Saturday, May 1, 2010

Layer One: Mane (Eating the Watermelon)

Yesterday, I finished stem stitching the lion's legs and also covered his body with stitches.  In the photo above, his lower tummy is done in split stitch instead of the stem stitches I used elsewhere on the body to make a smaller and smoother first layer of stitches.  Stomaches often have shorter and smoother fur than areas like the shaggy mane or even the legs.  Remember, this is just the first layer.  I'll go back and add stem stitches using just one ply of my silk or cotton floss on top to add definition and shading to the fur.

Once I finished the first layer of stitches on all four legs and the body of the lion, it was time to stitch the mane around his face.  The mane is heavily padded with two layers of thread, so I can't see the canvas colors here.  They are hidden by the thread layers.  This is why I made a color copy of my canvas before I stitched anything on it.  It is a reference for me to stitch areas like the mane.

Looking at my photo, I added stem stitches  in my brown DMC floss to help me follow the flow of the mane.  These dark stitches are guidelines to help me place other colors.  They also divide the mane up into manageable areas that will be easier to stitch.  Small sections help you keep the flow of the mane going in the right direction.  Just like eating a watermelon-- one slices a watermelon into small segments before eating it.  Stitching a needle painted animal means the critter has to be cut into smaller segments.  You don't "eat" it all at once!

By the way, I switched to a sharp beading needle when I started stitching this padded area.  A crewel needle or a milliner's needle work also.  You just need a sharp tipped needle to both go through the padding layers and to pierce a needlepoint canvas thread in case you want to put a stitch down where there isn't a hole.

After putting in the guidelines for the mane, I stitched the ear using three slanted stitches in my brown DMC floss which I went over several times to make it stand out a bit.  After that, I switched to my beading needle and one ply of the various colors to start adding areas around the face.  In the photo above I've filled in around the top of his head, under his jaw and near the ear.  There's a long way to go but it is just carefully adding stem stitches following how the mane flows.  This isn't hard, it just takes a while because you aren't eating the watermelon as a whole, just segments.

The canvas is starting to take its final form now. At least you can see what the lion will look like on top of the heavily patterned plaid background.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at


  1. When I saw the picture, "Wow, this looks great" is what I said outloud!

  2. I'm glad you like it, Pat. I took it to my stitching neighbors' house today and we all decided that the red crown should be gold, so I'll be ripping that out and replacing it tonight before I do more mane.