Monday, 21 December 2009

Needlelace tree ornament - Elizabethan style of stitching

Well I’ve finished my major distraction from what I’m supposed to be working on here:

Christmas Tree 1

I enjoyed making it. As you can see in this close-up, I used 3 needles for the DBH on the left.

It was all worked in a hoop, then I cut it out with tabs, sprayed glue on the whole thing to mount it on this Mache tree thing that I bought for less than a quid (one pound). Once I pulled it into position, I let it dry then cut the tabs off.

Christmas Tree 2

The middle green part is Shell Stitch. I love that stitch worked as it is here, back and forth.

I decided to limit my colours to 4 to create unity plus that would make the gold stand out more too. I finished the sides with some narrow French lace that I had in my stash. (I haven’t taken good close-ups of that because that part had to be a little rushed.)

Christmas Tree 6

Here’s a better look at the couching down of some wool. The thing to remember about couching is, if you’re holding everything correctly, its very fast indeed. This part took me less than 15 minutes! Its not the neatest it could be, but I was in a desperate hurry by then.

You can spend forever on these things but I’ve found the point is not to become really obsessive but to think things through thoroughly beforehand for each stage, to learn lots, and move on.

On a separate note: I plan to overhaul this blog over the holidays. Its been brought to my attention that I need to give fuller explanations for previous posts. I keep a notebook with all my research and things, TG!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Considering Buttonhole Stitch

Hi! I'm in the process of moving this page further on in my blog as I have expanded on it. Hope to finish this in the next couple of days. beth 12/01/10 For the time being I'm leaving these 2 images on here to help readers.
This is a rotated image of how to do Buttonhole correctly as for Right-handed stitching.
This is the correct way for Left-handed stitching.
Basically you have to work towards your dominate side, whichever that is.
Considering Buttonhole Stitch

this is what i mean

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

I found the original link to the image of the bag I posted on here: The bag's in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, they published 'Twixt Art & Nature' if you recall.. Here's the link: I would like to say here, now, that I don't want my life to be taken over by an all-consuming obsession you understand, but I would very much like to decipher how they made the bag and plot my findings on here. Needless to say, I'm most interested in the "elaborately embroidered surface decoration". I didn't want to say it before because I suppose I'm interested in so many things and was scared to commit, if you know what I mean? Trouble is though, that I don't have a lot of time for it, but gradually, hopefully, in tiny incremental steps, I would really love to somehow OWN THAT BAG! Apart from that, just finding out how-on-earth they made it is what excites me most, and all the ideas that hopefully stem from that journey... I'm going to write to the Museum's Costume Institute and ask if they could possibly send me larger images. I'm going to draw it soon, in detail, in coloured washes. I've started my preliminary sketches (aka mad scribbles!!!). If you'd like to see how many gorgeous bags that Museum has in its vaults, just get a load of this bunch of thumbnails:

