Altar frontal: the cornflower


Ipsden Church, Oxon: patchwork altar frontal, detail of cornlower (hand embroidered by Mary

Ipsden Church, Oxon: patchwork altar frontal, detail of cornflower (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Having had a bit of a holiday from the altar frontal, I thought I’d better slip embroidering a simple flower into this week’s schedule, to get mind and eye back into gear in preparation for an autumn push to the finish. Wanting to add cornflowers to a set of wedding initials I’m about to start, I thought it a good idea to have a dry run with a cornflower for the altar frontal patchwork, although the style of the flower for the initials will be less realistic. I’m not especially happy with the result, finding the petals too undefined – I may have over embroidered with the darker colour. However, I’ll blog it and live with it for a while and if I find it unbearable I might in the end re-do it. I suppose I could save it for a position on the frontal that won’t be so clearly visible, although this won’t be easy as I hope the whole thing will get turned round from time to time to even out possible fading and general wear and tear.  Perhaps, I might just do another, better one as well. We shall see.

Ipsden Church, Oxon: patchwork altar frontal, detail of  cornflower (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Ipsden Church, Oxon: patchwork altar frontal, detail of cornflower (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

The cornflower I have tried to embroider is one of those lively little ones so loved by florists and often to be seen at summer weddings. The one I embroidered on my Elizabethan jacket is,  I  think a more domesticated variant – altogether bigger and brasher, with big thick leaves, vigorous, very firmly established in the vicarage garden. For the symbolism attached to this flower, do read the Elizabethan jacket post.

Ipsden Church will be on the television on Sunday evening as the setting for one of the war diaries dramas. I’ll post about more about this after church on Sunday.


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  1. Lydia Sage
    Posted August 22, 2014 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I think your cornflowers are exquisite. Cornflowers are on my list of favourite flowers – so delicate and so very blue – I have tried to grow them over here and I think they found the hot sun just too much of a challenge. I just followed the link to your Elizabethan Jacket and my goodness what a wonder it is! Truly beautiful.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Lydia. You are, however, too kind about the cornflowers which are still on a stay of execution. I’m glad you like the Elizabethan jacket, it was a labour of love. Lucky you having hot sun, even if it can be difficult at times. It’s just lovely in England at the moment, with a hint of autumn in the air but generally quite sunny and generally uplifting.

  2. Posted August 23, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Love your cornflowers and the whole patchwork frontal is just stunning!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      What a lovely comment, Elaine. Thank you. Fingers crossed that the frontal will look good on the altar – you do need to play about with patchwork and I hope settling for the embroidered flowers all having black backgrounds will work.

  3. Susie Williams
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Mary – as ever your knowledge and sewing astounds me – I have not watched The Great War before, but found it poignant, and loved seeing our little church and North Stoke featured, they haven’t changed THAT much in 100 years? Fun to read about the Rev Clark too. Don’t know how you can criticise the embroided cornflower – it looks perfection to me.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted August 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      We thought both North Stoke village and village hall (dated on the front 1911, so just right) and Ipsden church looked wonderfully in period and were all beautifully filmed.
      You’re right, the diaries were very moving- what could have been very bitty worked as a seamless whole and I can only admire whoever scripted it.
      Thank you for being so nice about my defective cornflower. We shall have a big push forward on the altar frontal front come September – and I have already earmarked a very fine seamstress who has recently returned to the village after a few years of working abroad.

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