Janet’s Beautiful Blackwork Wedding Sampler

Hi again

Today I thought I’d show you a beautiful blackwork Wedding Sampler that Janet Pearce designed as a ring cushion for her daughter’s wedding in London.

It turns out that making ring cushions for her children’s weddings is something of a tradition in the Pearce family. Here are two early ones she made – the photos have been scanned from photocopies so please excuse the quality.

Jane’s Wedding Cushion

The first one was done in 2000 for her daughter Jane’s wedding and features delicate blackwork with some exquisite needle lace inserts:

Blackwork Ring Cushion

Janet Pearce Blackwork Ring Cushion

Michael’s Wedding Cushion

The second cushion was done for her son Michael’s wedding in London in 2011. He had a special request – he wanted the church incorporated into the design. So Janet designed and stitched this detail into the cushion:

Janet Pearce - Hedge End Wedding Sampler

Kathryn’s Wedding Cushion

The third cushion was stitched for her daughter Kathryn’s wedding in London in 2012 – and this was a biiiiig design challenge. The brief from her daughter was for a cushion that incorporated the London skyline (Kathryn nominated the buildings she wanted included) and some cats!

This cushion was in two parts – one side was a traditional heart design:

Janet Pearce - Wedding sampler with 4 hearts

Here it is in more detail:

Janet Pearce - Top half of wedding sampler

Janet Pearce - KLP Corner of Wedding Sampler

Janet Pearce - TJT Corner of Weddng Sampler

Janet Pearce - bottom left hand corner of Wedding sampler

Janet Pearce - Bottom right hand corner of Wedding Sampler


London Skyline

The other side features the names of the bride and groom and the London skyline design. Janet says that this turned out to be a huge challenge because she couldn’t find any patterns or designs available commercially. She spent days on the internet looking for ideas and possible suppliers – with no luck.

So she asked her architect husband if he could  draw a London skyline that included the buildings their daughter wanted. He rolled up his sleeves and came up with some architectural drawings that Janet then had to interpret into stitch. She also had to somehow include some cats into these buildings.

Look what she came up with:

Janet Pearce - London skyline with cats

Isn’t it just beyond awesome and clever!!! It just makes you smile!………and there are some delightful details in the design that create both a story and a piece of embroidery to be treasured:

Janet Pearce - Big Ben detail of Wedding Sampler

Big Ben shows the time that the wedding service started.

Janet Pearce - Tomkats in the London Eye

The bridegroom’s name was Tom and the bride’s Kat so Janet took her inspiration for this very fun and quirky element of the design from vintage storybooks and cartoons that show ‘tomcats’ on the night skyline. Just too cute.

She also decided to finish the design with running stitch along the bottom to suggest the river Thames and this gives the picture an extra dimensionality.

A quick tip

The London skyline design element had to fit into 80 x 30 threads on 25 count Lugano. It was stitched over one thread. Janet found that even a single strand of DMC cotton was too thick for certain parts of the design such as the dome of St Paul’s and the small circles on the London Eye. She then tried silk threads but these also had problems. In the end she used sewing machine thread and found this did the job.

Here’s a last tiny detail:

Janet Pearce - Flower detail of Wedding Sampler

After the wedding the cushion was converted into a sampler and framed and it’s just beautiful. It’s a wonderful example of how embroidery can create wonderful memories and a treasured heirloom but also have such verve and flair.

Janet this is so clever and technically skilled – well done

Back soon!

Awesome Modern Take on Casalguidi Stitch

Hi again

The last couple of weeks have been super busy and I haven’t had as much time to post. So hopefully over the next week I’ll get a few extra posts written.

This one is few words and some wonderful embroidery for you.

When I was researching the Casalguidi post I talked to Pat Bootland about her teaching sample and the use of casalguidi stitch. Not long after she brought in a bag and said ‘I’ve got another example of casalguidi stitch to show you.’………and pulled out this beauty….

Casalguidi Garden Avenue in frame by Pat Bootland

It’s an absolutely exquisite piece of textured embroidery and all her own design. If you’d like a closer look just click on the photo to enlarge it.

The pergola is all worked in casalguidi stitch:

Garden Avenue without frame by Pat Bootland

The climbing rose in the foreground has needlelace flowers and needleweaving for the leaves:

Needlelace Flowers by Pat Bootland

The climber behind (is it wisteria?) is all bullions and french knots:

Bullions and French Knots by Pat Bootland

….and then there are the ferns around the base of the pillars:

Needleweaving by Pat Bootland

…..and look at how she’s created the paving stones – it’s padded satin stitch surrounded by french knots. So simple and yet so effective!

Paving stones Pat Bootland

I’m never sure how much detail you’d like about the embroideries so I really really need your input:

Would you like to know what threads Pat used for the various elements in the design?

How she achieved the three dimensional effect in the design?

How to draw the design right from the beginning?

Would some tutorials on creating plants and greenery using needleweaving be useful?

What about a tutorial on stitching the paving stones?

I’d really love to hear what you think if you’ve got the time to leave a comment.




Italia Invita 4: Punto Antico & Reticello

What makes Italia Invita special are all the regional associations and embroidery schools that come to demonstrate and share their traditional embroideries, laces and textiles.

One of the most popular traditional styles is Punto Antico.

Punto Antico

Punto Antico means Antique Stitch and it’s a traditional technique used for centuries in Italy to decorate household and personal linens. It’s still used extensively today. You often see it on the long narrow curtains in homes and restaurants but also on tablecloths, napkins and table runners.

