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More about the rose embroidery for my friends hood .3 – my surface couching embroidery for the center of the roses…

2016-07 - Racaire - 14th century hood - roses - rose - surface couching hand embroidery - medieval embroidery - SCA - surface couchingIt took some time but today I finally have my third part of my rose embroidery tutorial ready for you. Todays posting will show you how I used Surface Couching to embroider the central section of the roses for my friends 14th century hood. 😀

But before we get to the embroidery tutorial, I would like to write a little about the last days and weeks as they were quite a journey for me. As some of you might recall from my recent postings, I was taking one test after another to qualify for my GED diploma. And though all these tests drained me mentally, I am excited to tell that all the hard work and concentration finally worked out. I managed to pass all my tests with a good or excellent score and should receive my GED diploma per mail within the next two weeks.

And all these tests were not only mentally challenging – the stress also took quite a toll on my personal health. My head cold, which initially seemed to get better after the first week, just got worse. Besides all the normal symptoms which come with a severe head cold, I found it very hard to concentrate or even think straight. I even hit a point where I hardly was able to breath and my sweetheart even suggested that I should see a doctor.

But well, I was always a very stubborn patient when it comes to head colds and refused to let the cold defeat me. The cold medicine enabled me to breathe again and I continued with taking one test after another. Though there was a slight chance that I might have gotten a better score on my GED tests without the cold, I remembered our motto during my time at the technical college: The main thing is to pass! As long as the result is positive, no one cares about how high the positive score was later on…

Ok, ok, I admit that I cared a little about my scores but with the results being in the “college ready” and “college ready + credits” areas, I was quite happy and decided to stop worrying – at least I really stopped worrying after I saw the results of the last test… Or to quote my husband at this point: “…you see, I told you so!” *lol* 😉

And now the testing stress of the last weeks finally came to an end, as I accomplished my drivers license, successfully passed all the assessment, pre-GED and GED tests, I am ready again to tackle whatever the future brings. And last but not least, without the testing stress it also looks like my head cold is finally getting better again and I am able retrieve my “normal” self… Well, at least as normal as my crazy personality allows…

But enough about the last weeks – this is officially my last rant about my drivers license and GED testing as well as my damn head cold, I promise – and finally back to some embroidery! Please enjoy the following posting about how I created the surface couching embroidery for the center of the roses for my friends 14th century hood! 😀 [emember_protected not_for=3-4 do_not_show_restricted_msg=1]

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In my last posting for this tutorial – “More about the rose embroidery for my friends hood .2 – starting the surface couching” – I showed you how I started my gold embroidery. Furthermore I also showed you how I embroidered the basic outlines of the rose by using the surface couching technique. 

The filling stitch which I used for the section in the middle of the rose is actually the very same stitch I already used for the outlines of the rose – the Surface Couching technique. But instead of simply embroidering along an outline of my pattern and just adding one or two lines of gold thread, I am filling the whole middle section of the rose with gold thread.

Though this little difference sounds just marginal, the overall effect can be quite intriguing as the gold thread adds so much more sparkle and furthermore also attention to one section. However, too much of a good thing can also easily be just “too much” and distract from the overall pattern or make an embroidery appear heavy and unbalanced. Therefore a skillful balance of “just enough bling” is advised for embroidery projects like the roses I am working on here.

And like for the outlines which I showed you in my previous posting, I also started this round section with a simple gold thread couched down with a silk thread following the round outline of the middle section. And as soon as I completed my first round of couching I simply added another line of couching to the inside and then another one and so forth…


And by placing every couching stitch for my new row of gold thread a little bit after the couching stitch of the previous row, I also achieved a slight spiral effect which is only visible when the light falls in the right angle on the gold thread:


To be able to show you the placing of my couching stitches a little bit better, I had to turn the gold embroidery to the side to minimize the reflected light:


And here a picture of the completely filled section which shows the mentioned “spiral effect” created by the placing of my couching stitches even better:


Btw. the picture above also shows how I end my surface couching embroidery for this section. After filling the whole section with gold thread I simply cut off the gold thread after some centimeters (about 2 to 3 inches). The surplus thread has to be long enough that it still allows an easy handling as I need to thread it into a needle and to stitch it through the middle point of the section in order to pull the needle with the gold thread carefully to the backside – as you can see on the following picture:


As you can see on the picture above and underneath, I really work the surface couching embroidery until I have nearly no space for more embroidery left. Pulling the needle with the gold thread through the middle simply fills the last little open space and closes the middle of the section:


And after closing this very last open space in the middle of my round section, I just follow up with my very last couching stitch to secure the last part of my gold thread into place:


And voila! The middle section is finished:


As you can see on the picture above and underneath, it is really not easy to set the couching stitches perfectly. However, when you consider that the embroidered section you can see here has just the diameter of an american penny (ca. 1,9 cm) and that the used “gold thread” (Coats, Ophir) is just a little bit thicker than most sewing threads, the irregularity of the stitches is really just marginal.

And here a picture of the finished section taken from a slightly different angle:


Btw. I not only need to rotate my embroidery frame and tilt it to different angles while I am taking pictures for you – this is a rather normal routine for me while working on goldwork embroidery. Based on where the light comes from and how the gold thread reflects it, I often have to tilt my and/or rotate my embroidery frame so that I can see the stitches I have done to this point. This helps to avoid to set too close stitches or stitches that are too far apart and might cause the thread to “break out” and appear “wavy”.

And last but not least a picture of the backside for you:


After pulling the gold thread from the front side to the back side of the embroidery, I make sure to secure the gold thread with some simple stitches to the back side of the embroidery. Well, I can’t help it – I always want my back side to look as neat as possible. 🙂 

I hope you enjoyed todays posting about surface couching / goldwork. And soon I will have even more embroidery for you… 🙂

Best regards Racaire

PS.: I uploaded my pictures taken at the most recent Silver Hammer event to my facebook page: SCA – Kingdom of Meridies – Silver Hammer – 10.2016 
A truly beautiful event with a great feast and a lot of fighting for my sweetheart, who made me a very proud wife by winning the tournament… 😀