Green Viking Hood – WIP 1-3

The past couple months I have slowly been plugging away at another Viking hood.  This one is made from linen fabric, hand sewn with linen thread pulled from the selvage of the fabric, and embroidered with linen thread using herringbone stitch, feather stitch, and Osberg rings.  If you follow me on facebook, instagram, or twitter you may have already seen these photos as I took them.

Green Viking Hood - WIP 1, by Sidney Eileen; Made from linen fabric, hand stitched with linen thread. Seams finished with small herringbone stitch in linen thread.

Green linen fabric with linen small herringbone embroidery/seam finish.

I am finishing the seams in a manner very similar to the apron dress I made last year.  The seam allowance is folded over and stitched down using a tiny herringbone stitch in linen thread, and then the center of the seam is reinforced with feather stitch.

Green Viking Hood - WIP 2, by Sidney Eileen; Made from linen fabric, hand stitched with linen thread. Seams finished with small herringbone stitch in linen thread. Hem is in progress, being finished with linen thread in herringbone stitch.

Green linen fabric with linen small herringbone embroidery/seam finish, and herringbone stitch hem finish.

The bottom hem is finished using a rough herringbone stitch using more of the fabric selvage thread.

Green Viking Hood - WIP 3, by Sidney Eileen; Made from linen fabric, hand stitched with linen thread. Seams finished with small herringbone stitch in linen thread, and reinforced with feather stitch. Hem is embroidered with small Osberg rings.

Green linen fabric with linen small herringbone and feather stitch embroidery/seam finish, and the bottom hem embroidered with Osberg rings.

As a finishing touch I am embroidering over the bottom hem stitches using Osberg rings.  This embroidery is based on a small piece of wool applique embroidery found in the Osberg ship burial, and, according to Anne Stine Ingstad in The Textiles in the Osberg Ship, “This type of small embroidery is known from the graves in Birka, and there too it is placed along the edges of seams and applications.”  If you go check out her article, the section on the ring embroidery is close to the bottom.

The inspiration embroidery is a wool core with wool thread wrapped around it and couching it to the fabric.  I am using Londonderry linen thread for all my linen embroidery.  For my version I am using 18/3 (large) for the core, and 30/3 (medium) for the wrap.  In the photo above I am working right to left, but I have since tried working it left to right and found it much easier to accurately size the rings working in the new direction.

This stitch is far more time consuming than I had expected.  Each foot of hem takes about five hours to embroider, and the first few rings were nowhere near as even as the ones in the photo above.

Project: Green Viking Hood

Breaking Radio Silence

I’m very sorry for the radio silence in recent months.  As any long-term followers of my work are aware, my health can make my pace of work rather slow, and sometimes unpredictable.  I did a lot of things in the early part of 2016, enough so that I severely burnt myself out and set back my healing by a significant amount.  That resulted in nearly four months of debilitating fatigue and extremely low activity.  In the past few weeks I’ve finally been starting to feel more like I did before wearing myself out, so I’ve been trying to put energy into the adulting things that have been ignored, like house cleaning.  It’s slow, and nothing my readers need to know about in detail, but I have been moving fairly consistently again.

I have worked on a couple things during those months, but I have not been able to get good photographs of the first one, another hand-sewn Viking underdress.  Fingers crossed that I’ll manage it in the next couple months.  I did take some good detail photos of inserting a skirt gore into a slash by hand, so I will be able to write a short tutorial on that.  The second project is another Viking hood on which I am doing experiments, and I’m not sure if it’s turning out OK or if it’s ugly as sin.  I will post photos when I’m a bit further into it and you’ll be able to see what I am attempting.  Fingers crossed that that one turns out decent looking when it’s done.  I also did a small amount of weaving, which I should photograph and share with you as well, whenever I get around to that.

 

Some Workshops!

On September 24th and 25th, I will be at Collegium of the Desert teaching four different classes.  It’s an SCA event, so medieval costume and theme all around.  These are all classes I have taught before, but I needed to make new kits and I significantly revised by Basics of Opus Anglicanum article.  On Saturday I will be teaching how to pattern and make t-tunics and tunic dresses, and how to hand sew seams, both in the afternoon.  On Sunday I will be teaching Elizabethan Freehand Blackwork in the morning, and Opus Anglicanum embroidery in the afternoon.

