HNW - detatched buttonhole stitch

Patti McCullough paddy at
Sat Jul 24 12:02:15 PDT 1999

>I'm starting a new Elizabethan embroidery project with some detatched 
>buttonhole stitches.  I'm okay with using it to fill in spaces but can't 
>figure or find instructions on how to make "floating" pieces.  Hmmm, I'm not 
>sure how to describe this.  I have photos and descriptions of several pieces 
>where layers of flower petals, etc. are standing away from the ground 
>fabric.  The one that I see cited most often is of the peapods which fold 
>back to show the peas inside.  A photo of that is in the lower left corner 
>of plate 54 in the V&A 1200-1750 embroidery book.
>How would you do that?  Continue to add rows but not connect them at the 
>I'm using one strand of floss at a time.  How many you all use?

Dear Tara and List,

I have a lovely book, _Stumpwork Embroidery:  A Collection of Fruits, 
Flowers and Insects for Contemporary Raised Embroidery_ by Jane Nicholas, 
1995, ISBN 1 86351 1830, that I picked up off the remainder table a year 
or so ago, that describes how to do 3D flowers and such things.  The 
peapods she gives instructions for aren't worked the way you describe, 
but I'll bet they could be done the same way as her flower petals.  I'm 
not pretending that I've tried this, myself, but let me tell you how she 
does her flowers.

You first embroider your petals that are not going to be raised, leaving 
space in the center to attach the raised petals.  From there, the book 
says to take a piece of 30 gauge wire and make it into the shape that you 
would like your petal to turn out.  Wrap the wire with one strand of 
thread, so the wire doesn't show.  Then, using one strand of floss and a 
tapestry needle, work the petal in detached buttonhole stitch, from where 
the outside of the flower will be, towards the middle of the flower, 
switching to different colored threads as you go to achieve shading as 

Then attach the petals to the center of your flower, poking holes for the 
wires, securing the wires on the underside of the cloth using tiny 
stitches.  If you have five raised petals, you should have five holes, 
since each hole is shared by two adjacent petals.  Then you can put 
whatever you like in the center of the flower.

A different way to do petals, one that I have tried myself (with mixed 
results), is to whipstitch wire to a piece of muslin or some thin fabric, 
embroider in the petal using detatched buttonhole or long and short 
stitch or whatever, and then cut the wire (and petal) free from the 
background cloth.  This takes a good eye and a brave hand, though, since 
it's easy to ruin the petal with a too-close cut.  It's easiest if the 
color of your fabric generally matches the color of your floss, so you 
don't have to cut so close to not have a fabric-colored "line" around the 
outside of the petal.  I prefer this method to the "bare wire" method, 
because to me, it's just not embroidery if it's not done on fabric.

I hope this is the kind of information you were looking for.

Best regards,
Patti McCullough

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