Here’s a detail from a very old tablecloth in punto antico that was given to me by a friend in Treviso, Italy:

Detail of punto antico tablecloth from Treviso

If you want to look at this photo or the others in this post in more detail just click on them to enlarge.

In the past Punto Antico was done in white on white or ecru on white but increasingly it’s being stitched in colour.

This shift of traditional embroidery and lace from whitework to the use of colour was one of the clearest trends at Italia Invita.

Is Punto Antico the Italian Hardanger?

At first glance it can look similar to Hardanger as it’s usually stitched on evenweave fabric in geometric designs, has counted stitches (particularly satin stitch) and needlelace inserts. Here’s a piece that I saw at Italia Invita:

Green and cream punto antico tablecloth from Italia Invita

But a closer look…

Centre of Green and cream Punto Antico work

….quickly dispels this impression as the stitches used are different to Hardanger and the needlelace insertions are in Reticello, Punto in Aria and/or Aemilia Ars.

Jeanine Robertson has written a detailed article on Punto Antico for Piecework Magazine   including a comparison with Hardanger and you can read it here.

A Little Bit of Needlelace History

Reticello means ‘little net’ in Italian and is a form of embroidery that’s been recorded since the late Middle Ages. It’s created by drawing threads from a fabric and then refilling the spaces with stitched motifs in geometric designs.

Here’s an example from a friend’s home in Italy…

Table runner with reticello squares edging

…and a detail:

Reticello squares edging table runner

Historically it’s regarded as the transition point between embroidery and needlelace.

As the Reticello patterns and motifs became more complex more and more threads had to be withdrawn and the inserts became flimsier. As a result the lace makers created the Punto in Aria technique which is regarded as the first true needlelace.

Punto in Aria means ‘stitch in the air’ and refers to the fact that the lace is not created on fabric – it’s done on fixed threads on a temporary support usually parchment or a special type of paper.

Reticello and Punto in Aria had their heyday in the 17th century and here are two portraits of the time that show the ornate collars and cuffs in these techniques:

Portrait of a Lady by Scipione Pulzone

Portrait of a Lady by Scipione Pulzone at the Walters Art Museum

 Lady Dorothy Cary by William Larkin

Lady Dorothy Cary by William Larkin at Kenwood House, Suffolk Collection, London

Aemilia Ars

They went out of fashion at the end of the 17th century and were revived at the beginning of the last century by the Aemilia Ars Society in Bologna. This group is often compared to the Arts and Crafts Movement in England and it had some success in reviving needlelace traditions.

The term Aemilia Ars is used today to refer to the needlelace style that evolved from Punto in Aria.

Now to Italia Invita…

The Associazione Culturale Il Punto Antico (from San Giovanni in Persiceto near Bologna) is very active in teaching, promoting and celebrating Punto Antico in Italy:

Assoc Il Punto Antico at Italia Invita

and its stall and teaching atelier were incredibly popular as you can see in this photo:

Assoc. Punto Antico stand at Italia Invita

The women manning the stall were very generous in allowing me to take photos of the work on display.

Bruna Gubbini

Bruna Gubbini has written a number of books on Punto Antico which include a text in English as well as Italian and French.

The Guild’s library has five of these and they are full of wonderful designs and very clear instructions on how to do the stitches and needlelace.

She is also a leading member of the Associazone Il Punto Antico from San Giovanni in Persiceto and she was teaching at Italia Invita but better still…….

Fratelli Graziano stall with giant hoops at Italia Invita

….the linen manufacturers Fratelli Graziano had commissioned her to stitch two tablecloths to display on their stall. You can see them in those giant hoops above.

They were both jawdroppingly beautiful with a flawless technique and were widely admired.

One was in Punto Antico:

Bruna Gubbini punto antico tablecloth in giant hoop

and again closer up:

Detail Bruna Gubbini punto antico tablecloth in giant hoop

The other was in satin stitch and shadow work which I’d also like to share with you:

Bruna Gubbini Shadow work in giant hoop

This grey smokey colour tone is called sfumato in Italian and is very effective and elegant in this tablecloth:

Detail of Bruna Gubbini Shadow work at Italia Invita

And Now the Showstopper!

As if Bruna Gubbini’s tablecloths weren’t spectacular enough the Associazione Il Punto Antico pulled out all stops with this stunning work in Punto Antico with a decorative tree in Aemilia Ars needlelace:

Aemilia Ars Tree motif from Italia Invita

and another small insert:

Aemilia Ars detail from Italia Invita


I bought a needlebook in the Punto Antico style with an Aemelia Ars insert from the Associazione Il Punto Antico stand at Italia Invita and here are some photos:

Aemelia Ars Needlecase

And some more detail:

Aemelia Ars Detail on needlecase from Italia Invita 2013

It’s finished around the edges with four sided stitch:

Four sided Stitch detail on Aemelia Ars Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013

More Info

If you’re looking for more information on Punto Antico, Reticello or Aemilia Ars then head over to Jeanine Robertson’s blog Italian NeedleworkIf you scroll down the left hand side of her blog you’ll find a comprehensive list of topics covered.

Free Biscornu Pincushion design in Punto Antico

Jeanine has also designed a Punto Antico Biscornu freebie and you can get it here.

What do you think of the Punto Antico and Reticello techniques? Do you have a favourite among the works in this post?

If you feel like leaving a comment we’d love to hear from you.