I started stitching Trish Burr’s ‘For the Love of Wrens’ design nearly two weeks ago and so far I have stitched the branch, the tails and the eyes and I can truly say it is the most challenging kit I have stitched so far.

As I mentioned in my post about starting this kit, I did feel a bit apprehensive about starting it but I had never considered how very different it would be to work the long and short stitches. I had previously stitched a rose using long and short stitches but stitching something furry, or feathery in this case, requires an entirely different technique despite using the same stitches. Whereas with silk shading you are trying to be as neat as possible and have all threads sitting nicely side by side without any background showing when your stitching something feathery you are mixing colours and varying angles in order to make the final thing look fluffy rather than smooth and blocky.

I did find myself constantly going back and forward with the different colours to try and make the tails look realistic. The real challenge is, that even though the patterns states which colours you need for each part, it doesn’t state exactly where to put each colour. Using the photographs I have been trying to interpret the colour placement and make it into my own. I suppose I ought to treat this challenge as practice for when I will be designing my own patterns during my certificate course.

Another challenge is that you can’t really tell whether you are progressing nicely as I found that the stitching looks horrible and wrong until you have completely finished a particular part. This is in contrast to most other embroidery techniques where you can always see your work progressing and looking nicer with every stitch.

I did not really want to take any photographs halfway through stitching the tail of the male wren, but I did, just to show you what I mean about it looking horrible until it is finished.


I was also not very pleased about the branch I stitched, as I thought it looked really stripy. Following the advice from my Instagram followers, I have decided to leave it until I have stitched a little bit more of the birds to put it into perspective. The branch on its own may look odd whereas it may look better when surrounded by other items. If it doesn’t I can still unpick and redo it.


I suppose I should not compare it to Trish Burr’s original, even though it is difficult not to when the pattern is right in front of me. It is, after all, my first ever attempt. Do let me know what you think about my progress so far. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

I will try and stitch the leaves next, I think. That way I can really tell whether the branch looks okay or whether it needs something else.

Posted by:Marlous

8 replies on “Wrens in the making

  1. This is a difficult technique to get the hang of that’s for sure! It is quite difficult and I know what you mean about the difference between stitching a flower compared to stitching feathers or fur. I did the fox by Tanja Berlin, and using her technique there was actually very little difference, it was more about how far into the previous stitch you go, and being very aware of the minute stitch direction changes, with the seemingly random stitches only happening on the last ‘row’.

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  2. I think you are doing well. I agree that it is a rather dispiriting technique, in that it doesn’t look good nearly early enough, especially if you are a beginner! I do see what you mean about the stripy branch, but it may not look quite so stripy when the birds are in place. Hold your nerve!

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  3. This looks like a very ambitious project, and I am afraid I can offer little help as I have not attempted silk shading so far. I love the eyes of the little birds and the tails look great to me. As to the branch, the bottom colours seem to blend in together well (from your picture) and it might just be the lighter colours laying on top of them that give it a more stripy appearance- once the feet are completed it may change the overall look again…… Just looked on line at the Trish Burr example – and you can see the lines of colour in her work too – so don’t be so hard on yourself.

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    1. Thank you! I really like the eyes too, they are really cute, and I am quite happy with the tail. The branch is already looking better now some other bits have been stitched. As you said the feet will probably change the look again, so I am sure it will be alright in the end.

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