Thursday, June 17, 2021

Heirloom Ornaments ....

 Heirloom Materials!

When I say that my ornament kits are heirloom quality, I mean it. I like to think of them as the perfect way to introduce yourself to working with the finest materials available. Real gold and silver metal threads. Real seed pearls. You are what you eat~ you should expect no less in one of my embroidery kits. The beautiful threads above are included in the 2021 ornament kit~ I think Rumplestilskin himself would be envious!

There are gilt spangles and gilt Grecian luscious.....

Clockwise from the left  is gilt rough purl, which is a hollow spring coil of gold wire... real seed pearls, and non tarnish check thread. Real gilt check thread in a small enough size is not available currently. This that I  have chosen for you is so sparkly and beautiful you will love it!

Along with the 2% gold Elizabethan Twist shown in the first picture, there is both broad and narrow crenelated gilt plate. I show you how to keep it from tarnishing so far in my instructions!

Now, back to my earlier post on the amazing camouflage abilities of couching with Trame...can you see it anywhere??? (and this picture is seriously magnified!)

Sunday, June 13, 2021

14 Years in a Row...

  2021 Early American Life Directory of Traditional American Crafts

Wow. What an honor. I have been juried into the Early American Life Magazine Directory Of Traditional American Crafts for 2021, my fourteenth consecutive year.  THANKYOU to all of the judges! These two fine 17th c bead peddlers were my entry for this year.

I love to make dolls to represent different periods. These are tiny 6" girls, very challenging to make this small. They both have period-correct wardrobes and I thought you would enjoy seeing what is underneath their outers.

I have made a couple of sets of twins, and sibling dolls occasionally. It is always fun for me to see how different they come out. No matter how hard I try to make them the same, they always take on their own unique personalities. 

I usually always give my girls pantaloons for modesty's sake, but actually, pantaloons were worn in the 17th c. Over her pantaloons she wears a period correct ankle long shift and cap.

I love this picture of her sister...perhaps she is a few minutes older...not much. She is helping younger to dress.

Both wear silk gowns trimmed with silk ribbon trim.  I stitched her hat from a bit of an antique kid glove and trimmed with real tiny feathers. Hats such as this were commonly worn by women in the 17th c.

Their clothes are removable, and bodices are fully boned and lined.

I love every aspect of doll making~ and that includes the stands! I made both of their stands to resemble a cobblestone street corner when placed together. I like to imagine myself standing right there alongside them...selling beads~ what a glorious day!

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Silk Threads...

One of My Favorites!

One of my favorite silk threads is Soie Trame. These colours shown above are included in this year's ornament kit. Aren't they beautiful? I love gazing upon spools of gorgeous thread just as much as what I make with them.  Will you use the entire spool for the kit? Heck no! A spool of Trame silk lasts for eons.

Trame is a very fine straight filament silk~ it has no twist in it. In the picture above it is the fine gold silk on the left. The purple on the right is one stand of Soie Ovale, which is also a flat filament silk. They both are beautiful when worked in satin stitch, but as you can see, the Trame is just sooo much finer than the Ovale. When trying to embroider weensie designs, scale is everything. The Ovale is just too thick, and while it can be divided....why would I want to do that when I can just use the much finer Trame?

The corn and gilliflowers on the ornament are stunning worked in long and short stitch with Trame.
But my favorite use for Trame is as a couching thread. It's just so fine! Instead of distracting from what it is being used to couch down, it simply fades into the background. All the metal threads on the ornament shown above are couched on with Trame!

I like to double it up in my needle as shown above. I use one long piece, pass it through the needle, and knot it on the end. This way my needle is captive and won't keep coming out of the eye. 

A tiny 2mm f4 size gilt spangle attached with Trame....

A double strand is used to couch crenelated gilt plate. Once finished you won't even be able to see it! I love this thread and if you have some in your stash, I hope you will pull it out and use it!

Saturday, June 05, 2021

2021 Ornament Inspiration

My Favorite Flemish Cabinet

 This year's ornament is yet again inspired by my favorite Flemish cabinet, shown above. You can view its last online sale here. I love the style of embroidery on these cabinets. Metal threads and plates are used heavily along with the silks and they really sparkle when opened. 

The outside of the cabinets are ebonized to black, so when they are opened there is a flood of colour and sparkle that is overwhelming. Who cares what's in the drawers, the cabinet is the true treasure here!  

