Saturday, July 18, 2020

I Saw the Bacton Altar Cloth

Way back in pre-Covid February, 2020 DH and I spent a rainy week in London.  One highlight of the trip was the chance to see the Bacton Altar Cloth, then on display at Hampton Court. 

Research has recently confirmed this altar cloth as having been created from a dress belonging to Elizabeth I, making it the only known surviving piece of her clothing.   Even better, this gown was also immortalized in the Rainbow portrait of Elizabeth.

In its long history, the gown was given to Blanche Perry, one of Elizabeth's favorite ladies.  Blanche, in turn, had ties to Bacton, and at some point the dress (or fabric from it) was given to the local church where it was transformed into an altar cloth, which was used for many years, and eventually rediscovered and hung on the church wall.

Several of my own photos are posted below.  But there is LOTS of interesting info on youtube with many great professional photos, and focusing on such topics as the discovery of the cloth, the research process establishing the cloth's provenance, the portrait in which the original dress appears, and even a project that recreated the dress. 

Here are what I think are the best links:

Below is a sampling of my own photos.  As often true in museum settings, you could only get so close. . . and VERY frustratingly, it was impossible to see the small details including exactly how the stitching was done.  I spent about a half hour viewing the cloth and chatting with two other ladies I met there (both obviously stitchers as well). 

Although from about a foot away, the stitching seems to have a lot of dimension and texture similar to various detached buttonhole stitches, large scale sample of two motifs displayed with the cloth indicates most of that dimension was created with many, many, many tiny straight stitches.

It was a wonderful treat to see this rare survival in person.   Perhaps there are other unrecognized pieces of historic costume still out there to be discovered.  And hopefully by the time they're found and ready to be displayed, we'll all be able to jump on airplanes again and go see them ourselves.

Monday, August 5, 2019

With Apologies to Historical Purists

Another small section complete!  A special hurrah since this is a section I've stewed about.  In the original this little stem alternates -- sort of at random -- between ceylon stitch in gold and in ceylon stitch in green silk.  But to my eye that looked really messy. . . so I've adapted again, and done the stem entirely in gold.  I think it works OK.

Here's the stem in process . . . representing one afternoon's work:

And here is the completed stem.  If you look carefully you can see that up towards the top -- near the second pear -- I switched between a 3 and 2 stitch width.  Further down the stem as it widens out, the individual stitches become spaced a little further apart.

I do not have a very good photo of the original,but here's a sort of fuzzy picture of the stem in question.  I think you can at least see how in my mind at least, the alternating green silk and gold creates a rather messy look.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Like Stampeding Snails

Some more very modest progress. . . at a constipated snail's pace . . . but progress nevertheless:

Some fancy footwear done in tightly packed cable chain stitch:

A blue and white butterfly, with detached button hole body and wings of detached buttonhole over silver return:

And, finally, a leaf filled with alternating green silk and gold metallic in cable chain:

Thursday, March 7, 2019

So What Exactly IS That?

Going back to the photo ending the previous post (copied below), you can see an odd shape between the two pears.   It's shown really clearly on the traceable pattern sheet.   My question has been, "what exactly is that?"

It doesn't really look like a leaf. . . or a pear. . .  To me it appears very blob-like, which bugs me.  I don't have a good high-res photo of the original piece, but the photo I do have looks pretty much like the traceable pattern.

So what to do about it?  If it were possible, I think I'd make it into a nice leaf shape, but I can't figure out how to do that without leaving a fair amount of the existing outline visible.

The stitching instructions refer to it as a pear.  So maybe it's a pear. . .or could be a pear.  A little sketching on the traceable outline resulted in the following that creates pear-like shape that also covers all the indelible lines.  Here's the new pear drawn in water erasable marker over the blob shape.

And here's the stitched shape, outlined in dark brown to match the other pears (my addition for consistency among my trio of pears) and filled with alternating rows of silver and gold Van Dyke.

So my piece has a trio of pears.   Onto the next problem.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Pair of Pears

New year. . . same slow stitching pace, I'm afraid.

But some stitching has been done.

This week's accomplishment is the second "woven" gold leaf.  The photo below shows the two pears together.  Both use the same technique -- laid parallel linen threads with the working threads worked over and under as shown in the second photo.  The pear on the left is stitched with gold thread alone.  In the smaller pear on the right, the working thread consists of gold thread plus one strand of colored silk. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Some Modest Progress

Not much stitching around here recently.  And most sewing I have done has been new curtains for the kitchen and miserable hemming of t-shirts.

I do have some very modest progress to share.   Over the last month, various elements of the upper branch on the pastoral panel have begun to take shape!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Haute Couture, Anyone?

I've started working on the clothing of the two figures.  Most of it is done in detached buttonhole. . . with occasional other stitches mixed in here and there.

For me, the real challenge of this stitch is keeping it looking neat and clean.  It doesn't take much to create a messy look.  And for clothing, there's the additional issue of the order of work and how to make the various clothing sections work smoothly together.

What I've tried to to is think about which individual clothing parts logically sit atop one another and work in that order.

Here's what I've been working on thus far:

I started with the wife, with the center of the hat. . . but am still trying to decide what hat section would be best done next.  So I moved on to the little loops that form the collar. . . then the sleeves of her dress.

Next I stitched the left side of the bodice. . . and started on the right side.  The left side I like, but I'm still fussing to get the right side look balanced with the left side. While I stewed about that, I stitched the right side of the skirt.  This shows some of the issues with stitching these complex shapes neatly.  In this section I added several partial rows to make the skirt shape flare out a bit.  Even done as neatly as humanly possible, they tend to look a little messy.

There's a little section of what I assume is an underskirt of some kind along the left side of the skirt.  Since I think the other skirt sections would lie above this, I stitched it next.  It's done in ceylon stitch, but since the shape is so tiny, the section begins with a single column, widening out to two.  I love that the petticoat is bright red!  What fun.

What's next?  I think I'll work on the left side of the skirt. . . then the center apron.  I'll leave the rest of the bodice for last since it looks rather tricky. . . with that uncooperative right side of the bodice to unstitch and redo. . .then a wide detached lapel and collar that sits atop the tan main part of the bodice.