Sources of Inspiration from Lucy Mackrille

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Sources of Inspiration from Lucy Mackrille

Where does inspiration come from when it comes to choosing stitches for current projects? There is a vision of the final project for the Easter Set in my mind, but getting there will be an experiment.  Experimenting while stitching along.  Yes, this Ecclesiastical Embroidery Easter Set project is experimental. The good news is that there are certain features that I have seen and admired in the beautiful hand embroidery works of others.  And so, for now, it is helpful to follow along with the sources of inspiration from Lucy Mackrille and advice of inspiration that comes from the master teachers.

One of my favorite Ecclesiastical Embroidery books is Church Embroidery and Church Vestments by Lucy Vaughan Hayden Mackrille.  I first came across the book online and downloaded the PDF file.  You can find a copy here online:;view=1up;seq=1  Early on, the printout copy I had soon became marked up with all of the wonderful things I would like to try someday. When the book became available on Amazon, I snatched up a copy. It is one of my favorite books on the topic of Church Embroidery and Church Vestments. The book contains wonderful information. Miss Mackrille’s book featured an admirable project, including her Angus Dei pictured below.


Angus Dei Embroidery Pattern

It features the Victorious Angus Dei, or Lamb of God, with His banner in a quatrefoil frame. Strands of silk stretch across wide spans of the design, but only on the front side. To prevent sagging and damage, these long strands must be held down in some fashion. Therefore, thin gold threads couch over the silk to keep it tidy. In her book, Miss Mackrille describes the process of laying silk embroidery threads and couching them with gold as an Italian Stitch.  She says every strand of the laid embroidery floss must be perfectly straight and smooth so that they look like satin underneath the gold when finished. 

The gold threads need to be stitched, evenly spaced apart, with even brick stitches. There are variations of the Italian stitch, too such as the ladder stitch which she describes as useful for stitching in the veins of leaves.

Damascene Stitch

Damascene Stitch
Damascene Stitch

The damascene stitch is a series of scrolls worked over the silk threads as seen in the photo above.  These are all variations of goldwork embroidery threads being couched overlaid silk threads as described in her book.  Other books in my library talk about various patterns which can be worked in the gold thread such as an ogee pattern or meandering scrolls.    I have loved the description of these techniques for a long time.  One of my favorite online mentors has also provided detailed step-by-step instructions in these techniques with several of her major projects, which are stunning works.  With the aid of a great reference book and an online mentor, what is there to fear?   So, now after years of watching others stitch projects using these techniques and reading about these stitches, I am finally getting a chance to use variations of both in current projects.

And I have to say, they are a great deal of fun! They are not nearly as difficult as one might think.  What lesson is there to be learned from this? Read up on a technique, and keep it in mind when a new project presents itself.

Next week, there should be some updates on the Easter Set  Pulpit fall and the Angus Dei which both feature variations of these stitches.  Thanks for reading.

Solo Dei Gloria

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