I seem to have been doing a lot of ribbonwork lately and while thinking about some new designs of my own, it seemed like a good time to finally finish the Ribbonwork Heart piece by Sophie Long that I started a very long time ago… This is the piece that is on the front cover of her Ribbonwork Embroidery book that I reviewed a while ago.
I’ve absolutely loved every moment of stitching this piece and I think this is the piece where I really stopped fearing French knots at all. They admittedly are a bit easier with ribbons than thread but I had so much fun playing with the tension, the angles, size for this. The instructions that come with the kit are quite freeform. There’s instructions with hand drawn diagrams on how to do all the stitches required for the piece and then a recommended number of each stitch to include but the placement and direction is entirely up to you.
It’s an incredibly forgiving kit though because I think nearly any placement of anything ends up looking really good. It doesn’t take long when the density of areas starts building up to see something finished just head and it’s easy enough to cover any mistakes (some of my early fly stitches were absolutely horrible).
I went a little overboard on some of the woven roses which did nearly cause me a few problems with the amount of ribbon I had. My one complaint about this kit is that, even if you don’t quite go as overboard as I did, it’s easy to run out of ribbon and I found myself getting dangerously low on some of the DMC cotton too. It’s a little more noticeable in the photos than it is in the flesh, but I actually ran out of the peach ribbon I should have been using for the French knots and had to switch over to the closest colour I had. It’s a bit whiter and harsher but thankfully doesn’t stick out too badly and I hadn’t committed too many knots before realising.
I don’t know why I’d put off finishing this piece for so long. Start to finish, it wasn’t a hugely time consuming piece and I think mounting it probably took only a bit less time than all the embroidery. I was considering mounting this in an oval frame, which I am sure would have been a nightmare. Perhaps fortunately, I could only find this square frame that was suitably recessed to not squash the embroidery. If you hate quality and don’t like spending money and are a UK reader, Wilkisons actually has a great collection of picture box frames that are great for raised embroidery. They do have built in spacers which are unfortunately too big to really use once the piece is on some mountboard. The finish on the frame isn’t great either, so keep your embroidery well away from all the potential snags!
As punishment for leaving this piece in the ring too long, it was fairly difficult trying to get some of the marks out. I ended up having to steam those areas and ease the fabric out by hand a few times. Luckily by the time it was mounted those areas weren’t too visible anyway but, as the fabric has an obvious grain to it, I didn’t want anything that might leave it looking distorted.
I was a little bit more relaxed than I would normally be about getting this piece mounted. I’d had a lot of fun stitching it in a very relaxed way, not feeling constrained by ‘getting the stitches right’ so I wanted to have a similar mentality when it came to mounting it rather than worrying about everything to the millimetre. I didn’t have all my embroidery supplies either, including a curved needle and rotary cutters, which made life more difficult. Unless you have a pair of scissors you want to destroy, I do not recommend trying to cut mountboard with scissors, rotary cutters work far, far better and give you a much nicer edge as you tend to crush the board slightly when slicing it with scissors.
There’s a few small stitches I’m not entirely happy with but I really do find the Ribbonwork Heart a charming design and it was honestly great to work up. Even in the most painful stages of the mounting process where I was about to cut my fingers off with buttonhole thread, I was still enjoying it and I just loved how forgiving the whole project was. I’m really happy to see it there in its frame and I even have a few spangles left over too for an extra treat!