A Blackwork Christmas Ornament

I’ve been on a bit of a blackwork fest recently. I have always loved blackwork – I once started stitching the Six Wives of Henry VIII in blackwork and I even managed to complete three! I still have the frames to frame the others so maybe I will actually get round to stitching them one day! I’ve made a few blackwork biscornu lately so I thought I would have a go at making a blackwork Christmas Ornament instead. I always try to make at least one new ornament each year – last year I made some tatted snowflakes, but this year I had a bit of a yearning to do some more blackwork.

I decided to use the traditional black on white with a hint of gold thread here and there, to add a bit of festive sparkle. Choosing the fillings is always fun but I tried to choose two that looked good even on a very small scale. Once I’d stitched the design twice (once for each side), I whip stitched them together, inserting some white card for a bit of stiffness.

I wanted to make a hanging loop and I thought ribbon would look very nice. However, buying ribbon is not as easy as it might seem in Gambia. I waited until I went to Brikama, our nearest town, and then had a good hunt around the market. If you’ve ever been to an African market or seen one on TV then you’ll know they are very busy and crowded, and Brikama Market is no exception. It’s also a complete rabbit warren of little alleyways, some covered and some not, with stalls crammed along each side, selling vegetables, foodstuffs, fabric and all kinds of other things.

The little tailor shops usually consist of a couple of young lads working feverishly on treadle sewing machines and ironing their creations with a charcoal-filled iron. The tailor himself is often cutting out fabric or measuring customers; if you want clothing made, you buy the fabric, take it to the tailor, and tell him what style you want – if you’re lucky there may be some pattern catalogues there for inspiration. The tailor takes a few quick measurements and you return a few days later to collect your new clothes.

I looked through all the haberdashery shops and even some of the tailor shops, but I couldn’t find ribbon anywhere. The nearest I could find was something that looks like ribbon but is constructed like bias binding. In the end I bought some of that for 1 dalasi (2p) a metre and took it home. I folded it in half and hand-stitched it with invisible hemming to make a narrow ribbon – not perfect, but it looked OK. And I was very pleased with my little ornament!


Blackwork Christmas Ornament

Once I’d made a traditional version I wondered what the design would look like done in Christmas red and green, so I stitched a second one.

Blackwork Christmas Ornament

Blackwork Christmas Ornament

I am so pleased with the result. So now I have two ornaments for the price of one!

If you want to stitch this, you can find the pattern in my Etsy shop Stitches ‘N’ Dreams. Meanwhile, all I have to do is find a way to hang my ornaments up ready for Christmas. Are you still stitching ornaments or are you one of those people who is well-organised and gets Christmas things stitched well in advance? I hope all your Christmas stitching is going well.

10 comments on “A Blackwork Christmas Ornament

    • Thanks Chris. I’ve been surprised at how tricky it is to find some things like ribbon and buttons, but of course we do have beautiful African fabric, so I can’t really complain! 😉

  1. very pretty, especially the red & green one.
    My xmas préparations aren’t happening this year, but I’m sure I’ll be raring to go for xmas 2015

  2. Very pretty! I especially like the red and green version. I am still stitching Christmas ornaments. I ran out of ribbon, and although I can get it more easily than you can, it’s still an hours drive away, not a trip to make just to get ribbon! So I made cording out of green and red floss and used that instead. 🙂

    • That’s a skill I would love to learn properly! I’ve tried once or twice but never quite managed to get the tension right but I think I should persevere as I like the idea of matching cording. 🙂

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