This means I hope to restart the Opus Anglicanum stitch-along very soon.

This week I’ve also been revisiting the Spoonflower fabrics and blackwork embroidery designs.  I have sold only a handful of pieces of the first two prints, so I decided any commission I make on Spoonflower fabrics will just go back into buying samples of more prints.  Over the summer I did set up and order samples of nine more fabric designs, five of which work great as they are, and four of which had to be revised because they had too heavy a line weight to easily embroider over.  I’m also looking at how to digitally create more detailed blackwork designs for more dynamic fabrics, wallpaper, and giftwrap to use as-printed.  The next fabric design is already publicly visible, so if you want to go take a look you can find it here.  In the very near future I will be making a post highlighting just that fabric, and I hope to release a new fabric every 1-2 weeks thereafter.

 

So, in summary, downtime is dull and results in nothing interesting to post, but I’m back on the mend, so I hope to have lots of new things to share with you in the months to come.

Dark Blue Linen Viking Apron Dress – WIP1

Dark Blue Linen Viking Apron Dress - WIP4, by Sidney Eileen, fitting the dress with darts

The vertical seams are finished here, so in the photo I am fitting the darts on the apron dress.

Now that Diana’s new Viking garb is wearable, I have been working on Viking garb for myself and hope to have it finished before Yule.  At the moment the serk does not look very interesting, being hand sewn of plain drab green linen with no embellishment yet.  I am not wearing it in the photo to the right.  The apron dress, on the other hand, has a lot of decorative and functional work done on it.  There are things I will do differently on my next reconstruction, but I’m sure I will be proud to wear this one when it’s done even if it’s not perfect.

My apron dress is based on the large apron dress fragments found in Haithabu harbor (Hedeby), which has been used as the basis for a great many reconstructions before myself.  I am planning to write up my own reconstruction in a coherent manner after the dress is finished, so for now here are a couple links to excellent information on the find and how other people have reconstructed it.  Reconstructing a Viking Hanging Dress from Haithabu by Peter Beatson and Christobel Ferguson shows much of the archaeological information on the find, and their reconstruction.  Viking Women: Aprondress by Hilde Thunem is all about the archaeology.  Skip down to the section on Haithabu to see the details about this particular find.

The dress is entirely hand sewn from linen fabric with linen thread.  Invisible seams are sewn with thread pulled from the selvage of the material, while decorative and contrast stitching is done in Londonderry linen thread.  I will post a pattern later.  For those of you familiar with typical fitted apron dress patterns, it is made from three panels.  The back panels are straight to the waist and then widen on one side (placed towards the back seam in this case).  The front panel is straight.  There are gores on the sides, and darts in the front and back for fitting.

Dark Blue Linen Viking Apron Dress - WIP2, by Sidney Eileen, showing front (bottom) and back (top) sides of the herringbone seam allowance treatment.

The seam is sewn in a running stitch using thread pulled from the fabric selvage. The seam allowance is sewn down to the outside using a small herringbone stitch in contrasting thread. The colors in the photo are not quite true. The fabric is a dark indigo blue, and the linen thread is a bright saffron orange.

These are detail photos of the seam treatment, with the seam allowances secured towards the outside of the dress with herringbone stitch in Londonderry linen thread.

In most reconstructions using herringbone stitch as a construction stitch (as opposed to purely decorative) it is worked on the inside of the garment. This is because it is easiest to make sure the seam allowance (or hem) is secured on every stitch and evenly turned if you are looking at it, and because it is easiest to work herringbone stitch without it turning out a mess if you are looking at the herringbone, necessitating that the herringbone stitch must be worked on the same side as the seam allowance. This is also, I believe, due at least in part to modern bias, which insists that the seam allowance must *always* be turned to the inside of the garment.

As you can see, the reverse of the herringbone stitch looks exactly like two lines of running stitch, but with some hiccups and flaws where it is stitched through three layers of fabric (the turned over seam allowance). I don’t like those hiccups and flaws, which are all but impossible to avoid without taking an excruciatingly long time to work the stitch by flipping it constantly and essentially working as though both sides were the outside. For someone like me who likes their stitches to look consistent, this is behind irritating.  If the stitches are to be decorative as well as functional this does not make sense to me.

