Saturday, November 26, 2011

TAST Challenge!

I haven't updated in quite awhile, though my hands have been busy!  I am hoping to get some posts out this week, with what all I have been working on.  In the meantime...

Have you signed up for the TAST Challenge on ?  What an excellent project for the coming year!  Every Tuesday, Sharon B will post a stitch.  Then everyone stitches up a creative sample with that stitch, and then we post pictures.  This is really exciting and I am anxious to see what everyone comes up with, each week!  The challenge starts January 3, so jump on over to Pintangle and sign up!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Or Nue Glove Cuff, progress

Well, being waylaid by illness was not how I envisioned the last few weeks, however, I have made some progress on the glove cuff.  (And there was great cheering throughout the land!)

Here is a scan, of where the glove cuff sits today:

As you can see, the left wing is finished.  I made an interesting change in tools, this week.  I noticed that my normal thread needles were chewing up the metal thread.  We went on a fabric buy this weekend, and while at the sewing store, I picked up a pack of seed bead needles.  They are a much smaller gauge than other needles, as they are made specifically to thread seed beeds.  The drawback is that they are more fragile than normal needles (of which, I have broken 4 or 5 on this project, thus far.)  However, the seed bead needles do much less damage to the moody metal threads, and I can get more fine stitches, as well.  I am going to keep playing with them and see if they'll be worth it in the long run. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Or Nue Glove Cuff, progress...

Progress on the glove cuff is slowly stitching along.  I am very pleased with the wings, thus far.  Once all of the silver is lain, I will go back through and outline the feathers, though I am almost wondering if that will be necessary.  With the grain of the metal thread, each pass almost stands alone as its own feather:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Or Nue Glove Cuff

After working on the Noblesse Largess project, yesterday, I gave some thought to the glove cuff I've been working on for my Guy.  I had hoped to have it finished as a thank you to him for all of his help with my challenge, a year ago at Harvest Raid.  However, I ran into a bit of a block, trying to lay the wings on my device.  The tower was pretty simple; I couched the silver horizontally and vertically, to help with the illusion of a three dimensional image.  However, wings are a different creature, altogether.  I tried a few different orientations for the silver, but none really looked right.

I did not have this problem with the or nue dragon's wings, as they are more angular and were mostly comprised of bones, with shaded webs between.  The wings on my device, however, are feathered wings.  As I played with them, today, I think I have settled on following the pattern of each, individual feather, shading them from top to bottom, as the top of each feather is overlapped by the feather above.

I have seen two types of shading in or nue; monochromatic and polychromatic.  Shading can be acheived by using grades of a color, which is polychromatic, or by using one color and adjusting the closeness of the couching stitches to obtain "darker" color.  On the following picture, you can see that I have used monochromatic shading on the tower, by stitching the couching stitches closer together at the edges, so that the tower appears more rounded.  I had thought of using polychromatic shading on the wings, but ultimately decided that would look funny, since the rest of the device is shaded using one color.  Hopefully, I now have the wings figured out and I can get cracking on finishing this glove cuff!

Current progress:

Earlier today, I sank all of the metal edges that can be seen in yesterday's post.  Cleaning up the ends, I can better see what I am doing ; )

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


We seem to have been innundated with The Sick this past week.  The two asthmatic chilluns were taken right to the Dr., while the rest of us were told to treat the symptoms, rest, hydrate, rest, and recouperate.  Did I mention rest?

Rest was not completely an option for me, because we had Harvest Raid this past weekend, and I was set to teach a course on basic, pre-Elizabethan embroidery.  The class went well, though only one student was in attendance.  That actually meant that I was able to better tailor things to her needs, so it was a positive!

On the project lists, I am still working away on the nightcap, and have a new project to frame up.  I joined the Noblesse Largess project, which is similiar to a secret answer a few questions about your SCAdian interests, then they match you up with a secret recipient.  You make them something of your own hands, tailored to their likes, and whomever has you as a secret recipient, does the same.  The down side is, I can't post pictures until its done and mailed to the recipient.  I can say that I have settled on a pair of gloves, using or nue for the cuff, similiar to the glove I embroidered for a past reign, and the one I am working on for The Guy:

I love or nue...well, working with metal threads in any style, really.  Metal just makes things *pop*!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Motif of the Week

I used this motif to practice the plaited braid stitch, doing the stem in goldwork.  My stitches are getting more and more uniform with every project!

