Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Tree of Life by SewbyHand

My friend Natalie who owns SewByHand has been very busy this year creating new designs. I'd been eyeing one of them and so was ecstatic when she asked me to be a tester in exchange for a kit.

I filmed this un-boxing back in March, sorry I'm really late in sharing on the blog. On the plus side, I finally figured out how to combine videos. I've started using the Video Editor on Windows 10 from their app store and it works very well.

(click on the post to see the video below)

The fabric is called clothe of gold and has a lovely shine to it having been woven with a metallic gold thread. It also has a weight to it and is very thick. It's mainly used for ecclesiastical embroidery in Europe. Using a hoop would have damaged it. Luckily my RSN slate frame was free.

As the fabric is very thick I had two options for transferring the design: prick and pounce or tacking. I went with tacking to avoid damaging the precious fabric. 

Once all the design lines are in, I carefully removed the tracing paper. This transfer method takes a long time but it's accurate and non-permanent. If I decided I wanted to omit one of the swirls, I just remove the stitches.

I got the chance to try a new padding method, using mat boards instead of felt. I needed to be very careful to get my edge nice and square.

I also got to play with this beautiful metal plate and DMC's diamante thread. This thread has been on the market for a few years now, but this is the first time I've used it in a piece.

The piece has a lot of couching in it...

and plunging, my nemesis. 

Once it's finished the couched metal thread creates lovely swirls.

The ground is covered in beading and chipping. Natalie includes a lovely palette of colors in browns, gold, black and dark purple, in different shapes. There are bugles, drops, Tila beads and seed beads. And it all glitters when the light hits it just right.

She provides suggestions on how to stitch the corners, but this is left up to the stitcher. It took me forever to figure out how I wanted to do mine. I wanted something that was square to really close it off but I didn't have enough of the square Tila beads in the kit. It finally dawned on me to create a square shape going round and round using the bright check purl included in the kit. I put in a drop bead at the center.

Here I have a lovely piece representing the art nouveau movement. If you'll notice in the picture above, my gold plate already started changing color. This makes it blend even more with the diamante thread. I can't wait to see how my piece will change as it ages with time.

Natalie has already started teaching this piece in Quebec and her students are well on their way to almost completing their trees. She will also be teaching it at EGA seminar 2020 in Boston. Sadly there are no kits left for sale, but she will be making the pdf instructions for students who would like to stitch it using their own materials.


  1. I enjoyed reading your post and seeing your progress Dima! You have taken great pictures of the process and I get the feeling that you learned some new things. Great idea to do square chippings in the corners and your beading looks fantastic! It will be very interesting to see how your metal plate evolves over time :-)

  2. Beautiful! Couching and plunging--labors of love!

  3. Fabulous looking finished piece. Thanks for the great process photos. Even enjoyed the unboxing video although not normally a fan.

  4. Beautiful scrolls. Seeing all the photos was very interesting.

  5. I also like the idea of not transferring any lines onto precious fabric.

    Your tacking is intriguing. It looks more like backstitch because the stitches are so close together. I would love to hear more about it. (My email address is lynette dot warner at gmail dot com.)

  6. That's a gorgeous design. I love the way the borders are done, and all those different beads on the ground...well done!

  7. Oh wow, this is stunning! I hope this is something you get to keep.

  8. This is a stunning piece of goldwork, all the photos really show the various steps to build up the piece.

  9. Such a beautiful design, and the materials sound so luxurious. You've certainly made a beautiful and unique piece to treasure!