Gathering Threads

Crewel Monogram

Posted by on Jan 28 2016, in Embroidery

Remember my foray last year into crewel?  I signed up to take the Embroiderers’ Association of Canada Basic Crewel correspondence course last January.

Crewel Monogram

My initial impression wasn’t great.  Although my counsellor was very helpful, the lessons themselves were really an uphill slog and the way the course is designed is really off putting, with a level of expectation that very few people, and certainly no beginner, could realistically be expected to meet.  The amount of stitching and research were incredible.  I hope they’ll consider making some serious updates and I’ve expressed that in my review of the course.

That said, I decided that I had enough invested in the course, between the registration fees and the the materials that I ought to finish it.  So I continued to slog away over the summer and fall and finally sent off my last three samples last week.

The one project I really enjoyed though was the monogram component.

I was tasked with stitching my initial.  I knew immediately that I wanted to do a design based on an illuminated letter.  I looked at several.  I really liked the colours of this one, and I used it as a starting point for my colour palette, but I thought it would be too hard to stitch.


I finally settled on this design (and no, I can’t remember what book I used but it did come from the Internet Archive)  It’s a much simpler design and the black and white outline made it simple to transfer.  The design itself is 5″ square.


I kept to a fairly small group of stitches:  Long and short stitch and satin stitch for the four-petal flower.

Crewel Monogram detail 1

The berry is padded satin stitch, bullion and satin stitch.  The stems are, logically enough, stem stitch.

Crewel Monogram detail 2

I stitched the daisy twice.  Initially, I’d worked it in off white but there wasn’t enough contrast between the creamy twill background and the flower and it got lost.  So I ripped it out and worked it in a soft pink.  Each petal is padded with a detached chain, before I worked horizontal satin stitch across it.

Crewel Monogram detail 3

I also changed my mind about the leaves.  I’d started working them in long and short stitch, like the blue flower.  I’d intended to give them shading and a central vein.  But they were just too small (for instance the leaves at the bottom of the stem are only 1 1/2″ and an 1 1/4″ long) and the complicated shapes made it almost impossible to get smooth or convincing shading.

So I started from scratch and ended up outlining the leaves in split stitch and using contrasting texture, rather than contrasting threads, to give them interest.  The seed stitch gives some balance and openness against the density of the satin stitch details.

The initial also went through several versions before I settled on the navy blue outline and french knot filling.  I particularly like the piece of fuzz on the side of the letter.  I managed to photograph it so nicely…!  so clearly!  Well, it isn’t cat hair, so I guess i should be grateful for small mercies.

Crewel Monogram detail 5

My plan is to finish this by mounting it in a box as a decorative lid.  I’ll also add some gold beads, scattered here and there to add a bit of richness and contrast to the matte wools.  I haven’t added them yet because they aren’t strictly ‘crewel’ and I didn’t want it to count against me in my evaluations.




  • The monogram is lovely. I like your color palette, and all of those French knots!