Add in the likelihood of modern bias and assumptions that the seam allowances and hems should be turned inward, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the seam allowances might actually have been turned outward, at least some of the time.  Besides, there is the dart on the fragments I am referencing that is turned to the outside in a decorative manner, even though it is likely in most cases such treatment was done to the inside. So, I have turned the seam allowances out and done the herringbone stitch decoratively, and I feel that the result is visually appealing despite the turned out seam allowances.

Dark Blue Linen Viking Apron Dress - WIP3, by Sidney Eileen, showing the herringbone stitch seam allowance treatment and feather stitch in linen thread.

The seam allowances are stitched down with herringbone stitch, and the center of the seam is being decorated with feather stitch.

This photo shows detail of one of the gores after the herringbone stitch was finished.  I decided to use feather stitch along the center of the seam in a pale green linen even though I have not been able to find a particular extant piece using feather stitch.  This is because I thought it would look pretty, it’s common in SCA reenactment, and would provide a nice, easy contrast that will also reinforce the seam.

Dark Blue Linen Viking Apron Dress - WIP4, by Sidney Eileen, fitting the dress with darts

The vertical seams are finished here, so in the photo I am fitting the darts on the apron dress.

The vertical seams are finished here, so in the photo I am fitting the darts on the apron dress. The extant fragment upon which I am basing my dress has a dart of exactly the right placement and depth to help the dress hug the curve of the spine if the fragment is of a back panel. The darts in the back are basted with all-purpose thread since it’s cheap and will be removed before the dress is finished. The darts in the front are basted with safety pins for convenience since I am fitting myself. They will be re-basted with thread before sewing and the fit double-checked. The white shoulder straps are temporary for fitting, placement, and length of the straps.

After fitting the dress I sewed the darts in running stitch using the same green linen thread as for the feather stitch.  I left the basting stitches above and below the darts so I could use them as a guide for where to place the braid.

The darts on the front panel were far too deep to leave as they were, so I trimmed them down to slightly more than 1cm of depth and turned the seam allowances in like a french seam.  This I whip stitched using linen thread pulled from the selvage before applying the braids.  This gave them a very similar appearance to the darts in the back of the dress.

Another neat feature of the original fragment is the 6-strand braid that is couched onto the top of the dart.  From a garment longevity standpoint, this braid will prevent the fold of the dart from wearing through, and then potentially pulling out of its stitches.  Having a cord or braid sewn onto a french style seam is a common treatment in Viking garment fragments, but here it is done decoratively to the outside of the garment.  It was tricky finding a good description of the braid itself, but thankfully there is PLAIT FROM THE HEDEBY APRON DRESS FRAGMENT, where another wonderful person detailed her reconstruction of the braid and provided a tutorial on how to duplicate it.  I made my braid in yellow and red linen, using the spools of thread as bobbins since I would need about five yards of braid for my dress.

Viking 6-Plait Braid - WIP1, by Sidney Eileen

I needed about five yards of 6-strand braid for the apron dress, so I used the spools like bobbins to make the braid. It’s coming out with too tight of tension, so I will need to use the underside of the braid as the outside when it is attached to the dress. I’m using linen thread.

Viking 6-Strand Braid - WIP2, by Sidney Eileen

I changed the pillow I was using as my braiding surface so the weight of the spools was not dictating the tension on the braid. After about six hours of practice and working on the actual braid it finally has the appearance it should, and the tension is fairly consistent. I am using linen thread.

So, as of the writing of this I am in the process of couching the braids onto the darts.  After that I need to finish the top and bottom hems and make the shoulder straps.

Viking 6-Strand Braid, by Sidney Eileen, Detail of the braid couched to the dart.

Detail of the braid where it has been couched onto one of the darts. This is one of the deep darts beside the bust, where I trimmed down the dart to about 1cm in depth and turned the raw edges in. That was then whip stitched closed before couching on the braid with a much longer stitch. It’s all linen materials.

 

Project: Dark Blue Viking Apron Dress

 

Aborting the Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along

Sooo… I have decided to abort the Opus Anglicanum stitch-along.  I’ll start it over again later, probably in the middle of August. I’ve made a lot of mistakes since the start, but I was trying to see it through. However, at this point the mistakes are too glaring and grievous, and I hate how it’s turning out too much to finish the piece, or be willing to showcase this as an example of what to do. That would be flat out irresponsible of me. I had hoped that filling in around the eyes would improve the piece, but instead it just made the errors more glaring. The worst errors are with the eyes, which are too small, the wrong shape, different sizes, akilter, and look like they are rolling up into her head like she’s dying or passing out. Most of the other errors (of which there are many) would not have stopped the stitch-along, but I am glad for the opportunity to correct them.

