Category: Vintage

Finished: Erica Wilson Crewel Embroidery

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I did it! I finished this project, a 1973 crewel embroidery kit designed by Erica Wilson. And it wasn’t just a kit, it was a pillow kit. And I made a pillow!

It took many, many hours. I learned a lot about embroidery, and I remembered how much I love working with wool. And I figured how how to sew, kind of.

So the question now is will I be able to use this kind of groovy, vintagey, textured pillow? Yes, I love that 1970’s style. But I don’t imagine it will be at all a nap-able pillow. All those French knots and bullion stitches made out of scratchy wool would leave an interesting imprint on the side of your face.

Erica Wilson Embroidery III

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It’s a rumpled mess. Can I turn it into a pillow?

I’ve nearly finished my vintage, 1973 Erica Wilson embroidery kit. It’s an amazing display of rusty- and mustard-colored wools in a wide range of stitches from French knots to satin stitch to the ever-so-cute bullion stitch, a great stand-in for wheat kernels.

I’ve only stitched a few small projects in the past, so I’m nearly starting from scratch with embroidery but I’m very taken with crewel embroidery. Perhaps I kept the tension too high on this as it’s full of hills and valleys once off the frame. But maybe it’ll smooth out after being blocked.

I loved working on the flowers.

Of course, I can’t be content with one little kit, so I gave myself a birthday present, a variety of Appleton crewel wool, some linen fabric, and a little package of needles. Aren’t the colors lovely?

I purchased all these lovely supplies from Kristin Nicholas, and I must say that everything was packed so nicely. I’m already sketching some ideas for my first design.

Erica Wilson Embroidery

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Back in the heyday of crewel embroidery, and by that I mean the 1960s and 1970s, Erica Wilson was the queen. She taught, sold kits, wrote books, and had her own PBS show about needle arts, many episodes found on YouTube.

It seems I am destined to return to wool every so often, and it’s been on my mind for a month or so. I like wool more than any other fiber, and in a strange series of clicks on the internet I found myself buying a 1973 Erica Wilson crewel embroidery kit of autumn plants. It’s supposed to end up as a rather groovy pillow.

It takes patience to stitch, and I’m surprised by how content I’ve been working on this. I love the textured feel and look of crewel embroidery, which is embroidery done in wool, and I’m figuring out quite a bit about embroidery. I’m learning stitches, too, so far stem, satin, padded satin, long-and-short, chain, and French knots.

And, yes, I’ve ordered another groovy kit (owls), some additional wool, and some linen backing.