Monday, January 2, 2012

A bit of whitework between the red and green.

The past couple months have been a barrage of busy. All my bigger projects were put on hold, devoting my time more to Christmas and shopping and wrapping and parties and all things red and green and sparkly. But in between all the holiday festivities I was able to fit in some some less time consuming projects. I find that white work embroidery is very easy to work on in short spurts, leaving off for a while, and never having trouble remembering your place. No worrying about colors!

I started working on the embroidery panels of an 1804 dress from the Met that I absolutely love. It's quite simple embroidery, only using french knots and satin stitch. I sketched out a pattern on paper and then, as I had time, I traced the design onto the fabric, worked a bit, left off and came back as I pleased. So far I have the waist band completed and a few repeats of the front motif. I used a little heavier thread than I would have liked, but the embroidery on the original dress looks a bit heavy, too. The fabric is a thin, plain weave cotton I had on hand. Maybe a voile.

Detail of an unfinished repeat.

A completed repeat. Please excuse the hoop,
which gives a funny perspective,
making the work appear distorted in size.

The waistband, pinned onto the dressform.
She is wearing a regency era corset from Period Corsets.

The original dress. White cotton evening gown.
1804-5, French.  At the Met (1983.6.1).

This image shows good detail of the original embroidery.

I also have a bit of the bodice done. I can't wait to take the tree down and get back to having free time. Hurray for January. And happy new year to all!

18 comments:

  1. Beautiful work! My husband gave me a whiteworking book for Christmas (he got me started on embroidery with a birthday gift), so I'm looking forward to trying that sometime this year :D Looking forward to seeing more photos!

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  2. Thank you! I've been drooling over this dress for years! The embroidery seemed so much more daunting than it is. Whitework is beautiful. Are you planning to start any?

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  3. I'm hoping to practice with a few scraps and start some smaller pieces. I can't jump right into anything big, like neckerchiefs or aprons, but I think a small handkerchief or ruffles would be a good first project. I definitely need to finish some other projects first before I keep starting too many things. Hahah! Bad enough I've been telling my husband all these new things I want to try, I think he's already making notes that tambour will be on my gift wish list in December. :D

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  4. Thanks so much, Lauren!

    And Cynthia, what a nice husband you must have to even know what a tambour hook is! I do kind of dream of doing some ruffles one day, but they seem like such fine work. I definitely have to practice more.

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  5. Such beautiful work! I'm impressed! And additonally impressed at how you find the time!
    Happy New Year to you!

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  6. Such beautiful work! I'm impressed! And additonally impressed at how you find the time!
    Happy New Year to you!

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  7. Bah I am so jealous that you have the focus for whitework, this is gorgeous. I'm sewing ruffles onto a dress of mine right now and I briefly debated doing some whitework on them but so many other projects are calling my name right now :( (/costume ADD)

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  8. Speaking of costuming ADD I'm a major sufferer. Do you know how many projects I start while finishing the first one!? I have like four at a time! But that's what's cool about the white. No matter how many time you stop and go at it it doesn't matter, it's not like you have to worry about running out of a dye lot. Just keep a hard copy of the pattern to go by.

    Oh god tho. Ruffles. My frienemie. Love them because they're pretty. Hate them because they never end. Yikes.

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  9. Oh, I adore whitework. I have a book on gowns like that and have been planning on doing a similar piece next autumn. How great to see your lovely work!
    Laurie

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  10. Thank you! What book do you have? I've been looking for a good one.

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  11. The DAR Museum was the book I'm referencing. I think Burnley and Trowbridge sells it. I did a blog post on it and the DAR was so sweet to come over and comment on it! I live near Washington DC so I am planning a visit to see their displays. Anyway there are stunning whitework pieces in the book!
    Laurie

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  12. Oh how cool of them to comment! I'll have to go find your post now.

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  13. I love this! So much work and such nice details. I wish I would live in a costuming commune and get all pushed and inspired :D

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  14. This is amazing. I love to do handwork but have not gotten to this extreme yet. But I like knowing its still possible.
    Val

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  15. Thank you! You know, the stitches really aren't all that complex. I fool proof it by first tracing out a pattern with a disappearing marker, then the stitches are just satin and French knots. It takes time, but with white work it's a good way to start, since you don't have to worry about shading colors and matching.

    Try it out on something small. Handkerchief perhaps...

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