Aborting the Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along, because OMG, did I screw the pooch on the eyes.

After deciding to abort the piece I finished out the peach thread I was working on, so you can see some more texturing.  There are a lot of mistakes with the texturing as well.  There is the line across the bridge of the nose, some funkiness on the upper lip, and lots of places where you get a horizontal striping appearance because I did not consistently stagger the stitches (like on the neck and side of the forehead), and some ridging that occurred when I used too long of stitches next to very short stitches.  I have also been advised to split my floss so the texture on the face will be subtler, and I do believe that will help a lot with many of the textural problems this piece has.

I will be revising my template image so the eye is significantly larger, and post another blog entry for that when I have uploaded it.

 

Project: Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along

 

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along Part 4

In part 4 of the Opus Anglicanum stitch along, we will be stitching in the spirals of the right cheek and chin, outline most of the face, and fill in around one eye.

Faces in Opus Anglicanum style embroidery are usually one of the most nuanced and detailed parts.  The placement of the spirals and curves are meant to help provide shape and dimension, despite the fact that it’s all in a single color of floss (with the possible exception of the cheeks, which are sometimes a pink spiral).  This also means that no two faces are stitched in exactly the same manner, because the shapes of the faces, and thus their contours, are different.  In this and the next part, I will continue show you what I did on this particular face to create contour and depth, and do my best to explain why so you will be able to decide for yourself how to contour your next Opus Anglicanum face.

This particular face (about 1″ across) is about the smallest that it can be while still working in this style of embroidery.  Some details, like the eyes in particular, would be much easier to do on a larger piece, and all of the details would have more depth if worked larger.  About twice this size would be ideal (2″ across or larger).  The eyes are also smaller proportionally than is ideal for Opus Anglicanum style embroidery.  I didn’t realize the eyes in the design were too small for this style of embroidery until I had finished the area around one of the eyes.  If you have not yet started on the eye, I suggest making the eye significantly larger.  It will make it much easier to embroider, and will result in a finished figure that is more true to extant Opus Anglicanum pieces.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 119, by Sidney Eileen

Since the face is turned 3/4 view, only part of the cheek is visible to the viewer. That means the center of the cheek is very close to the edge of the visible part of the face.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 120, by Sidney Eileen

Make a tight spiral with tiny stitches, just like you did on the other cheek, making full circles until the stitches are abutted to the face outline.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 121, by Sidney Eileen

When there is no longer enough room for the spiral to continue along the side of the face, plunge the line of stitches and start again on the upper part of the cheek, just like you did for the forehead spiral.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 122, by Sidney Eileen

Continue in that manner, bringing your stitches past the nose as long as there is enough room for more stitches next to the nose outline.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 123, by Sidney Eileen

Continue making the spiral, now skipping the cheek, and skipping the nose.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 124, by Sidney Eileen

Continue the spiral until it is nearly adjacent to the eye and mouth, or is adjacent to one or both of them.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 125, by Sidney Eileen

The oval spiral for the chin is very similar to the oval spiral for the forehead. Start with a single line of stitches that defines the basic shape of the oval, and then create another line of stitches starting just below that will define the spiral shape by widening out slightly above and below, and pulling in tight at the narrow ends.

I want a gentle shape to her face, so I want a gentle transition from the chin to the jaw to everything else.  That is why I chose a long oval shape.  If I was making a face with very angular features or a pronounced chin, I would make a much smaller oval, or maybe even a round spiral, to emphasize the shape.  If I wanted to make a double or cleft chin, I would make two smaller spirals that abutted each other and then were surrounded by a larger oval spiral.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 126, by Sidney Eileen

Continue stitching around the oval, making smaller stitches around the tight ends, and widening out along the longer sides to create a fully rounded shape.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 127, by Sidney Eileen

Continue spiraling around the oval until your line of stitches just barely fits between the oval and the outline of the jaw.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 128, by Sidney Eileen

When your line of stitches is touching the outline of the face, instead of continuing around the spiral again, follow the line of the face up towards the cheek. It is time to start outlining the face and defining some of the other contours.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 129, by Sidney Eileen