I will need to do something gold towards the top of the motif, in order to balance it out.  I am thinking spangles...

Motif of the Week

I have always stated that I stink at blackwork.  It takes such precision that my ADD brain finds it too much like mathematics for comfort.  However, I decided to challenge myself a bit, and tried a bit of blackwork for this week's motif of the week:

Not bad for one of my first real forays into blackwork!  I am using black silk on linen, and hope to add goldwork for the stem of the motif.  I am thinking this may very well become a pin cushion.

I believe that the pattern is from Needle N' Thread, and I apologize if I am wrong.  Fibrofog has been horrible the last couple of weeks.  (On the positive side, I have had plenty of time to play with string.  On the negative side, I haven't been able to find my car keys in a coupl eof weeks!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Plaited Braid Stitch, fini!

I did it!  I fonally conquered the plaited braid stitch!  This is the stitch which has eluded me for many years.  I found a tutorial on Youtube, (see the link below if you have struggled as I have!) and pulled out my linen and some bamboo thread to use for practice, and here is the result!

You can see, as I progressed, how much more even my stitches became.  It really wasn't even difficult, once I could actually see the steps in motion!

For anyone right brained who learns better by seeing and doing, I highly recommend watching the tutorial.

The Quest for the Plaited Braid Stitch, returns!

It is a chilly, dreery morning here in New York.  With no real plans on the schedule today, I am going to do some practice with plaited braid stitch!  It is my hope to add this stitching into the nightcap.  Someone kindly pointed me towards Youtube for a tutorial (being extremely right brained, I pick up much more quickly seeing it done : )  Stay tuned.  It is my hope to have a proper blog on my progress by the end of the day.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I think I am going crazy.  Somewhere online, more than once, I have found a booklet from the V&A musuem on embroidery.  I don't remember if it was blackwork, or Elizabethan embroidery, but I know it was there in a pdf.  Am I going crazy, or does this truly exist?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Elizabethan Nightcap, part 3

Elmsley Rose writes, "I looked at your last entry and decided that the design was a repeated border at the base of the cap. If you are talking vines - obviously not.
May we see a copy of the full design?"

Certainly!  The design is a repeat pattern, though I seperated it to space the pattern out a bit.  Because it is pyramidal, I am using the pattern to form the triangle tops of the nightcap, which will then be sewn together.  When I said vines, I actually meant stems *blushes*  The leaves each have a stem, that resembles a scrolling vine, somewhat.

This pattern was found on Mary Corbet's website.

Here is a close-up of today's progress.  I have begun the speckling, first time trying it.  I am pretty good at shading when drawing and painting, and this carries over into the speckling, I'm finding.

I am still working on it, a bit, for better shading, but its not nearly as difficult as I would have expected. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Embroidered Nightcap, part 2

After doing a bit of research and reflection, I've found what my pattern was missing!  Take a look at this close up of an extant coif from the V&A museum:
(found here:

The vines are filled with what looks (on cursory glance) as plaited braid stitch, and the motifs use speckle stitching for shading.  I am hoping to use this as inspiration on the nightcap, as it was sorely lacking in *something*.  I think the gold will look beautiful against the teal silk : )

Monday, August 22, 2011

Embroidered Nightcap, part 1

During a couple of chilly nights at Pennsic, His Lordship commented on needing a skullcap to wear to bed to help keep him warm.  I had already been planning a nightcap, based on extant Elizabethan caps I've seen at the V&A.  The only issue was that the Elizabethan pallette was a bit more...girly than the modern "manly" pallette.  I did some thinking and found a pattern on Mary Corbet's webpages,  I used my light box to transfer the pattern onto a medium weight linen ground, and decided to use the teal mystery silk thread.  I am using split stitches for the outlining, and am still mulling whether to use blackwork designs for fill, or to use some other style of fill...

