Saturday, 13 April 2013

Because every so often, I have an absurd idea

At the end of last year, pretty much out of the blue, I developed an interest in the English Middle Ages - roughly, from the Norman Conquest to the end of the Wars of the Roses. I have always been interested in history, but what era I find most fascinating changes from time to time. (I suspect this current change may have been slightly influenced with the fact that I was supposed to be writing an essay on the 18th Century at the time.) Anyway, because of this I decided it would be a great idea to embroider excerpts from the Bayeux Tapestry on to a dress. (If anyone is wondering, the Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidery, not a tapestry.) This project would also give me an endless supply of hand sewing to do, an occupation I pine after when I don’t have any.

The base dress is made from McCall’s 3129, which is quickly become my standard base pattern. It closes with the best invisible zip I’ve done yet – I didn’t need to redo any of it. The easy-to-embroider fabric was another great find at Patchwork on Parker in Cootamundra. I didn’t try to match the embroidery floss colour perfectly to the actual tapestry (and frankly, when you’re working with photos and photos of photos – colour accuracy pretty much goes out the window anyway). Instead I found out what the colours were by name, and then found a collection that looked good together.
The pale yellow is perhaps a bit too close to the fabric colour 
To transfer the design on to the dress, I printed out pictures in the size I wanted and traced the outline in dark pen. I then placed the tracings over the inside of the dress until I was happy with the arrangement and then traced them. I work on a glass top table with a lamp underneath to shine the designs outlines through the fabric for tracing. I have found that this process is better at night when the only light source is the lamp.

 The figures are outlined in stem stitch (which I no longer forget how to do in the middle of a row) and filled in with Bayeux stitch. Bayeux stitch is the stitch that was used on the original tapestry. It conserves thread as much as possible and fills in spaces very quickly.

I expect that this project will take a while (read: years).  I am not constantly embroidering but I am happy with my progress after a month.

May I present the first figure, finished:

There is a painfully detailed set of progress photos under the cut, that I expect I am the only person who will care about.


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