Whitework and Broderie Blanche
Posted by Claire on Apr 24 2017, in Embroidery, WIP
I’ve been making steady progress on my EAC whitework course work. I’m finishing up the fifth and sixth lessons and then it’s just the lessons on finishing and my major project before I’ve got it wrapped up. Hopefully, I’ll be finished by the end of the summer.
I have to say, I’ve really been enjoying it – it’s a much better thought out course than the Basic Crewel course I moaned about last year. The projects are small and quite reasonably sized and the research reports (one for each subject) are a reasonable length for an intermediate level class.
Thus far, I’ve tackled Broderie Anglaise, Monograms, Cutwork, Hedebo, Mountmellick and Ayrshire embroidery.
My favourites have definitely been the Broderie Anglaise and the cutwork. Seriously, I had no idea that cutting holes in fabric could be so much fun!
I’ve got some gorgeous white linen that’s burning a hole in my stash. I really, really want to make a cutwork table runner but a few things are stopping me. First off, my dissertation. I’m more than half way done, but that third remaining chapter isn’t going to write itself (sadly – a self-writing dissertation would be awwwesome!) This means I need another big project like I need another hole in my head. I’ve got two smocked dresses, and three quilts in various stages plus my all my academic obligations. Tackling another project won’t help either goal. So I am resisting…for now…
My least favourite has definitely been Mountmellick. It’s the thread. It’s not mercerized and it’s just thick and it feels yucky and stiff in my hands. It’s kind of like embroidering with butcher’s twine. The technique itself is quite pretty and the book I’m using — Yvette Stanton’s Mountmellick Embroidery: Inspired by Nature — is wonderful. Great instructions, lots of wonderful stitches and some really lovely projects. And Tanja Berlin’s mail order services were wonderful, too. I just don’t like how the materials feel in my hands and hand embroidery is definitely a tactile process. If the hands don’t like it, it doesn’t matter what your head says.
I already know I won’t be doing more Hedebo in the future, either. Not that I minded it – the knotted edge stitch was quite cool and I liked the folk vibe – it’s kind of like if Hardanger and Schwalm had a baby, it would be Hedebo – but it was an academic appreciation, rather than a ‘ooh, cool! I’ve gotta try doing more of this’. I’m glad I learned about it, I’ll be able to identify it in the future but I’m Hedebo’d out.
It’s also been nice working with a whole bunch of different threads. I’m in love with Marie Suarez’s No. 80 floche. It’s like butter, but better. Better, never bitter, butter 🙂 I’ve also got really fond of the DMC Coton a Broder. It’s just a nice handling, nice looking thread. I’ve used the #16, the #20, #25 and #30, just to get an idea of the coverage of each. I prefer the #30 but since only the #25 comes in a range of colours, that’s what I’ll use if I ever tackle the big cutwork project that I’m definitely, probably, well-maybe not going to start any time soon.
And here’s a sneak peek at my ‘final project’ for my EAC course. I’ve been stitching away on this Broderie Blanche dress panel for the past couple of months, on and off. I’ve got plans for an heirloom dress with lace bands. Isn’t it pretty? It’s my own design, inspired by a couple of different designs from Martha Pullen and Sarah Howard Stone’s books on heirloom and French hand sewing.
I made a sample and tried the stitching with DMC#16 floche, and then the MS #60, #80 and #120. I loved the #120 but it was so fine, I knew stitching with it would be like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. The #60 is pretty comparable to DMC’s #16 (clearly, it’s a different numbering system). It would have worked but I liked the results of the #80 best, so that’s what I’ve been working it all with.
The scale is very tiny – each leaf is about 1/4″ x 1/8″ inch – flowers are all between 1/4″ and 3/8″; the biggest centre flower is around 5/8″. I’ve got another couple of evenings stitching ahead but I’m nearly done. Four or five more flowers, one more eyelet chain, and a couple of leaves. Then it’s on to the construction.
I stitch with a magnifier, of course, and this is where the super fine floche really shines. It’s just so easy to get the fine details with the thread. I’ve timed myself. Each leaf takes about 10 minutes to stitch; a flower takes about 18 to 20 minutes.