V & S whitework monogram

VS whitework monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

VS whitework monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

On Wednesday, the vicar gave an afternoon talk in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. These talks are very good not only in terms of intellectual content but also because they do a rather good half-time tea (choice of various teas or very good proper coffee and big slabs of lemon drizzle cake) which is just what’s needed if you’ve spent the earlier part of the day haring round the shops picking up all those irritating things not to be found locally (tracing paper/Parker ball point pen refills/Paperchase loose leaves for their brown paper files/industrial cat bell for the new flea collar, etc.).

VS whitework monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

VS whitework monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Quite drowsy as the bus home neared Wallingford I was suddenly roused to meerkat alertness by the unexpected sight of a fully blooming wisteria almost completely covering a double fronted cottage in Crowmarsh Gifford – a sight I wasn’t expecting for another 2-3 weeks, at least. Now I am very partial to a wisteria and this year I have been on particular alert for their flowering so that I could blog a wisteria embroidered coat from last year along with the real thing.

VS whitework monogram: detail (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

VS whitework monogram: detail (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Full of enthusiasm when home I tapped away on my lap top, rattling out brief explanations of wisteria symbolism in The Tale of Genji (see here for previous mention of the book), praising Enchanted April which begins with an advert promising “wistaria (sic) and  sunshine ” (the film of which is – dare I say it – better even than the book), etc., etc. Having pretty much finished the text I went off to find the photos I took last August of daughter No 2 wearing the wisteria embroidered coat I made for daughter No 1 (it’s so hard to have the right daughter, the specific bit of clothing, me and the camera all available in the one place at the same time…)  But … woe, woe, woe … no photos to be found anywhere … Well, at least I have now discovered which photos I lost when last year I did my bungled transference of photos to the external hard drive. So, no wisteria coat for the time being.

VS whitework monogram: detail (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

VS whitework monogram: detail (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Returning to plan A, I continued with my second SV monogram. You may remember, a  couple of weeks ago, I did a brightly coloured stripey SV (Christian name and surname) for one person and I enjoyed the letters so much (especially the S which is a truly great initial) that I promoted another SV up my to do list. This one is for a wedding anniversary in July and obviously consists of 2 initials for two people. I’ve placed the initials slightly differently from before. I also wanted something elegant and timeless and to this end settled on a background of two branches of bay leaves bound together – a design inspired by inlaid woodwork found in the choir of S. Maria in Organo, Verona (se below). As we all know, the leaves of the bay laurel remain evergreen and never decay and when such symbolism is applied to a couple’s love for each other it must be just about one of the nicest wishes you could make.


Note to self: I used Anchor No 2 Stranded Mouliné which I really like as it appears very creamily pearl like on white linen – the photographs don’t capture the shade at all. Must order more.

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  1. Posted April 26, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    I love the whitework monogram! It is our 25th wedding anniversary in July and I would like to attempt something similar, do you have any tips you could share on how to start designing and embroidering a piece?

    • Mary Addison
      Posted April 27, 2015 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Feed your initials into a search engine and have a look at the images to see what different styles there are. E is a great initial and hopefully will work well with your husband’s. (like ED and CB here http://www.addisonembroideryatthevicarage.co.uk) If these seem too difficult to transpose one upon the other think of a design in which they are separated with an ampersand (like L & P here http://www.addisonembroideryatthevicarage.co.uk/2014/08/29/l-p-double-wedding-monogram-shadow-cornflowers/). I should learn how to do a mini URL!
      Play about with your design on graph paper and when happy transfer it to linen – either with a light box beneath or by transferring it to tracing paper and then, when pinned firmly in place, pricking through it with a sharp point of a pencil and joining the dots when the tracing paper is removed. Sometimes I then go over the lines with running stitch in 2 strands of embroidery thread and then wash the fabric by hand to remove all grubbiness (roll the wet fabric in the cleanest of tea towels, let dry a bit and then iron gently while damp; leave to really dry for about 24 hours).
      I would use a hoop. (I should but I don’t enjoy sewing with a hoop and use ‘Stitch ‘n Tear’ instead which helps to make the fabric stable and which you can then tear away. But professionals probably frown on this method.)
      Best of Luck. You are an experienced sewer, you should be fine when you’ve decided on your design.
      Best of luck.

      • Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Thank you so much for the advice, I have a few ideas brewing already!

        • Mary Addison
          Posted May 6, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          That’s good – there’s nothing like the doing an internet picture search to stimulate creativity. Often it’s a tiny feature of a bigger design that sparks off ideas.

  2. Posted April 27, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    The monogram is a great success – very stylish and classic!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted April 28, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      That’s very kind of you to say so, Rachel.

  3. Marge
    Posted April 28, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Another technical question if you have time (!) – how do you cover curves so well with satin stitch? My stitching is reasonably neat, but trying to negotiate a tight bend brings me out in a cold sweat – the inside stitches end up crammed together rather lumpily as I endeavour to leave no gaps between stitches on the outside curve (am aware this sounds more like a Formula 1 question)

    • Mary Addison
      Posted April 28, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      I sympathise with you Marge and I know that feeling well. It’s very kind of you to say my curves are ok. I outline the letter with running stitches as a guide before I begin the satin stitch but I often end up snipping the running stitch as I go along – but I do find having that line there does help. I also think you improve the more you do. However, I would also point out that I was very dissatisfied with my first effort and unpicked most of the S before having another go. Sometimes one’s fingers work like sausages while at others they have the dexterity of fairy fingers – from hour to hour I can never predict which they’ll be. Sorry not to be more constructively helpful.

      • Marge
        Posted April 29, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        Thank you Mary – I’ve just reorganised all my sewing stuff so I’m ready to dive in there and start a new project – hopefully monograms entwined and embellished for oldest daughter’s fifth wedding anniversary in October. Plenty of inspiration on the internet as their initials are E and R!

  4. Posted April 28, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I sympathise with the lost photographs, one of the risks of keeping them digitally I suppose, though I have to my shame lost all the non-digital photographs of me and newly born youngest son in hospital all those years ago, I still search for them periodically …. X

    • Mary Addison
      Posted April 28, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      I, too have lost all the early albums of my first daughter – storage problems during a house move. Like you I sometimes wonder if I’ll turn them up but I suspect they’ll have been sold in a job lot of stuff turned out of a storage depot somewhere. The sad thing is they won’t mean anything to anybody but us. So both the hard copy and the digital seem equally easy to lose – you can’t win!

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