Posts Tagged ‘needlework’

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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Mrs B’s Needlework

My Mum went for a walk today and happened to pop into a little charity shop. They happened to have a certain needlework book I’ve blogged about before for a couple of pounds. Apparently it’s rather nice with all those pretty diagrams – I’ll have to have a looksee when she comes to visit next weekend.

I love little coincidences.

And happy Mothers’ Day for tomorrow to all you mothers, but especially mine!

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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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A: Pretty things, of course!

Specifically, I’ve found two lovely things from the 18th Century which a Person of Quality might keep in their pockets…

The first, is bringing me out in ‘I Want’ sweats… When you see it, you’ll understand why…

Pink Purse

Isn’t this all kinds of gorgeous???  Yes, it is three questionmarks’ worth of loveliness!  That colour, that embroidery and,   Perhaps my favourite part is the wording on the two sides:


... and again...

Apparently, it means:

“Everything is pleasurable when you are in love.”

And so when the purse is closed, we’re left with one word visible on each side: Pleasure and Love.

If you’d like to know more, there is information at the website offering it for sale (with a hefty $800 price tag!).

Also, from the same site, I’ve found another piece of embroidered loveliness:

A Pocket Book

This is a pocketbook, again, further details are here.  This one has strips and chains of silver sewn onto the silk damask.  Such an elegant design, too.

The pocket book and the purse are both couched (like my earlier post about the chenille waistcoat), this time with metal thread.  Definitely one for the wealthy, methinks!

I’m feeling the terrible urge to re-create these – what writer wouldn’t want a gorgeous, hand-embroidered pocketbook?!  And so I have another project to add to my wishlist!

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While trying to work out how much fabric I needed, I decided to sketch up my costume to show the changes I’m making to the trims of the original pattern.  Mostly I’m just changing attached lace and floral trim for self-trims and making the flounces more accurate – in the pattern they’re the same length all the way around, whereas I’m putting in a little bit of overlap so they’re longer at the bottom and shorter at the top, more 18th Century-esque.

Anyway, here’s my little sketch, v quickly coloured in Photoshop:

Marie Antoinette, Queen of the Zombies

The fancy dress shop in town sells really cheap fans, so I’ll get one of those and try glueing fabric to the paper – I know it won’t close very well as it’ll be thicker, but it’s only a quick and cheap job for one night… Having said that, if the dress doesn’t take me too long, I might use it as an excuse to make a nice fan, which is on my To Make List…

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Having a magpie eye makes looking at 18th Century clothes a dangerous task… I’ve fallen in clothing lust many a time and have several projects in my mind that I’d love to make.  Here’s my list of things I’d like to make one day:

1. Chemise a la Reine.  This one shouldn’t be so far off as some of the others – it sounds like they’re quite simple.  I also have this vague idea that they would be wearable in a modern-day situation… I could be wrong, but it’s worth finding out!  Here’s one with a self stripe (I heart self stripe) and an open skirt over a coloured petticoat (which seems to be an unusual way of wearing them, but not unheard of):

Open front chemise a la reine

2. Blue stripe polonaise.  I’m a sucker for a pretty polonaise, so when I saw Marie Antoinette, I instantly fell in love with this gown:

Blue Stripe Polonaise

I could go on about how dreamy this dress is forever… I don’t generally suit pale colours, but duck-egg and light turquoises look rather good on me, if I do say so myself.  I would love to wear this – it’s just so many kinds of gorgeous.

3. Mentioned before – I want to make the Madame de Pompadour roses gown for a masquerade ball, with a matching mask and fan.  Swoon!

4. A zone gown.  I haven’t entirely decided what yet, but I suspect it’ll be something like the Ducreaux self-portrait I’ve posted previously:

Rose Adelaide Ducreux

That stripe is wonderful.  They really knew how to make a good stripe in the 18th Century!

5. A Mini-tricorne – another a la Marie Antoinette.


Plus, I could even go to Ladies Day at Ascot or something similar to have an excuse to wear it.  Bonus!  I don’t think I’ll go for an exact replica, but something in this style.  Maybe I’ll make it to go with the polonaise – if I can get a plan silk in the same colour when I get the stripe, I could use that for the hat and for trim/a petticoat.  That would be super-pretty!

6. A hooded jacket as seen in Patterns of Fashion V1 (sorry, I don’t have it with me, so can’t tell you which page).  When my housemate saw it, she said how cute it would look in a waterproof fabric, which I can totally see and would wear all the time in my boring old 21st Century life.  Practical as well as pretty!

7. From practical to piratical – a pirate-style justacorps/early 18th Century men’s jacket… made for me!  I prefer the earlier style with more flared skirts… perhaps even 17th Century.  Lots of buttons, big cuffs.  Kinda like this one, but less brocade-y, more frog fastening-y.

8. This blue jacket from the Koyoto Institute:

Blue jacket

‘Nuff said.

9. Stays with pretend front lacing, like these:


I might make them so they could be worn as a modern-day top for special occasions.  We shall see!

10. A ruffly, beautifully coloured mantelet like Madame Berg’s.  I love it – it’s so pretty!  And, 21st Century bonus – it could easily be worn with curren formal wear!  Huzzah!

11. A riding habit that could be worn now – have the vague idea of making it so it could be worn straight or polonaised…  I’m possibly thinking of military styling…

12. Big fat gainsborough hat – again, could be worn at the races or somesuch.

13. Another jacket from the Kyoto Institute, this time in red stripe:

Red Stripe Jacket - 1790

Again – I would wear this in my normal day-to-day life… Did I mention I like stripes?

14. The waistcoat fronts I posted the other day:

Waistcoat fronts - mid 18thC

Hmm… not too much, then… I’d better get started!

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When looking through my file of 18th Century clothes, I redisovered these lovely waistcoat fronts – I don’t normally look at men’s clothing that much when I’m researching the 18th Century, but these really stood out to me:

Waistcoat fronts - mid 18thC

They’re enough to make me want to spend hours and hours embroidering!  Sooo swoon-worthy.  And they’re for sale!  It’s just a shame about the $1,400 price tag (ouch!).

When I first mentioned to The Boy that I was learning to make clothes, he said I could make him some waistcoats for the office (he’d rather wear these than suit jackets).  I don’t think this was what he had in mind, but maybe I can persuade him…

Anyway, if you’re not impressed by the gorgeousness of them from the front, then wait until you see the back, which reveals the extend of work required to couch all these chenille threads:

Waistcoat Embroidery Detail

Such patience!  I’m having such an ‘I want’ moment with these!  Maybe I need to make a men’s outfit…

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