Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Royal School of Needlework - Third Sampler - Applique and Couching

This piece was a pain to stitch. For starters, I did not like that hot pink linen fabric then and I continue to dislike it. It was the project where we learned, because we had to, how to stitch accurately and quickly.

The design was transferred onto the cream fabric by the prick, pounce and paint a very thin line with black water colour paint method. The pink and the cream fabric were both mounted onto a slate frame and the cream fabric was thoroughly basted in place.   Starting somewhere, probably near the base of the stem, small running stitches were made on the design lines along a small section. The fabric was trimmed away very close to the marked and stitched line. The couched thread was either 12 or 18 strands of DMC Floss (deliberately left slightly puffy) couched down with three threads. Whatever your spacing was between the first two stitches was what it had to be consistently throughout no matter the curve or the space available. We worked by eye with no templates allowed. I encourage my students to use templates where accurate spacing is necessary. There is no need to try the patience of students unnecessarily.

The edges and the centre of the Rose are Padded Satin Stitch. I am writing a tutorial on how to do this shortly. Like everything else, once you know how, it is easy.

It will be on my blogsite: Stitching Idyllic

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stitches Sampler

This was the first sampler stitched as a student at The Royal School of Needlework in 1951.

At 17 years plus a few days old, it was one huge undertaking to travel in and out of London each day and actually spend my time doing something that was both interesting and demanding. (Believe me, it was joy after attending what was a prestigious and appalling school.) My eyes were good and I was in 'the smaller the better stitches' phase in my life. As such, I now need a magnifying glass to identify some of these stitches.

This is particularly true of some of those in the darkest of the wool threads. There are some interesting Trellis Filling stitches but you can take a closer look at some of the details.

These samplers were mounted on masonite this being the only mounting board available at the time No one knew or understood anything about acidity and the conservation of fabrics and threads. On taking these samplers apart for acid-free remounting, I found that the fabric that wrapped across the cut edges of the masonite to be more discoloured than the main part. The white sheeting wrapping the board and underneath the sampler was brown as if plunged into tobacco smoke though no one in this house has smoked near them. In fact they have been behind glass for protection for many years.

The new mounting on acid free board covered with clean and freshly laundered white cotton underlay has been a huge amount of work. But I reckoned that if I did not do this, no one else would and that in another 50 years the condition of the fabric could be terrible. The threads have generally survived well though there was some minimal damage from moths that I was able to repair.

As you can see, there was not a lot of fabric available outside the design lines. After it came off the slate framed on which it was stitched, it was blocked. We used carpet tacks for this and you can see the holes and rust caused by this. I think that it would be almost impossible for a sampler such as this to exist without incurring damage from blocking, mounting and framing. It is sad to see this as I do remember, and remember well, what the samplers were like when pristinely new and not been 'processed for presentation'.

I hope you are enjoying and are interested in these Real Glimpses from the Past. Not too many stitchers from that era are still alive and I want to pass the views as well as the experience on before it is lost.

The next sampler to go online will be our second one. I am planning to include the directions on how to create immaculate Padded Satin Stitch. Like most of these techniques, it is not difficult once you know how.

Happy New Year.