Tuesday, July 5, 2022



And Stitching....!

I left you Last week Dear Readers, with the stated goal of charting the stitching pattern for the gown of the Medieval Lady I am adding into my Mini Tapestry Kit designed by Janet Granger. It is a complicated task! And I hope you will not be too bored as I explain my process. To begin with, I had already drawn the rough outline of the Lady, based loosely on the Lady in the Devonshire Hunting Tapestry. Above you can see the original that is my guide, as well as my graph paper sketch. I decided that I at least needed to Try to make the gown a brocade like the one in the original tapestry. Really, I just had to try! Brocade, for those who do not know, is a patterned cloth, mostly of silk, whose pattern is created by the threads in the weave, not by using different colored thread. It is all the same thread, but the way the light is reflected by the difference in the woven pattern, creates the two toned "pattern" that your eyes see. And this pattern and the colors it "appears to be" shift in different light. This is why the Devonshire Lady's gown has the "pattern" shift colors in the shadowed areas. Yes, I wanted to try to do this in my Lady's gown. But the first step would need to be to "develop" a pattern that would fit the scale of the gown.

I wanted it to look a little bit like the ones in the original gown,
and it needed to repeat easily and in a small enough area.
The above design is what I came up with. 
The original sketch in ink,
 then converted to colored blocks on the graph,
 and repeated to see how they relate.
Then I needed to test this on scrap cloth...

This is a larger count mesh (18 count)
 and the Tapestry is on 22 count cloth,
 but I like the pattern so far.
But I need to test it with the "background colors".
But wait, didn't you say the thread is all the same color? I hear you ask.
Yes, in the real cloth it is, but to render what the eyes see, 
we need to use more than one color.
The "Pattern" color, and the "ground" color
 are two different shades of the same"color", in this case, red.
(Have I lost you yet? We are just getting started!)

I wasn't sure whether I wanted the "pattern" to appear
 as the darker or lighter shade,
 so I made a second version with the same two colors.
The top version has the pattern in the lighter shade. 
This is more like the Devonshire Lady's gown so I am going with this.

But I needed to see how the different colors would look
 in the different combinations that would be needed.
Which meant I really needed to narrow down my colors
 to the ones that I was going to use.

I dug out all my red toned threads... 
accumulated over years and years! 
(Some of these threads are antiques!)
I needed to keep the colors close to the ones already in the kit...

And I needed two colors for each of 
three different "shadings of the cloth....
A pattern and a ground for the true color,
 and two for the highlighted part of the cloth,
 and two more for the shadowed part of the cloth.
Remember, it takes three tones to reveal a
 three dimensional shape on a two dimensional surface.
So we need six different colors.....

Here I have grouped the threads according to light and pattern.

And here we can see the comparison of the new colors
 with the ones that come in the kit and are
 the colors of all the Maiden's gowns.
By Jove, I think I am close enough!
So back to the Charting part!

My motto is to begin with what you are sure about... 
in this case, the placement of the shadows.
I could easily get a rough idea of where they go.
Once that was done, it meant I know where the cloth "folded"
which would make the pattern change...
But I could start to chart the pattern where the cloth was not folded...
the central front panel was the focus.

Starting just with pencil, marking an "x" in the boxes for stitching the pattern.
And trying to learn how to adjust the pattern
 where the cloth would "fold"
 and part of the pattern would not show....
 (not easy!)

 And not even trying where I was unsure how to make it look right....!
(the arms and the folded bottom of the gown...!)

But where I was pretty sure it would look okay,
 I inked the "x's" so they would not erase 
if I wanted to move the highlights a little to one side or the other.
I don't have enough of the right color pencils
 to actually draw every change of color needed.
But if I know where the "pattern" is
 and I can see if it is in shadow or highlight.... 
I can chose the right color thread for those stitches.... Right?

I gently sketched in the base color (red)
 leaving the highlighted areas with no color!
Now there are three clearly separated tones to follow....
But will it work?

I just had to try!

I am stitching the pattern first....
 beginning with the central "true" colors, 
(neither highlighted nor shadowed).
But almost right away I needed to see
 if the shift to the highlighted colors would look okay....
So in the above picture you can see the two colors being worked....

And then needed to see if the shift to the
 shadowed "red" would look okay...
above you can see the "pattern" in all three shades,
 with none of the background added.
As you can imagine... it is really easy to get lost in the chart... 
(There was a lot of unstitching.... and restitching.... 
and wondering if the highlight should shift....)

And then I just Had to see if it would look okay
 with the background colors.....
starting with the shadows...
Again.... wondering if I should shift a little.....
Trying to trust the original (sometimes vague) sketch!

Here you can see all three of the
 background colors have been added... 
sometimes just a stitch or two!
This is Not easy to stitch!
But I think, Dear Readers, 
it is going to be absolutely stunning
 when it is done!
I just have a lot of very careful Stitching to do...
 trying to follow my incomplete chart.... 
Making it up as I go!


  1. These embroideries are exceptional! It takes a great view to get them.

  2. What an exciting challenge you have given yourself! This tapestry will be extraordinary, Betsy! Already the dress is shaping up to be incredible, and I imagine it is so hard to sit through work all day until you can finally get your hands stitching again! Enjoy every moment - I can't wait to see next week's progress!

  3. That is a complex pattern, but you’ve got this Betsy! All that stitching experience will help pull you through, as well as the chart. And it will look amazing!!

  4. Awesome patterns on the chart and it's wonderful to see how well they look on canvas. The colors are lovely.
    Hugs, Drora

  5. Yo también estoy segura de que quedarán impresionantes.

  6. Why am I not surprised that you've managed to make the challenge of stiching your own design even more challenging?! Chapeau for your courage to create the brocade of your inspiration picture in your own design, I mean, let's not forget that this is miniature embroidery! And all of these different colors for shading and highlighting - this is for sure a challenge. But I have no doubt that it will be a triumph in the end - what you've achieved so far leaves me with no doubts about the end result. ;O) Happy stitching!


  7. Dear Betsy - what a massive mini undertaking. Charting and especially subtle changes in shading is SO difficult to do. I like your approach of working with sections and so far it is looking fabulous. I will look forward o seeing the progress - as are you I am sure.
    Anna x