Embroidered calligraphic F

Embroidered calligraphic ‘F’ (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Called to London to help with the family laid low with flu saw plans for last week’s post fly out of the window. For the littlest one flu turned into a chest infection and a normally contented child wanted only to be held close in someone’s arms. With an extra person around this was easily done and by the time I returned home she was much better and nearer to her normal sunny self. When not comforting a baby, I worked my way through voluminous amounts of washing ill health seems especially good at producing. And yet – marvellous to relate – I have come through all this without having caught flu (and that includes being regularly in direct line of the raspberries she blew as we tried to give her Calpol and anitbiotics). Three cheers for my normally pathetic immune system.

Spot the difference(s): On the right is the initial found online. On the left is the one I used after a bit of tweaking.

As I am pressing on with the altar frontal, I thought I would try to embroider one fanciful letter each week. This ‘F’ I based on calligraphic examples seen online but with a bit of tweaking of the flourishes until they pleased me more. It was almost finished when I set off to London but I wasn’t too happy with some of the curves, which needed another layer of satin stitching. I was using Duchess embroidery cotton bought in Ray Stitch (and only 50p a skein). At first I thought the range of colours was quite dull but after I’d brought a bundle home I realised they appeared dull because of a flat, non shiny finish – I suppose we’d call it matt if it were a paint – which I now really like. I returned home with multiple skeins of the colours I liked best and will use these on the initials I’m planning to do. This ‘F’ uses a dusky aubergine (No 4195). (Now I’ve discovered I like these threads, I know they are available even more cheaply online – though part of me still likes to support independent shops like Ray Stitch and Loop which enable you to make these discoveries in the first place.)

Duchess Embroidery cotton (bought from Ray Stitch, Islington)

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  1. Posted April 27, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you survived all that flu! Generally speaking, infants have the reputation of gently mutating every infection so it can hit everyone else in the family…

    And yes, I like your tweaks to the flourishes. A subtle, but definite improvement!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted April 30, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      It’s curious how the strong is the desire to make alterations to a design you like.

  2. Posted May 1, 2018 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mary,
    I am writing unabashedly to ask for advice. My grand-niece has asked me to embroider monograms on fairly flimsy silky polyester dressing gowns for her bridesmaids. I am an experienced embroiderer, so skill, I’m proud to say, is not really the issue – it’s the fabric I’m worried about. I will have to experiment with some similar fabric (she purchased the robes already made) and see what kind of reinforcing backing would be best. Do you have a suggestion? I’m fairly certain I will not be able to fuse it to the gowns, but maybe.

    My main questions are, can you offer any advice in general, and specifically, I’m assuming I should use silk floss? And a very fine needle? I appreciate any words of wisdom you might share, but please don’t worry if you are swamped with your own activities and unable to respond.

    Thank you.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted May 2, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      It is very difficult when someone else has bought the fabric or made up clothes, which is probably a fabric you wouldn’t yourself have chosen (and I slightly shudder at the thought of handling polyester). But you have to work with what you’ve been given and the I think the only answer is to experiment. I hope there’s a bit you can cut off a belt or something to play around with.
      I find ‘Stitch and Tear’ very useful. It’s not fusible but it does give some stability (and I wonder perhaps too much if the fabric is very flimsy). First draw out your design on the polyester and then tack the ‘Stitch and tear’ to the back, echoing the line of the design but obviously not actually on it. I don’t use a hoop but you might want to here but don’t pull the fabric too much if it has lots of give. Now embroider your design. When finished cut away the stabilising fabric close to the stitches (I wouldn’t tear it away) and resort to a pair of tweezers if necessary. Get as much away as you can to let the top fabric flow as near to its original state as possible (if the monogram is on a flowy part of the garment, of course).
      As to threads, once again experiment – it may be that more strands and a medium needle mean fewer stitches (and easier access to removal of the stabilising fabric) which would impede the flow of the fabric less. I’m just not sure. I would just use ordinary stranded embrodiery cotton.
      You could embroider the monogram on a nice piece of silk with a very fine fusible backing, cut close to the embroidery and then appliqué it to the polyester.
      I suspect this is really a job in which machine embroidery comes into its own but obviously it’s your hand embroidery your grand-niece wants to show off.
      Best of luck – do let me now what worked for you.
      This is the stabiliser I use https://www.johnlewis.com/vilene-stitch-%27n%27-tear-90-x-36cm/p301834

      • Posted May 2, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Thank you so much for your words of advice and encouragement! I will dive into the project this weekend and let you know how it goes.

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