Hungarian Sampler Part Eight: “woolly” stitching from Hungary’s central plainslands

The next part of our sampler is a symmetrical floral motif with clean lines, inspired by embroidery traditionally made in the central plains of Hungary, and was stitched with wool thread on homespun linen. It was mostly used to decorate cushions, blankets and other home textiles, and this style of embroidery has not been widely practiced in a number of years. Which is too bad, because look how pretty it is:

 

Since the wool was colored with natural dyes, most extant pieces have a somewhat faded hue. I love the concentric design of the flowers, the symmetrical vines and sequences of colorful leaves and petals. Looks deceptively simple:

karcagi kunhimzes

Our own design will look something like this, once it’s finished:

karcagi kun szorhimzes

 

There is only one type of stitch in there that we have not used before, in Hungarian it’s called a fake satin stitch (well -fake flat stitch, because the satin stitch is called a flat stitch, strictly speaking: hamis lapos öltés), it might seem a little tricky at first but really, it’s not hard to do. But so pretty, no? Also, I have no idea what this stitch is actually called in English. I’ve tried to find out but haven’t yet – if you know, please leave a comment?  Pretty please?

But let’s get started. Or, let’s begin the Beguine (this time of year I tend to listen to that song a lot – it sounds kinda make-yourself-happy-on-a-dark-winter-night-ish to me)!

This design uses three kinds of stitches: stem stitch, satin stitch, and the “fake” satin stitch I mentioned above. Outline all or some of the stems and vines with the stem stitch, and then we’ll create the center circle of the design. First, fill in the inner, smaller circle with satin stitching (same as on the stamina of the Buzsak witchy-stitched tulip), then bring your needle up at one edge of the satin-stitched circle:

 

karcagi kunhímzes, kezdetek

 

Then, take up a “pinch” of fabric with your needle on the outer edge of the circle, just a couple threads worth, like this:

"fake" satin stitch, step 1 - hamis laposöltés, 1.

 

Then, take another “pinch” of fabric (couple threads) along the edge of the satin-stitched circle:

fake satin stitch 2. - hamis laposöltés 2.

Since you’re trying to fan the stitches out at the outer edge, and crowd them at the inner edge, you can kind of stitch right under the inner tip of your first fake satin stitch to do this. Now keep going like this – pinch of fabric along the outer edge:

fake satin stitch 3. - hamis laposöltés 3.

Crowded pinch of fabric along the inner edge (of the outer circle):

fake satin stitch 4, hamis laposöltés 4

And so on.

Because you’ll really need to crowd the inner tip of the stitches sometimes, you might find yourself really getting in under the tip of your preceding stitch, as I did in the picture above, but let me show you again:

crowding stitches at one tip

 

This is what your work will look like from the back:

back of fake satin stitch

 

You can see where I led the thread over to the inner, satin-stitchy circle from the stem-stitched stem, and then the little “pinches” of fabric that make up the outer edge of the outer circle.

Sometimes you might find it easier to “crowd” the inner tip of the fake satin stitch if you don’t use the sewing method but rather stab your needle through to the back of the fabric:

stabbing method of embroidery 1

 

Then move your hand to the back of the fabric and stab your needle through to the front:

stabbing method of embroidery 2

 

Actually, you might prefer to embroider this way always. Strictly speaking, I’m the one who’s doing it wrong: you don’t necessarily need to use a hoop for the sewing method (when you keep your hand on one side of the fabric at all times), though you can, if you like. The embroidery police will not come and get you.

For your last stitch on the circle, just take the needle to the back of the fabric. This is what the circle motif will look like when you’re done:

fake satin stitch circle, finish

 

Let’s move on to one of the two flowers on either edge of this motif. I’ve already outlined the stems and vines with stem stitches:

stems - stem stitch

(Doesn’t it look like a dancing little girl? Maybe I have too many dancing little girls on my mind… Or, as the case may be, at least one in my living room, as I sit here and write! They are cute, the dancing little girls.)

Then, bring your needle to the front of your fabric a the edge of the inner layer of one of the petals:

 

Now take a pinch of fabric onto your needle at the outer edge of this layer of this petal:

 

Then a pinch at the center part of the petal:

 

(I can’t remember why this picture is so much lower quality than the others – sorry, but perhaps you get the idea.)

Keep going until you cover the five inner petals:

 

You might finagle the length of your stitches a bit and really angle the inner portion of your stitches, like I’m doing here though you can see how, unlike when stitching the circle, the stitches within each petal remain parallel:

 

Here’s this inner petal layer once finished:

 

Now, the outer layer! I’m going to start towards an inner corner of one of the finished petals:

 

Bring your needle up, like I did, then take a pinch of fabric at the outer edge of the flower, at an angle form your inner petals’ stitching:

 

Now continue just like we did with the circle at the center of this motif, filling the outer layer of petals by sometimes crowding the stitches at one tip, and fanning them out at the other:

 

Your finished flower will look like this:

 

Finish the flower on the other side in the same way. This is what they’ll look like from the back – or, I should say, this is what mine looks like from the back:

Now, let’s work on the center flower. First, fill the center circle with satin stitching, then bring your needle up at the edge of the satin-stitched circle, and take a pinch of fabric at the outer edge of the inner layer of petals:

 

Fill this layer of petals as we filled the outer layer of petals on the two flowers on either side of the motif. This is what it will look like:

 

After bringing your needle up at the edge of this petal layer, stitch around the outer layer in the same way:

 

Finally, outline any remaining stems with stem stitches, and you’re done!

Here’s our lovely “woolly” embroidery motif:

Only one motif remains to be stitched in our sampler: the Matyó rose.

 

Links to tutorial pages:

 

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