Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bringing Chenille Out of the Closet

Before I can get started embroidering again, I have some major cleaning up to do.  

It's been about three years since I re-filed beads and threads for some of my major projects.   I know it's not sexy but it has to be done.

The good news is that I'm opening drawers and cleaning out closets and uncovering lots of little treasures I haven't seen in a while.
Look what was wrapped in tissue on a back shelf in the closet of my sewing room...


It's a handmade box with the top embroidered in silk chenille on velvet and it's still in great condition.  I have often admired antique samples of chenille embroidery but must admit to being challenged with using chenille myself.  

That being said, the thread has a wonderfully rich texture and blends beautifully with velvet and other chenille threads.  It's an underused and undervalued thread in our contemporary embroidery arsenal and I've always wanted to find more contemporary methods for using it.

On this box top, the chenille has aged such that both the nap of the velvet and the nap of the chenille thread blend seamlessly with one another...


Wool was used to stitch the daisies and I can see some padding underneath the flower in this picture where some of the wool has pulled away...


That makes sense since otherwise the wool stitches wouldn't lie as nicely and might get lost amongst the velvet's nap.

There are also a few variegated chenille threads and at least seven different shades of green and green/brown were used in the leaves and stems.


You can really see all the colors of the threads in this padded bud below...


I would have never thought to pile on the stitches in that way but the overall effect in the entire composition is stunning.


The interior of the box is finished beautifully and remains in very good condition...


I'm particularly fond of the hand-stitched box pleats and the bobbin lace tucked underneath...



Too pretty not to share.

Now back to cleaning and organizing for me...

25 comments:

Lorraine said...

Could we perhaps see the use of chenille in an upcoming block - hmmm... A truly beautiful box. The embroidery has held up well.

Catherine said...

Beautiful!!! Thanks for sharing!!

Mary Tod said...

What a lovely box -- hope we'll see it at our next CQ gathering.

Starr White said...

What a stunning piece of handmade art. Do you have any inkling of its age or origin? It looks like it could be in a museum. Excellent photos. Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of needle art history :)

Susan Shufelt said...

Very pretty box. I sometimes use chenille in my crazy quilts but find it very difficult to pull through the fabric so I usually couch it onto the surface. I have also been doing some cleaning. Again, pretty box.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What beautiful work on that lovely box. I also hope we will see something you create using chenile.

Have a wonderful day ~ FlowerLady

Cari said...

Oh my gosh...that box is lovely inside and out. What a beautiful treasure it is. Surely on of the benefits of organizing is finding our treasures all over again. Thanks for sharing !!

coral-seas said...

What a beautiful box, Susan. Can you tell how the chenille was stitched? My limited experience of chenille is that it shreds when taken through the fabric but from the photographs it appears that the chenille is stitched not couched.

Lisa said...

What a gorgeous treasure! What an inspiration to have around!

Cassandra and Alex said...

Mind blown! Thanks for sharing that!

Rachel said...

It may be that each individual loop of chenille has been separately cut and the ends plunged. If the piece was always intended for the box top, the stitcher would have known the back would be padded and well-protected. Other than that, it could have been couched directly onto the velvet, or sewn through a coarsely-woven "slip" and then attached later. There are lots of possibilities to try, although I agree it is possibly the most challenging thread in our arsenal!

Mary Ann said...

Such a lovely treasure. Chenille is very difficult to embroider with. I have some that I use as trim on various small things. I don't think I'd even attempt anything larger or as complicated.

gracie said...

Thank you for sharing your find...

Margaret said...

So very lovely. What a treasure! I've never tried to embroider with chenille, and confess I'm not fond of crewel either...doing it, that is; seeing it is quite another matter!
:-) Thanks for sharing!

Createology said...

Such a lovely box with stunning stitches. Isn't it fun to clean and organize and especially find treasures we forgot we have. Creative Hearts are Happy Hearts...

Suztats said...

Wonderful to re-discover treasures hidden away! It's a beautiful box.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Its a beautiful treasure...so what did you do with it? You didn't wrap it back up and find a new hiding place for it, did you?
xx, Carol

margaret said...

a very pretty box, wonder what else you will unearh from your cupboards. Must admit to never having used chenille, in fact have never even bought any and these days think it will be hard to find.

Star of the East said...

Could it be that the embroider used an awl to make room in the weave of the velvet for the chenille?
Anyhow, a gorgeous box, thank you for sharing.

Jillayne said...

What a beautiful treasure you have Susan. The chenille is very intriguing - I have either never seen it, or walked by by whenever I am in the needlework threads section - it's wonderful for texture!
I did a similar thing in my sewing room - cleaning, organizing, finding and purging - trying to make it possible to not just remember all that I have, but also to be ale to lay my hands on it when I need it - slowly I am getting there. It feels good to do that every so often and now I am ready to get into new things!

Judy S. said...

I, too, am curious about the origin of your beautiful box. Thanks for sharing photos of it!

Lovey said...

Love that box!!! Smiles...

Susan Hook said...

The box looks a beautiful piece of embroidery, worth sharing with everyone!

Elmsley Rose/Megan Hodges said...

Thankyou so much for showing us this. I'm going to work in chenille one day....a Berlin type design, I'm thinking.

Bénédicte said...

What a marvelous work, and how lucky you are to got it in such a perfect state! With the appropriate needle, it is perfectly possible to use the chenille for stem stitch or fly stitch without damaging it The "secret" is to use a very, very big needle, whihch makes a big hole in the fabric to allow the chenille to go through without pressure. The hole will be covered by the chenille when stitched. I think that here stem stitch was used. Would you have a picture of the top of the box? I am really tempted to copy that design, it is so gracious. But to find all those different chenille will be hard (the Thread Gatherer has some very nice colors).
Benedicte

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