If you zoom in on the panels and you have stitched some of my previous ornament kits, you will hopefully find some familiar motifs. The beautiful graceful scrolls of the crenelated gilt plate, the pansies, gilliflowers, and the tulips! (enter gasp here) Tulips are very special to me and I really love how 17th c artists drew them.

I have been making my own Flemish cabinet, but for those who just want a little taste of the embroidery style....give this year's ornament a try, I promise you won't be disappointed! 

I am working up the kits now, so keep checking back to see what it is! I can't wait for you to see it~ 
Happy Stitching everyone

Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Tisket, A Tasket.....

 A ___ for a Casket???

What could the new ornament for this year be??? Can you see it peeking out just there?  Yes, it is finished and most certainly fits inside my little casket shown above...

I have had this little treasure bouncing around inside my brain for a few years now, and I can honestly say I am very happy with how it came out and very excited to share it with you all soon!

So...have you any guess as to what it is???

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

What do You think???

 So Many Possibilities!

 I love both silver and gold on my embroidery... but somehow the gilt always seems to win out over silver. I was just looking at the trim on this year's ornament and thinking how beautiful it would look done in silver. What do you think? Are you a silver person, or a gold person???

Saturday, May 22, 2021

I Stitch

...for Me

I love my embroidery.  I have literally an endless amount of ideas in my head at all times. The hardest thing for me is deciding on which one to try and make. I love the sound of the needle and thread pulling through the fabric in the quiet. Stitching makes me happy. 

Of coarse is great if other folks like it...but what if they dont?  If you read the comments on my last post my Mother commented that she didnt like some of my leaves and thought they looked sloppy.  I wont lie, I was a bit surprised.  For a moment I questioned the stitches I used and asked myself if I should take them out...were they really that bad?  

They are the large two tone leaves to the center in the panel above. A 17th c technique known as Flecking used two different threads in the needle. Usually a light colour thread was wrapped round a darker one. The effect is quite striking with long and short stitch, and can be appreciated fully on this embroidered jacket at the V&A.  I was using that in my brain for inspiration to combine two colours of untwisted flat filament silk for a more random effect that looks like a different colour from afar on my leaves.  

I kept going back and looking at the finished leaves and asked myself if I should take them out and redo them...but my answer was always the same, 'But I like them.'  Which brings me to my point I'm trying to make. My stitching is for me. If I am in a room of 100 folks and I'm the only one that likes it, well thats just fine, because I like it and it makes my heart happy. There will always be folks who may not like what you are stitching...or the fabric you choose for a quilt...or the colours you chose to paint that flower. As long as you like it, thats all that matters!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

2021 Ornament Progress....

  Getting There...

A couple more days stitching, maybe one or two and then it will be on to the assembly~ woo!  I have changed my mind several times on certain aspects of the embroidery...shown is the third configuration of crenelated gilt plates on this panel. I stitch it up and then let it sit for a few, ponder it for a while and decide I dont like it and rip it out.
The special ornament for this year is inspired by some of my favorite 17th Flemish embroideries, and I'm pretty excited myself to see it finished! What else is there to do in the pouring rain?

Friday, May 14, 2021


 Tea & Stitches~

Its such a pleasant morning this morning. Its sunny, but not blazing. No wind. My lilacs are blooming. There are so many birds out, ones we dont usually see here in southern Colorado. They sound so pretty...the red wing blackbirds are my favorite ones to listen to. Its just a perfect time to sit and have a pot of tea (I never have just a cup). In my pot today is Morroccan Sahara from TWG. Its one of my favorite teas ~I bought this particular can at Harrods in London a few years ago so only have it on special days when Im not stressing out or in a hurry. This morning is a tea drinking day. Me and Punkin just sitting watching the birds out the window.

And what else goes perfectly with quiet and tea????...stitching of coarse! One of my dear friends and customers sent me an email this week sharing her finished stumpwork embroidery panel for the top of her Harmony Casket.

