Schwalm Embroidery and Crazy Quilting

It’s a good thing photos have a date on them! This has made it easier for me to find the work completed in the last 2 years, to add to this blog.

I follow Mary Corbet’s blog,   It is a good source of information.  In 2009 Mary reviewed Luzine Happel’s  book ‘Basic Principles of Schwalm Whitework’.   I had been looking at different types of whitework for a while, and had tried Mountmellick.  The the idea of drawing out threads grabbed me.  The book (and several others that are available from Luzine) has been translated into English, so I sent for it.  I got impatient waiting, as the book was damaged and returned to sender, so I started this piece while I was waiting.  And of course there aspects of it that are far from correct, but nevertheless  I am pleased with it.




In fact, so pleased with it that I could not just consign it to the drawer where so many other pieces of complete work hide.  For some time I had the urge to make a Hussif,  so I looked on Pinterest for ideas, and this is what I came up with.





When the book arrived, I found it absorbing.  I had also been looking at Luzine Happel’s blog, where she shares so much information about Schwalm.  Schwalm is traditionally done using linen, so I had bought some linen offcuts for practice pieces, and a larger piece to make something more substantial.  I can now understand Mary Corbet’s love of linen for embroidery.  I would recommend both of these blogs.

In order to get more practice, I decided to make a sampler.  I planned blocks, and I also wanted to practice different edges.  As a result of using Pinterest I discovered how useful Youtube can be.  By following links I found a number of tutorials and spent many hours watching video tutorials for all sorts of things.  I particularly like the picot hem which is on the right hand side and the bottom edge. I found it easy to do and love the way it lies flat, as there are only two thicknesses of fabric, and many hems have three. The corner was not difficult to do.  Some of the blocks are from the book, others from the blog.


Schwalm sampler

Schwalm sampler


My next Schwalm was a pair of mats, again using linen offcuts  I found these on Luzine Happel’s blog.


Sunflower mats

Sunflower mats

I used different filling stitches in the middle, although when I stand something on the mats the centres are not really seen.  I still intend doing a larger piece of Schwalm, but it is still very much in the planning stage.



I also became fascinated by Crazy Quilting.  I like to work to a plan, as with the Schwalm embroidery, but also enjoy a piece where  I can make things up as I go along, and meander.  It is a good way of using fabrics and threads from my stash.

Again I made use of Pinterest, and followed links to find the information which helped me.  I also downloaded ‘The Art of Crazy Quilting’ by J. Marsha Michler from Amazon’s Kindle shop. It is just a booklet really, but as it is full colour, and easy to look at on a computer or tablet, it is well worth the 99p I paid for it.

Here is the first cushion.




While I was stitching I was enjoying it so much that when I went to buy the edging and the inner I bought enough for another one.  I knew to expect some shrinkage when stitching these, so I waited until first one was done, and measured it before buying the inners.

The second one was in a different colour scheme.


Ealry stage

Early stage


Here it is when I was just laying the fabric on the backing fabric.  There are different techniques which can be used to assemble crazy quilting, but this is the one which suits me.  When I am happy with the layout, I photograph it, then tack the pieces into position, with a narrow turn-under if on raw edges, making sure that there are no gaps. When this is done I stitch all round the outer edge with a sewing machine and trim off the excess fabric to about 1/4″ from the stitching.  There is no reason why more should not be added later if you wish.  What I like about crazy quilting is that there are no hard-and-fast rules, and if something doesn’t work there is always a remedy to be found.

Here is the finished cushion.




And here are a few close-ups of my favourite bits.




The blue one has a lot of buttons, and I also took the opportunity to use up some variegated threads



Here I have done some applique.   Some of the pieces of fabric are experimental or sample pieces. The flowery piece at the right is from when I attended a Textiles class, and experimented with painting on fabric.




Some scraps of guipure lace embellished with beads.  The lace below it is just caught down with stab stitch at the bottom edge, so that it didn’t flap about.




Another variegated thread and another way of stitching the lace edge.


My large project as about half done now, and the first two posts should be ready soon


Happy Easter to you all





March 26, 2016. Tags: . Crazy Patchwork, Drawn thread, Embroidery, Schwalm. Leave a comment.

Before and after

Here is ‘Melancholy’ with all the cross-stitch and half cross stitch completed.

And here it is again with the backstitching done.


It has taken ages and I found it a real chore.  It was very difficult to find where to stitch from the chart, as I had already covered my stitched guidelines, and the colours used are similar in colour and tone.  I may have missed some on the hair, but I don’t think the backstitching on the hair and the bodice show at all.  On the other hand, on the rest of the piece, it certainly makes a difference.

Now I need to find a frame.  There is no way this piece will not be displayed.  I don’t like to think how many hours it has taken!

So what is next?

For my birthday I received Pat Trott’s book, ‘Beginner’s Guide to Mountmellick Embroidery’.  I have been meaning to give this a try.

In November 2010 I bought some Mountmellick thread.  When reading the book, I realised that I need more than one thickness of thread, and I had no idea which thickness I have.  That’s what happens when you buy things at shows, without actually needing them for a specific project!  I bought the thread from Empress Mills, so I phoned them, and they were able to identify it from the colour of the cone.

