Sunday, 18 April 2010

Gold Flower Petal Pattern mounted into a video



I decided that my last few posts have been a tad verbose.  Thank you for not pointing that out to me but anyway (lol)... 

I’ve received a couple of emails enquiring about “needleweaving”, so in an effort to clarify matters, I thought I would get a little video out there and some decent piccies. 

For newcomers: The needlelace I’m working with here is not needleweaving but a particular type of needlelace as seen on Elizabethan embroidery.  Italian needlelace is white, Elizabethan is colour.  Italian needlelace uses a cordonet or a small frame and the work is later cut away and joined to other pieces as free standing lace.  Elizabethan needlelace however, remains in situ and is used predominantly as ‘filler’ stitches with vibrant colour referred to often as ‘raised embroidery’.  Furthermore, as on the swetebag I’m looking at here, this English type of needlelace stitching branched off and became even more dimensional or ‘flying’, for example as seen with the flower petal interpreted below.  The stitch I’m using here is called (corded) Detached Buttonhole.  The Venetians called this ‘Cloth Stitch’.  With this amazing stitch you can create tiny pieces of made-to-measure cloth that you can gradually build into complex multi-layered flowers and other very appealing motifs.


Ok, this is the drawing you make on your linen.  Forget the oval in the centre for now, as that will need to be dealt with separately.  If you are keen to complete it though, all I would say is, you make 5 chain stitches at the top and then make an oval flap to fit the shape underneath.  It will curl a lot, see end of this post for an image of that.

flower diagram

In the spirit of brevity, here are some pictures of how to do the basic petal of the blue flower.  I’m using metallic covered elastic for this so you can really see what I mean, I hope.  Skill rating: EASY!

1.  You do your chain row, regular chain, not reverse.

  Petal Pattern 1

2.  Do your first regular buttonhole stitch BUT with the needle pointing towards you and go into only one half of the first chain stitch.  For first-timers: do not go into the fabric for all stitches after the chain row!

Petal Pattern 2

3.  Do another stitch in the same way right next to it, when you’ve done that,

Petal Pattern 3

4.  Nip across into the FIRST buttonhole stitch you made and make another buttonhole,


Petal Pattern 4


5.  See the needle going BACK into the first stitch above, these 3 stitches will now be your first row.

Petal Pattern 5

6.  So above you can see the first 3 plain buttonhole stitches = your 1st row

Petal Pattern 6

7.  Now do a straight stitch return row in the normal way but take the needle under BOTH loops of the next chain stitch

Petal Pattern 7

8.  Loop the thread round in the normal way to do your FIRST ‘corded’ buttonhole, from now on the needle will be pointing away from you

Petal Pattern 8

9.  Very easy isn’t it?

Petal Pattern 9

10.  When you reach the end of the row you are going into the last space.  It must be the last one, learn what to look for because when you get your speed up, its easy to miss.  See below for close-up of last space.  (Note how the return row straight stitch recedes to the left and crosses with the last stitch of the previous row)

Petal Pattern 10

11.  Here you can see below that things are finally starting to look neat.

Petal Pattern 11 Petal Pattern 12 Petal Pattern 13 Petal Pattern 14

Petal Pattern 15

11.a.  Below you can see that I’ve reached the end of the row but I nip back into the last stitch of the previous row, to increase the height of this row using a regular buttonhole stitch, I think I do this only a couple of times on here, when you come to do it for yourself, you will see you pop another buttonhole on the end to add height on a visual assessment of what’s needed but as you come closer to taking the corner, you don’t need anymore height.  (That was the mistake I was making before, or else I would have finished the flower a lot sooner.)


Petal Pattern 16 Petal Pattern 17 Petal Pattern 18

12 After about 4 rows of perpendicular Detached Buttonholing, the petal will start to curl or stick up.  This will be the same for whatever thread you are using, including cotton.

Petal Pattern 19 Petal Pattern 20 Petal Pattern 21 Petal Pattern 22

This curling you can see has nothing to do with stitch tension, these stitches are not tight at all, its entirely to do with stitch formation.

Petal Pattern 23 Petal Pattern 24 

This is a picture of the back of the work

Petal Pattern 26  Petal Pattern 28  Petal Pattern 30

El Fin.



I should mention that behind the petals are tiny tent stitches in light shades of green and neutral. 


Above you can see I found a glossy silver yarn for the Gobelin stitch mock-up.  It’s a French, non-metallic, but very glossy grey knitting yarn called Bergere.  You can see it covers all the linen really well (25 count).  I like using that stuff, its very tactile.   


None of the petals you can see below are wired, they curl because of the nature of the DBH stitches.  Notice the one in the centre here in profile, because its so small, it curls to the max to reveal the tent stitches beneath that are the same colour as behind the other petals. 

Smack in the centre of that outer flap is a gold spangle - yet to be added.

side view

Just other night I noticed something new on the bag image, I could see they had used black to differentiate between two tonally similar colours, like around the tent stitch rectangles inside the flower. 


In making this flower I found that I agree with what  Dorothy Clarke suggests in: ‘Exploring Elizabethan Embroidery’ and that is that the stitching can be best completed in the hand; no hoop or frame. 


Been extremely busy, working ahead on about 5 posts now.  Ran into a bit of bother with the mini-book in that I underestimated how long those finishing touches would take, especially the ones where you have to rip it out and do it again (and again). 

I now have my much anticipated inter library copy of Jourdain’s:  The History of English Secular Embroidery (1910), so far, it refers often to a well known embroidery Quarterly that really makes me want to visit the British Library. 


The sun has finally ‘got his hat on’ round here!


  1. Thanks so much! This is such a great tutorial!!! Thank you, Beth Lee.

  2. Thank you very much for sharing your techniques

  3. Thank you Meri & Gina-B,

    It means a lot to me that you give this one the thumbs-up.

    beth :)

  4. Beth, Thank you so much for sharing your work, and the explanations. It is so much clearer now. I looked at the little is amazing. I will follow you so I can keep up. Want to try out the leaf...but first have to see if I can print the instructions because it is hard for me to sit at the computer and sew.

    I love the effects of this style of work.

    Your work is superb.

  5. Beth, I had a go at this, and I immediately realised it was something that I could adapt in my embroideries depicting coral and reef you will either say sacrilege or sacra bleu!(have never done french but you will know what I mean) It is still a work in progress though. I need to get these things completed so I can start on the "Real Stuff"

    your work is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your talents with us.

  6. Thanks a lot Shirley
    I'm really glad you've tested the recipe out!!
    I can imagine in a coral reef embroidery there would be lots of opportunity to extend and blend elements with this kind of form.
    I'm reminded of the book by Jill Nors (?) simply titled Needlelace. She covers everything in that book except Elizabethan. It's from that book that I realised Trellis Stitch is also known as Valsesian Stitch...
    She gives lots of illustrations of Italian needlelace but none of their English interpretation. She does cover Hollie Stitch though...The book first came out in the 1970s but she reprinted in 1990s (?). I still prefer the older copy, although the newer one has a lovely picture of a little elephant made of stuffed detached buttonhole.
    beth :)