There are two versions of Harmony available to stitch for the Thistle Threads class. One holds a lute, one sits and is stitching at a slate frame, and I have drawn a third of a Ladye sitting making bobbin lace on a pillow.  H purchased one of my Lute Ladye figures and what an honor for me to have one of my girls be the center of her beautiful skilled embroidery. Do click the picture to make it larger.
It was common for 17th c stumpwork embroidery to have figures made from carved wood or ivory as an alternative for those who did not wish to stitch them out of silk. I can sculpt any figure to the pattern for a perfect fit for your embroidery. Figures for certain popular patterns can be purchased in my ETSY store. I can also make custom figures for your own unique embroidery pattern. If interested just shoot me an email to or send me a convo on ETSY. I sculpt each of my figures from papier mache one at a time, so no two are ever alike.  I am so proud of H~ she has carefully set her girls hands up against her lute so perfectly, one can nearly hear the sound of it as she plucks the strings.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Not Quite 'Blush & Bashful'...but close

Pretty In Pink 

  Some of my favorite early 17th c caskets have very light pink interiors~ not that they were super faded...but they always were a very light shade of pink right from their start. I have searched and searched for just the right shade of pink~ makes me think of Steel Magnolias when she says her two wedding colours are "Blush & Bashful".  I super love how this interior came out

The paper I chose for this one is a beautiful faded blue. It goes so well with the pink. Of coarse I have my signature secret compartments all over the place, and hiding under the tufted pad within the mirrored octagon is a beautiful 17th c engraving.

What have you been working on? I hope that whatever it is, makes your heart happy~

if not....just WHAT are you waiting for????


Wednesday, May 05, 2021

How Times Change...

 A Real Treat!

Do you know what these are? Chances are you may know of them ...but have you actually seen any before? I have been wanting to share these little gems with you for some while, but honestly its been very hard for me navigating around my post covid headaches....not a minuscule bit of how bad my headaches were when I was sick, but when I get one I just cant seem to do anything by sit and stare out a window.

I am tired of being a veg and am making myself get back to my old routines, and that means blogging~ so I have decided I will be blogging and sharing every few days no matter how I feel...coherent or not. I don't know exactly what my purpose here on earth is, all I know is that I love sharing what I love with others~ and I know you will love these little pins. They really are gems, every last one.

It is hard to believe that a small straight pin we take for granted today and pretty much only use for sewing, was a huge and important industry as recent as the 18th c. Empires were made from making and selling these little pins~ its true! Not only were pins used mainly for the fastening of every day clothing on the body, but they were also commonly used for fastening papers together. Jane Austen used pins to fasten her manuscripts together...she also used pins to attach new paper over markout areas that she wanted to rewrite. There were no paperclips or staples back then. Straight pins were a very important part of everyday it is easy to question that for something so important, why are there not scads of them extant in all sorts of collections?  Just think of what you use every day, that is so common to you, that you would never think to save it. Why would you need to, you use it every day.

Up until the first quarter 19th c pins were made by hand. Quite a laborious system. There were up to 18 different steps in making a single one. Every point was sharpened by hand with help of a Pinner's Bone~ it was usually a scrap of bone with a groove in it that held the pin while the end was being sharpened. If you are a fan of mudlarking these are often found along the shores of the Themes in London...along with pins themselves.  Pins came in all different sizes, and there were names for the different sizes. (If you would like to see some really thick Middling, or Long White size pins in an 18th c pincushion just click here!)

The heads were made separately of a similar diameter wire as the shaft, and was coiled around it. Depending on the time period, some were coiled, some were coiled and crimped...and still some were coiled and soldered on with flux. The fluxing was a particularly stinky and toxic process. The heads of the pins could be sharp themselves and often snagged the clothing they were place into, as well as scratching the user.

I am blessed to have not one but two papers of 18th c Lillikin Pins in the collection here. This size is diminutive, a bit under 1/2" long and were used for fastening clothes.  These came to me from London, and are in immaculate condition. They have never been used, and aside from a little fading from a ribbon bundling them together, look as fresh as the day they were made.

It was not until the late 18th c, around the 1780s, that pins started to be packaged in papers, as seen here.  Before that they were sold by weight loose in boxes. It was not uncommon for there to be bad quality pins in with good ones...or wire that were not pins at all~ fraud has been around for forever. The pins were so expensive that it was easier to sell in papers like this, so that the customer could see all the pins they were buying easily, could see there were none missing and the quality of each before buying them. 

 Packing the pins in their papers was done by women and children. They would use a comb like tool that would pick up the pins by their heads, and then they would run this over the crimped paper to insert the pins.

