Practical and Decorative Needlepoint

I love sayings and one by William Morris has always been one of my favourites ’Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’.
Another l saw and adapted was ‘Stitching makes a house into a home’
With the start of Autumn, leaves falling, the clock going back at the end of the month (at least in the UK) now is the time to think of needlepoint projects for the winter evenings.
For many years I was a consultant decorator mainly working with private clients on their homes so I am very aware that your stitchery should enhance, add character and work best for you.   We all know that beautiful stitchery takes time and when done deserves the best possible making up.
Before suggesting an idea I always research a reliable maker up;  Please do the same – I can and do have pieces returned from both the US and European countries but having a finisher that you can discuss ideas with is best.
So to go back to William Morris’s quote I have listed (and in most cases illustrated) the pieces I have stitched and still give me joy.
Cushions are both popular, not too large and transform a room be it an elegant living room, a family study or a bedroom.  Sometimes like in this four-poster bed, just two cushions set again the plain linen makes a great focal point.  These are two different designs, Tudor and Aleppo but worked in a similar colour scheme.   Similarly the central one is a tartan and either side are two different designs but worked in the same colours. 
There is also a wall hanging I made inspired by a David Hockney painting – we had a period out of our house while some essential work was done and I took the opportunity of working a larger piece.

Looking in good decorating magazines will show patterned cushions off set by larger plain ones – this often works better than a heap of different patterns thrown apparently at random on a sofa or bed.

Dining chair seats are an exciting project to consider; chairs with a drop in seat (with the wood frame on view) need fair less stitching than those with an upholstered over seat.   There is no need for all chairs to be identical; mine are worked in diamond shaped diaper patterns, a pair in each design.  Similarly  a stitcher can complete a seat as any variation in tension will not show from one chair to another.   We have a booklet with all the 6 designs and charts.
Another lovely set we painted for a lady with a conservatory dining room was 5 different bunches of poppies – sadly, while we could repeat the designs I omitted to photograph the stitched pieces.
Smaller items such as trays are always useful – make a lovely present too.  This one shows the Mill I used to live in in Norfolk, some of you might have visited me there.   A lovely reminder of that period.

Now if you are considering a truly magnificent piece a rug or wall hanging is for you.   Planning is very, very important (always important but even more so with such a large project)   The first of many questions to ask is the size, make yourself a paper template and place it where you have in mind for the finished piece, does it balance the furniture, fireplace or area available well?

Do you want to have a painted canvas, possibly with flowers you love?   There are a number of beautiful ones ready painted but you may wish to have particular flowers done especially.   Can you discuss details and possibly have an initial drawing made incorporating your ideas.
What mesh canvas do you enjoy, what mesh give the necessary detail and what mesh will will give good wear.  
Would a repeating motif or a Florentine pattern work well?   Probably less expensive working from charts rather than having a design painted – however, Florentine will wear less well, it depends on the traffic area you have in mind.
I always recommend the design on one piece of canvas;  individual squares to be joined after the stitching is complete sounds attractive but should you go that way  it is essential that each piece is off the same roll of canvas and worked in the same direction (The measure of say 100 threads horizontally may well be different to 100 threads vertically)
Is it fact going to be on the floor, on a fitted carpet or wood block or have you a suitable wall that would benefit from a wall hanging.  This decision will help you decide on stitches to use    Basket weave tent and divisible wools will give the best wear and so a sensible choice for a floor rug, textured stitchery and possibly some silks or cottons would make a wall hanging interesting both to work and when finished.

Framed Pictures are also popular particularly for delicate subjects;  I have collected some lovely Berlin Wool Work charts over the years so have a group of them including some of my own work such as the Flower Shop (I prefer not to glaze my work)   Recently  I have been captivated by Shadow or Light stitching when the detail of the original painting shows through a light fine stitching that enhances the piece – these designs will make great pictures or wall hangings.
Then there is always the need for smaller, easier pieces to work when traveling or when you need a piece to curl up and relax with!

To this end I have designed a number of designs that come with canvas and instructions but only suggestions for threads.  Many of them have small areas, perfect for using up even the smallest amount of thread.   To illustrate just a few, the Kaleiscope Spec Case can be slipped into your travel bag and in different colours makes great sun glass cases or stronger specs for stitching (perfect presents too), Stitch Fantasy with more than 25 stitches to try and the Diamond iPad slip cover to protect your iPad.
I do hope this has given you some ideas for future stitching either by yourself or, better still and far more fun, joining a class or group of like-minded people to stitch together , swop notes and tips and generally put the world to rights – it’s not called stitch and bitch for nothing!

My web site…….. has some of my designs and is updated when new designs come on line, my class programme here in London and dates for my two Italian trips next year. Tuscany is already full.








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