Here is a pic of my progress, thus far.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Post-Pennsic Mapcap recap

I am finally home!  Home and settled in after the weeks of prep time and the two weeks of "vacation."

I plan to work up a post tonight or tomorrow, a comparison and analysis of various silk threads that I picked up on my journeys.  I have some no name brands, some Eterna and Splendor, some heavier crewel weights, and lots and lots of desire to play and experiment with them all!

Wrapping up the loose ends, (no strings attached ; )  Here are pics of the almoner's pouches I made from my first two motifs of the week.  Handsewn, lined with linen, fingerloop braiding on the seams (thank you Miss Kit!) and tassles!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Motif of the week, progress

Yesterday, outside of playing with the new machine (which makes buttonholes in 30 seconds while I watch!) I worked on the motif of the week, the Celtic knotwork on the medieval coif.  Here is how we are progressing:

Disclaimers!  I am not really worried about keeping my filling even.  I am filling the knots with chain stitching, and while I would normally stress on the stitch consistency.  For this, I'm not really real reasons why, either, lol.

I inadvertantly left my gold/mustard wool at the Western homestead so the fill is plain old DMC floss.  I am using a double strand so that the fill goes faster; the plan is to have this project done by the weekend for the Viking Village.  (And, well, it is a motif of the week, and the week is almost over ; )

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Motif of the Week

In honor of the Viking Village this weekend, I have spent the week researching Norse embroidery and clothing styles.  Sadly, a lot of the embroidery is more involved than I would have liked for a motif of the week, but I did find some examples of motifs that slightly resembled Celtic knotwork.  This motif is more Celtic, but should dress up a Norse coif that I am making for this weekend. 

 I am using the bamboo crewel weight thread that I bought from White Wolf anf Pheonix at War Practice.  I really like hot soft the thread is and it seems to take a split stitch well, for being a larger weight thread.

I am hoping to fill in the knots with a light weight wool from Reconstructing History.  I will probably use either a split stitch or a chain stitch with the wool, as it is slightly smaller in gauge than the bamboo.  We shall see as it progresses!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Madcap Recap

What a whirlwind week!  Now that the world has stopped spinning so crazily, I have a moment to post and to breathe.

Due to an unforseen gas leak, things at the house were in a state of upheaval.  I am pleased to say that the house is now completely repiped! 

I also have been on a sewing adventure, making a steampunkish outfit for a dear friend.  Here is a picture of the jacket:

You have to ignore the ugly towel and duct tape around the window behind the jacket; there was a slight accident, but it is all being seen to.

So there it is, how I've spent the last week.  Now, back to embroidery!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Coif Patterns

Several years ago, I worked up these sewing patterns for Tudor and Elizabethan coifs.  I thought it might be nice to post them here, since I do a lot of embroidery on small projects, like coifs. 

The final pattern on this blog post is a pattern that, historically, has the most embroidery.  You can find pictures of extant pieces on this site:

The forehead clothe is warn under the final coif pattern below.  The shaped forehead clothe is usually warn with, what I affectionately call, the "ear wing" coif:

This next pattern is a plain brimmed coif.  I like this one because it sews up easy and stays on my head, no matter how active I get.  You may remember a few blog posts back where I posted about embroidered joins.  The coif picture from that blog is made from this pattern:

And finally, the iconic Elizabethan coif!  I have played around with the measurements on this pattern, so that some of my coifs are more "baggy" than others.  They are very comfortable to wear, and can be embroidered pretty heavily, as shown in the coif gallery link above.

What's in your library?

As a dutiful criminology student, I have a library full of crime theory and law books.  Everything from forensic psychology to legal ethics.  This year, I have finally started to round out my library with some decent costuming and embroidery books.  I have Moda a'Firenze, Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion, The Tudor Tailor...I also have several books on the Elizabethan era, everything from Sex in Elizabethan England to analyses of Court life.  (Boy, I hope that title doesn't pull adult ads for my blog *shudder!*)

As to embroidery, my most recent purchases are both on goldwork.  Goldwork Embroidery; Designs and Projects, by Mary Brown, and A~Z of Goldwork with Silk Embroidery from Inspiration Books.  Both have decent tutorials in various goldwork techniques, though they pretty much have the same information, in almost the same sentences.

