Monday, March 19, 2012

Embroidery Practice

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently purchased Gail Marsh's book 19th Century Embroidery Techniques and have been practicing a small flower design from it to work on some stitches.  I've been practicing some form of needlework since I was in elementary school, when my mother taught be basic hand sewing and counted cross stitch (which she is really fantastic at!), but I've never actually attended to the styles associated with decorative embroidery in a particular period.  The biggest thing for me to think about has been scale: I'm good at the small, delicate work but not so much at the bigger things, and embroidery for costume needs to pack much more of a punch than little edges on a corset, for example.  Here are a few embroidered pieces I really love, to give you an idea of what I mean:

1878

1810

this one also includes sequins! 

detail from corded stays, 1820-39

white-on-white is a particular favorite, 1870-75

I really need to work on my undergarments before I start any more dresses, because fitting without all the proper layers just leads to more problems later.  Not to mention the fact that I'm swamped with homework and really can't afford the time to start anything big right now (even though I want to).  So I think I shall continue practicing my 19th c. stitches on my corsets and petticoats for now.

Also, just because it's fun and I like to follow runway fashion, I've been noticing lately that embroidery has been making an appearance...yay historical influences!

models backstage at the Dolce and Gabbana Fall/Winter 2012 show
lace/pearl applique embroidery at the Oscar de la Renta F/W 2012 show
metallic-embroidered bodice from Alexander McQueen Resort 2012

So my love of embroidery is well-timed for inspiration, both old and new.  The vine piece I did from Marsh's book included two vines of chain stitch, one sunflower with a french knot center and padded satin stitch petals, buds with 'brush' stitch (which is my favorite, I think), a lily mixing brush stitch and satin stitch, leaves out of a french twist I forget the name of, and stem stitch.
It improved as it went along, and while there are a lot of mistakes by the end I had the hang of everything, including working with different thicknesses of floss and how to tell when to use what.  Since it was just a scrap I hadn't really planned to do anything with it, but one of my friends really liked it and as she's currently knitting me a hat, I thought it would be nice to give it to her.  So please excuse the very modern text--it's her catch-phrase of sorts, and I thought it was quite funny juxtaposed with the soft ladylike flowers.

the lily

a bud (sorry for the photo quality, it was very late at night!)


the K, which was done using some of the monogramming techniques
Overall, I thought this was a pretty valiant first effort, and I'm excited to keep practicing as I expand my foundation wardrobe. Now I just need to get myself organized enough to start cutting...


A Side Note:
You may have noticed the blog underwent a makeover this week...I've been thinking quite a bit about aesthetics recently while working on my embroidery technique and thinking about ways to work it into my clothes.  I was especially pleased that I had enough images to pull together an entirely plaid header (even if the sheer plaid on the white skirt isn't totally visible).  Hopefully this will also be easier to read.


1 comment:

  1. The biggest thing for me to think about has been scale: I'm good at the small, delicate work but not so much at the bigger things, and embroidery for costume needs to pack much more of a punch than little edges on a corset, for example. Here are a few embroidered pieces I really love, to give you an idea of what I mean: Sew Little Fabric

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