White boar livery badge

Do forgive the silly title. This post isn’t really about crewel embroidery, but I couldn’t resist that delicious Middle English pun. (Please don’t tell me that it isn’t all that delicious: I prefer to think that it is.)

What with A Certain Important Event fast approaching, I wanted to make a white boar livery badge of my very own design. I drew my boar, and transferred it onto fabric with my hi-tech embroidery equipment (that is, an old glass frame, some adhesive tape, and a pencil). I picked out some nice old materials from my stash, including beige linen thread and absolutely lovely off-white vintage German yarn. I don’t believe in using fancy-schmancy embroidery floss for embroidery: I stubbornly use whatever random threads and yarns I find at flea markets, and this doesn’t always give the best of results, as you will see.

White boar embroidery design


I was actually quite proud of that design until my mother dampened my spirits by pointing out that the boar looks like our dog Tara. Tara looks slightly offended at the comparison, but I do see the point. For some reason, all animals I draw end up looking like dogs. Funny, that.

Boar vs. Dog

The plan was simple. I would make the outlines with split stitch (mostly with the main cream-coloured thread, and partly with the beige thread, to accentuate certain parts) and fill out most of the body with long-and-short stitch, with the occasional satin stitch for emphasis. The direction of the individual hairs was to be as follows:


As I was stitching away, it didn’t take me long to realise that the colours I’d chosen resulted in a blurry mess, but by that time it was too late to turn back: my ferocious white boar was becoming something vaguely resembling a fat cream-coloured poodle, or a sheep with some anger management issues.

Distracted by this thought, I pricked my finger with the needle and bled all over the boar’s snout and tusks. (You may see a light remnant of a bloodstain on the canvas, if you look closely enough. . . ) I didn’t feel like starting all over again, so I tried to disguise the blood with further layers of thread, and that was a big mistake, as you can see in the image below. Far too much bulk on the face. Not to mention an eye that seems to be bulging out of its socket. And a bulging red tongue that makes the poor boar look like it’s suffering from a major allergic reaction.

Embroidered White Boar

Yeah. . . no. Just no. The only thing I’m satisfied with is the texture of the fur (apart from the bristles on the back: not sure what I was trying to do with those, but whatever it was, it didn’t succeed). Practically nothing else turned out the way I’d planned. Oh, well! Better luck next time, I suppose.

However, the clumsiness does make it look more Mediaeval, somehow; perhaps there is a silver lining to be found here, once the initial disappointment wears off. I haven’t bothered to turn this into a proper badge yet, but eventually I might. The original plan was to cut the boar out of the fabric and back it with felt, but I never did decide how I’d finish the edges. (Suggestions welcome. Yes, I know I should have thought of this before I even got started . . .)

I still think the original design wasn’t half bad. A more skilled embroiderer might be able to make something out of it; and anyone might achieve better results than mine if they:

(a) used finer floss, and a better colour scheme with more contrast; and

(b) refrained from bleeding all over the place.

I suppose it is strangely appropriate, though, that blood was spilt in the making of a Ricardian badge.

9 Responses to “The Crewel Hogge: A White Boar Livery Badge”

  1. Moira says:

    It has great character … and it’s unique, not reproducing somebody’s else’s design. I like it: it has personality (as well as blood) … and we learn by doing it a bit wrong.

    Good work, that woman!

  2. Moira says:

    It has great character … and it’s unique, not reproducing somebody else’s design. I like it: it has personality (as well as blood) … and we learn by doing it a bit wrong.

    Good work, that woman!

  3. Moira says:

    So good, I said it twice … the first time with a typo. *blushes*

  4. Kate says:

    Though I’m not a freehand embroidered (the confines of cross stitch for me) I wonder if your thread was too thick for the size of the image? If the boar had been three tiles the size, I think the floss would have worked beautifully. But I do like the tiny tufty boar with aggressive tusks and furriness, it works for me.

    • Thank you, Kate! :) Yes, you’re right – definitely too thick. I wonder if it’s so difficult to find really fine embroidery thread… at least in our local shops. I had to order fine black thread from the UK for a future project, and even that was hard to find online. Odd.

      Cross-stitch! Now, there’s something I’d love to learn one day. Would love to see your work.

      P.S. Alas, I think a comment preview isn’t happening any time soon: I scarcely got the comments to work at all. Argh!

  5. Kate says:

    oooh, double typos for me too! What this comments section needs is a preview option ….

  6. Jackie says:

    I chuckled all the way through this post, enjoying the way you make an ordinary project so entertaining. Even though it didn’t work out quite as expected, it still does look Medieval & as you say, the fur is very crisp.
    I do the arrow thing with my prelims for many of my paintings, I would think it would be even more important to do with a sewing project.
    And Tara is much cuter than the boar, so she needn’t worry.

    • Thank you, Jackie :) Your work is so detailed that I can see you definitely need to know where each hair or feather goes. (I did say earlier that your work would be great for embroidery – it would, you know… though it would require someone who’s better at it than I am!)

      Tara says thank you, as well! She’s still a bit miffed about being compared to a boar, though she usually doesn’t mind when we call her Piggy.

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