Hungarian Sampler Part Seven: Variations

In the course of stitching this Hungarian embroidery sampler we've thus far used the following stitches: chain stitch, buttonhole stitch, stem stitch, open chain stitch, fishbone stitch, backstitch, and satin stitch. Isn't it amazing how many stitches you can learn making just one piece of embroidery, right? I love how all these stitches add so much texture to the fabric, especially when using just one color of thread. Today we'll add an optional treatment to fill in some of our first motif, the Southern Hungarian chain-stitched flowers. But I also want to show you a couple of quick and simple methods with which to "trace" the whole sampler pattern, and make something lovely that uses Hungarian motifs but is quite fast and easy to make.


filled-in Baranya embroidered flowers


First though, I wanted to mention that there are other lots of wonderful tutorials out there to help you perfect each of the stitches we're using in the sampler. For example, Sublime Stitching has a written tutorial of the back stitch as well as video of five common embroidery stitches. I love Sublime Stitching, Jenny Hart has an amazingly friendly and approachable take on embroidery. She also has tutorials explaining the satin stitch and stem stitch. Then there's Mary Corbet's series of tutorials (both video and written), which are full of useful details and good advice. Mary is also just getting ready to make a Hungarian-inspired table runner in a style that resembles the heavy, bright red stitching from Transsylvania on which the tulip motif from our sampler is also based. The design Mary's using is part of a series about the legacy of a designer originally from Hungary, Lilly Baróthi Zathureczky, more of whose work is also available in Mary's collection of free downloadable embroidery patterns under the heading 'Hungarian Embroidery Patterns" (scroll down the page to a little past half-way down). In fact I often think about how heartbreaking it is that the work of embroidery designers who came of age in the late 1930s was lost almost entirely. Embroidery is often called just 'handwork' (kézimunka) in Hungarian and it's still a huge part of women's lives in Hungary. We all grew up with our grandmothers's and mothers' stitching around us, and many of us were taught some basic stitching techniques in grade school. But there hasn't been much innovation since Lilly Baróthi's time, and as I'm traveling around more and more of the country looking for embroiderers and designs for Kate & Rose, a lot of what women in our grandmothers' generation knew is going forgotten. It's great that Lilly's work will not be. Sarah's hand embroidery tutorials are also a great resource, there is even a pictorial dictionary of stitches to help you figure out how to create a particular stitch or texture you want to make.


But let us get back to our little sampler! First, I wanted to show you how you can fill in the petals on our first motif, the flowers from the Southern part of Hungary. Let's begin by adding satin stitches to the petals of the tulips. Starting at the tip of a tulip petal, bring your needle up to the front of the fabric:


step one, filling in Baranya embroidered tulip


And stitch down at the opposite tip, creating a fairly long satin stitch. Continue creating the satin-stitched center of the tulip the same way we made the three satin-stitched dots above the tulip from Buzsak - filling one side first, then going back to the center to fill the other side:


filling in Baranya embroidered tulip


Then continue with the other two petals until you've filled the entire tulip:


filling in Baranya tulips


Then repeat on the other tulip. For the larger center flower, we'll fill in the petals with satin stitches that radiate from the center. You can do this in two ways. If you don't mind a bit of fabric showing around the edge of the flower, just leave more space between the ends of your stitches on the outer edge of the flower, and place the tips of the stitches really close at the center, fanning them out, as it were:


filling in Baranya floral motif


Or, if you want to achieve tighter stitching at the outer edge of the flower too, here's a little trick. Between full-length stitches, place some satin stitches that begin at the outer edge of the flower but don't go all the way to the center circle:


filling in Baranya floral motif


Then make your next stitch a full-length one so that it covers the bottom of the half-length stitch - place the outer tip next to the outer tip of the half-length satin stitch, and place the inner tip next to the inner tip of the previous full-length stitch:


filling in Baranya floral motif


I chose to leave the center circle of this flower "blank" - I like the bit of contrast between the background fabric and the thread:


filled-in Baranya embroidered floral motif


You can see that my stitching is on the unfussy side. Much of folkloric embroidery is like this, the focus is on making something by hand that we enjoy working on rather than absolute precision. The end result will be pretty anyway. Another option to stitch up the Hungarian sampler is to outline all the elements with a backstitch, like this:


backstitched Hungarian sampler


You could also use a stem stitch for this kind of outlining, if that's your preference.

Links to all tutorial pages in the series:

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