Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spangles and purls and ribbons oh my!

In a previous post, I mentioned I wanted to make some new garters to go with my black Marie Antoinette halloween costume. The dress is black with silver spangles, so this gave me the perfect opportunity to try out some goldwork, or in this case, silverwork embroidery. A while back I bought a bunch of spangles and supplies from Berlin Embroidery. For this project I'm using silver spangles (#12), silver rough purl (#6) and silver thread (001C). For the garter I'm using black, one inch, silk satin ribbon from MJ Trimming. I'm still deciding what I will use to reinforce the embroidered area. Extant garters from the 18th century are often reinforced with linen or even paper. Below are some examples of garters embellished with silverwork.

One garter of pink silk with scrolling conventional flowers couched in silver thread (silver wound on white silk) and flat silver wire. Silver somewhat tarnished, pink silk worn and faded. Lined with linen (two pieces). MFA.

Silk and silver and spangle embroidery and pigments on
silk mounted on paper board and silk ribbon. MFA.

Order of the Garter. Pale blue silk rep embroidered with silver
yarns, wire and spangle, inscribed "HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE"
("Dishonored be he who thinks ill of it"). Ref.: Seligman and
 Hughes, Domestic Needlework, Pl. 23E. MFA.

For this kind of embroidery you need a very thin needle that fits through the eye of the spangles and the purl, which is very narrow. It helps to have a piece of fuzzy felt or velvet to put the little silver bits on, so they're at hand, but they don't roll away from you. A tweezer or just a licked finger tip work well for picking up the bits. A tiny, sharp scissors is a must for cutting the purl. I started out using my fabric scissors, just because it was nearby, but I think after a while the metal will damage the fine fabric-cutting blades, and you don't want your scissors tearing up your finest silks...

So here is as far as I got last night while watching bridesmaids - way funnier the first time by the way... But anyway, I drew a design on paper and pinned my ribbon (30 inches for each garter) to it, to stabilize it. Then I chalked the design onto the ribbon. The design is based off some extant 18th century goldwork from the book, 18th Century Embroidery Techniques, by Gail Marsh.

Next, the two stitch techniques I used, starting with sewing on the spangles, in the step by step pictures below. And please excuse me if I don't use the appropriate embroidery terms. Sorry!

How to embroider with spangles:

1. Start with a secure thread, coming up through the
fabric where you want to start. Drop your first spangle
down the thread.

2. The needle goes down through the fabric at the
outside of the design (look at the north side of the
spangle), then comes up through the fabric at the
south side. Obviously, this north/south business
 changes depending on your design, but this is purely
for explaining. 
3. Drop the second spangle down the thread.

4. The thread then goes down the center of the first
spangle, securing both, and overlapping the second
over the first.

5. The thread comes up through the south side of
the second spangle, repeating the pattern.

Next, sewing on the purl. And a note about purl. It comes in long strands that are basically a very fine slinky. When working with purl, take care not to crease it or kink it, because it wont come out. These pictures show how to make a purl leaf. To sew on the purl in the swag design, pass the purl through the thread, secure through the fabric at both ends, and then couch the thread over the purl to secure it to a curve. Obviously, you can also make it straight, or really any design you want. Purl is very flexible.

How to embroider with purl:

1. Drop the purl segment, which you have cut to
size, down the thread.

2. To create the leaf motif, reinsert the needle next to
the last hole. This gives you the loop.

3. Secure the loop to the fabric by coming up near
the curve, and couching the thread over the purl.

4. Showing the second part of step 3, where the
thread goes back down through the fabric.

5. Come up where the purl ends meet and drop the
second, smaller piece of purl down the thread.

6. Go down to create the center of the leaf.

Ta da!

And a few more pics of the garters so far...

Oopsie. Falling off the bottom a little...

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