RSN Silk Shading – 3rd Certificate Module finished.

The third of the RSN Summer Intensive modules for 2018 has now come to an end. Jen Goodwin, Amy Burt, and Sarah Smith were the RSN Tutors for our class of 11. There was also another classroom with 6 students, so in total 17 Silk Shading students.

Like the prior modules it was a very solid workload  from day 1. RSN silk shading aims to produce a fairly photo realistic version of your design/image so is is a really good idea to have a very high quality image to begin. As I explained in my last post, lots of work was done on paper to refine designs and prepare before the design was pricked and then applied to the silk, then finally by the second day, or third day for some students, we were ready to begin stitching.

Photo realistic Silk Shading means that you try to match your thread colour accurately to the area you are stitching, while maintaining the correct stitch direction to follow the line of growth, and keeping the stitches a good length, but not too long, and shading in any nuance of colour change. This is were the sharp eyes of the tutors came in handy, as it is very easy for your brain to tell you that a certain colour was needed when in fact the shade should have been darker, lighter or muddier! The tutors are also very experienced at noticing where a thread or stitch my have gone off line, hopefully before you have gone too far ahead with the stitching.

I was happy to discover that I continued to love my design throughout the entire stitching – that is I didn’t grow tired of it – and I continued to find small colour variations in the piece each time I thought I finally had the colours right. In all I ended up using 33 colours of stranded cotton – mostly DMC with a few Anchor threads where needed for the correct colour match – and this number is considered about average for this small (less than 8cm square) design.

Stitching was slow work and I think I averaged 1 square centimetre per hour,  intense indeed but well worth it to learn this wonderful technique. I did manage to get the piece stitched and mounted via the RSN method, and handed in on the last day thanks to the support of some wonderful tutors. I was somewhat disappointed to find that even after all of my frame tightening throughout the stitching and the significant work to mount the piece a tightly as possible ( took all of the final day) that a few small ripples then appeared in the mounted silk. The tutors explained that this often happens when there are small unstitched areas between heavily stitched areas eg between the leaves in my design. Wish I knew this from the start as I would have left that right-most leaf off, or potentially laced the piece on as part of the mounting process.  This has meant that I am a little dissatisfied with the final presentation of the piece, and I am wondering about retrieving it from the RSN vaults to have another go at mounting but I will let you judge via this picture.

My attention has now moved on to the next module – Goldwork.


By Sally

Passionate embroiderer who loves to learn and pass on fine hand embroidery skills.


  1. It looks fantastic Sally. It looks incredibly realistic. I am sure you will get full marks for this one. Hope the mounting will be ok in the end. It is a shame it has to be rushed at the end of the intensive. You would probably have felt better about it if you had more time. Good luck with the goldwork!

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  2. Wow! What an incredible piece you have created. It sounds like you had some great tutoring and instruction throughout too. I am amazed at how many threads are required to stitch these small designs. It’s incredible we can work them in really!

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  3. Absolutely beautiful result! It looks 3D! So realistic, I wanted to pick it up!! ( I confess, I enlarged the photo to see if it really is flat!) Can’t wait to see it fist hand! The shine on that big leaf is amazing! Love the colours! I also like the leaf on the far right. Excellent design! Can’t wait to see the Gold work!

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  4. I honestly thought that I was looking at a photograph when I first saw the design. The piece looks super fabulous! Congratulations Sally. I’m glad you left that leaf in the design as I think it would have been unbalanced without it. Good luck for the goldwork.

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