Circular Mounting: Silk Shading Bird

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Sometimes finishing all the stitching is only part of completing a piece of embroidery… Having finished quite a few pieces now that I’ve ultimately ended up framing, the process of mounting it up has become a lot less intimidating. This is great but it also means that it has become a bit routine just putting pieces on square mount board to stick in a frame.

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My poor little Silk Shaded Bird has been in the embroidery hoop for so long that I think I’ve become accustomed to seeing it sitting in a ring frame. Many people do use hoops for mounting finished pieces but it’s a little bit of an expensive way to finish the piece and I really like the raised structure you get from using lots of padding on mount board. Therefore, the best compromise seemed to be trying to mount it on a round piece of board, rather than the more traditional square.astitchornine (1)

If you’re stuck for what to do with a piece, Sophie Long’s Ribbonwork Embroidery has some really creative mounting ideas (and you can see my full review of the book here) but, in the end, I ended up using the instructions for finishing buttons from Helen Richman’s Stumpwork Embroidery (which is a wonderful book, definitely worth buying for the completely awesome Stumpwork Goldfish, The Little Secret Garden and the Watering Can pin cushion patterns, all of which now exist in kit form!)

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Most books cover mounting on a square piece of board, which is actually a little bit easier than trying to mount a round piece, even with the ever-irritating need to mitre and sew the corners. I would promise that mounting a circular piece isn’t nearly as hard as you might expect except the whole process of mounting this poor little bird up ended up being a bit traumatic, mostly because of my own stupidity.

Cutting the mountboard and the wadding was much easier than I expected thanks for a perfectly sized round quilting template I had lying around. I highly recommend using a good scalpel for cutting the board – I have tried using decommissioned rotary cutters for board but find I end up squashing and wrinkling it as I cut. Cutting a circle of the wadding with the rotary isn’t too tricky, but if you’re struggling it can be a bit easier to do with a smaller diameter blade.

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Where it did start to go wrong was with handling the fabric… As you can probably see from the close up photo there’s a lot of black dust on the fabric as the poor piece was hanging around for rather a long time waiting to be finished. This is why you’re supposed to take care with keeping pieces covered… Naively though, I thought this would not pose a problem as, after all, I could just wash it right?

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I also wanted to give Mr Birdie a wash to see if it would relax some of the tension you can see along the top of his tail. As silk shading has such a huge density of stitches it’s easy to get puckering in certain areas of the design, particularly if things aren’t tensioned very well. So I popped Mr Birdie in a nice lukewarm bath having forgotten one of the cardinal rules of washing embroidery… check the design lines don’t end up forming a dyebath.

This is the tale of how Mr Birdie ended up with a nice blue halo around his left side. Whoops. To make things worse, when I was trying to iron it before stretching, I mysteriously managed to find a stray crystal of actual magenta dye that ended up staining the work too. I have no idea where it came from but luckily it was far enough from the design that I could do some strategic framing to hide it away.

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I was initially very conservative with how much fabric I wanted to cut off before starting to gather it around in the back which also gave me a few problems. It’s much easier to do this with less bulk, so be bold and trim away. After putting in a gathering line, I then laced the piece worked in a circle (a bit of a nightmare of crossed threads in a few places…) as it was the only way I could really get the tension I wanted to pull out the gathering near the tail.

In the end, other than a slight ethereal aura to one side of him, I was happy with how the mounting looked. I was worried it would be hard to get a smooth edge to the circle but if you can cut the mount board without crushing it, don’t have a huge excess of fabric at the back and the wadding is cut nicely to size, then it’s relatively straightforward to get a nice finish.

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The recipient of my Silk Shading and Goldwork monogram had a custom frame made as I couldn’t find anything in the size and shape I wanted and it’s a pain to find a lot of choice in terms of box frames. I was really happy with the job the framer did and it was a nice touch how he’d considered how to match the wood and depth of the frame to the piece. Unless you can find a Wilkinson’s box frame in the size you need, they tend to cost around £10-15, which made getting it professionally framed very good value considering someone else had to the assembly and I didn’t have to worry about what size to cut everything! I might consider doing the same for this piece at some point.

3 thoughts on “Circular Mounting: Silk Shading Bird

  1. Such a sweet little bird, and some good points for all of us to remember! I’ve never had a huge amount of luck mounting (generally), but also specifically with a circle. Perhaps there is too much bulk that I’ve been trying to deal with…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think circles are nice as it’s more forgiving with the design placement! I think cut off as much as you dare (and how strong you think the fabric is) and start and stop the lacing a few times as you work around so you don’t just make a huge tangle. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. […] I have to say I did have a few concerns getting started on the poinsettia petals. They’re not the most common shape you can find good tutorial examples of (please, can the next person who creates a silk shading tutorial not just do it on a petal shape that you’d get on a daisy or a pansy?) and I’m a bit out of practice on silk shading too. I’m not sure I’ve done much since I finished my adorable little birdy. […]


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