Start your next line of stitches at the terminal end of the nose outline.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 130

Now we are defining the eyebrow. Continue the line of stitches up to the eyebrow, and then follow the lower side of the eyebrow, stitching as close to the black stitches as possible. You want to squeeze in the black stitches so they will be a more delicate line.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 131, by Sidney Eileen

I stopped the eyebrow outline stitches at the end of the eyebrow, but it would also be perfectly reasonable to continue the line down towards the outside of the cheek before starting the next row. Start this row of stitches at the hair, next to where you stopped your forehead stitches.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 132, by Sidney Eileen

Keep this line of stitches close to the forehead stitches until it touches the end of the eyebrow, and then sweep it down towards the outside of the cheek spiral. This is defining the three-dimensional transition of shape from the forehead, around the temple, and across the top of the cheekbone.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 133, by Sidney Eileen

Instead of hugging the spiral, hug the outline of the face as closely as possible and continue down the cheek towards the jawline.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 134, by Sidney Eileen

Stitch along the jaw and as deep under the spiral of the chin as you can before plunging your needle.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 135, by Sidney Eileen

Start your next line as deep against the spiral and nose outline as you can. We are going to define the other eyebrow.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 136, by Sidney Eileen

Make a line of stitches as close to the nose outline and eyebrow as you can, ending at the side of the face.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 137, by Sidney Eileen

Start again up at the edge of the forehead, at the hairline. We are now going to fill in the face between that contour line and the hair.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 138, by Sidney Eileen

Fill in with lines of stitches, all moving from top to bottom, and following the contour line set up from forehead to cheek.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 139, by Sidney Eileen

I want the cheek spiral to be a little larger than it is currently, so I started at the outside of the cheek.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 140, by Sidney Eileen

I only needed to go around the spiral one more time to completely fill the space between the spiral and the outline of the face. Go around as many times as you need to in order to fill that space.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 141, by Sidney Eileen

Start the next line of stitches as deep between the cheek spiral and cheek outline as you can. We are going to define the transition from cheek to eye.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 142, by Sidney Eileen

Hug close to the spiral until you are stitching upward, and then head for the side of the nose to define the forward edge of the cheek.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 143, by Sidney Eileen

Continue the line of stitches upward, hugging the bottom of the nose and then the forward edge of the eye. Stitch as close to the upper side of the eye as possible.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 144, by Sidney Eileen

When you reach the outer edge of the eye, continue stitching a line towards the corner of the cheek.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 145, by Sidney Eileen

Now we are going to finish outlining the eye. Start your next stitch as close in as you can between the lower eyelid and line of stitches you just created.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 146, by Sidney Eileen

Hug the bottom of the eye as closely as you can all the way to the other corner.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 147, by Sidney Eileen

Now hug the prior line of stitches down towards the corner of the cheek.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 148, by Sidney Eileen

Now we are going to fill in the eyelid. Start your stitches as deep into the inside corner of the eyelid as you can for every row of stitches, arch them around the eye, and end as deep into the other corner as you can.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 149, by Sidney Eileen

Now we are going to fill in the lower eyelid and upper cheek. Start your stitches as close against the cheek spiral as you can.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 150, by Sidney Eileen

Head up towards the corner of the eye, but make a very tiny stitch at the end in preparation for a very sharp turn.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 151, by Sidney Eileen

Make a very sharp turn and continue stitching along the bottom of the eye, continuing as far as you can.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 152, by Sidney Eileen

Repeat that pattern of stitches, up, turn, follow the eye, as many times as you need to before the empty space is completely filled. Each turn should be slightly more gentle than the prior.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch Along - 153, by Sidney Eileen

At this point in the stitch-along, your face should look similar to this.

In Part 5 we should be able to finish filling in the face.

 

Project: Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along Part 3

In part 3 of my Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along, we will be filling in the forehead and nose, creating the round of the cheek, and filling in the eyes.

Faces in Opus Anglicanum style embroidery are usually one of the most nuanced and detailed parts.  The placement of the spirals and curves are meant to help provide shape and dimension, despite the fact that it’s all in a single color of floss (with the possible exception of the cheeks, which are sometimes a pink spiral).  This also means that no two faces are stitched in exactly the same manner, because the shapes of the faces, and thus their contours, are different.  In this and the next part or two, I will show you what I did on this particular face to create contour and depth, and do my best to explain why so you will be able to decide for yourself how to contour your next Opus Anglicanum face.

