Saturday, November 27, 2010

We Interrupt this Trip Report. . .

For a wave of holiday PANIC!

Just about the time I would have been worrying about Thanksgiving dinner. . . had I been cooking. . . another alarming deadline popped into view.  ....less than THREE weeks until Sampler Guild Christmas party. . . meaning less than three weeks to get ornaments done for the ornament exchange (which is optional) and for my secret stitcher (required).

So over the Thanksgiving holiday, I've been stitching up some little lacis whitework ornaments.  As of today -- see pictures below -- I have the embroidery completed and the finishing done on two of the four ornaments. . . with only the twisted cord to make and attach to complete the other two. . . so I'm almost ready to proceed to the next item on the holiday panic list.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Bit of the Unexpected

No doubt about it.  By a couple of days into the tour, I had seen lots of EXACTLY what I had expected. . . item after item with beautiful needlelace motifs and stunning goldwork. 

But we also saw some more unexpected items, including some jackets that are very different from the Layton and Plimoth jackets.  One was the Maidstone jacket (see picture in previous post).  But there were others.  Below are my sketches of the patterns on two others.  (Photography permissions prohibit posting photos.)

I thought that both of these patterns looked quite contemporary. . . and not at all what I usually think of as 17th century garb.  But both were striking. . . and would look good if worn today.  I'm especially interested in trying to glimpse what life may have been like for those other than the fashion elite, and these jackets seemed to do just that.

And both jackets also looked like they might well have been stitched by amateurs.  Why?  A couple of reasons. . . .the stitching is very nicely executed, but not terribly complicated.  The star and cloud (black and white) jacket was entirely done in backstitch. . . while the red and green stitched squiggle and dot pattern combined backstitch (red) and what I think are just several small overlapping stitches for the green dots.

It also looks like the patterns might have been laid out by novice designers.  As an example, the space between the "rows" of the squiggle and dot pattern is not totally even.  (In fact, one sleeve has more repeats of the pattern than the other.) 

And what a relief it was to realize that even without the technical competence of the "masterpiece" jackets it was possible to create beautiful pieces of stitching.  In the words of one fellow traveler:  "My incompetence is historically accurate!" 

That's my very favorite comment of the entire tour. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

17th Century Pro-Am Musings

A lot of the travelers on the Jacket Tour were either professional and highly accomplished amateur costumers, including many SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) members.
I find the accomplishments of these folks absolutely stunning.  I truly love embroidery, but I'm not sure if I could commit myself to stitch an entire coif. . . let alone a jacket. . . let alone create multiple complete historically accurate outfits.  While I often looked at the embroidery and asked myself "how did they do that," the costume experts were also asking the same thing about the garment construction. . . including all sorts of detailed and arcane issues that I barely followed.

But one issue that I think was common to both groups was the asking whether any of these beautiful garments were -- or could have been -- created by the wearer herself.

Tricia and the museum curators consistently chose jaw-droppingly splendid pieces for us to see, and many of them, like the Layton Jacket and other similar pieces (see November 2 posting) were certainly the work of professionals.  But there was also a range to the pieces that gave glimpses into lives of the less than SUPER SUPER SUPER wealthy.

Consider the Maidstone jacket, which we able to examine closely at the small but lovely Maidstone Museum.  Here's a photo:

The construction of the jacket is fairly simple. . .unlined. . . and the embroidery is not complicated -- stem stitched outlines filled with running stitches.  It's beautifully done and the overall effect is fabulous, but was it possibly made by the woman who wore it?  We know it COULD have been because Lauren the Extreme Costumer (who was along on the tour) has indeed stitched her own jacket based on this very historical piece.  Check out pictures of her work here

But wait. . . there were other pieces that might tempt an amateur stitcher. . . but those must wait. . .for another post.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More Eye Candy from the V&A

Before moving on from the V&A I wanted to share some examples of the detached buttonhole type of stitching that we worked on the Plimoth Jacket that was the inspiration for this tour.

The highlight of our visit was the behind the scenes visit with the curators where we were able to closely examine FOUR 17th century jackets, all with similarities to the Plimoth Jacket.  Sadly, the photo permissions prohibit sharing those behind the scenes photos, but you can see photos of three of the four jackets through the V&A website.

Here are links for the Layton jacket, the jacket with the embroidery pattern used on the Plimoth jacket, and a third jacket that I think of as the Acorn Jacket.

And here are some other lovely pieces from the study rooms featuring the same type of embroidery. . . first a forehead cloth and a pillow bere (pillow sham) including two close ups.  Throughout the tour, it was especially fun to see the many variations there were on the theme of the scrolling stems festooned with leaves, flowers, and the occasional bird and/or bugs.