Sunday, 14 July 2013

Shamrock Biscornu

Perhaps I've been living on a different planet for the last couple of years and to some stitchers this may come as quite a surprise, but only just recently I discovered biscornus and think they're just so cute. The name, derived from a French adjective, means "skewed, quirky or irregular", "that which has an irregular form with projections" or "complicated and bizarre".  In fact they are small 8-sided wadding-stuffed ornamental pillows which can be used as pincushions, ornaments, key chain/mobile phone decorations, scissor fobs, sachets, etc. and are usually made of Aida cloth or linen and decorated top and bottom with embroidery, cross stitch or hardanger.  A button secures the centre of the cushion and helps give the small depression needed to finish the shape and beads, tassels, etc. can be used to further decorate and adorn and depending on the pattern added either during the design or finishing stage. Whilst biscornus can be of any size - small or large - it is, however, very important that both stitched sides are square and exactly the same size to ensure complete evenness during the stitch-up stage.  

My first biscornu attempt is this Shamrock Maze by Virginia Knutson of VeeandCo Cross Stitch Designs, a complimentary pattern she designed when we both participated as exhibitors in the Counted Wishes Festival a couple of years ago.  

As this was my first attempt, colours and buttons used were just from my stash and not the colours recommended by the designer, but it gave me the idea of the importance of keeping the work neat and square.

I won't go in to specifics on the finishing techniques of a biscornu as there are ample tutorials online.  A couple of helpful tutorial sites to visit though are and There are also books and a myriad of websites offering simply beautiful designs for inspiration. 

Recently I bought myself a book titled 'Teach Yourself to Make a Biscornu' from Bobbie Watts a fellow Aussie living in Tasmania.  She has produced some exquisite designs adorned with tassels, beads, cords and organza pom-poms and stitched with a variety of embroidery stitches and cross stitch.  I could very easily stitch each and every one of them - such is the stitcher's and crafter's dilemma.


'Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you' - Henry David Thoreau

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