Au Ver A Soie · Christmas · Gloriana · iStitch Designs · The Grey Tail · WIP

Sew Advent, Sew Early, Sew Long, Sew Late

Well, hello! I’ve tried to come back to blogging sew many times 😉 let’s see if this time it works. 🤞

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Recently I picked up an oldish WIP, the 2015 Sew Advent Band Sampler, and after Carol, the designer, asked to share one of my progress pictures with the iStitch Design FB Group, she told me a few members wanted to know what I used for it.

watermarked22016-12-01-1104If you know me or have been a follower of this blog, you know I’m not very active these days, least of all on FB, and I would hate to leave someone with doubts or even worse, purchasing the wrong (pretty expensive) silk skeins just because I think I explained myself but actually didn’t. Add to that that I’m not a fan of how comments can get lost or queued down on FB so that you have to spend a considerable amount of time shifting through posts and reply nests — classic FB 🙄 so unpractical.

So this is just a (sort of) quick post to answer those requests regarding my version of the Sew Advent Band Sampler. If you’re new to The Grey Tail, welcome! 😊❤️ If you’ve been following the tail for a while, welcome back! ❤️😉 I can’t promise to be very active, but I’ll try my best, I do miss my needlework-blog friends.

If you’re not familiar with this pattern, the proper name is Sew Advent 2015, and it’s an advent band sampler by Carol Ridyard aka iStitch Designs; here is a direct link to her blog where you can purchase the chart. You can also email her if you like, you can find her contact in her blog, she’s a really nice person and so very helpful with picky, inquisitive stitchers, I know one. 😉

This sampler band was initially released in 2015 as a daily advent kind of SAL, with a couple of rows of the pattern emailed every day until Christmas Day. Sadly, I couldn’t keep up with it as my hoop-in-hand stitching has been causing me annoying shoulder aches for a while now. It has considerably subsided in the past year or so, but I’m still afraid of it flaring back, so I tend to use a floor stand as much as possible. For this project it’s quite unpractical though: it’s way too small in width to be set on the floor stand, although I do place it under the magnifier I have attached to the stand so that I don’t stress my eyes. 🤓

If you purchase your copy of the Band Sampler now I suppose you’ll receive it all in one chart; once you do, I would recommend to open it up, take a quick look at its structure, and then come back here to take a few notes as to what colour is used where. The original pattern is designed to have only a few accents of colour here and there, the majority of the stitching is done in white on contrasting fabric. I love that look, but at the same time I know myself: all that monochrome stitching, sadly, tends to grow old on me fairly soon. I’m the kind of stitcher that needs something to keep her motivated as a project grows, a challenge of sorts, if you will, and coming up with my own colour palette for a design is the kind of thing I like to play with. 🎉🎨🤸🏻‍♀️

I narrowed things down to a few solid silks in a few brands, but that’s mainly because I wanted to stitch this one from stash, if I had to kit it up I might have chosen a lighter green, a lighter brown, .. I can’t really say, I’ve been playing with different shades recently because of the new SAL Carol announced for next year, so I’m in that very exciting phase of colour auditions that you just can’t wait to see on fabric. 😉

Speaking of fabric, this one is easier to refer to: it’s a Vaupel & Heilenbeck linen band in a natural shade pre-finished with a perforated border on the sides, it’s no longer available at the shop I got it from so I cannot add a direct link, but here’s whatever details I could dig up about it:

V&H calls these Leinenbänder mit Hohlsaum, bands with hemstitch (pulled holes), they come in various widths and colours, all in 28 ct, and the one I used is a natural shade in 12 cm width, the code for this specific kind of decorative band in this colour is #977 (but you have to make sure you order the correct width). Here is a link to Vaupel’s website page about these particular linen bands, you can see from the pictures and info listed what I mean about the colour options, codes and widths. There’re also lovely pictures of these bands being made on traditional wooden frames, which is the reason why they only come in certain widths, and always only in 28 ct. The quality is superb, they’re by far my favourite option when it comes to over 1 stitching.

These bands can be a bit tricky to source, depending on where you live in the world, but in recent years I’ve seen them pop up on American needlework shops websites, and as Carol recently mentioned in one of her newsletters, there’s a reseller in Netherlands that carries them too.

For this project I used a 50 cm length, which includes 10-12 cm margins at the top and bottom to allow for whatever finishing I decide to go for.


