Thursday, June 15, 2017

Freebies for the Kiddos!

A while back, I drew up some embroidery cards for children; the kind that you take a plastic needle and a piece of yarn and they follow the holes in the cards.  I remember my mom buying me some sewing cards like that, when I was 2 or 3 years old.  We traveled regularly with a drum and bugle corp at that time, and the cards were a good activity in the car, during long rides.  With that in mind, I came up with these cards, to teach children the mechanics of the 5 more basic stitches-running, stem, split, chain, and Bayeux stitch (because I love it ;) )

FEEL FREE TO PRINT OR SHARE THESE.  I print them in card stock, then laminate them and punch the holes.  I do not mind them being shared, because they are meant as a fun teaching tool and I love instilling these skills in our youth.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Let There Be Peas on Earth! (Or, A Photo Primer on Elizabethan Pea Pods...)

I have been working on a class for advanced embroidery (for lack of a better term.  Maybe not advanced, but beyond the basic kinds of stitches.)  And while working on some Elizabethan needlecases, I thought it might be nice to add a photo journey.

One of the really nifty aspects of Elizabethan polychrome embroidery, is that it was the foundation for stump work.  Butterflies had free floating wings, pea pods opened to reveal pearl "peas," flower petals could wave in the metaphorical breeze.  Of course, the extant piece that I want to reference evades me, at the moment, but you can get an idea of what I mean by looking at this sweetbag, from the Met:*&deptids=8&when=A.D.+1400-1600&pos=1

I copied the motif from A Schole-House for the Needle (Richard Shorteyker, 1624.)  I think the little snails are adorable.  I am using linen and cotton thread for this, mainly because these needlebooks are my way of destashing bits of thread that I have leftover from other projects, not enough for a full project, but too much to go to waste.

First step was to outline the peas in split stitch with the main green thread.  (Pardon my photo lighting, please.  I need a new camera desperately, but that will be an expense for much further in the future.)  After the outline stitches were done, I did a fill of the bottom layer of the pea with a darker green thread, in detached buttonhole.  (Sometimes, detached buttonhole just does not want to stitch evenly, but this time, luck was on my side.  I try to keep an even tension, and do not pull the stitches tight, because the next row is stitched into the last row and if the stitches are tight, you will be fighting to get the needle through.)

After the bottom layer was done, it was time to start the top layer of the pea pod.  Again, this is done in detached buttonhole.  Now, if you crochet or knit, you may understand the mechanics better.  The last stitch in the row does not get tacked into the fabric.  You turn the needle and start a new row, returning back the way you came.  I added two stitches into the first stitch after turning, so that the top layer of the lea pod would extend out, like the bottom (where it comes to the point, if that makes sense?)  You can kind of see in the picture to the left (this is the second row I am working on.)

I just kept stitching back and forth, until the top layer of the pea pod was about the size of the bottom.  Now, end where the pea pod joins toward the stalk, I did attach to the fabric, so that the pea pod did not fully open.  After a few rows of this, I carefully whip stitched my remaining thread down the side of the top layer and then tied off under the fabric.  Here are some progress pics.

Once the pods are all done, I will sew in some fake pearls, for the peas.  If anyone is interested in a real tutorial, let me know and I will see what I can do!!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Knots and Catching Up

I have been a bad blogger.  I have not updated this site in over 3 years.  There are some mistakes in earlier posts, and wrong conclusions drawn about historical stitches, which I have learned over the course of the last few years.  I am hoping to revamp my site and post new information and projects, now that I have ample free time to do so.  Please be patient with my journey...

In the meantime, I am working on some Elizabethan embroidery, currently.  The motifs will eventually be sewn into needlecases for largesse.  Here is a little teaser-an acorn motif from A Scholehouse for the Needle, by Richard Shorteyker (1624.)  This motif was embroidered using linen thread (I am using up odds and ends of my threads and generally playing with different fibers to see what they can do,) on a linen background, with Japan silk #7 for the metalwork.  The stitches used are split stitch and detached buttonhole.  For what it's worth, the linen thread took quite well to detached buttonhole!  It is a bit stiffer than silk or wool, which resulted in more even stitches.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Elizabethan Black Work Coif, Materials

The inspiration piece for this coif is in the V&A Museum, and can be seen here.  It is made of linen, using silk thread for the black work and silver gilt threads for the metal embroidery.  The black work is done in stem stitch for the outlines, with speckling around the edges of the motifs.  The metal embroidery uses plaited braid stitch for the scrolling vines, chain, vandyke, web and ladder stitches for the details on the motifs.

I used a piece of linen that had been set aside for use as a veil.  In hind sight, I wish I had used a better linen.  The thread count is low, making this very open (as you can see in the close up above.)  This has affected the speckling, as the tiny stitches needed either got lost in between the thread gaps, or were too large.  I finally got into the groove and was able to work with the linen.  It also affected my goldwork.  I had done wome preliminary filling in one of the motifs using Ceylon stitch and the Japan silk I am using did not lay even, so I took the stitches out.  The linen threads loosened and created gaps where the gold had been and I have carefully had to put the threads back, using a blunt tipped needle.

Speaking of threads...I used a black silk from White Wolf and Phoenix, a size 10/2, I believe.  I chose this because I was not certain how much I would need for this project, and a ball of this stuff was only about $4 or $5.  Otherwise, I probably would have used Splendor, as I love the flat sheen in the silk.

The gold is Kreinik Japan silk #5.  While there are better behaving, and better looking, metal threads, I had a bunch of the Kreinik on hand, so it was efficient and economical for me to use.  It doesn't always play well, going in and out of the fabric (it couches much better than it stitches.)  However, with a careful hand and a lot of gentle untangling, it is doing okay.  So far, I have used it for the plaited braid in the vines, and the web stitches in the rose and the pea pods, as well as with chain stitches in the honeysuckle.  I need to practice my vandyke and ladder stitches before I attempt to use them in the motifs, however, the rest of it is looking okay to me.