Embroidered Pin Cushion

Following our participation in Plimoth Plantation's Embroidered Pin CushionParadise in Silk and Gold project of recreating a 17th Century Stuart embroidered ladies jacket, based on an extant jacket in the Victoria and Albert Museum's collection, I wanted to create a little project to more easily show off the stitches and new Gilt Sylke Twist thread colors and shimmer. I decided to create a pin cushion design, 2x2" large to show off all the colors I could. I used the Arabella Coif Pattern that I purchased for the tracings, as I'm no artist, and then pulled together pleasing elements for the pin cushion. The design ended up being 3x3" so I shrunk it down to 2/3rds size to get in all the elements I wanted. The main lesson from this experience was that the patterns are drawn to a certain scale for a reason, and they don't shrink that much very well.

The design is of two folded pansies, a thistle bud, plain worm and bee. All elements came from the Arabella coif pattern except the bee which I sketched based on pictures of a coif in the Boston MFA. Most of the elements are worked in detached buttonhole stitch in the Gilt Sylke Twist, using colors Isabella, Redde, Carnacion, Purple, Indico Blewe, Graie Blewe, Bisse and Black. The worm and the bee body are worked in the ceylon stitch and wrapped with Soie Perlee #22 silk thread. The thistle leaves are also worked in the ceylon stitch using Soie Perlee. After some experimentation and impatience, the vine is worked in the ceylon stitch in gold passing thread. The little tendrils off the vine are reverse chain stitch in the Isabella GST.

Once the embroidery was complete, I cut out a square of some silk crepe that I had dyed using pokeberries one Fall, and the pin cushion was mostly sewn around the edges, turned right side out, stuffed with mystery (possibly tussah silk) roving, and sewn shut. Then I used some buttonhole twist silk thread to weave/sew an edging for the pin cushion using Thora's Guilloche Braid directions.

In progress pictures:

The design inked out and an element complete
Partially completed embroidery
some work done
Embroidery almost done, showing vine stitch trials
embroidery mostly complete
Showing the woven edging on the pin cushion, as well as the silk backing
showing the woven edge

Links to more information :

Extreme Patterns' Arabella Coif Pattern, available at

Gilt Sylke Twist threads purchased from Tricia Wilson, but also available from:

Plimoth Plantation Embroiderer's Story:

Ceylon Stitch instructions:

Detached Buttonhole stitch instructions:

Reverse Chain Stitch instructions:

Woven edging instructions:


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