Stained Glass

I’m very fond of stained glass, as you might have guessed from my overexcitement about the stained glass windows at St Vitnus Cathedral in Prague. While I’d be hard pressed to say if I preferred historical or modern pieces, one of the nice parts about modern pieces is that they have utterly vibrant colours although one of the joys about the methods in which stained glass is coloured means that many pieces do not really fade with time and exposure to light.

Another thing I love about stained glass is some of the colour schemes. I’m sure some of it is the challenge of having a more restricted palette of colours then in painting or other crafts but it seems often people have opted for big bold colours that would necessarily make up the most obvious pairings. It all adds to the wonderful energy these pieces have.

One of the card blanks I bought has this ‘window’ design that I thought would be perfect for small sampled embroidery pieces… but what about filling the window with embroidered stained glass? I can’t claim credit for the very lovely designs, these were part of a pack from Embroidery Library but I just used Hatch to assemble them all together to make sure the design placement would fit the card.

I did need to rescale them but a few per cent to get the dimensions right, which was unfortunately enough to make the stitch density sufficiently irritating for the machine it had a few temper tantrums getting through one of the regions. Normally resizing within 10 % should be ‘within tolerance’ – what you don’t want is stitches getting below the hard stitch size limit of the machine, usually about 1 mm. I’m always a bit annoyed when other people’s designs don’t stitch well, I feel other people should be able to do a much better job than me!

The hard part about getting the layout right was trying to account for the amount of pull there was going to be on the design with the stitching. The ‘lead’ regions of the design are fairly hefty and there’s a lot of satin stitching so pull was going to be inevitable. The thick felt helps and perhaps I should have considered cutaway rather than tearaway stabiliser but overall I was only a few mm off in my adjustments. Some of that was probably mounting errors trying to get the fabric into the card!

I had a lot of fun choosing the colours for this one. Yes, they make absolutely no sense, but I think that is the fun of stained glass. I kept a central blue theme to try and keep some commonality between the panels and to limit the overall number of colours I used so you do see a theme ‘repeated’ in the different parts to bring it together and not just feel like four random pieces.

Apart from the few machine snags, particularly on the antenna of the various critters, I really did enjoy this one. I like the silver for the ‘lead’ structures on the black background – it gives the impression of an inverted stained glass in some ways. Rather than having a light fabric to let some actual light through broken up by heavy dark lines, instead it’s on a dark fabric background and you have almost highlights in the colours. Some of the thread fill effects are nice as well – better than flat satin everywhere. It’s so hard to get smooth decently dense satin on the machine that I love the patterned and textured tatami-type fills.  

With only a few tiny wanders in the recognition and colours escaping where they shouldn’t be, I think this came out well overall. I really like the idea too – I’ve got quite a few of these blanks left to use and maybe I’ll have a go at a few of my own window-inspired designs.

5 thoughts on “Stained Glass

  1. Fabulous project and I’m completely with you on issues with other people’s designs etc. If you’re selling it, you should have stress tested it properly in the first place!


  2. Beautiful! I love the vibrant colors and how striking they are on the dark background! I really loved stained glass too – these embroideries really capture that look 🙂


  3. I am visiting my mother’s house, where she has some wonderfully dense machine-embroidered pieces. Looking at them in-person is giving me a much deeper appreciation of the art and skill involved in the craft. Your stained-glass foursome is lovely.


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