"L" is for Lynn

Lynn Schoeffler © 2010

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Letter L courtesy of Briar Press Graphics; background from Images by Kim.

Haven't you always loved monograms? I have! I admit, however, I don't like stitching them. All those scroll-y lines, the weird little angel and monster faces in the really old ones, and all that Satin Stitch or Stem Stitch to fill in even the elegant, plain ones.

Several years ago I had purchased a package of vintage pressed cotton monograms during a visit to Lacis in Berkeley, California. Although I understood that these were forms used as guides for machine stitched monograms, I thought they would be easy to stitch over; completely forgetting about my aversion to Satin Stitch in that delicious moment when you find something novel, vintage and somewhat reasonably priced!

So when I came across the little things again in a recent stash ravage, I put them aside to actually do something with them. At first, I thought I'd paint them, but realized that they were just too delicate to be simply sewn onto fabric; I needed something that would stand up to paint, stitching and beading. It was a pretty easy segue to the Peltex heavy weight stabilizer that I use for beading.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Peltex 70 Ultra Firm Stablizer, without adhesive (available at any large fabric store)
  • Ultra fine permanent marker
  • Sharp embroidery scissors
  • Curved appliqué scissors if you have them
  • Rice paper or thin interfacing for image transfer
  • Monogram images
  • Paint brush, small and pointed
  • Lumiere acrylic metallic paint
  • NeoPaque paint in black
  • Small beads for decoration

To Start:

A Google search will find any number of copyright free monogram images. You can also find images that are free for educational and personal use, from such internet sites as Odesea 2008. Dover books also have very nice monograms.

Start by transferring your image onto the Peltex. This stabilizer has one side that is slightly smoother than the other; iron it with a hot iron to smooth it a little more. Although it would have been lovely to just run the Peltex through my printer and have the image printed right on--it wasn't to be. Even the lighter weight is just too thick. So, trace your monogram on a piece of rice paper with the permanent marker. Position the rice paper on the Peltex and re-trace; the ink will seep through to mark the Peltex. When you compare the pages of initials, you can see that the painted letters are simplified to make them work in this format. Do a page of monograms at a time; they make nice little gifts to tuck into a round robin or swap!

Now, for the fun part! If necessary, thin the paint to the consistency of light cream; it shouldn't migrate on the Peltex at all. You could use almost any color, but I preferred the striking black and Sunset Gold combination. Other colors I tried are the Metallic Burgundy, Super Copper, Old Brass and Citrine. You can buy Lumiere in some craft stores in an Exciter pack, with a number of different colors. I also tried some metallic gold markers like DecoColor, but they abrade the surface of the Peltex, and they don't penetrate well. You can see that the black part of the "L" in the photo above the letter "S" is not near as dark as the painted "S".

I found that you really have to dab the paint rather than brush it on, again because of the rough surface. Paint the background color first and let dry; Lumiere paint dries very fast. Add the highlights and painted decorations next. On some letters, like the large "S" you don't have to be too careful about staying in the lines--when you cut the letter out, you'll have a nice clean edge.

When the paint is dry, use the sharp scissors to cut out the inside white parts first. On the outside edges, I found that if I angled the edge of the scissors down and outward, I could achieve a clean beveled edge, though that is more difficult on the small inside shapes.

When you have the letter cut out, paint the edge with your choice of color--it's actually easy to do and adds a nice finish to the letter. Lay your letter on a piece of paper, and then load your small brush with a slight amount of paint. Holding the letter down with one hand, push the paint along the edge of the letter--you should see just a faint line of paint. This is much easier than trying to do a nice edge from the top of the letter, and you can see how it adds to the look with a contrasting color.


Let the paint dry and then stitch your letters onto fabric; you can catch the underside of the Peltex with needle and thread, or sew beads onto the letter to hold it in place.

When I cut the letter "I" out, I left the curved line as a marking guide for stitching. After marking the base fabric, I finished cutting the letter out and then tacked it down from underneath. That made it easy to stitch the curvy line, as well as add a few more embellishments.


The entwined letters "a" and "B" were fun to do--simply trace each letter separately, and then twist them together as per your example. I thought I would have to cut the bottom letter apart and hide the cut under the top letter, but it wasn't necessary; I just had to do a little extra trimming on the black initial to make them fit together.

In the end, did I save any time by painting letters instead of stitching them, as was my original plan? Probably not, but since I'd rather paint than Satin Stitch, it's a moot point to me!

Copper filigrees direct from France! Thanks, Cynthia!

Resources for monograms:

Briar Press--many of the monograms here are free downloads, however, some have charges, so please check before using them.


Odesea 2008--according to the website, these initials were first published in 1886 by Freeman Delamotte, and are available for scholarship and personal use from Operina.com 


Images By Kim: http://imagesbykim.blogspot.com/

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