Right, Let’s get this party started.
To start off you need to tension your ground fabris on whatever frame you’re using. Laid and couched work is not something you work in hand.
Stitchalong scans-0Stitchalong scans-1
I always prefer to tension the fabric on the frame before marking the outline as it stops the fabric slidng and keeps the outline more accurate. YOu can use a pencil or a proper fabric marker (I often just use pencil)
You only need to mark the pattern from the first pdf onto the fabric, the others are for the outlines.
We’ll begin at the centre with the wing. One first point is not to be intimidated by the sheer length of the initial stitch used in this technique. Work up the length of the wing, rather than across – always take the longest stretch you can with this part of the stitch. Lay one long stitch down. At this stage we’re using the crewel wool doubled over.
then bring your needle right back up again. Laid and couched work doesn’t go across the back of the work. Be careful to make sure you get these initial stitches nice and close together (don’t worry if you occaisionally come back up the same hole, and forgive yourself if you accidentally take a stitch along the back now and then, we all do it). Keeping everything on the surface not only conserves expensive naturally dyed threads, it also makes the finished piece lie smoother and flatter
Work along until you’ve covered the surface area with long stitches, remembering to keep all the threads at the front.
Dont worry if it looks a little ruffled at the point, the couching will eventually even it out. If you look at the back all you should see at this point is a series of tiny stab stitches and the bits where you’ve anchored your ends.
I’m showing you the next stage a few rows in because I started at the very tip of the wing wehre there wasn’t really a long enough piece to show you how it works, you may find it easier to start in the middle and work outwards if you find the short bits harder. For this part of the work go down to one strand of thread rather than two (with my dyed stuff its best to halve the length as well).
bring one thread up at right angles to the laid stitches and strech it right across them before takng it though
bring the needle back out again a few millimetres back along the thread and sew it down – this is the “couching” part.
work your way along the bar you’ve just put down, stitching it into place, before startng another. Your bars should be between 3 and 4 mm apart, and the couching stitches holding them down should be about the same distance. Don’t be tempted to make your gaps too wide or you will jeopardise the structural integrity of the work once it’s taken off the frame.
Also, don’t line up the couching stitches or you will encourage gaps in the laid work to appear. Stagger them instead.
the back should look something like this
Once you’ve completed the wing, move on to the contrasting feathers at the wing base.
Dont be tempted to do all the laid work first and then couch everything at once. The long laid stitches are unstable and easily snagged, so it’s far better to stabilise one area before begining the next.
Next comes the little strap across the base of his wing – notice that I’ve worked that at right angles to the wings themselves, instead choosing to take the thread across the longest stretch.
next his leg and the front half of his body. When using this stitch the definition is added to the body with the later suface stitches, so if two parts the same colour run together, do them as one and add the detail later.
If you prefer you can fill in the eye with a bit of white, but I’m working the eye as negative space (leaving the background fabric to show through) because I like the way it adds a little depth.
Fill in the wing tip, and then the tail, remembering to treat the whole tail as one area. Now there is a technique you can use to work laid and couched work around a curve, and I did think we’d use that on his tail, but I tried it four times and unpicked it fourtimes (and I NEVER unpick) but there was simply no permutation of a curved stitch on his tail that works, so just work if straight like the rest.
However, I am going to show you how to work the crest that runs around his tail on a curve.
Start by doing the top of his tail fairly straight running down his spine, then, when the curve starts to drop away, brng the stitch back and instead of going back to the start, tuck it under the last row of stitch
Then bring the needle back up again in the normal place
BY overlapping the stitches in the tight part of the curve and splaying them out around the wider edge you will begin to curl the laid work around the curve. You can see that it looks different at the back because you get a longer rown of stitch around the inside of the curve.
It might take a bit of practice, but you should be able to get the laid stitches to curve elegantly around his tail
which means that the couching stitches are worked like the spokes of a wheel, which is less abtrusive to the finished design.
Once you’ve filled the little tip of his tail all of the colouring in is done
Right, my dinner’s ready and it’s been a long week, so I’m going to stop there and do a second installment on Monday. I Plan on having enough wine to be reasonably incoherant so anything I wrte afer this won’t make sense anyway.
For part two we will be using the second third and fourth pdfs with the outline, but that ought to keep everyone busy over the weekend