Tuesday, 9 July 2013

16th Century Embroidery

For my birthday this year, I treated myself to a copy of Elizabethan Stitches by Jacqui Carey. I'm fascinated by the embroidered samplers of the period, especially those of Queen Elizabeth, like this embroidered bookbinding, completed by the Princess at the age of 11. Embroidery techniques from the 16th century are subtely different to modern stitches, enough so that I can see myself enjoying the challenge of learning them.

So far I've been working with just one stitch, but for two differnt projects.

The first is using detached buttonhole stitch to cover wooden beads. This was a common technique to embellish beads in the day, and if the time it takes me to do each button is anything to go by, they were a very effective way of displaying your wealth.

I've been using cotton embroidery floss to make these buttons, using all six strands together.The floss fluffs out when it is used, in theory filling the space between stiches so none of the wooden bead is visible. Hmm, yeah, my technique still needs tweaking.

Something I don't think I've mentioned here before, but I currently hold the post of seneschal of my shire. For those who don't know, the traditional symbol of office for that role is a gold key displayed horizontally on a red background, just like this one in progress in fact.

Again, I'm using cotton embroidery floss for this, but only two strands at a time, again in buttonhole stitch. Or do give it the full title from the book, Elizabethan corded detached buttonhole stitch. Takes longer to type out the name than it does to do a row of this stitch. I've really been pleasently surprised at how quick and easy this stitch is.

I've not decided yet what this is going to be used for. Do I have enough velvet to make a bag? Or do I turn it into a little, personal keepsake? 

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