Sublime Needlework

Hi again

I’ve previously used the adjective sublime to describe the stumpwork of Lorna Loveland here. It’s not a word to be used lightly but it absolutely also applies to this exquisite piece of needlework stitched by Marjorie Gilby.

Waratah Tray Cloth stitched by Marjorie Gilby


This piece has a really interesting history. It’s a reproduction (with some variations) of a piece of Mountmellick designed and embroidered by Miss S. Docker around 1912-1913.

Marjorie got this design from the book Australian Heritage Needlework Wildflowers edited by Jennifer Sanders which includes a range of wonderful colonial and early twentieth century designs.

This particular design is The Waratah Tray Cloth and it was contributed by Ann – Marie Bakewell. For those readers who don’t live in Australia a Waratah is a spectacular native flower and the floral emblem of New South Wales.



Mountmellick is a type of Whitework embroidery with floral motifs that developed in the Irish town of Mountmellick around 1825. It uses predominantly knotted and padded stitches to create a richly textured surface. Traditionally it’s worked in a white matt thread on white cotton satin jean fabric.

Mountmellick was popular in Australia at the turn of the century for those household items that needed frequent washing. Whitework generally was also fashionable and the motifs used were often nationalistic and featured designs based on local wildflowers.

Marjorie’s Waratah Tray Cloth

This design has adapted the original design to surface embroidery using linen fabric and coton a broder.

Let’s have a closer look….

Waratah Tray Cloth 2 stitched by Marjorie Gilby

and closer again…….

Detail 1 of Waratah Tray Cloth stitched by Marjorie Gilby

Detail 2 of Waratah Tray Cloth stitched by Marjorie Gilby

Detail 7 of Waratah Tray Cloth stitched by Marjorie Gilby

Detail 8 of Waratah Tray Cloth stitched by Marjorie Gilby

If you look at the main Waratah flower the central area is embroidered in Padded Satin Stitch. The petals are outlined in Stem Stitch and filled with needlelace in Sixteenth Lace Stitch.

Ann – Marie Bakewell notes that in researching the original embroidery by Miss Docker she found this stitch in the Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont. This was one of the few embroidery reference books available in Australia when this piece would have been stitched.

What do you think of Sixteenth Lace Stitch? I’m just blown away by it and can’t wait to learn it.

Now to the Waratah bud….

Detail 3 of Waratah Tray Cloth stitched by Marjorie Gilby

Again the central element is Padded Satin Stitch slanted at various angles. The petals are outlined in Stem Stitch and then filled with Laced Herringbone Stitch.

The centre spine of the leaf on the right is worked in Feather Stitch and the outline of the leaf in Crossed Buttonhole Stitch at right angles to the edge.

detail 5 of Waratah Tray Cloth stitched by Marjorie Gilby

In the large leaf above the long centre line is stitched in Slanted Buttonhole Stitch and surrounded with Seed Stitch. The outline is Indented Buttonhole Stitch.

The smaller leaf to the right in the above photo has Feather Stitch down the centre and Crossed Buttonhole Stitch along the outer edges.

detail 6 of Waratah Tray Cloth stitched by Marjorie Gilby

I was intrigued by these two leaves and the use of Oyster Chain Stitch (also called Knotted Cable Chain Stitch) to define the centre line of the top one – just awesome. The Sawtooth Buttonhole Stitch along the outline of this leaf is also incredibly effective.

Both these leaves have very clever placement of closed and open spaces to create shape and directional change.

The French Knots provide a delicate decorative effect.

Marjorie thank you so much for sharing this stunning needlework with us.

As you can tell I just adore this piece – hope you enjoy it too!

Have a great week!


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.