14th century projects,  14th century reliquary boxes,  Adornments,  Bead Embroidery,  Embroidery,  Finishing technique for borders,  Hand-Sewing,  Medieval Embroidery,  Pearls,  Projects,  Reliquary box - "Rose",  Surface Couching

14th century inspired Klosterstich rose – turning a medieval inspired embroidery into a lid for a reliquary box .3 – working at the border embellishment

2015-03 - Racaire - Klosterstich roseAnd today I will show you how I added the border embellishment to the lid of my reliquary box with the 14th century inspired Klosterstich embroidery. 🙂

So far we had several postings showing the progress of the 14th century inspired Klosterstich rose embroidery, one posting about how I mounted the Klosterstich embroidery on the base for the reliquary lid and also one posting of how I added the silk to the backside of the lid

So far so good – but the lid for the new reliquary box with the 14th century inspired Klosterstich embroidery is still unfinished at this point as the transition point between the embroidery on the top and the silk at the backside is still visible.

But this can be easily fixed with a proper border embellishment. And today I’ll show you how I added the border embellishment to my reliquary lid with the 14th century inspired Klosterstich rose embroidery. And even a little bit more… – well, enjoy the long posting ahead! 😀 [emember_protected not_for=3-4 do_not_show_restricted_msg=1]

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So, where did we stop last time? Alright – after attaching the silk fabric to the backside of the lid with small stitches along the border, it is now time to hide all this stitches with a proper border embellishment. This is a great possibility to show you one of my favorite techniques which I used to apply the “gold cord” on top of the transition point between embroidery and fabric.

The technique I used for this border embellishment is actually just a variation of one of my favorite embroidery techniques – surface couching. I call it a variation because in this case the couching thread “hides” inside the “gold cord” instead being laid on top of it. But besides this little detail the technique is quite the same with the slight difference that you won’t see the couching stitches on top.

2015-01_Racaire_13th-century-tunic_embroidery-sleeves_4Btw. this surface couching variation is not only very useful for border embellishments. I also used this technique to embroider my husbands 13th century under-tunic and even used it on his over-tunic

Yes, this is a really great technique if you want to add as much embroidery as possible in just little time. 🙂

And now let’s start with the small step-by-step photo tutorial which I put together for you.

Sidenote: Going through the first pictures of the progress I just remembered that I actually didn’t already attach the silk fabric of the backside to the fabric of the embroidery with small stitches. Sorry about this mistake but my memory fooled me while I was writing about this step. But – anyway – if you are new to hand-sewing/embroidery projects like this, it would be a good idea for you to add this step. It’s a step that doesn’t take long but would make working at the border embellishment much easier for you. 🙂

I started the border embellishment by threading some of my red silk thread (from “Gütermann” – S303, 100% silk) which I attached with one stitch through the fabric and two knots to the border. As my front and back fabric were still not connected at this time, I decided to hide the beginning of the cord in-between this two fabric layers.

To achieve this, I carefully pushed about 1inch (2cm) of the cord to the inside, placed a needle next to the entry point – just to keep the cord from moving out again – and started right away with my stitches. If you work with a cord that is unattached, the beginning tension is very crucial because it would pull out the cord right again.

This can be avoided if you use your fingers or some pins to hold the cord in place while you are placing the very first stitches. It just takes about 10 stitches and then you don’t need to worry about the tension anymore – well, nearly – you just need to worry about too little tension which would let appear your cord bulky…

Sidenote: If you decide to sew the background fabric to the fabric of the embroidery before you proceed with the border embellishment, you can leave a small spot unfinished into which you can push the beginning of your cord and then close the gap by adding more stitches. Just don’t pull at your cord until you added enough stitches to secure it to the border…

The technique itself is quite simple as you can see at the picture underneath. In this variation of the surface couching technique you stitch through the cord instead laying the couching thread over the cord/thread:


…and here a close-up picture of it for you:


…and one close up picture from above to give you a better idea of the stitch and how it finally looks like:


…just followed by a stitch through the fabric along the border of the lid:


…and here a look at the same step from above:


As – in my case – the silk fabric for the backside wasn’t already attached to the fabric of the mounted embroidery on the top, I had to make sure that I get at least a little bit of both fabric parts with every stitch. This way I was able to “slay two flies with one stroke” – to attach the backside fabric and embellish the corner at the same time. 🙂

Many more stitches later I reached the beginning point of the border embellishment again. But I admit that I wasn’t completely satisfied. I had the impression that the border looked too thin. Therefore I decided to add another line of this “gold cord” next to the line which I just added.

Sidenote: In case you like the cord I am using for this project – I unfortunately don’t have any information about the company which produces this cord or how it is called. I bought it at “Karl Peter’s Söhne” – a small store in Vienna.

And to add another line of “gold cord” to the border is a rather easy task. Instead of just going through only the new cord I stitched through the new thread and the one I just added. This way I reduced the space between the two cords to a minimum and could avoid any major visible gaps which could disturb the overall look:


As you can see at the picture above – at the very right – I just worked over the beginning of the cord. But I added some extra stitches at this point to be really sure that the beginning of the cord is secured to the inside and won’t come out again.

…and here another close-up picture for you:


For the next step I just had to make a stitch back through the fabric to the other side again. This stitch attaches the cord to the border:


Many more stitches and you will finally reach the beginning of the cord again. And this is how I finalized the border embellishment:


I took one of my biggest embroidery needles with an eye big enough to hold the cord and carefully pierced through the fabric at the border.

Well, there are moments in life when even an embroiderer needs good pliers and this is one of them:


Using your pliers you can carefully pull your needle with the cord through the fabric. Getting the cord into the fabric and out again without ripping the fabric or damaging the already applied border embellishment is actually the most difficult task. But it can be achieved with some patience.

It can be very helpful to turn the needle sideways with the help of your pliers while pulling the cord into the fabric or out again – a little bit to the left and a little bit to the right… This way you can slowly widen the hole in the fabric your needle already made for the cord. Furthermore it won’t twist the cord too much in just one direction.


…and then you just need to finish your row of stitches as shown before until you reach the point where you pulled the cord to the inside. To finalize the border embellishment I normally add some more stitches after this point and then “put in reverse” and add even more stitches – just to be sure that the beginning and end of the cord is firmly secured and won’t come out again. 🙂


…and here a picture from a different angle for you:


…and a close-up picture:


…and then… well… I decided to add some pearls for further embellishment:


Whenever I use just a small amount of pearls on a flat surface I try to go at least twice with my thread through every pearl, as you can see on the picture above.

However, attaching this pearls was rather easy – I was able to stitch through the basic layer of the lid on the inside with the help of my pliers. This way I could hide most of the sewing stitches underneath the fabric at the backside.

And here a sneak peek at the finished border embellishment and the first added pearls:


Well, I admit it, I added even more pearls after this point. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed todays posting about how I added the border embellishment and some pearls to the lid for my new reliquary box. The pictures of the finished lid with even more pearls attached will follow as soon as possible… 🙂

Best regards Racaire