viennabelle: (Default)
I haven't posted here forever, but some friends are asking what projects I'm working on. So, here is a glimpse at one thing...

I spent most of the spring working on a minister's stole (commission). After, I knew I needed another embroidery project. So, I got two. This one takes inspiration  from the Jacket Project (no, it's part of a coif, not a jacket--I may be insane, but not that insane). The other is my level one Japanese embroidery project. These are things that make me happy. :)
viennabelle: (Strawberries)
I got back from my journey to MA last night, after losing my car keys, then finding out (after 3 hours of searching) that they'd fallen out of my purse and rolled far under the car seat (an unexpected dimensions of my keyless auto systems is having keys in the car, but out of pickup range).

As for the jacket project, I ended up starting on it at the final work session. It was rather awkward fitting into a project that had been underway for two years, but my work was needed, so I came out feeling accomplished. I started with sewing on spangles (or oes or pailettes, depending on who is speaking). At first, I felt very hesitant and worked slowly. Then I was switched to embroidering curliques on the golden stems. Real gold embroidery! I loved it! The need to make progress infiltrated my brain and soon I was cranking. At the end, they doubled us up for a time on frames and I went back to sewing spangles. Oddly, sharing a canvass gave me more confidence. I was cranking. My work was tidy. Then other folks left early, I got a frame to myself again and I started whipping those things on. I know I hit about 80 per hour, maybe more--I just managed to finish spangling the piece I was working on.

My take-away was a whole lot more confidence in my embroidery capabilities and a lot of creative inspiration for new items. I think I will try to make a coif inspired by--but not copying--the jacket (named "Faith"). I also am inspired by the 3-D design possibilities of stumpwork. A veteran stitcher from the project brought in an amazing stumpwork lamb that she'd sewn--seeing her effort left me thinking of designing my own creations. I'd love to make a sewing accoutrement like the needlelace thimble holders and needlebooks of the period. Only the design I have in mind is a bit fanciful...

Well, that is an idea for another day. Right now, I need to get cracking on my UFOs!

Meanwhile, thanks for all the comments from before. I wasn't able to respond, mostly since I never got online!  Life was very busy, but very fun!

viennabelle: (Strawberries)
Greetings from Mass.!  I am here, it's freezing cold up here, but it's a fun time as I got started with work on the Jacket Project. Today I spent the day sewing paillettes (ahem, o'es, as they say in 17th century speak) and just had the most fun time meeting and chatting with the other sewers. I have taken a bunch of photos, but I am going to wait to post them because my camera is in the car (and it's too cold to run out for it). Also, I want to be sure what I can and cannot post online.

Anyhow, it's a great learning experience. First, I got to hold the pieces in my own hands. My breath pretty much sucked completely out of my chest when I saw it. It is such incredibly fine work. The photos don't capture how amazingly small the work is. Those flowers are incredibly tiny. The jacket is really small. Those stitches are incredibly even and miniscule. At first I could only just trace my (newly cleaned) hands over the piece.


The highlight of the day was when we got a backstage tour of the private collection, which includes three precious samplers. It was such a privilege to see the museums treasures--and to see the work close up that women worked so hard to make in the past. Unfortunately, two need preservation--and one is starting to show signs of deterioration. That sampler is a later one, but made by a descendent of pilgrim Miles Standish in the very early 1800s. It is unique since the girl who sewed it brought perspective into the house she portrayed. It also has, to my delight, a dog with lips! They are going to start fundraising as soon as possible to get it stabilized.

Then (squee!) shopping! I got to stock up on nifty items for my own embroidery supplies, too. The project leaders have some of the finest possble supplies available, including handmade needles (kinder on threads), gilt silk twist and gold threads! I am in love with my new items!  Even my teenaged nephews thought my loot was impressive, even though it all fit in a tiny little bag. Now, to sew something one of Laura's coif patterns!

Thanks to all who asked about my drive. Despite a long backup as crossing the Bronx, the ride up to New England went smoothly. Actually, the delay worked in my favor--as I turned off the exit to my sister's house (comfortably at 9:30), the audio book I'd been listening to all day concluded. Perfect timing!
viennabelle: (Strawberries)
Thanks to [ profile] jehanni (who came over Tuesday night and helped me figure what I was doing wrong with the spiral stitch), I am almost done with the sampler (required for participation in the 17th Century Jacket Project) and it's finally looking the way it's supposed to!

Now I'm getting ready to drive to Mass. I still have to pack the car, get gas, then I hit the road. Snacks and audio books are all ready to go. Fortunately, my two sisters & father live only two towns over from Plymouth (Duxbury, where I grew up)--and it's only about a five mile drive (on the freeway, no less) to reach Plimoth Plantation, where I'll be working on the jacket this weekend.

Oh--and my sister the dentist promised to teach me a better way to make fangs!

