Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Elizabethan 3-d hand embroidered Acorn

Finally, (after much panicking) I am very pleased to say: here is the 3-d non-wired & non-stuffed, self-supporting gold Acorn - worked in Cylindrical Ceylon Stitch - of which there are about 10 examples on The Bag – 5 acorns, one butterfly and the rest made into flattened out flower petals, that has been on my mind constantly and has jumped the Bag motif queue here..


Below it’s placed next to its Big Brother – I know, looks awfully like a peanut, but on the real Bag they made them out of 2 colours to distinguish the cup area….yep, they thought of everything and I’m sure you’ll agree, this is a very clever solution to making nuts just from sewing;  no ‘props’.


Below I’m pulling it to one side to show you how it would form into one of those magnificent highly raised petals for a flower I haven’t yet shown you a drawing of.   They squashed it flat for that element.  


Below is my main cotton mock-up.  After I made this miniature cup (plenty of possibilities there for miniature bits and bobs e.g. an entire mini-tea set – o-oh, there I go again!), I knew by then I could probably pull out some Smooth Passing Gilt Number 5 supplied by Dear Bill and not waste it

Well, all I can say is: then the real fun began…..(more later)

Acorn cup - Ceylon Stitch 1

Notice I use the description ‘cylindrical’ and not ‘spiral’ – important reason – details to follow…

Also notice the base is narrower than the rest BUT the shape grows naturally upwards, NOT outwards, (unless you increase of course)…..more later

Skill level = easy !

I look forward very much to explaining how I made it soon (its in draft, but no surprises if tell you its pretty long…..:)


Decided I’ll take the Aemilia Ars lady with me to Italy and try and get it finished during the flight (hopefully I wont have to sit next to anyone that wants to talk?).  You never know, I might get to the Museum where the original artefact is stored (*tingles with anticipation*).  DH & DD are not mad-keen on Museums, they actually frog-marched me through The Rijks Museum in Amersterdam during their enormous exhibition on The Ottoman Empire – can you believe that!!) – will have to work out where I can deposit them as soon as I get there!!! 

cya !


  1. Love your acorn! Can't wait to see how you stitched it!

  2. Thanks heaps! Yeah, looks like my research (going back as far as 7th Century) is finally paying off...

  3. Hi Beth - I would like to thank you very very much for your youtube tutorials on trellis / plaited braid and flyind needlelace ! I am making a jacobean costume which includes one of those embroidered jackets and had no clue about the techniques ! I am still doing some samples, playing and exploring. Now for thread I will be using coton a broder special 16 from DMC (got a book on elisabethan embroidery interpretation and they swear by it). I am a bit shy with silks but I guess this should give the perfect finish. What would you recommend then ? I see you use au ver à soie soie perlée, where did you order it ? the range of colours at sew& is very limited for instance. Thank you again for all your tutorials - I can't tell you how helpful you have been ! Cheers !

  4. Hi Anonymous!

    Thanks for all your feedback - much appreciated!
    You raise interesting questions:

    1. I know what you mean about Au ver a soie perlee shade stocks. (Cheaper to buy from hedghogs and ship to UK - as I'm sure you know). However, colours I wanted were not listed.

    I found WILLOW FABRICS in Broadstairs (very helpful website) with links to full range of SHADE CARDS. Here is the link:

    A thought: you might also think about joining Stitchin Fingers and the Elizabethan group to find lots of helpful souls with encyclopedic knowledge...oh, and you can contact me from there too.

    Interesting you mention the cotton. Does that one have a bit of silk mixed in? Historic items are made with silk, so the advice in that book may just be helping people with colour matching? Try and tackle colour and fibre for best possible sheen. (We all love our shiny things and the Elizabethans especially.) Perlee is described as 'glowing' and I have to agree. Which fits it totally with what I can see on this image I'm working from.

    On another topic: Excitement! - I found out just yesterday that Whitney Antiques is having an exhibition of all this kind of stuff in October. Here is the link:

    It looks amazing, do check it out! (I think its going to be one of those where I have to buy the catalogue or hate myself forever afterwards....

  5. Hi Beth. Thank you again for all the info (a bit dealyed, I just came back from hols). I have started my second series of samplers with this coton à broder, which is a thin non stranded cotton, and rather nice to use. However, the silk bug has bitten me and I have ordered my shade cards from Willow, and will definitely use soie perlée :)I have a book you might be interested in (you may have it already though or heard of it), 17th and 18th Fashion in details from the V&A, from Avril Hart and Susan North (the best museum in the whole wide world !) where Margaret Laton's jacket is featured in details, along other examples of embroidery, pleating, drapery etc. Meanwhile, my embroidery is improving (plaited braid for metal and satin stitch are still a bit chaotic though)and I found myself really hooked (with sore neck in the evening !). I am using Japan #5 from Kreinik by the way, for the metallic bits. Now that's a long post (sorry) but I am really excited about this (hadnt done embroidery since I was a kid, that's er about 30 years !). Again, thank you for everything, I would still be struggling if it wasn't for your tutorials ! Greetings from a french frog landed in Switzerland :)

  6. Hi Magali
    Good to get your reply. I'm incredibly behind with everything, just got back too, from Cornwall. Amazing Celtic history down there I tell you, cant wait to link all that stuff in with this business.
    You mention another amazing book for my wish list. The reissue of that one is VERY expensive isn't it.
    On the subject of colour cards. I didn't print anything to make comparisons. I figured out how to compare the museum image with colour cards on website by just minimizing and moving the two windows together. I found I had to do this because Willow told me Soie d Alger wont send out colour cards for the Perlee range?? Its all so weird....and the bobbins are TINY. But I totally agree with you, the colours are THE BEST! Do check you have colour cards for correct range, as I say, that's what they told me. i find hurdles like that just water off a duck's back, bring them on I say!
    I tried Silk Mill, they produce stranded hanks, beautiful to work with but the colours are a completely different luminosity.
    The subject of Levantine Dyes is an entire new topic. We're basically looking at Venice for all that stuff and those merchants were buying in from Turkey, Palestine, Hungary and Romania. There are fantastic books on the Venice in 1500s. I didn't see many textiles in Florence recently but I did manage to find a room full of Italian Renaissance Copes in a hall above a Duomo in Sienna. More later... g2g :)