So, what's in your library?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blackwork Practice

I'm a bad Ren...  Yep, I hooped this project, rather than using the frame, but I was so excited and inspired by Ianthe's pattern book that I couldn't wait to get home to my frame!  I found a decent weave material in The Guy's material stash, drew out the lines for an Elizabethan coif and started transferring a pattern with the light box.  I admit it; some days, there is no conquering of the ADD impulsivity!

A few things....

First, this pattern is not a replica of a period blackwork pattern, according to Ianthe's book.  However, I really liked it, and it is a close match to a beautiful fabric I picked up several months back that has become a loose gown for The Gal, a doublet and slops for The Guy, and a doublet and underskirt for moi. 

Second, though the fabric is not linen (*gasp!*  I do have an order coming for last minute linen projects before Pennsic,) the thread I am using is purple silk, from White Wolf and Pheonix.  It stitches beautifully and feels luscious as I work!

Third, don't pick on me...this is, quite literally, the first serious blackwork that I have ever attempted.  (Feel free to give that second *gasp* ; )  I've played a little with blackwork on partlets in the past, but the precision needed to make blackwork look decent is hard for my ADD mind to grasp, especially when the fibro-fog hits.


Again, here is the link to the pattern book.  My greatest gratitude to Ianthe for all of her hard work!

Monday, June 27, 2011


I would like to draw your attention to a blog from Atlantian fiber-geek Ianthe d'Averoigne.  She has published a compendium of blackwork patterns that sent me drooling yesterday!

This is an AMAZING resource for anyone who likes blackwork.  In fact, as soon as I finish my current project, I have ideas swimming around for blackwork coifs...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Frame of Mind part 2

I have almost 10 inches done on the neckline border of the shift.  The fleurs are in purple silk, the stems are in black DMC.  The fleurs are in satin stitch, edged in split stitches, the scrolling stems are in chain stitch.  The fabric is 100% linen.

Thank you to Brian for taking this photo, as my hands were shakey and, after five attempts resulting in five blurred pictures, he came to my rescue, as always : )

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Frame of Mind

It has been a while since I have pulled out my embroidery frame.  During the moves, it was packed into a box and I only dug it out a few months back.  The smock project, however, requires a frame.  Hello, old friend!

I found a nice scroll pattern for the neckline embroidery of the smock I want to make for Pennsic on the Needlen'Thread blog site, by Mary Corbet:

I used my light box to transfer the pattern onto linen strips I cut last weekend with the rotary cutter.  Because Master Creador reminded me that hooping linen can warp the fibers, and because I would have to hoop over my embroidery as I worked along, I thought it best to frame this project.  This is a scroll frame that will turn the fabric as I go, wrapping it around the hold bars.  I have a stand that goes with this frame, as well, which is nice when working on a table top, since it is a bit bulkier than a hoop.

You can barely see the pattern, though it is there.  Similiar period smocks use black embroidery, though I am thinking of embroidering the leaves in purple silk I picked up from White Wolf and Phoenix.  I have four strips to embroider, so this will make a nice project to work along on when I am not sewing or studying : )

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nimble Fingers

I haven't gotten much accomplished today on the embroidery front.  I had some papers to write and I did get quite a bit of sewing done.  As I sat down at the laptop tonight to blog, I had a sudden cloud, obscuring any ideas I had on hand to blog about!  Doh!

Outside of this week's Motif of the Week, I am starting to plot out the embroidery for a new smock.  I will be displaying at the Artisan's Showcase at Pennsic and what kind of embroiderer would I be without wearing *something* embroidered, myself!  As I usually give all of my work to others, (much is commissioned, many are projects I want to do for others,) there are few pieces of garb that I own, that have my own embroidery on them!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Motif of the Week, Tudor Rose

Well, I wasn't able to dig out a scanner, (though we return to the family house tonight,) so the picture is taken from my Blackberry:

I still don't like the right side leaf, and I am tempted to take out the stitches and re-stitch them.  I also would like to build up the white parts of the flower petals, so that they look like they are folded over.  Otherwise, I am quite pleased with this!

