When life gives you lemons, make miniatures

In January I had the unfortunate luck of being knocked over by a car on a zebra crossing.  

This resulted in an extended stay in bed and off work, but without much mobility.  I decided to tackle the library armchair petit point, as it was a project I could do without too much movement or equipment.  

This was the chair we last saw two posts ago, when I was very rude about picot braid (I apologise to anyone who uses it), and decided to do some reupholstering.  I decided on petit point as it is quite a relaxing way of sewing.  

I hate following charts:  I invariably get lost, or make a mistake, or get a bit bored.  I think I am too much of a free-style embroiderer.  So  I'm going to show you my method of petit point pattern designing.  Actually, this is just the original method, before  Berlin woolwork introduced paper charts in the 19th century.

First, I made a template of all the pieces I needed.  Then I drew the floral designs.  I chose a twining design of vines, leaves and flowers.  I used colouring pencils to give a little colour.  

I then traced the design directly onto the silk gauze with a B pencil.  I am using 40 count silk gauze as it is small enough to be in scale, but not so small that I need a magnifier.  Good light is alway necessary though.

I (luckily) have an enormous stash of embroidery threads, as I do a lot of larger scale embroidery (especially stumpwork).  Some of the threads are vintage, which gives them a lovely sheen, but it is important to make sure that the background threads come from the same dye lot, so I tend to order the background threads for each project I do.  Here I have a mixture of DMC and Anchor cotton thread and silk Waterlillies in variegated green.

I start by embroidering the stems in tent stitch (half a cross stitch), and then do the leaves and flowers.  I always leave the background until last, and generally try to find a good TV series to watch at the same time.  This chair was done to an Elizabeth Gaskell box set of 'North and South', 'Wives and Daughters' and 'Cranford'.  Highly recommended to pass the time!

Just checking the colours 'in situ' to make sure they work in the library

Some of the threads were left-overs from the rug project, which means that although the designs are very different, the colours in the chair don't clash with the rug.  I wanted to keep the cosy feeling of the library.

The seat covers and stool took quite a long time to finish, but they kept me well occupied.  I still have to complete the back of the chair.

I think the worst part of the process is the actual upholstering.  After all that work, it is a risky process cutting the fabric and using glue!  I trim the gauze with a generous hem, and use superglue around the edge to stop it from fraying. 

 I then fold the raw edges over a fine card template (usually a cereal packet), and sew the opposite edges together in a zig zag, making sure the fabric is pulled tight.

I should have taken a photo of this part of the process, but I was concentrating too hard!

When the pieces were covered, I glued them to the chair.  The order of gluing is quite important:  sides first, then back, then seat.  This way the risk of glue smears is lower, and the pieces slot together nicely.

Small clamps are an absolute necessity to make sure the edges are firmly glued.  I use my clamps for all sorts of things, so I made sure that they were clean before I used them on the embroidery.

Ta da!  One cosy armchair to sink into with a good book, and a footstool to put your feet up.

Of course, I couldn't resist finishing the stool and chair with some tassels.

For the braid I used the background colour embroidery thread twisted into cord.   I won't apologise, I think it looks better than picot ;)  !




  1. Ciao Jonquil. È tanto che non ti scrivo e mi dispiace sentire che hai subito un incidente. Ti auguro di guarire presto. Per il resto tutto quello che fai è molto bello, per cui speriamo che ritorni in piedi in breve tempo. Un abbraccio. ❤️

  2. ¡Un trabajo precioso! Deseo que esté mejor de ese accidente.¡cuidese!

