12 Little Needle Cases

November: Caterpillar

This needlework piece is part of my ongoing exploration of different medieval embroidery styles. A full explanation of the project can be found here. A post discussing how I drafted this pattern and the stitches/materials used can be found here.

I have had so much fun stitching this year. I have learned so many new things, and felt so much enjoyment on this journey of discovering different styles and types of embroidery. This month was a joy in discovering padded embroidery.

Look at all that joy:

A very hungry and fat caterpillar

Creating him was such a joyful experience. Silk is the perfect thread for buttonhole stitch, especially after my linen reticella experience.

I started by tracing my caterpillar onto my fabric using a water soluble marker. In period this would have been done with ink. Then I traced my pattern onto some tracing paper so I could cut out wool padding for his little humps. Each of the bigger humps had two layers (the first one smaller than then second. They were carefully stitched down with tiny tacking stitches using a polyester thread.

Then I began the process of stitching the detached button hole stitch over the humps and face.

Next it was time for goldwork. I sat down with a very long piece of gold passing thread and my copy of elizabethan needle point stitches and got to work on this braided stitch. It looks far more complicated than it is. I started at the tail of the caterpillar, but while comparing my finished caterpillar to the original, I think the braid was actually stitched starting from the head moving to the tail. Alternatively, it was done in a different stitch completely, as it was difficult to keep the shape of the caterpillar using this braid.

The last thing to do after the braid were his legs and anteni which were couched down to the surface using a slippery gold silk (not recommended!) and then I stitched his eyes and gold accents on his humps.

Overall, this was one of my favorite needle cases to stitch. I love detached buttonhole, but I also love goldwork braids, and he is just adorable!!

Next month I’ll be working on embroidery over pleat work and I will be finishing up the needle cases to submit them to a competition!


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