This particular face (about 1″ across) is about the smallest that it can be while still working in this style of embroidery.  Some details, like the eyes in particular, would be much easier to do on a larger piece, and all of the details would have more depth if worked larger.  About twice this size would be ideal (2″ across or larger).

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 069, by Sidney Eileen

We are going to make an oval on the forehead, so start your first stitch a bit to the side of the very center of the forehead. This is not the center of the forehead via measuring, but the visual center of the forehead. Since the face is at 3/4 view (not straight on), the center of the forehead is above the center of the bridge of the nose. Since part of the forehead is also covered by the crown, the stitch is closer to the crown than the bridge of the nose.

The center of the forehead is usually an oval spiral, to give the feeling of roundness and fullness at that location.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 070, by Sidney Eileen

Stitch in a straight line across the forehead, using very small stitches.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 071, by Sidney Eileen

Make small stitches in a straight line.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 072, by Sidney Eileen

Continue with small stitches until the line is the right length to appear centered on the forehead. Plunge your last stitch through the material one thread of the fabric further than the previous stitch.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 073

Start your next line of stitches just barely down and to the left of your last stitch. You want to end the prior line and start a new one because it is too sharp of a turn to look nice.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 074, by Sidney Eileen

Place your stitches close enough that you are not leaving any visible fabric between the two rows.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 075, by Sidney Eileen

As you reach the end of the first row of stitches, tuck your stitches closer in.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 076, by Sidney Eileen

Shorten your stitches even more when you get to the turn, and pull in as close as possible to the prior line of stitches. You may even want to stitch over the very end of the line. By pulling in very close and tight you can make clean stitches going around the turn, and also create an oval shape, rather than a rectangle.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 077, by Sidney Eileen

It is likely as you go around the turn, that it will be so tight you need to split your stitch above the surface of the fabric.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 078, by Sidney Eileen

Continue making minuscule stitches as you go around the tip of the first row of stitches.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 079, by Sidney Eileen

On the long side of the oval, widen out as much as possible without exposing the fabric underneath, and then tuck in close to go around the narrow side. This will emphasize the oval shape.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 080, by Sidney Eileen

Continue in a spiral around the oval until the upper edge is touching the crown.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 081, by Sidney Eileen

The next time your stitches reach the crown area, plunge the last stitch in along the line of the crown.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 082, by Sidney Eileen

Resume the spiral pattern, starting the stitch at the line of the crown.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 083, by Sidney Eileen

Continue the spiral pattern a few more passes, skipping the section that abuts the crown.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 084, by Sidney Eileen

Continue the spiral pattern until it very nearly abuts the eyebrows.

In hindsight, I should have stopped the spiral at the stage in the above photo, so that I could more easily have the stitches from the nose extend up over the eyebrows.  This would have helped to avoid the rather harsh browline that can be seen further down.  If you choose to stop here, wait to fill in the rest of the forehead until after you have stitched the nose, and extended one or two lines of stitches up over the tops of the eyebrows.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 085, by Sidney Eileen

I continued the spiral until it was touching the eyebrows.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 086, by Sidney Eileen

Fill in the left side of the forehead, continuing the curve of the stitches, but straightening them out slightly the further you get from the oval.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 087, by Sidney Eileen

Fill in the right side of the forehead, gently straightening out the lines so they are almost vertical by the time you reach the other side of the brow. This will allow for an easy transition to the side of the face.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 088, by Sidney Eileen

To start the nose, begin the line of stitches just a bit up from the outer corner.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 089, by Sidney Eileen

Make minuscule stitches, since the turn around the bottom of the nose is very tight. Get as close to the outline stitches as possible.

The stitches filling the nose area are usually vertical along the length of the nose, with a curve at the bottom.  Sometimes the stitches form a “U” shape, with either side extending into the eyebrow area.  This follows the natural form of the human nose, which stands out from the face and flows into the brow.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 090, by Sidney Eileen

Continue your curved line of tiny stitches, making them as close to the nose outline stitches as possible.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 091, by Sidney Eileen

Continue your tiny stitches. It is very likely that the curve will be sharp enough that you will need to split the silk above the surface of the embroidery.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 092, by Sidney Eileen

Continue the line of stitches up to, and potentially over the eyebrow. I don’t like the way the area above the eyebrow looks, so when I resume work on this piece I plan to stitch the line all the way along the eyebrow. Start the next line of stitches just a bit above the first, so you can create another curved line.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 093, by Sidney Eileen

Continue the second line of stitches up to the brow, or entirely over the eyebrow if you left room for it. Start the third line of stitches like the first two, leaving room for a tight turn.

