I didn’t have a particular kind of bird in mind when I drew this one but now the slip is finished I think it’s a parrot wannabe.
I’m calling this latest project ‘box of birds’ so that I can look back through my posts easily to remind myself how I solved any problems and to no-one’s surprise, there have been problems already! The bird on the left in the image below shows quite clearly the difference between having padding on the head, throat, and breast, and none on the wings, and when I’d finished them I thought the wings looked too flat. I had followed Lala’s instructions but her wings don’t look sunken so I’m not sure why mine do.
I’d already ripped out the throat and breast stitching once but only when I’d stitched them for a second time did I realise that the difficulty I’d been having with the roumanian couching was because I’d been attempting to stitch it with my left hand in the same way that a right-handed person would. (If you’re left-handed like me, you’ll appreciate the confusion between brain and hand that this causes!) Rather than rip them out again, it was quicker to just restart, stitch the couching correctly as a leftie, and omit the padding altogether to avoid the sunken wings look. The plan has always been to pad the birds when they’re being appliquéd to their eventual background as a slip, so the initial padding shouldn’t really be necessary.
If you’re interested in learning about the ‘slip’ technique, this video by Malina GM embroidery shows a slip being stitched and attached to a mitten, and The Floss Box also has a very good written tutorial.
This wip is Parrot on Boysenberry Bush, another project from Jane Nicholas’s book Stumpwork and Embroidery, Designs and Projects. The faint lozenge-shape on the right hand branch of the tree is where the parrot will sit later this week. I sometimes can’t get my head around the scale of things in stumpwork but this time it’s the instructions that have caused a fair amount of head scratching and ripping out of stitches. The trunk of the bush is supposed to be stitched in padded stem stitch but I didn’t like how my first two attempts turned out so I stitched some samples using other stitches and settled on feather, chain and straight stitches as being the most realistic. As if realism mattered! This is stumpwork, where bees are as big as dogs and birds are the size of dinosaurs!
The grassy mound is French knots stitched with tapestry wool on a slip of calico. The tree is several strands of soft tapestry cotton, twisted and couched down then over-stitched in several shades of brown embroidery thread. The leaves should be stitched using padded buttonhole stitch but it’s impossible to continue the ridge effect all the way round when stitching a leaf shape and it therefore looked as if I hadn’t finished stitching so that got ripped out too. I thought it was an odd choice of stitch and I couldn’t find anything online which suggested using it for something with a curve like a leaf. In the end I opted for that trusty stalwart, padded satin stitch, sewn either side of a fine line of chain stitch.
I have to remind myself now and then that it’s okay to not follow instructions. I stitch for my own pleasure and if my end result is different to that of the book, what does it matter?