Back in 2015 I visited Jane Austen’s house in the village of Chawton with my friend Pamela Cox when she was here in England visiting from the USA. Its in an idyllic setting with a wonderful garden and lots of memorabilia. Several of my collections have been named after characters in her novels: Marianne, Harriet and Georgiana. Here we see the desk where she wrote quite a few of her books.
I also named one of my collections after Jane, as she was such a proficient needle woman.
Some of her work is displayed in the house and every time I visit I am enthralled by the details and intricacy of it all. It is like stepping back in time.
After Jane’s White work I decided to do another white work collected named after her beloved sister, Cassandra. They were both unmarried and devoted to each other, living in the cottage rent free with their mother, as it belonged to their brother Henry’s estate nearby.
Apparently Jane thought that Cassandra’s skills were very neat, so she deserves a collection here at Graceful Embroidery.
These simple designs have been digitized in ecru and ivory, so technically they are not white work, but I am sure you do not mind nor would Cassandra. I believe the addition of another colour helps distinguish the stitches, giving them depth.
I have added these thin double scallops which are intersected by upright elements containing both knots and eyelets. There is something very beautiful about vertical lines in embroidery. Tiny sprigs of leaves and large daisy type flowers adorn this edging.
I have also included a couple of motifs which were always part of the embroidery from that era and of course every heirloom collection requires a buttonhole. Carefully trim these to thread lace, ribbon or braid through, or leave them uncut as I have done here.
When I create a new collection I start by digitising the elements and felt it needed two sizes of delicate spiral flowers as well as the larger daisy types ones.
Here you can see that I have given the embroidery a wedge wood colour scheme which is delightful, although in truth I prefer the ivory and ecru. I invite you to experiment with delicate colours. All my stitch outs are on slubby silk dupion which is so forgiving so is one of the best fabrics for embroidery, providing it will not need to be washed.
You will find references to embroidery and sewing in several of Jane’s books; Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Pride and Prejudice. There are examples of her embroidery at Chawton cottage. Apparently Jane was very good at taking existing clothes and refashioning them.
These designs will be formed into a complete collection, Cassandra’s White work and I hope that you find them suitable for your next heirloom project. Over 35 of these designs are available to download free to Group Forum members during the 13th Birthday event at Graceful Embroidery which finishes on October 12th. Watch out for further blogs and videos about these designs.
Happy embroidering from Hazel