I wasn’t sure if I should leave them or have another go. After some contemplation I decided I would go for third time lucky. Still not perfect, but an improvement. I could have kept on un-picking and the re-stitching but I decided to just move on!
A trick for turning sharp curves
Another trick I learnt is that when working an element where there are rather large curves to contend with, is to add in smaller stitches after the short stitch to help keep the stitch direction correct, whilst also adequately covering the fabric. I found on this last petal I was using them quite a lot! There were times when I almost had three lengths of stitches, which isn’t the point of these stitches! So this is definitely something I need to work on. I judged when I thought I should use this little stitch by looking at the section I wanted to cover, and then looking at how wide the top of the section was compared to the base of it. You can see from this photo that there was quite the difference at times!
This last petal was also a little ‘messy’ on the outline – the edge isn’t even and looks a little messy. By the time I actually noticed this I decided I wasn’t going to unpick the whole petal, so it is staying that way!
Useful references to help with your silk shading!
One reference I found particularly useful when working these petals was Trish Burrs’s book ‘Long and Short Stitch Embroidery – A Collection of Flowers’. She has some great detailed information and working photos of a very similar petal! Her books can be purchased through her shop, Amazon, Book Depository or Abe Books. I have a number of Trish’s books, and I find them very useful. Her photographs and instructions are set out in a way that makes it easy to understand and follow.
Adding the finishing touches to the flower
The final details of the pansy were the little ‘pop’ of yellow for the centre, which I actually found quite easy. The deep purple highlights in the front three petals I changed slightly from Tanja’s instructions. She said to use three stitches per ‘highlight’, but I really didn’t like the effect of that, so I went back to just a single stitch, and was reasonably pleased with the end result!
Finishing the leaves
I then had to tackle the leaf again. I admit, I really wasn’t looking forward to this, as I hadn’t had much luck with it in the previous attempts! But I soldiered on, and whilst I am not as happy with this leaf as I am with the first one, I decided that it would do. Despite it not being perfect, I am certainly starting to understand the concept of long and short stitch a lot more, and I am now really starting to understand the importance of that little stitch that helps to change the direction of the stitches ever so slightly. One fabric thread makes a huge difference to the end result when laying your threads!
Adding the veins
Working the veins in was actually harder than I thought it would be! It just goes to show I can never get too confident about anything! On the evening I thought I would finish it all off I actually walked away from it in frustration! It wasn’t the direction of these stitches that was the problem, but rather getting them evenly spaced. After coming back with a fresh and more happily placed mind a couple of days later (I can really recommend this!), I worked out where I wanted my first vein to be, and then using the width of my finger as a guide, I worked out where the subsequent stitches should go. Not an exact science by any stretch of the imagination, but it worked a lot better than guessing by sight!
The pansy has blossomed!
And here’s the finished pansy. I still have a lot to learn about this technique, but I did really enjoy the project. And maybe it’s just the accountant brain coming out, but I find the regularity of the stitch placements very therapeutic!