Now for the trickier part, the threads. Well, the thread list is easy, where do the colours go, that’s a different story. 😉

I used three pinks (a light, medium and dark), a green, a brown and a white. Again, these are different brands and quite strong juxtapositions of colour, but as I mentioned, I wanted to stitch this band from stash so I played with what I had.

thread list

light pink: Au Ver A Soie Soie d’Alger #4621 B

medium pink: Au Ver A Soie Soie d’Alger #4623

dark pink: Au Ver A Soie Soie d’Alger #4624

brown: Au Ver A Soie Soie d’Alger #4136

green: Needlepoint Inc. #254

white: Gloriana Winter White #190

If you stitch this on 28 ct 1 over 1 like I’m doing you’ll find that you need only one skein for each tone, I don’t think you would need more if you switch to 2 plies, but I can’t be 100% sure, honestly.


stitching plan

It really is easier to see than to explain, but in case the pictures don’t give you a clear sense of what colours I used where, here are a few easy “rules” to follow:

  • When there’s a vine-like motif, use the green (this is the easiest colour to keep track of so I won’t mention its usage much).
  • Whenever the word “Christmas” is mentioned in the various languages, use the dark pink.
  • Each time the word “Christmas” is mentioned, it’s encased in two mirrored motifs at the top and bottom of the dark pink letters: these rows are always stitched in white.
  • I stitched the hearts to the left of “Kerstmis” in light pink and medium pink, and filled them in with vertical Straight Stitches using 2 plies of thread (I just kept one threaded on the needle and stitched the same vertical line twice to give it a proper fullness).
  • Because I cannot replace stitches with beads when working over 1 on 28 ct, I temporarily decided to stitch the robins’ eyes in white. I might change my mind and pull out a black silk from stash just for those two eyes once I get to them, it depends on how I fancy the look of birds with white eyes. 😉
  • I cannot think of other changes at the moment, the progress pictures in particular, I think, are quite helpful in identifying what to do where, but if you happen to have any doubts or questions, just add a comment below, I’ll update this post so that the “instructions” can be as clear as possible.

Here is a series of progress pictures, I apologise for the discrepancy in colours, it’s the different kind of daylight that’s affecting them. If I take a picture around midday it’s usually very golden and warm, if I take it earlier in the morning it’s going to look colder and less vibrant. I’ll spare you the night-time look our afternoons have these days, the sun sets at 16:30 — honestly! 😖

iStitch Designs - Sew Advent SAL 2015



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I’ll post a fresh series of progress pictures once I get to the lower sections of the band, so that you can follow along if you like. That being said, you can have your own fun with this design, in fact it’s one of the beauties of Carol’s projects: you can really experiment and “do your own thing” with them, they provide such a beautiful set-up — you could literally just print it out and start colouring in with pencils and make your own Advent Band Sampler. 😊

If you want quicker updates on the progress of this project, you can follow me on Instagram, @thegreytail, I’m much more active there (especially this month for the 30 days of close-up stitches challenge).

I’ve stitched another one of Carol’s advent bands in the past, and it was quite popular because of the gorgeous red linen I used for it, you can find all about it in these posts regarding iStitch Designs patterns I’ve worked on so far.

That’s all for now, have a lovely day and lots of happy stitching!



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P.S. I’ve promised myself, if I manage to finish the two Advent WIPs I have of Carol’s I will gift myself her new 2019 Amethyst Band Sampler, to which, again, I think I’ll add some colours. I *love* the lilacs she has chosen, but, like I said, I know myself.. if I stitch it all in two colours I’ll never make it to the end in this lifetime. 🤣 If you’re interested I could share my colour set here once it’s final. I also have ordered the beads I need for her other Advent SAL, Sew Advent 2014, so if you like I can share the details for that one too next. Ciao! 👋

13 thoughts on “Sew Advent, Sew Early, Sew Long, Sew Late

    1. I know! They’re like candy! I got her newsletter a few days ago re the new SAL for 2019 and it lit a sparkle, I dug up the ye olde WIPPEs and ordered beads, packs of beads! 🤣🤪 I’m not 100% sure I will join just because it’s going to be a very high band this time, and I know how fiddly 1 over 1 gets for me after a while, but there’s still time — and I got to play with threads, that’s always fun! 😄 Thank you for sticking around, Jo 💕


  1. Oh my goodness what a great post today.
    Thank-you for all the links, I had to check them out before commenting.
    Your Sampler is lovely, beautiful thread choices.
    The other Sampler you did of hers is a beautiful fabric and thread choice.
    Thank-you for sharing with us.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you so very much, Catherine. It did take me a minute to write it all down 😉 Hopefully I won’t make myself put together such a verbose post for a while 🤣 Have a lovely day 💕


  2. Thank you so much. You have done such beautiful work on Carol’s SAL. It is so very kind of you to share all this information! I so appreciate you taking the time to answer all of our questions. Gorgeous thread choice. Wishing you good health and a wonderful holiday season.

    Liked by 1 person

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