Stitches used:

Flower-detached buttonhole, lined in split stitches
Leaves-satin stitch, lined with split stitches
Stem-chain stitches

Silk and cotton embroidery threads, Japan silk #5 for the stems, gold filament for the outlines.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Knots and Loose Ends

Woo, what a week this past week has been!  I am utterly exhausted!  This will be short, a teaser until I can post the Motif of the Week later this evening.  I am posting from the western home; we had work being done on the plumbing at the family house, so I came out here to avoid the mess and chaos, and get a hot shower!

To respond to comments (please, please forgive me!  I am still having issues with responding to comments as they are posted,) Elmsley Rose asked about last week's Motif of the Week, "what is filigree?"  Well, that is Ren speak for "filament"...sometimes my words get mixed, which can create interesting misunderstandings ; ) 

Last year, I found a gold filament embroidery thread at Joannes.  I believe it is 6-ply, and it is very, bvery cranky to embroider with, as the gold tends to break easily.  It is relatively cheap and I have found that it adds great dimension when used for outlining with split stitches.  I also used it on this aumoniere I have been working on, (the gold around the lion is in filament):

On the most recent blog about the Tudor rose motif, Elmsley writes, "what do you mean by basket weave satin stitch?"  Well, I was attempting to criss-cross the satin stiches to make it look like a basket weave, sort of an elongated herringbone stitch.  Needless to say, it didn't work...though I would gladly accept ideas on similiar stitches that would add some depth to satin stitches!

It is my intention to post a pic of the newest Motif of the Week, tonight.  The embroidery is all done, I just need to dig out the scanner.  Tata for now!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Rose is a Rose

Greetings, various and sundry!

This week has been intensive; I was a might bit inundated with schoolwork.  I am in the final throes of my masters degree in public administration, (law and public policy, specifically) and between schoolwork and high fatigue, I was shying away from my computer.  The good news is, I have been working every free moment on this week's motif of the week-a Tudor rose!

I am very enamored of the Tudor and Elizabethan eras in history, as you've probably guessed by now.  I've embroidered many a rose over the last two years, since they were so popular in Elizabethan embroidery.  Normally I embroider them using detached buttonhole stitches, but this week, I've added leaves embroidered with satin stitches. 

The darker green inside the leaf is stitched using a basketweave style of satin stitching.  It looks messy and I am not yet beyond taking the stitches out and just embroidering them with straight satin.  The lighter part of the leaf is plain, old satin stitch. 

It is my goal to have this motif finished by Friday.  Unfortunately, with Pennsic looming in the near distance, I have a project list a mile long...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Motif of the Week

I am wading through emails, after a great weekend of getting things done outside : )

I've decided to challenge myself to embroider at least one motif a week, from the Elizabethan palette.  This week's motif is the honeysuckle flower.

Elmsley Rose pointed me towards this website, which is an amazing resource for anyone interest in Elizabethan embroidery.  It is a databse of embroidery motifs, with some wonderful photos!

Here is the page on honeysuckle:

Here is the photo of the motif I embroidered this past weekend, between yardwork and such:

The red thread is silk, and the rest of the threads are plain ole DMC floss.  The gold is Japan silk #5.  The gold veins in the leaves are embroidered with gold filigree.  The center of the flower is couched gold, and the stems are gold embroidered with a chain stitch.  The leaves and flowers are embroidered with detached buttonhole.  The veins in the leaves are embroidered with slip stitches.  Over all, I think it turned out pretty well for a weekend project!  This will be one of the sweetbags I am embroidering for Pennsic.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Life Reflection

We currently have three kitties in the house.  Rascal was abandoned here and when we moved in, we took great pains to make him feel loved and wanted.  He is an older cat, and fairly obese.  He has arthritis in his hips, and just wants a nice home where he can retire, lazing on the bed all day and being hand fed treats every now and again.  I spoil him as best I can, and sometimes let him growl at the other kitties because he's earned the right to be a carmudgeon.  This is his normal pose...

