Our Tonkin embroidery floss contains a strand of lurex. It is made of textured polyester, which gives it a slightly puffy aspect. This aspect is particularly interesting for fabric embellishment as it gives volume to the embroidery stitches. The lurex strand is randomly distributed which gives radiance to the stitches without making them too glittery.
This thread was originally created for embroiderers in Haute Couture houses in Paris, which speaks volumes on the quality!
Number of floss strands to use:
Whatever the motif, flowers or leaves, you will need one strand of Tonkin embroidery floss folded in two. Watch the video before starting to embroider to see how to thread your needle.
Of course, you are not going to embroider all the fabric, but just pick out certain flowers and leaves. Here we have chosen to embellish the central band of the tote bag, but the fun thing with this embroidery is that it is you that chooses what to do and the end result will be totally unique!
The choice of colours of embroidery floss:
When embellishing a printed fabric, it is not at all necessary to choose a floss that matches the fabric. A couple of darker or lighter flosses can give a different aspect to the result. Here we have used the Tonkin lawn embroidery floss (1014) which is a lot lighter than the leaves on the fabric.
Embroidery floss and material you will need:
- a swatch of Napoleon’s Indienne fabric;
- four cards of Tonkin embroidery floss: 1014, 1016, 1020 and 1024;
- a booklet of round-tipped embroider needles;
- a 15cm wooden embroidery hoop;
- a pair of scissors.
If you have purchased our embroidery box Napoleon's indienne, you will have the tote bag and be ready to go.
If you have bought a fabric swatch, what better than to transform it afterwards into a small cushion, a pouch or even a drawstring bag? You can find a video with detailed explanations on how to sew the drawstring bag in Madame Sajou’s Diary.
All the stitches are clearly shown on the video, however, the explanations and recommendations are in French. Here is the translation:
Pull the fabric tightly on the embroidery hoop.
The embroidery stitches used:
Straight stitch (or long stitch) is one of the simplest stitches in embroidery. It is a vertical stitch that can be more or less long, depending on the desired result and can be multi-directional. Cut about 60cm of floss, separate one strand and fold in two. Thread your needle with the cut ends, you will need the loop to start your embroidery. Pass the needle through the front of your fabric and bring it back up again, passing through the loop to form a tiny stitch. Your floss is now solidly anchored without a knot, for a very neat result.
To embroider a round shape:
As shown on the video, always start a round shape in the middle. Bring the needle up on the edge of the circle and take down on the opposite side. The rest of the motif is sewn using shorter stitches on either side. It is similar to satin stitch without being as closely sewn. Once you have finished the motif, pass the floss through the strands on the back to fix into place and cut away the excess.
To embroider a curved shape:
Fix your floss as previously, then follow the curves using slightly slanted stitches, the idea being to have a straight stitch in the middle of the curve. The stitches do not overlap, they sit next to each other, being closer together near the centre of the curve. Once you reach the middle, continue the other way round.
Leaf stitch :
The well-named leaf stitch is traditionally used for leaves and foliage. Proceed to thread your needle as above. As before, fix your thread by going from the middle of the leaf to the tip. Bring your needle up on the left and stitch down just underneath the central stitch. Do the same on the other side and continue on alternating left and right until the bottom of the leaf.
These slanted stitches crossing in a V shape will naturally mark the midrib of the leaf.
This fabric is called Napoleon’s Indienne because it is the reedition of the fabric which adorned Napoleon’s campaign tent. We have also reedited the carpet motif from this same tent with a gorgeous leopard print.
The Emperor Napoleon and his wife Josephine were renowned for their fine taste in fabrics of all sorts. They were also highly implicated in the silk industry in Lyon, the source of their supplies for their imperial palaces: Fontainebleau, Compiegne Chateau, Saint-Cloud Chateau (which no longer exists), the Malmaison Chateau and even the Versailles Palace.
Sometimes their orders were so large that many metres of unused fabrics from this period can be found in the reserves at Versailles!
See all our Napoleon and Josephine embroideries in our Museums and Heritage collection, including this motif to embroider in cross stitch.
See also our collection of haberdashery products with a Napoleon and Josephine theme.