The correct fabric for Mountmellick work is not easy to come by.   A few weeks ago I sent for the Empress Mills catalogue .  I remembered the wide range of good I had seen at the show.  They are just a little too far away for me to be tempted to visit them, and the postage on my order will probably be less than the fuel would cost!

The other thing which has been tempting me is Needle Lace.  Some ladies at Embroiderers’ Guild have inspired me.  I tried this a while back, having been given basic instruction by an elderly lady. I cannot find my original piece, which is annoying me!.

From the library I have borrowed Catherine Barley’s book, ‘Needlelace Designs and Techniques Classic and Contemporary’.  I am glad I didn’t buy this without seeing it first, as it is not a beginners’ book.  I hadn’t realised  how many types of needlelace there are!  I have been investigating the history of the different types.  The book covers Gros Point de Venise and Point de Gaze, which appeal to me,  and Hollie point, which does not.

I am thinking of making some small pieces to adorn the flap of  my white cotton work bag.   Other ideas, such as drawn thread work are also floating round my mind.  The Mountmellick thread I have will be ideal for this.

So I think for a while I will be trying out new techniques, before setting out on a major project  (or finishe-ing any that are already started)


July 1, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Cross stitch, Drawn thread, Embroidery, Needle Lace. Leave a comment.


I have managed to up my output lately.   This has a lot to do with the weather not being so good, so less gardening has been done.  I just wish the seeds I planted 3 weeks ago would make a show.

At the moment I am doing two projects in tandem,  so the table I work from looks more messy than usual.  This is because I am not entirely sure where they are going, so as I decide on the next stage of one of them,  I get on with it while I think about the other.

First,  the cotton work bag.   I found a piece of cotton in my stash.   It is an off-white colour, which means that the Mountmellick thread I am using stands out well.

Antique hemstitch

At the left you can see the hemstitch which I used for the hems on the flap.  I was reasonably happy with this,  but wondered if in time the threads would migrate, so that the holes got filled in.  So the decision was made to use antique hemstitch on the other edge of the withdrawn threads.  I am really pleased with the finished result.   Now I have to decide what to do with the rest of the flap – some kind of whitework.   I will have a good potter in the library cupboard at the Embroiderers’ Guild meeting next week.

Here is the applique butterfly I mentioned in my last post.

Appliqued butterfly

Since this butterfly was done, a dragonfly has been added, and now I am in the middle of adding a smaller butterfly.

All this bad weather we have neen enduring in the U.K. is a bit depressing.   At least we have good things to look forward to this year.

First, we will have the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.   I will be at Epsom to see the Derby when the Queen is there,  but I’m sure she won’t be in the ‘cheap seats’  with us.   I’m hoping she will take a ride on the track so we can all give her a rousing cheer.  I’m thinking that the pageant on the river, and the concert at Queen Victoria’s monument will be spectacles which will be seen in may other countries.

Then the Olympic flame will be passing quite near us at the end of June.  I don’t expect to be able to park anywhere useful,  so I will have to set out in good time, and walk.

And in August we have the Olympic Games.   Some people will be complaining that their normal TV programs are rescheduled, but I have no sympathy for them.  The Olympic Games is huge, and building the different venues has given employment to a large number of people at a difficult time.

May 10, 2012. Tags: , . Drawn thread, Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Tenerife Lace

I have been to Tenerife for holidays many times, and have always admired Tenerife Lace in the craft shops.   I mentioned in my post on November 17th that some of the work in these shops looks like Hardanger.   Hung on the wall is a large piece of fabric which shows how it is done.   The threads are cut first!   So it is drawn thread work.  For someone who was numerically challenged with Kloster Blocks, this was  revelation.   I went back to the shops the last time I was there, and bought this piece so I could look at it  and maybe do something similar for gifts or fundraisers.   I’m not sure about the blue tassel.  I may take it off, and possibly replace it with a white one, or none at all.  A bookmark doesn’t need any extra thickness.  This will be my bookmark for when I am reading embroidery books.

I really enjoyed the meeting at Huddersfield Embroiderers’ Guild this week.  We had  a fuddle and I must say the spread was impressive.   Of course,  I ate more tha I should have, but that is normal at this time of year for most of us.  So I  am trying to walk a bit more and have even done some aerobics to trry not to gain too much weight over the ‘Festive Season’.

I had a look at the library, and found a book on Tenerife Lace.  There doesn’t seem to be much about the drawn thread work,  more about weaving  motifs, typically circular , but some square.  Larger ones could be mounted and framed, or used as a decoration for clothes or useable items.

Our speaker in the afternoonwas Claire Tinsley, who runs ‘Hannah’s Room’.  Quilts are not my thing, but I enjoyed looking at and hearing about all the lovely quilts she brought to show us.  One of these days, when I have a really good design idea, I may get round to doing one myself.

December 16, 2011. Tags: , , , . Drawn thread, Embroidery, Hardanger. Leave a comment.