“Red Cat” (chinese silk embroidery kit)

2 04 2010

Started Nov. 15, 2009

Finished: April 2, 2010

Number of Hours: 21 hours

Diameter: 20cm.

Kit from www.fildesoie.fr (kit code: Chat02)

This is my first silk embroidery needlepainting project. I am so enthusiastic and I decided to document my progress.

1. Attach the pre-designed satin fabric in a frame or hoop. (I am using a small canvas frame and tacks from my silk painting materials, because I don´t have any free scroll frame at the moment. )

Stretching printed fabric on frame

Stretching printed fabric on frame

2. Prepare the silk threads and needles No. 12 necessary to complete the design.
A. Divide or separate the skein of silk threads in 3 equal sections (length about 30cm each). There is no need for longer lengths of threads since this is a very fine embroidery.

B. Braid  the threads loosely (makes drawing out of threads easier). Remember to braid loosely. You will not be able to draw threads if it is too tight.

Prepare the silk threads: (left-right) twisted, untwist, cut in equal lengths, braid loosely into plaits

Preparing the threads A

Untwist, cut into 3 equal parts (ca. 30cm each), braid for easy drawing

Find the knot and make the first cut there.

Finding the knot

The knot is on the right.

Use a paperweight when braiding.

Use a paperweight when braiding

I use the jar of salt from my silk painting materials as paperweight

Figuring out which colors go to which parts of the design, make a color plan:

Color plan

Color plan for Cat 02

From left to right: Red cat (white for highlights, yellow-browns, Red brown, brown and reddish gold for the eyes), Praying Mantis (old rose for the thorax, green for the body), brush painting bamboos (green-grey and black)

I made sketches of my plan (stitch directions, colors and order of stitching – which parts comes first)

Stitch Direction and Color Plan

Sketch boook

3. Divide the threads prior to embroidering:
Divide the threads so that you have 4 – 8 silk strands. I untwist a thread, then carefully divide the 2 parts into half again. Cut skin easily catch the fine silk strands, so be careful so as not to tangle the strands.

4. Embroidering

Choose a part of the design or a center of visual sensation to start with the embroidery.

I started with the Mantis, then the Bamboos. The body of the insect is in green. I made french knots for the eyes. I made the divisions on the abdomen using the old rose.


Praying Mantis

For the bamboos, I used the green in the lightest parts and black on the darkest parts. Make sure to vary the thicknesses of the stems. In some leaves I mixed green and black silks.

Bamboos Chinese brush painting

Bamboos Chinese brush painting

For the red cat, I started with the eyes and the nose, using 4-6 silk strands. Black for the outlines. Filled the pupil with dark reddish brown, the eye with gold and finally adding the highlights with white. Make sure to vary the black outlines of the eyes. The nose is with black and the flat snout with white.

Eyes and nose

Eyes and nose

Then I embroider the parts that are “behind”, like the tail, right ear and the paws.

For the striped tail, I first embroider the darkest reddish brown, then medium reddish brown. Then I added the darkest red gold and medium dark red gold. I did not follow the normal satin stitch. I just “paint-stitch” randomly, finally adding small highlights here and there. In the photo I was not able to capture the shine of the silk. But it is very nice needlepainting.



Making the Paws: First I add the black then the white. Then I add very light gold here and there. Finally, I finish with some more white on top.


Making the right ear: I first add the dark reddish brown and the medium reddish brown on the top of the ear and some dark hairs coming from inside the ears. Then gradually add in the dark to medium reddish gold shades. White and lightest red gold are added to the light hairs coming from the inside of the ears. The outline of the ear´s edge is made of black, medium reddish gold and lightest red gold for the highlighted areas.

Making the front legs: I begin with the darkest redbrowns and gradually add the shades.

front legs

Making the hind leg: Starting with the outer edges going inwards, carefully mix the shades.

Hind leg

Making the body: I went through the darks and lights then the medium shades.  Then add the standing hairs.


Making the head: Like always, I filled in the lightest and darkest areas, then the medium shades. Then added the standing hairs, whiskers and other fine details.


5. Optional Finishing: (I did not iron this embroidery. The instructions come with the kit. I mounted this project on a white foam board.)
A. Ironing: between your design and iron, do not forget to place a sheet of white paper.Set iron in the lowest temperature (silk setting).
B. put some liquid glue on the fabric around the embroidered part of your chart and paste it onto a wooden platform.
C. frame your embroidery.