Little Bit is a teenaged cat.  She had a rough start; she was the runt of the litter, and needed help being born.  She was funny looking, but very, very courageous.  Little Bit came to us over the New Year's holiday, when I had surgery and needed a pick me up.  Little Bit has taught me so very much about resiliency, and she has been no end of love and inspiration.  Here she is, napping on the wine rack (I gave up on trying to train her not to do things like that ; )

Rascal and Little Bit have little interest in my embroidery.  Well, let me amend that; Little Bit occasionally has to attack my thread, just so that I will put my projects down and return to something more productive, giving her attention ; )

This is the new girl.  We are still working on a name, though the kids have settled on Gurgi, (after Gurgi in The Black Cauldron.)  I call her muffin because that's about the size she is.

That is my embroidery basket, that Gurgi/Muffin is sleeping in...Rather than take the chance of her getting pricked by one of my many needles, I had to make up a special basket just for her.  I found one that was round, and roughly the same size.  I put some linen scraps in, so it was just like mine.  She curled right up in it, and it is now her favorite napping spot!  (And so much cheaper than the kitty hammocks I bought for them to play and nap in *sighs*). 

She loves to watch me sew and embroider, and doesn't attack my thread. 

Each of the three kitties have been such a godsend to me.  Their distinct personalities have rounded out the pieces of our family.  Rascal is the grampa cat, always complaining about the kittens walking on his lawn.  Little Bit is so intelligent and creative.  Sometimes, I swear you can see her thinking.  Gurgi/Muffin is a snuggler.  She loves nuzzling hands, necks, chects, you name it. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Embroidered Joins

I have spent the majority of this week hand sewing medieval braies and chausses.  Without going into great detail about the research I've conducted, period garments were sewn differently than we sew garments modernly.  The pieces were hemmed individually, and then joined together by either whip-stitching or a decorative stitch, called faggoting. 

A few years back, I hand sewed a coif, using a faggoted join for the brim.  The finished join is a modified herringbone stitch.  The coif is made from white linen, and I used simple DMC embroidery floss for the join.

 This is the completed coif.  Below is a close up of the faggoting join, and a flat scan of the coif.

This is one of my favorite coifs to wear, because it stays put n my head, no matter how my hair is cut or styled, and because it sewed up so easily : )

I am currently researching some period shifts that employed faggoting stitching for joins.  I like to "feel pretty," and embroidered shifts feel very luxurious to me.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The First Thread...part 2

Here is the potholder...I  must have been about 12 years old?

That is not a blood stain, either ; )

Here is a pic of the first time I ever attempted a detached stitch.  You can see how I progressed in the three roses; one is very messy, one is a little better, and the third is even more precise, though still not perfected.

The First Thread...

Somewhere around the house, I still have a potholder that I made in girlscouts when I was a child.  Mrs. Pratt taught us to embroider a French knot, and we made a flower out of knots, which was then sewn into a potholder.  I don't know how she got me to sit still long enough to embroider those 9 or 10 knots, but she did and I did.

I started embroidering, as an adult, close to three years ago, when I started delving into Tudor era fashions.  My health was on a downswing, and I needed something that was not physically intensive, but would challenge me mentally.  It didn't take long before I was hooked.  I jumped into later period embroidery before I learned the more "simple" chain and split stitches.  Now, I'm not ashamed to show my...learning pieces...however, apparently Blogger is doing maintanence and won't let me upload the scan of my first attempts at Elizabethan embroidery : (

I will make it up to you later this evening, with a pic of that piece *and* the potholder : )

Friday, June 3, 2011

Knots and Loose Ends

Yesterday was a day of vindication where I was able to make magic with the needle, embroidery and sewing, both.  Today, the CFS has struck and I've only managed to crawl out of bed to the couch.  My coffee still sits on the counter, as I wasn't able to go get it earlier in the day!

Bring in the reinforcements!  Miss Max came home from school and took to some chores.  Miss Sky came home with a feel better present!  Here is one of the, undoubtedly, many photos we will be taking in the coming years:

Now, the Beloveds are on the way from Jamestown for the weekend, and Keags will be home in about half an hour.  I also have a cup of tea!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Peas Porridge Hot...

