Tag Archives: Embroidery

Golden Seamstress Challenge, April 2017

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In February, a local SCA group hosted an event called the Golden Seamstress Challenge. The challenge was to create a full outfit, skin to shell, in about 20 hours. I had a crazy idea and recruited other seamstresses enter this competition with ONLY HAND STITCHING. Machine sewing was totally allowed. I wanted to see if we could do it. WE DID.

We had a couple spots that weren’t properly sewn, and some touchups had to be made after the fact due to time running short, but we made an insertion work camicia, couched sleeves, and a full Florentine sottana in that amount of time. Drawers were made in advance, according to the challenge rules. Alas, we did not quite complete the challenge, as we did not have enough time for the petticoat. Nonetheless, I was amazed that we did so much in the time we had.

We had 6 team members: Condêssa Violante do Porto, THL Kataryn Mercer, Lady Katla of Viborg, Lady Olivia Baker, Ástríðr Músi, and Lady Cecelie Vogelgesangkin. (My pardons if any titles are incorrect, I was going by memory).

Violante sewed about 30 feet of insertion work on the camicia. That’s almost 10 yards, with stitches about an 1/8″ apart. It’s freaking amazing.

The bodice was a combined effort between myself and Olivia. Olivia was very quick to learn and follow the techniques that I briefly showed her, while we each worked on one side of the bodice. Then, while I was resting, she was able to finish the entire bodice!

Cecelie did ALL of the cutting of the bits and bobs. That means she cut all of the hem facing, trim and padding, stitched it all into strip, pressed each into shape and had it ready and waiting. This was a huge huge help, because it was yards upon yards of work and she did it all with a smile on her face.

The sleeves are white silk with couched gold cord, done by Olivia and Cecelie. They couched the rows of cord, finished the hem and wrists, and stitched the sleeves together (after all the other work they’d already done).

The skirt was a LOT of work, ably taken on by Katla and Ástríðr. The two of them chatted and cut, cut and sewed, and sewed some more. They cut out the sottana skirt panels, then stitched them all together, then stitched the trim, then stitched the hem, THEN stitched the facing. If these two hadn’t been so diligent and fast, we never would have finished. I can’t calculate how many yards of stitching they did, but it’s a lot.

Here are some pictures from the event. I will be adding more of the finished products.

Planning Drawings

 

 



Girdle Book Phone Case

I’m a part of a local embroidery group, the Keepers of Athena’s Thimble, though I don’t typically do much embroidery. I do rather enjoy openwork, however. As celebration for Athena’s Thimble 30th anniversary, some of the senior members have issued challenges for others to complete. I’m a sucker for a challenge, but I didn’t get around to what I had planned originally.

But recently, I bought the latest and greatest phone and remembered that I have long wanted a girdle book phone case to hide my phone at events. Since I am locked into this phone lease for the next two years, now is the perfect time to make one! It coincidentally lines up well with one of the challenges, listed below:

Elizabet Marshall’s Challenge: Documenting your steps.

Select a period embroidery of your preference. Design and execute either a copy or an embroidery in the same style.

The specific challenge is to document your process, from selecting the original embroidery, through all aspects of design and execution. I want to know how you chose your original piece (“I’ve always admired this” or “I need a cushion to take to events”, etc.), your steps in designing the piece (search clip art, trace the original, happen to be a decent artist and drew it, had an artist friend draw it), all materials considered (including the ones rejected, and why) and reasons for selecting the ones chosen. Good things to include would be any sampling/swatching done, original sketches during design phase, original drawing if you don’t draw directly to your fabric, photos of the piece in progress. The documentation does not need to be a formally written document; use a notebook and present that — the idea is to show your process. Your project notebook should have doodles, thoughts, taped-in swatches of fabrics and threads, etc.

So as I begin this project, I will attempt to document the entire thing, in real time (instead of my usual hindsight summary post).

I started with a collection of links I saved of openwork at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I looked through about three before I saw the one I knew I would use. It was a “this is it” moment, so I looked no further. Unfortunately, the resolution isn’t great, so I put out a call to the other group members to see if anyone had a clearer image.

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16th Century Italian Lace Fragment

In the meantime, I couldn’t stop my momentum. Though I can’t determine every stitch, I can tell that there is a base grid of what looks like woven bars with picots, so I graphed out the basic design on 1/4″ graph paper. I made some mistakes, but was able to correct them decently. However, after I finished the primary design, I decided I didn’t like the way the it looked at the edges. I took a break, then redid the graph with no mistakes and a much better design.

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Left=Sucky, Right=Much Better

Since most of the work will be drawing the threads and wrapping the bars, I don’t need a better image just yet.

Now to figure out materials…