Kimberly Servello's Embroidery Blog

Kimberly Servello - Pattern Drawer and Embroideress

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mistletoe Scarf That Could Have Been Worn to King Henry VIII's Coronation

"Their own apparel and that of their horses was of black velvet, covered all over with branches of honeysuckle " of fine flat gold of damask, of lose worke, every lefe of the braunche mouing, the embroudery was very conning and sumpteous."

...from Hall's Chronicle containing the History of England of Henry the 4th to the end of the reign of Henry the 8th  ( 1548 and 1550 editions)

My inspiration for this scarf came from the preceding passage - a description of King Henry VIII's coronation procession.  When I read this excerpt I could see the horse trappings and banners with embroidered honeysuckle leaves, moving in the wind, as the horses and men progressed.  

At the time I read this passage,  I also happened to be  looking for an idea for a Winter / Holiday scarf....

Wouldn't mistletoe leaves look lovely and lend themselves to "moving in the wind" on a scarf?  

...The leaves would be formed from detached buttonhole stitch, which would be stitched on a couched outline on linen, and then cut away and fastened to the velvet.   (A much simpler process than it sounds.)

And there must be gold, real gold, as King Henry VIII's  procession would have had.  Branches worked in chain stitch in gold wire and gold spangles would answer to that.

To make it even more life-like, the mistletoe berries could be worked in spiral trellis so they stand away from the fabric,  seeming to be real berries.

 I recalled the gorgeous aubergine velvet I'd bought at a local shop -  not knowing what I'd do with it at the time - but unable to resist its luxurious look and feel.  It's a cotton velvet - unusual nowadays - with an exceptionally dense pile.  

The embroidery, and most of the assembly, was done last winter.  I wanted the perfect fringe to finish it, and couldn't find it locally.  It had to be a fine and rich looking gold.

  At last, a few weeks ago, my neighbor took me to NYC to enjoy the Christmas festivities.  During our visit I stopped in at Tinsel Trading Company.  I'd wanted to visit them for a couple years, and I had pinned my hopes on finding a fringe for my scarf there.  I wasn't disappointed.  The richness of it is perfect for the gold embroidery. 

 If you get the chance to visit Tinsel Trading do so!  I was like a child in a candy shop  - I wanted one of everything!  They have vintage, new and reproduction notions, displayed in old-world style, custom cabinetry.

I lined the scarf with a gold and silk gauzy fabric, found locally.

Voila - a scarf was born.  Can you see it in King Henry VIII's procession, moving in the wind, as I progress on horseback?

Mistletoe appears in the great herbal book of Leonhart Fuchs, De Historia Stirpium, published in 1542, which is known to have been available in England.

In England, the first written mention of mistletoe, in context with Christmas, appears in 1622, seemingly not a new custom by that time, although possibly regional.  (Reference Life in Elizabethan England)

Threads and stitches used on the Mistletoe Scarf :  
Spiral Trellis for the berries using Au Ver a Soie Perlee thread in color 211 - off white
Needlelace for the leaves using Gilt Sylke Twist (GST) thread in Gawdie Green -
   They were attached to the scarf with 3 or 4 back stitches that represent a center leaf vein
Reverse Chain for the branches in #4 Smooth Passing gold wire by Golden Threads
#4 gold spangles from Access Commodities
Glass Seed Beads from Mill Hill, color 00123

Finished scarf dimensions :  5" wide x 72" long, not including fringe.  Fringe width = 1-1/4"


  1. It looks gorgeous and the fringe is just the right finishing touch!

  2. This is such a beautiful work! I love the textures and the combination of colors! YOu have inspired me to see what I can make from all the fabric and threads I have in my crafts closet - thank you! :-)

  3. I am in love with it! Will be ordering the fabric from you after the holiday stuff is over :) Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  4. It's lovely. So luxurious.

  5. Would a silk velvet be too light weight for this project or would you stick with a cotton velvet?

    1. Hi Wendi,

      Silk velvet would be even better -much more supple! I've never stitched on silk velvet, but I'm sure it would present a challenge. Have you stitched on it before?

    2. I am actually going to to take a stab at the Mistletoe scarf found in the latest issue of Inspirations #76. I'm sure you are very familiar with this pattern. I do plan on taking a couple of creative liberties if that's okay. I rarely follow a recipe as written.

      I would also like for you to know that because of your website, Thistle-Threads and the Plimoth Jacket, I am becoming more interested in this type of "Elizabethan, historical"embroidery. I am trying out new fibers and techniques that I would not have normally tried. The spiral trellis and detached leaves are really enjoyable to execute.

    3. I didn't answer your question-No, I have not stitched on silk velvet before.

    4. Hi Wendy,

      It was great to read that I've been one of your inspirations to try Elizabethan embroidery! Getting more people interested in historical embroidery is one of my goals for this blog.

      Please feel free to change my Mistletoe Scarf pattern, as published in Inspirations issue 76! Patterns are meant to be reinvented! I like to see how people have altered my patterns. If you'd like to share pics of the finished scarf with me, my email address is

      Happy Stitching!

  6. While jackets and shirts are the most common locations of embroidery , you can also attach them to other pieces of clothing. get information

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