Saturday, 20 August 2011

Colour Changing Leaves

2 Detached Buttonhole Leaves without cordonnet

This is my fourth post this week, so I have to (try) to keep it short…

As you can see, leaves have been my preoccupation of late.   

Following on from what I said last time, which follows on from what I learnt about 3-d Detached Buttonhole, that I haven’t gone into yet, but its all there in draft… 

Leaf 1

Side view of 1

This very pointed leaf uses 3 different colours of which only 2 are clearly visible.

The human eye, incidentally is better at spotting different shades of green than any other colour in the spectrum.  Red we are poor at.  In fact a lot of people cannot really distinguish between red violet and blue violet and, as you know, a lot of men are in truth colour blind, (not that they would ever admit it).

As you can tell from the rows of DBH, I needed to stop and start a few times in order to complete the pointed sections.  This uses a lot of thread and so I wondered if there was another way to make them, so that you can be more economical with thread, as the Elizabethans obviously were. 

Another thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of historic leaves are started with quite a long horizontal tack stitch, that usually can be found at the base, (for other designs they can sometimes appear at the side). 

The other thing that is worth noting is that many designs are not absolutely symmetrical.  This is another reason why I think a lot of motifs were stitched according to an under-drawing but not within an additional chain stitch foundation, because a foundation row will make your work more symmetrical. 


So here I am ‘stacking’ DBH shelves, as it were.  As you can see, I am not doing the same thing on each row, as I can see they came up in slightly staggered steps on the original.  


Here I am using the third colour and being faithful to the design, I am starting the lighter shade on the last row of the previous point.


I then added some stem stitch to the outline in all the long sections but not for the shorter ones, just as they have on the original - from what I can see. 


Leaf 2

Then I tried to save thread by bi-secting the design and mirroring the sides.  This was a very interesting little experiment, but I don’t think they went to so much trouble in days of old.  It was just worth a try to rule it out and push around further ideas of expanding the DBH landscape outwards, maybe?  As it really is really cute made-to-measure mini fabric, to be sure! 

Again, even though I needed to take the logical path, I interrupted the symmetry to try and work out why they did that on the original?  The conclusion I came to was that they did not strictly count their rows, and in all probability, simply relied on judging things visually.    


First thing I stitched was the long vertical tack row – or cord.  Then, with the same thread, I made the horizontal tack row and pegged it down in the middle, to create a curve.   

Bi-sected design

3 rows later.


It’s quite easy working this way and it shows it can be done. 

It makes you think, perhaps, about the more complex designs involving many layers of DBH? such a pomegranates but I repeat, this idea of working each side separately is not based on any evidence, just an experiment to rule it out in my own mind. 

Serrated edge

Out of interest, I hooked the return row round the central cord,  when I came to do the other side.  As I did not need go into the fabric again, because by then the vertical cord was tensioned:

Going into laid cord

Leaf 3

Then I made another leaf, this time I just made it as simply as possible, the tips are not exaggerated and there is no ‘centre parting’.

Leaf 3 complete

As you can see, I ended up making 3 leaves that were all so similar it made me realise that I needed to think outside the box, go back to the V&A images and play around with some more construction ideas.

My problem is this, although the tips are good and sharp, I am still not happy with them.  So far, tips seem to fall into 3 categories.  Sharp, rounded and skewed-right-angle types.  

Some are like the ones I made here but the ones I am most interested in are quite different.  In fact, I might even venture to say that they look to me as if they were stitched in 3-d, then somehow pegged down, maybe just at the tip?  The reason that type are playing on my mind is that they anticipate the kind of tips they made on Carnations and Cornflowers, which seem comparatively ‘free-flowing’, if you know what I mean?

Since doing all of this, I have applied these ideas to curved shapes, as I have another rose in mind, that I’ll tell you about next time.

Well, after all of that, I am certainly running out of dark green!

Must dash!

P.S.  The post on DBH shaping discoveries might have to be spread over several updates, as it is just so long !



  1. WOW! lovely work.I really want to give it a try.

  2. Thank you, you are very kind!

    Actually, I am working on an even easier way to do the leaves. Will be posting about that soon...

  3. Thank you Shino
    When the silk arrives, I will be returning to leaves...