  3. Dear Jonquil, what a horrendous experience that must have been! I am so glad you are "okay" and are recovering! Minis are such great therapy and making use of enforced idleness has been so successful in your case. The chair is Gorgeous! I really appreciate your detailed instructions of the process. I hope to make some upholstered pieces someday and am encouraged by your beautiful chair!
    I hope you continue to mend and have better luck in the future!
    And keep making minis too! :)

  4. Je suis désolée de lire ce qui vous est arrivé, cela a dû être une terrible expérience. Heureusement que vous pouviez broder pour vous occuper, les miniatures et surtout la broderie sont parfaites pour passer le temps et pendant que l'on se concentre sur la broderie le temps passe vite et cela occupe bien l'esprit.
    La broderie pour le fauteuil est magnifique et c'est très intéressant de nous avoir expliqué votre façon de travailler.
    Bon rétablissement.

  5. I am so sorry to hear that you have been knocked over by a car. Luckily the miniature embroidery diverts you while recuperating.

    And what a result! The chair and the footstool looked nice before, but now they both look great!

    I hope that you soon can resume normal life and that all will be well soon. Get well (hugs!)


  6. That looks beautiful. I hope you're feeling better.

  7. Wowwww.
    Es un trabajo maravilloso.
    Un saludo

  8. What a beautiful transformation of the arm chair and footstool. It looks so much cozier and more inviting now. Thanks for explaining your process in such detail.

  9. I had a feeling when reading your last post that the fabric and clunky trim on the chair wouldn't be there very long and I was right! Glad to read that all is ok with you now. The transformation of the chair is lovely and you've made a beautiful job of the embroidery. It's a splendid match with your rug.

  10. I do hope you have recovered well from your terrible accident. I am happy you had something so lovely to keep you occupied during your convalescence. Your embroidery skills are magnificent and the chair and footstool are both beautiful and perfect for the room. So well done! - Marilyn D., New Brunswick, Canada

  11. Oh my word, knocked over at a zebra crossing! I thought European drivers were so very careful. When I lived in Germany for a while, it caused me great embarrassment that cars would stop if I just looked as though I was going to step off the curb. I can tell you that I crossed the road a few times unwillingly because I was loitering to find my direction and the next moment the traffic was piling up. I soon learned to stay well away from the road. Here in South Africa, pedestrians are like a target; you're not even safe on the sidewalk because someone is likely to jump the curb to find a parking space.
    I do hope that you're recovering well and that you won't have lasting effects from your experience.
    I don't have any picot braid (another thing you don't find easily in this benighted country) so I'm in no danger of spoiling a miniature with it.
    I absolutely adore how your petit point chair turned out and the braid is to scale and very neat. Love the tassels too!

  12. le résultat est vraiment très beau . j 'aime beaucoup le motif . c'est vraiment très délicat . merci de nous montrer comment vous réalisez le motif directement sur la toile . je ne connaissais pas la marque de vos fils à broder . j 'utilise du gentle art mais c 'est parfois compliqué car la couleur peut changer beaucoup d 'un échantillon à un autre .
    le cordon est parfait , je suis d'accord

  13. I so Very Happy that your injuries were not entirely devastating to you Jonquil, and that you've passed your recovery time in a proactive mini manner which has resulted in a FABULOUS reupholstered library chair- MAGNIFICENT!!! The chair has now settled into the library properly and looks like it has Always been there, which is just as it should be!
    Your skills with needle and threads are (in my opinion) Superb! and I can't help but be envious of the family of Daviot House, who are reaping the benefits of your many Incredible talents!
    Wishing you a Speedy Recovery! ❤️


  14. Happy New Year! I do not know why I have not received these last blog,posts on my feed. I am so happy to see them as even though I enjoy seeing Instagram quick pics, a blog post is so much more interesting , informative and instructive.

    Your work and reupholstered chair and foot stool is fantastic, so perfect for the space and brilliant to incorporate a touch of colour from the rug to tie it together.

    Re the Fimo vegetables … I love that the fever hit you and you made them look so realistic.

    I found it very interesting in the French markets that one really needed to make a connection with the vendors. Unfortunately travelling on our little boat on the canals did not allow us the time to do that.
    Regards Janine


Post a Comment

Popular Posts