Yesterday, between bombing on the plaited braid stitch, and having to pull out an entire section of or nue, I settled for something I *thought* I could handle...a pea pod on the current sweet bag!

This is a three dimensional component, embroidered in detached buttonhole.  I will be adding pearl "peas" into the pod, under the flap of the upper pod, as soon as I can find the box that has my pearls in where exactly *did* that box go?

You may notice that the flowers, butterfly, and underneath portions of the pea pod look strange for detached buttonhole stitches, which are normally much cleaner in rows...this is because I, for whatever strange reason, was turning the hoop, when I turned rows.  Um....once I realized what I was doing, I corrected my stitching, and you can barely see, but the upper portion of the pea pod is much neater.  Now to decide if I want to restitch the other components, or just let bygones be bygones?  ....Hmmm...... 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Conquering the Plaited Braid of...

If you haven't checked out this site, they have instructionals on many different stitches, as well as the various names for stitches in different languages:

I started off reviewing the instructional for the plaited braid stitch on the site listed above:

Looks easy, no?  No. Rather than destroy any of my gold or silver threads (they are a little more expensive...) I opted to experiment using a bamboo thread in a 10/2 weight.  Here are two shots of my attempt at following the directions:

Okay, not too bad, but obviously not as polished as I'd like...the loops are not even, nor are my entrance and exit holes.  I do not feel like I am interpreting the instructional correctly.  What to do?  How about we go back to a more basic stitch?  The just simply called "braid stitch." 

I decided to draw in parallel lines to follow, until I feel more confident about the stitch.

First things first...I realized there is no anchor stitch like in a lot of other stitches, so I moved my first entrance hole to the bottom line. 

Holding my breathe...

It seems that I am having issues with keeping my loops even and consistent.  That may be more easily corrected when I move to the gold thread, since that is less fluid.  I think with more practice today, I should be able to try the plaited braid stitch again by this evening...

Stay tuned...!

The Quest to Conquer a Plaited Braid Stitch

Today, I am hunting and practicing the dreaded plaited braid stitch! 

It was pointed out to me that the last picture I posted of the stitch, isn't really the plaited braid stitch : \  Thank you!  From, here is a picture of a coif, from the V&A Museum:

I have found some instructionals online, and once the plumber has unclogged my bathtub and empties my checkbook, I am going to play around with the stitch.  I will post pictures and a blog about my experiments later tonight, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Florentine Astoni

Astoni-embroidered bands of fabric in 16th century Florentine fashion
During the first half of 16th century Florence, fashion dictated that use of multi-colored garments was thought to be “unattractive,” and absurd (Landini and Niccoli, 2005, p. 28).  A more acceptable form of adding color to a garment was the use of astoni, contrasting colored bands of fabric, sewn to the garment, which were embellished most commonly with embroidery.  Astoni seemed to remain popular throughout the 16th century, and can be seen on garments ranging from the funeral dress of Eleanor of Toledo, to petticoats worn by middle-class women.
There are many portraits from the time frame that allow us a view of various astoni. 
The funeral dress of Eleanor of Toledo shows contrasting fabric bands, embroidered as embellishment:

In Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 3: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620 (1985), Arnold has drawn out the embroidery pattern from the funeral gown, detailing the intertwined acanthus (pg. 103):

Here is a similar extant gown, with astoni of satin, displaying couched gilded cord, also in interwoven patterns (from Moda a Firenze, Landini and Niccoli, 2005, p. 74):

This gown also emphasizes the overarching cut of gown for the time period; a pointed waistline, side back lacing, and embellishment made to make the upper body appear as an inverted cone, and the lower body as an up righted cone.  The astoni helped to establish this body shape through following lines that will emphasize the double cone effect.   This same cut and construction can be seen in various portraits of middle class women, as well as nobility.
 Among my various projects, (and copious spare time *giggles*) I plan to start a database of embroidery patterns and threads common in astoni of the period.
More to come...