Archive for the ‘Other Needlework’ Category

I was lucky enough to win a prize in the virtual Masquerade Ball held by author Prue Batten at the beginning of the month… and it arrived today:

I’ve tried to take a close-up photo so you can see how careful and dainty the stitches are, but the picture (unfortunately blurry) really doesn’t do Prue’s stitching justice:

And those berries are all 3-D and wonderful – they’re lovely!

I’m carefully examining Prue’s stitching so I can improve my own.

Thank you, Prue – what a wonderful prize.  Now I just need to find a special use for it …

(Do go and read Prue’s blog – there’s a very interesting conversation going on there about the current direction of the publishing industry and, like yours truly, she’s a stitcher as well as a writer with a great imagination.)


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What a weekend!

Friday – I got home from work to this yumminess:

(They’re a bit creased as I’ve hand-washed them, but haven’t ironed yet.)

The photos really don’t do these fabrics justice.  I’ll confess, I’ve been too busy to do a burn test, but from the feel of the fraying threads on the cut ends and the way they hold colour (so luminous), I am sure they’re silk.  If not, they’re bloody good synthetics.  To call the darker one navy is to do it a great disservice: it’s far richer in colour than navy normally is – it’s more of an indigo.

And I was right about the lighter blue – it’s not electric blue, instead it’s an absolutely amazing cerulean blue shot with a lighter violet, which makes it seem almost ultra-violet when it shimmers and catches the light.  Even better, the two sides of the fabric are quite different – one seems a mid almost-turquoise shot with purple and the other is a light greyish-blue with the violet sheen.  I seem to recall that the edges of the polonaise-style jacket (up to the trim line) are a green facing, which is making me think of using the opposite side of the fabric for the edges and using a purple trim (perhaps purple velvet ribbon).  I suspect I’ve not explained that very well – I’ll put together a diagram at some point!

Polonaise style jacket from the Cut of Women's Clothes

Which leaves the question – mostly light with the darker side on the edges, or mostly dark with the lighter?  Decisions, decisions!

Saturday – went to the library, got the Beginners Crewel Embroidery book, another introductory embroidery book and this little haul:

I’m thinking calico pockets embroidered with green leaves and twisty stems and blue and purple flowers with yellow stamens.  Unfortunately they didn’t have crewel thread, so I had to get regular stranded cotton, but I figure this will be good to practice with and when I have a bit more money I can order some (probably from Sewandso.co.uk as recommended by Rosel).  Oh, and the ribbons are for cockades (as per the good Duchess’s tutorial plus a couple of other (less good) tutorials I’ve found in old books) – I’ve got some blue and white buttons as well as some brassy anchor ones, so I thought I’d go for a nautical theme.

I also had an eye test on Saturday and for the first time ever, I was prescribed glasses.  I got a great deal (two pairs, including scratch-resistant coated lenses for £99 – one pair of those lenses is usually around £70) and picked up one pair yesterday (the other is on order).  I always wanted glasses as a kid and now I’ve got them, it’s really weird – I think I’m glad they’re only for me to use when I feel I need them (when my eyes feel tired or I feel a headache coming on and I’m using a computer).

Saturday evening (I said it was a packed weekend, didn’t I?) I worked on the stays and I’ve finished sewing the boning channels on the front panel:

They’re not perfect, but not bad considering my newness to sewing and still-developing machine skills.  In the end I decided to sew straight through the ridgeline that forms the two horizontal bones as it would have been a massive headache to sew around them by machine (if I were hand-sewing I would have done that, though – I do like the look of the horizontal stitches) plus the ridgeline is a different width to the cable-ties, so it might have looked odd.

And as for the rest of Sunday – well, I read those embroidery books and did a little bit of stitch practice with some spare embroidery thread I had in my stash.  Unfortunately it’s off-white and pretty much matches the calico perfectly, so it wouldn’t show up very well in a photo, but this week I’ll get started on the pockets and will post pictures then.

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So Crewel

I’ve been thinking about embroidery quite a bit lately – my Mum’s been talking about it, the pocket books I want to make one day require it, a present I plan to make for a certain someone involves it – so I thought I’d have a look at the different forms to help me decide what exactly I’d like to try out.

Two particular forms instantly stood out for me – goldwork and crewel embroidery, so I thought I’d share some pretties that make me want to get involved!

Crewel work is traditionally made with wool thread, giving it a thicker, three-dimensional effect, which is what really appeals to me about the technique.  It can also be worked with silk or cotton.  Either way, it just seems incredibly tactile.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s ancient – it’s the technique used in the Bayeux Tapestry – and it was quite the thing in certain parts of my favourite century.  Check out this from the Kyoto Costume Institute:

I’ve got costume schwing!  (Sorry have seen Wayne’s World far too many times!)

Oh, and you might think me crewel (ba-boom!) for posting a picture of a lovely petticoat that’s locked away in an institute, but how about this one: it’s circa 1790, it was embroidered by nuns and it’s for sale (ahem, for nearly $7,000, but hey):

Check out the web site for close-up images.  That is an order – the details are amazing.

And this – who wouldn’t love this?!

This website has a great guide to crewel work with plenty of links and ideas and luckily my local library just happens to have this book:

So, at some point fairly soon, I think I might feel the need to get a little embroidery hoop and make some pockets – that way, if my embroidery skills turn out to be all kinds of suck, the results will be hidden yet still useable!

Oh yes, I did mention goldwork, didn’t I?  Well, that’s a tale for a whole other post, my dears …

(I’m at work and it’s my lunch break, but I’m pretty excited as there are two packages for me: one is parsley seeds from my Nene’s plants and the other is fabriiiiiic!  Huzzah!)

*Oh yes, and I do realise that I could have titled this post ‘Sew Crewel’, but I fear that might have been one cheesy pun too far!

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Whilst looking for something else, I stumbled across a real gem originally published in 1870 containing instructions for tatting, embroidery, crochet, knitting, netting, point lace, Berlin work and guipure d’art: the Project Gutenberg eBook version of Beeton’s Book of Needlework.  I’m sure many of you have already seen this and absorbed it and used the techniques, but if anyone who likes historical sewing (or even modern needlework) has missed it, do have a looksee.

It’s a bit special (in the good way) with instructions for making the following pretties:

I love this little bird!

I like this very much – I think it’d look lovely in whitework on a cravat end.  The Boy likes cravats – perhaps he’ll be lucky enough to receive an embroidered one some day … (of course, he’ll therefore be unlucky enough that it will be embroidered by me and will therefore probably look not so great, but oh well!)

If I could get my hands on the right tools for the netting technique in the book, I would definitely give this a go for evening wear – perhaps in a pearly grey.

This flower is quite darling – I’ve always had a soft spot for fine fabrics appliqued onto net.



This is such a sweet key bag – I think it might need adding to my ‘to-make’ list.  It’s got an owl on it, dammit!  Though the instructions are fairly vague for a beginner like me, so it might have to wait a little while (particularly until I can find some nice grey kid to make it from).

A rather charming work bag.  Although I don’t think I’d have the patience (nor the will!) to make such a beautifully embroidered bag, I would be very tempted to make a more simply decorated version of this for transporting work and storing knitting bits and pieces.  Very tempted, indeed.  I’m even picturing how cute belts would look as the fastening straps … Hmm …

And this last one I thought was quite fitting for any seamstress or needlworker – a very pretty pattern to use on a needlebook or work bag:

Do go and have a look at this lovely eBook – guaranteed inspiration!

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