Friday, 30 March 2012

DBH as a raw material

Gulp – Its a short post folks !

You know, I was actually, dare I say, quite pleased with how that little butterfly was turning out.  It was packed with so many stitches and it represents a kind of turning point for me, in that I stopped work on The Bag to look at 2-d embroidery more closely.  Then realised I had certain questions about the transition between 2-d and 3-d.  Then I produced my file…

and then, Elizabethan Stitches came out….

So I decided to celebrate, and chopped up sections of my doodle cloth to turn caterpillars into butterflies!

Beaded butterfly  

I’m going to make a scissors fob by taking 2 motifs,  cutting them into circles, machining them together and then concealing the seam with Twinning and attaching a  ribbon. 

Things were going OK, then I decided that as this scissor fob was going to be for me this time, I wanted to make it as ‘keepsake’ as possible, so went to town embellishing.

Not the usual order of work, I hear you say, but a stolen hour can get quite hectic at the best of times.

And as I was working, I was reminded just how versatile DBH is as a raw material, I mean look at all the things you can do with it: sew it flat, sew it in mid-air, stuff it, mix it with gold and on top of that, its just asking for highlights and accents and all sorts of stuff to be added.

Although my version of this butterfly looks very different from the original, what I like about the finished motif is that it reminds me of those wonderful Anglo Saxon and Viking brooches I saw in the Museum last year.  Not that I saw any butterflies on the brooches, but what I mean is the essence of their bold designs and the primitive treatment of a mini-beast with outstretched wings, to me, almost suggests bygone pagan worship….or am I getting carried away here?

Gotta go ppl!

Monday, 26 March 2012

3-d DBH layers

I decided to set the Peacock aside for a bit, mainly to find the rest of the materials I need, which seem to be temporarily lost but in trying to find them, I located my file of patterns, yippee!

So, after working on a piece that was so incredibly colourful, I became preoccupied with 3-d DBH layers.

As you can see, I’m halfway through a small doodle cloth butterfly here.  Using trusty metallic knitting yarn for the body.  I made three lines of Ceylon stitch, then ‘wove’ two lines of  black thread over the connecting rungs, with quick stem stitches.  The Elizabethans certainly stitched over a lot of these types of rungs in their time.  I can only assume this grew from their love of Soumak Weaving. 


The layers of colour DBH that form the wings are triangular on this demo but looking at the original, which is part of a pillow embroidery, the little flaps are so curled, that I’m not entirely sure if they used triangles or curves?

Then I decided to plot all the flapping shapes I could see on that one pillow and came up with this list:

DBH Shape list 

The list isn’t exhaustive but as you can see, in the row of shapes at the bottom, the pattern for the wings of this butterfly is the central diagram.  I made 2 rows of DBH into the fabric, then continued the 3 tips in 3-d. 

Ending off the thread after each tip is always tricky but thankfully I can see in Elizabethan Stitches there is an image of a flower made in gilt passing thread where you can clearly see how they ended the thread off in historical times. 

I also made some curved yellow layers for this next rose.

Yellow Rose 03

The 3 layers of DBH -one 2-d and 2x 3-d – are all connected by the same base line of chain stitches.  Its difficult to explain how to do this, so I might work up to producing another pdf file…

Notice how the sepals are semi-detached.  By that I mean I started stitching them onto the fabric, then continued extending them in mid-air.  All of this is not as fiddly as you would first think, because remember, you’re using your finger tip to support the work, so you can easily find the place to take your next stitch.

Once I completed that flower, I decided to try and make it again but much smaller and came upon another very interesting observation. 

In so doing, I noticed that if you try to  make the DBH stitches more compact, the element does not curl as much and ends-up looking very flat and more like classic Reticella work.

So, I’m discovering that the key to keeping the work tiny is to use fewer stitches and finer thread, rather than the the other way round.

Speeding up the production of multiple layers for motifs such as these two, is essential, as there are quite a few  stitches involved and its this issue that I’m addressing right now: faster flowers and bugs!

Gotta go ppl!

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Friday, 16 March 2012

Well, I just couldn’t wait to try this out..

I finally had a chance to return to the Elizabethan Stitches chapter concerning ‘Bordered Turns’.  Then had a rummage through my archive of historical examples and came up with this repro.

Guess what it is?

Peacock feathers 1

Apart from it being a riotous burst of colour to herald the Spring and all things green and juicy, this colourful rendition represents Peacock feathers.  Or put it another way…

Peacock 3

This became this…

Peacock 2

Peacock 4

As you can see, the design contains lots and lots of lively colour switching and blending.  Because the outline is not stitched first, or indeed afterwards, but is simultaneously formed, you can switch colours to your heart’s content.

I’ve based this study on close analysis of a fine Forehead Cloth stored at the V&A, that also features lots of complex roses and stunning goldwork stitches. 

I’ve tried to follow their colour palette as closely as I can but started off going a bit wrong.  I had stitched too many rows with the same colour, realising my mistake I decided to continue anyway, because I could kind of tell that my approach was going to work. 

Looking at these macro images now, I can see that maybe I should have worked across in one complete journey, leaving the central plumage out?  I’m not sure, and might have to try it again.

Apart from that, I managed to establish that such a complex pattern is actually very quick to make and is not difficult at all.  I only used one length of thread for each row, so there were a lot of threads dangling at the back when I came to do the second stage.  However, strangely enough, the threads did not become tangled, and dealing with the back of the work, felt a lot like weaving.

I have a weird feeling that as DBH is so similar to woven cloth, I cannot help but think the virtuosity the Elizabethans had with this stitch had a lot to do with their understanding of what you could and couldn’t do with narrow woven bands….


My PDF file

Anyway, on the subject of Corded Detached Buttonhole.  I made a quick promotional video, with some nice music, about the Research Document that I am selling on Etsy, here it is:



Gotta go ppl!


Friday, 9 March 2012

Another rose and a completed pdf file

3-d rose - red - with bordered turns and spiky sepals

I made this very small rose with the help of the techniques put forward in Jacqui Carey’s wonderful new book Elizabethan Stitches.

The 2-d petals are made using the method she describes as ‘Bordered Turns’ and the 3-d elements were constructed in the hand, as she suggests.

3-rose side view

Because of these two major breakthroughs, I was able to connect the idea of ‘Bordered Turns’ with some images I had seen of very cute spiky rose leaves and realised that the one method, leads on very naturally, to the other. 

This is a close up of one of the leaves…

Spiky rose leaf

More about that wonderful book next time…

My PDF file regarding Even Shaping of 3-d Corded Detached Buttonhole

Well, considering this amazing author has produced two books on this subject in such a short space of time I realised my long-discussed pdf file on DBH even-shaping really ought to be finished, so I prioritised it to the top of my to-do list, rather than somewhere down the middle after: jobs, dogs, family and homes.

So I am finally, very pleased to announce it is on sale at Esty and you can find it here:

Its 19 pages long and very reasonably priced.  (I hope its not too technical, but you know what I’m like by now – lol!)

Thank you in advance to anyone who will eventually buy it.


And THANK YOU, Jacqui Carey, for making so many long-forgotten techniques come out into the light of day again !