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Texture and Form

Here's a corded Brussels stitch petal. So easy to make, lots of examples of this kind of thing on the bag. Just concentrating now of self-supporting non-wired petal structures. Its so exciting because with those discoveries come all kinds of other ideas for miniature embroidered motifs. Just love miniature! Here's a kind of rosebud thing. Made it nice a loose but it would need to a be lot firmer to really look the part.
Here's just a trellis stitch coiled strip but this time I finished it off with 2 rows of buttonhole, to give it a little frill. There are lots of examples of this kind of thing on the bag, but they go one step further and finish it with metal or a contrasting colour, to create unity no doubt.
Here's an experiment with corded detached, wanted to see which side would look nicest. You begin with a buttonhole band and work upwards from a central vertical reversed chain support. I really liked making this little thing.
I also gave it the characteristic buttonhole frill edge. This could have been done a lot tighter but I was in a rush.
See what I mean about doing it 2 ways. I prefer the right hand side as it expresses the form in a more botanically correct way. for next time
So, I tried Corded buttonhole in mid-air aka 3-D, anchored only along the bottom edge and it worked. Just have to work out how best to anchor the straight stitch return so that its unobtrusive. Used a single Trellis stitch to anchor. Let's not forget, front side Trellis is also Rope Stitch and Cup Stitch.
Thoughts on That Bag
If you blow up the view of That Bag to say 200% you can really see the synthesis of texture and form. Its also quite obvious that the stitcher just got really carried away and 'tried this, then tried that'. Everything is just an expression of imagination running away with itself. This is what I really love about that Golden Age of embroidery: its exuberance. I think when you see modern pieces worked faithfully and precisely according to a kind of grid, you lose all the intended exuberance. I believe you have to remind yourself that what you are after is the ultimate expression of FREE FORM embroidery. And free is the key element. All the stitches; all the colours; the metals the whole thing were about celebrating life and God if you ask me. It was actually a very creative expression of spirituality in a way, especially when you remind yourself of the whole socio-political background of the post-Reformation and the revival of that age-old cental motif: The Tree-of-Life. Gone were the icons, the monks, the illuminated manuscripts.
By then the Tree-of-Life idea must have seemed like a celebration of God's bounty in its truest form: the garden.
I just noticed they made a little overlapping thingy using knotted buttonhole. Great, I really like that stitch.
I think I need to do a diagram of how I think they did bits of it and just add to it as I go along. I haven't yet worked out all of it, but I really hope to.
Btw, the spiral trellis you can see at the top starts as the Elizabethan's did it, from the centre outwards. I find this is the prettiest way to do it.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

more about single uncorded back and forth detached buttonhole

Here you can just see it starting to curl. Its only attached to the fabric at the base. This is what I call really 'detached'. The bag that I'm obsessed with has lots of these types of structures. I've tried them in Trellis stitch and although they are very stable, as say petals, leaves etc, I had to find another way of making more delicate petals. After quite a long time, it looks like I've done it.
And here is the reason why I was so obsessed with getting the closed form of single detached Brussels stitch right.
Here's another good close-up of how to achieve the important strong diagonals that ensure your work wont go all over the place.
Basically you must turn the work on the return row, and not just start any old way but start the correct way according to your dominant hand. Left handers must always do buttonhole stitch from right to left, right hander the opposite. The reason for that is that you are working with the direction of the 'S' twist in the thread. That way you ensure your buttonhole edge is nice and rope like.
And so in closed Brussels stitch, you have to turn the work and stick the needle in the same direction or else you go against the 'S' twist thing.
I think I'm going to do another video of this one.
And as far as the migrating diagonal goes, thats easy, you lose it, or bury it on one edge (the right) e.g. decrease, and increase on the opposite edge, by making a stitch of the little anchoring stitch that you made at the end of the row.
This stitch could look really good to show up the veins in two halves of a leaf, say. Thats one thing you dont really see in Elizabethan stuff.
I am really excited because I think that between this stitch and Trellis I will be able to work most of the flora on 'That Bag'.
The easiest to work is of course, corded detached buttonhole, but you can't really string up a straight stitch return row in mid-air, or can you? - need to investigate this idea...
need to post a picture of the flower I stuffed using one direction Trellis stitch with a return row.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Brussels stitch

Working on my next video about Single Detached Buttonhole aka Brussels stitch. Need to do one more bit of research then I'll be ready. Everyone seems to start with this one, makes 'something lumpy' then abandons it. Such a shame when in many ways its the most versatile. Don't get me wrong, I really like Corded Detached Buttonhole aka Cloth Stitch but it does produce a pretty thick piece of fabric. And you don't always want it to be 'chunky'. SharonB does say in her description that you have to TURN the work. I think a lot of people don't bother. The other mistake I think a lot of people make is that they aren't starting it the right way according to being right or left handed. More later. Had quite a trying time here these last 4 nights with a little white dog climbing the walls with firework fright....

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Monday, 5 October 2009

progress report

Hi, here's my progress on trellis stitch, which i have to say has now broadened out to include braided chain stitch (see rose stem), woven leaves and detached buttonhole stitch. I hope to do the rose leaves in double chain stitch really soon. Haven't had a lot of time for this as I've been really busy painting exterior woodwork (fun fun fun!).