Then we're planning the sister's night out--we're thinking of beers, fried fish and onion rings at the Lobster Hut. Cheap, tasty eats and lots of gossip on a wharf over looking Plymouth harbor. Heaven.

So, I'm quite psyched to hit the road! Have Prius, will travel!
viennabelle: (Girl Reporter)
I'm taking a bit of time off sewing to get ready to head to New England on Thursday to work on the Plimoth Plantation jacket project. I'm far behind schedule completing the sampler required for participating on the project, so I'm pressing to finish it this weekend. I'm not happy with my stitching on the embroidery stitches, so I'm expecting that I won't be doing that (I'm figuring I'll do the easier job of sewing on paillettes). However, I do hope I can learn what I'm doing wrong with the stitches (especially the spiral, which I've redone many, many times).

Oh, well, phooey.

I also purchased a lace sample kit, even though the actual lace for the project was done. I have gone through phases of lacemaking in the past and I've wanted to try 16th century techniques. So, for the first time in years, I pulled out a lace pillow and started hacking my way through the pattern. While I found the directions a bit confusing, it's a fairly simple pattern and the techniques came back to me rapidly as I started playing with my bobbins.

My experience with bobbin lacemaking is one of the strangest experiences. It's a totally intiutive experience--I don't think I could explain much of how I do it.  I can follow patterns, but I don't understand how those women in the lace guild can just look at a pricking (a diagram showing pin configuration) and know immediately how many bobbins to use, where to start and what options they have for execution). I expect that comes with experience, but getting my brain around that essential part of the craft is totally baffling to me. Still, I was pretty happy I could figure my way through this simple pattern.

The kit actually calls for making a sample using gold and silver threads and paillettes (provided). Since I wasn't confident about remembering my skills, I did a test run using linen and other paillettes I had around the house. I was pretty happy with the result, though I will have to work at this new way of making picots (they are all there, but they tend to twist oddly). However, I cannot say if I will use the kit materials--I'm not sure if they really want more samples, since the jacket project lace is completed--and given my druthers, I'd like to work on some lace I could use for a costuming project.

Anyhow, the effort left me remembering how lacemaking is a perfect filler project. Once a pattern is set up, it's a perfect little occupation for doing while watching tv--rather like knitting, but with prettier results.

viennabelle: (Default)
Realizing that unless I make a mad dash to NYC next weekend, I probably missed the big exhibit ‘Twixt Art and Nature,” an exhibition of embroidery from 17th-century England at Bard College. So, to make up for it, I ordered the catalog, which is available at Amazon. Yesterday, the delivery guy arrived at 4 pm (stunning, since I had just received notification that it shipped at 12:30--but according to the courier, it came from an Amazon facility located in my town).

Wow. This is a stunning book. Every photo is huge and clear. There are lots of articles and background information on the pieces in the exhibit. It is quite simply, jawdropping.

I have barely been able to stop myself from peering at it today! One thing I learned--costume historians don't actually know how forecloths were worn (and there I thought I was just painfully stupid about that)!

The New York Times has a cool interactive feature about the exhibit here.

Well, I have work to get, it's been a test of fortitude to not peer into the book some more. However, now I am really tempted to make a mad dash to NYC to catch one the last days of this exhibit (it closes on Sunday)!
viennabelle: (Default)
I posted my first interview on Your Wardrobe Unlocked! It was so wonderful--Judy Mitchell--co-owner of the F-Costume group and the Lord of the Rings Costume website caught up with me and told me all about her love for Scandanavian historic costumes, fantasy costumes and preparations for this year's CostumeCon. Needless to say, Judy is a bit inspiring!

Meanwhile, I continued to plug away at the stays, but only managed sewing one line of stitching. Researching costumers for YWU and clothing for the Mistresses of Charles II project left me wanting more mojo! So, I felt inspired to do a bit of needlework.  I used to do lots of embroidery (particularly before I got really into costuming), but I haven't picked up my hoop for a couple of years. Things have really changed. It used to be that few shops carried more than needlepoint supplies. I used to have real trouble finding silk threads (so much that I'd bought a skein of unbleached lace knitting silk and teacup dye it).  Now there's lots of stuff--my local Michaels craft store even carries 28 ct evenweave linen!

Cruising around the Internet left me recalling just how much I liked Jacobean embroidery--especially the wild "orientalist" motifs. I didn't go so radical in my design, but I drew a little motif on some linen and stitched it in a stumpwork fashion with bits of silk in the stash. I even tried my first effort at goldwork with a bit of some (unknown) gold thread I picked up at a flea market.  I rather like the results...

I enjoyed it enough to think about embroidering more for the Charles II costume. That would be really cool...But now, back to the UFOs!

Well, the other big thing was hosting the local aquatic plant club yesterday. We managed to get 39 people in our living room! It was lots of fun and Rick gave a presentation about aquarium lighting.


viennabelle: (Default)

March 2013

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