My finished RSN Jacobean crewelwork

After designing and doing most of the stitching of my RSN certificate Jacobean module, the end was in sight! By chatting to my fellow students, I learnt that the mounting would take about 1.5 days. So to be on the safe side, I planned my stitching to be pretty much done by the beginning of class 7.

This meant that I needed to do most of the stitching at home. I also made sure I planned ahead how I was going to get the most benefit from each class. You of course don’t need to do that as the tutors will support and guide you as much as you need and want. I was just keen to complete the module within the minimum required 8 lessons, especially as money was tight.

My last bits of stitching went pretty well. So far I’d managed to avoid doing much unpicking but I experienced a couple of rounds of it with the acorns! When I stitched them up as per my colour plan, they felt distractingly dark. I guess because the purple wool I was using was a darker shade than in the stitch plan. Annoyingly, I found myself doubting my choices a bit as I reworked them, but I was happy in the end!

Four stages of deciding how to stitch the acorns. Top left - sampling different purples and sizes of french knots. Top right - purple acorns. Bottom left - an orange acorn with purple cup. Bottom right - orange acorns with green cups and a purple highlight.
From sampling to my final version of the acorns.

I really appreciated the great advice I got from the tutors around finishing touches that helped elevate my design. For example the small touches of my accent colour on the acorns and the fox’s eyes.

Close up view of crewelwork fox using the silk shading technique.
Following my tutor’s suggestion, I used the dark shade of the purple accent colour to make the fox’s eyes stand out.

Mounting

After the tutors confirmed my piece was ready to come off the frame, it was time for the mounting to begin!

Most of the talk I’d heard about mounting left me feeling a little apprehensive of this stage. Tricky, time consuming and sometimes even painful was the general impression I’d been left with!

In summary, the steps involved are:

  • Accurately cut out your mount board
  • Tightly glue calico to your board
  • Pin your design into position on the board, while ensuring that the fabric stays on the grain
  • Herringbone stitch your fabric to the calico all around the back, ensuring that your fabric stays taught
  • Fold and pin cotton sateen to the back in order to hide your herringbone stitch
  • Slip stitch the cotton sateen in place so that it is taught and there is no stitching visible

I’m afraid I didn’t take many photos of this process, so I’ll try and remember to take more next time!

The step I had the most trouble with was pinning my design in the correct position on the board. You’d think that keeping the grain of the fabric lined up to the straight edged board would be easy. But since the linen has a much more visible diagonal weave this was harder than I expected. After a couple of false starts I got there in the end!

Mounting progress, securing the fabric to the calico covered board with herringbone stitch. The corners are carefully folded and stitched to sharp points.
Securing the embroidery to the calico covered mount board by working herringbone stitch all the way around.

I think some students find the herringbone and slip stitching a bit tedious. Especially as the Jacobean is probably the largest piece you’ll be mounting for the certificate. But I managed to get into a good rhythm with it and actually found it quite relaxing. I also made it more interesting by challenging myself to get the stitching as tight as I could – I was determined not to lose marks for loose stitches!

The back view of my finished crewelwork piece with sateen fabric stitched in place taught.
My finished work from the back. The sateen fabric is slip stitched in place so no stitching is visible.

My finished piece

And so, after many hours of work, my Jacobean crewelwork was ready to hand in. I’m not ashamed to admit that I feel pretty chuffed with it! Especially as when I started researching the certificate course, the Jacobean crewelwork module didn’t get me all that excited. But I’m happy to report that I’ve developed a new appreciation for it and look at this technique in a different light now. I’m even keen to do some more and experiment with different colour schemes.

My RSN Jacobean crewelwork module piece mounted and ready for assessment.
My mounted crewelwork is ready to hand in for assessment.

It felt a little weird handing my work in, knowing that I wouldn’t see it again for a few months as I’d gotten very attached to it!!

The finished piece for my crewelwork module, my first of the RSN certificate.
My finished Jacobean crewelwork embroidery for the RSN certificate.

Looking back, it feels quite amazing how much I’ve learnt through the course of this module. I’m really excited to now make use of my new skills. And of course continue onward with the next module of blackwork!

What do you think of crewelwork embroidery? Have you tried it or would you like to?

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