I left the photos large so that you can click on them to appreciate that each and every pin has been hand made~ they really are little tiny works of art. There is alot of skill that went in to making one. Notice here too the length of the two are the same!

It is easy to see why customers preferred the new paper packaging over a box full of loose pins. At a glance one can see if there are any rogue fellows in there....

It is truly a treat to be able to study these pins in their original packaging. I have never seen an original paper pack in any other collections~ if you know of any, please do let me know in the comments!

Friday, April 30, 2021

Details &...

 1845 Girls Fan Front Dress

Here we are at the end of another week...heck the end of another month! Time is zooming by. Just imagine the time spent hand stitching this little girls dress from the mid 1840's. The minuscule gauged gathers on the fan front bodice, piped seams and microscopic braid trim shown above. Note the darn to the bottom of the picture.  This is one of my favorite little gowns.

The fabric is beautiful~ so dainty and feminine. The above picture is the strap across the shoulder

White soutache braid & dainty whitework edging borders the trim on the bodice and all tiers of the skirt. 

I have been working on the model for this year's ornament kit for those of you who have asked about it~ here is a little peek ;)

 It's super cute so far....what can I say have I ever offered an ornament kit I'm not super jazzed about? I dont think so! It is going to be really fun for you to stitch, and is so dainty~ it will fit in the palm of your hand. Keep your eyes peeled Ill be sharing more about it soon!

Monday, April 26, 2021

Making it 'So'....

  It just Popped in There....

This vision....

So I Gathered.....

And Made it So....

I took my own advise and just DID IT. I have NO IDEA what is going on the outside of this casket...but the inside is done and that makes me happy!

My favorite colour very pale blush pink silk interior....

I hand stamped the dusky blue endpapers myself in silver

I designed the interior configuration after one of my 17th c favorites at the Dallas Museum of Art

Used my favorite antique cut glass scent bottle...

Theres nothing like finishing an interior to get you jazzed about what to put on the outside...and no, they dont need to match~ just DO IT already ;)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Look at these Bunns!

Ready To Get Dressed!

  I spent some time carving a set of my turned bunn feet into these fluted cuties for a lil somethin I been tinkering on. They are drying now after a quick dip in 24k gold....well, it wasnt a dip. I wish it was that easy. Gilding with real gold is quite tedious actually. What have you been working on?  It feels great to finally  be getting my mojo back!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Catching up

A Fun Paint... 
 I am still catching up after being sick, but getting there. Now that this frame has been delivered I can share it ~ it was super fun to paint and I think you will be able to tell why. My customer ordered a frame for his wife for her birthday, and simply said she liked turtles, sea otters and octopuses (is that the plural? I have no idea). I do love the challenge of designing for this tiny narrow area to paint on. Its a really happy frame and has made me anxious for summer!

 The painting technique I practice is from the early 19th century and is done in water colours. I first draw my design or parts of it, on the wood with a steel tip pen, then all is painted with watercolurs. Several coats of watercolours....on this frame some areas have nearly 20 coats of paint. I have to be very careful to have paint to water ratio just perfect so that the new coat of paint does not take off the layers beneath it.


 I very much enjoyed painting the octopuses, these are the first I have ever drawn and painted. There are three, and I wanted to portray how they change to camouflage themselves, 

So the fellow in the center is starting to change to blue. I really love how he came out. I used titanium white for the suckers on the tentacles which really made them PoP!

The otters are cute 'as all get out ' as my Grandmother would say~ so playful

I had to include one with an urchin on their tummy~

With as much time that we spend at our frames, they should be pretty and make us smile~ dont you think? I sure do~

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Green for the Daye~

1820-29 Boy's Jacket 

If in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day I thought I would share this cunning young boy's jacket with you~

It has been fully hand stitched and is made up of a rich green wool blend that is trimmed in a contrasting orange narrow wool braid. The dark green enamel buttons are merely decorative.

The above fashion plate from 1827 is remarkably close to our boy's jacket, though it depicts adult male ideals.

I love the simplicity of just the tiny narrow orange braid for decoration. The buttons are very classy and elegant. The turn back collar is black velvet.....and if you look closely you can see the lining peeking though the front opening.

It's a party on the inside! I love this cotton print lining~ which only lines the skirts and back collar flap.