I’ve been wanting to learn this embroidery technique for some time now. Somehow there was no time, occasion or a convenient object to embroider so this idea stayed in my drawer. Then the best possible occasion came out of nowhere. I joined the project called Ježíškova vnoučata (Jesus grandkids – baby Jesus brings Christmas presents in my country) which gathers people who bring presents to the elderly who live in nursing homes and have no family and noone to visit then. I picked a wish of a very nice and jolly grandpa who wanted a flower embroidered cushion. And what better way to try to use this old technique of Amish Stumpwork than to bring joy to someone!
If you want to find out more about this project and my involvement, read this.
And now let’s go on with the work. The Amish stumpwork is also called plushwork or Chenille work sometimes. The typical motifs are flowers and plants in general and also geometrical motifs. The plushwork is soft, has several color layers and the typical material to work with is woolen yarn – thus the name “plushwork”, the embroidery looks and feels like a plush animal. I made a slight change and used a thick embroidery yarn called Sněhurka. The thinner your yarn the more work. I chose more work but I like the result better.
- template – you can purchase a metal stencil or cut one out from hard paper sheet
- yarn in several colors. I used 2 colors for the center, 4 for petals and 4 for the leaves
- embroidery needle
- fabric to embroider – typically a thicker material
- embroidery hoop
How to Make the Amish Stumpwork
Put the fabric in the hoop and place the template on the fabric.
Start embroidering the center, at the wrong side. Pul the needle through to the right side, then across the stencil and again down to the wrong side. Now with the needle on the wrong side, don’t go back to the side you started on but pull the needle up again on the same side, just very close to the hole through which you just brought it down. In other words, if we call one side of the stencil A and the other B, then bring the needle up (to the right side) on side A, then across the stencil to side B and down (to the wrong side). Then again up on side B, across the stencil to side A and down. Then again up on side A and so on. Second photo shows the wrong side of the embroidery.
First cover all sides of the center to hold the template in place.
Then keep on embroidering until you have filled all the space.
Take the yarn in another color and embroider over the original color. Try to put the needle in the holes you created embroidering the first color. The new color should completely cover the first one.
Now work on the petals in the same way.
Cover the whole petal, then the rest of the petal.
View of the wrong side.
When you’re done, choose another color and cover the first color with it. Again, work on the whole flower.
Continue doing the same with the rest of the colors, I used 4.
Time to be brave because it’s time to cut! First, cut the center of the flower as marked by the red circle.
You should get a pompom-like shape. Make sure you cut all the threads.
After the center come the leaves. Cut them in the middle and all the way to the top.
Now you need to take out the template. Carefully take out the petals and then the center.
This is what the flower looks like without the template.
You can create many other shapes this way, I decorated the cushion also with leaves.
Are you worried about the threads coming out? Let me explain to you why this is not going to happen. Remember me telling you in one of the previous steps to go through the same holes when you cover one color with another one? Well, if you do this, or if you at least put each new hole with yarn really close to another one from the previous color, the threads actually keep each other in place. You would need to make really big effort to take the threads out and use scissors to cut them or a needle to pull them out, so they are definitely not coming out by themselves.