Finished Red Cat, added the signature too:

Red Cat with signature

Click on the picture for detailed view of the stitches:

Red Cat close-up without signature

“Heiwa” 平和 Handkerchief

10 01 2010

Sampler of buttonhole scalloped edges, pulled work lace, needle lace stitches and damask patterns on pineapple-silk fabric

Started: September 23, 2009

Finished: December 3, 2009

Number of Hours: 79 hours

Cotton/Polyester sewing thread from Ikea on Pineapple fiber-silk handwoven fabric from the Heritage Arts and Crafts, Philippines.

This is my entry to the joint project of the German Embroidery Guild and the Lace Guild, the competition “Fadenkreuz” in 2010.  The theme is to combine embroidery with handmade lace, either embroidered or pillow lace (bobbin lace).

Heiwa is the japanese word for peace. The worn-out, old WWII  japanese army helmet symbolizes peace, which we experience when there are no wars.  Japanese soldiers brutally killed many innocent Filipinos during the WW2.  The handkerchief  symbolizes the tears of pains and loss that were shed by loved ones.  In the Philippines, the legend of the  pineapple teaches children to refrain from pretending not to see truthfully. A bad girl named Pina met an accident, because she kept pretending not to see what her mother asks of her. On the earth where her body lie, a strange plant with many eyes grew. The people named the plant after Pina, and called it “Pinya”.  The pineapple´s eyes symbolizes seeing truth and knowledge. I planted a pineapple on the helmet, because it means we should see the truth behind wars, and know that peace is what the world needs.  Heiwa Hankerchief is a message of peace, and this I kept in mind while stitching this project.

I painstakingly embroidered various stitches using polyester thread on a very special and rare fabric made of silk warps and of pineapple fibers wefts from the leaves of Red Spanish variety pineapples, and handwoven in Aklan Island, Philippines.

here is the first draft with the details and instructions:


The finalized Design, corners reduced to one design and scallops are chosen. Ink on silk paper, stitched directly on the natural pineapple-silk fabric. It will be destroyed during the stitching. No duplicate. I forgot to reproduce the original. hmmm

Heiwa final design

The first WIP photo. I am quite satisfied. I am learning a lot regarding techniques. I have never done this so fine embroidery. My eyes are like bleeding!!!

a. stitch outlines as accurate as possible, fill padded areas with stitches, finish the detailed leafworks and eyelets

b. stitch the ajour or drawn work laces

c. cover all outlines with  either buttonhole or overcast stitches

Heiwa Sept 26, 2009 After 7hrs

Heiwa Sept 26, 2009 After 7hrs

(Update October 18, 2009)

I seem to unconsciously like ajour or pulled work and cutwork better than other techniques I have tried so far. I am thinking of filling the whole background with samples of pulled work stitches. But then wouldn´t it be too much? Here is another photo of my slow progress…

Heiwa Oct. 18, 2009 After 27 hours

Heiwa Oct. 18, 2009 After 27 hours

I decided to use Needle lace stitches to the leaves instead of repeating some damask pattern stitches. Here is my latest progress:

Heiwa Nov. 4, 2009 After 41hours

Nov. 18, 2009 Update: Starting the pineapple, the leaves almost finished, all silk paper are removed and the handkerchief is transferred on a new frame.

Finally, it is ready for the competition.

I wanted to come up with a traditional lace handkerchief from the time of the Spanish occupation in the Philippines, using the antique patterns of scalloped edges and sprays. I wanted the design to be ornamental, so that one can hang it on display, without losing its message. The design is also strange enough to start conversations. There is enough craftmanship in it to attract both experts and laymen in needlework . This work is very precious to me. It does not have to win a prize. I believe by finishing this, I already won. I am thankful to the competition for giving me the chance to explore my creativity.

Handarbeit / Stickerei in Berlin, Deutschland.

Images of appliquéd Thangkas online

15 10 2009
Click on the photos to go to their cyber origins…
making an applique thangka (Norbulingka Institute, Sidhpur) copyright by arjunstc

making an applique thangka (Norbulingka Institute, Sidhpur) copyright by arjunstc


Silk thangka pieces:

(copyright by Sina and Janina)

(copyright by Sina and Janina)


lots of small pieces to be assembled into a very fine thangka:

Fabric Thangka Norbulinka, India (copyright by ochatosushi)

Fabric Thangka Norbulinka, India (copyright by ochatosushi)


 Almost finished:

(copyright by ConstanceandIris)

(copyright by ConstanceandIris)

An appliquéd Thangka seamstress:
Norbulinka appliqué seamstress (copyright by genericavatar)

Norbulinka appliqué seamstress (copyright by genericavatar)


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