You might notice that the eyes are filled in now, but I haven’t shown how to do that.  I filled in the eyes when I ran out of peach thread and my needle was free.  The eyes can be filled in at any time before the area around the eyes is filled.  I will show filling in the eyes last on today’s stitch-along.  Feel free to skip ahead when you finish a length of thread, or do it at the point it appears in today’s installment.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 094, by Sidney Eileen

Continue the third line of stitches up and to the left. Try to blend it into the curve of the forehead as much as possible. Since the face is 3/4 turned, more of its vertical fill should go to the left than the right.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 095, by Sidney Eileen

At this point the curve of the nose should be extremely narrow, so start your next line in the depth of that curve.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 096, by Sidney Eileen

Stitch straight up the nose, but keep the small stitch length so it will match the lines you have already stitched.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 097, by Sidney Eileen

If you have been making your lines of stitches about as close as I have, you should now be starting the next line of stitches in the same place as the last line of curved stitches. Even if you will still have a gap of fabric, start your next line there.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 098, by Sidney Eileen

This line of stitches should continue up and over the top edge of the brow. I significantly regret stopping at the brow, and plan to stitch in the rest of the line over the brow.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 099, by Sidney Eileen

If you have room for another line of stitches, fill it in. Otherwise, start as deep into the point of visible fabric as you can.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 100, by Sidney Eileen

Fill in all visible fabric, starting each line as deep into the point of visible fabric as you can, and fanning out to either side of the spiral.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 101, by Sidney Eileen

Start at the very center of the cheek area. Again, this is the center of the cheek as it would be looking at a three-dimensional figure, not by measure of the drawing.

If you want rosy cheeks on your piece, switch out for a pale pink floss and create the spiral as described here.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 102, by Sidney Eileen

Start a spiral pattern by making the stitches as tiny as you can. Each stitch is two threads of my ground material, split at one thread.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 103, by Sidney Eileen

It is very likely your turns will be too sharp for normal splitting, and will need to be split above the surface of the embroidery.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 104, by Sidney Eileen

Turn in a very tight spiral, so you don’t end up with fabric peeking out between the stitches.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 105, by Sidney Eileen

At this point I am barely able to start lengthening the stitches to three threads of the fabric.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 106, by Sidney Eileen

I was still having to split the floss above the embroidery.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 107, by Sidney Eileen

Still splitting above the embroidery.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 108, by Sidney Eileen

At this point the curve was finally gentle enough to split the stitch on the surface of the embroidery.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 109, by Sidney Eileen

Continue making a spiral pattern, barely lengthening the stitches.

If you are filling in the cheek with pink, you’ll likely want to stop your spiral when it is about this size, or maybe a half-circle larger.  Then switch out to peach and continue the spiral.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 110, by Sidney Eileen

Continue the spiral until it just shy of touching any of the other features of the face. Then plunge the stitch.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 111, by Sidney Eileen

This eye is very small, so it will be difficult to place the details. With a larger eye, you would want to start with a small spiral of black for the pupil, but this eye is too small for that, so I recommend starting with the iris.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 112, by Sidney Eileen

Make your stitches as small as possible, and follow the outer line of the iris.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 113, by Sidney Eileen

There is barely enough room here for two lines of stitches.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 114, by Sidney Eileen

Stitch in the iris on the other eye.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 115, by Sidney Eileen

Again, there is probably just barely enough room for two lines of stitches.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 116

There isn’t enough room to split stitch the pupil, so make a couple short stab stitches to fill in a little black for the pupils.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 117, by Sidney Eileen

Fill in the whites with split stitch, starting at the side of the iris and completely filling in the remainder of the eye.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 118, by Sidney Eileen

Fill in the whites of both eyes. This eye, being slightly smaller to represent being further away from the viewer, will likely take fewer stitches to fill completely.

I’m not terribly happy with how my eyes looked when I was finished, so hopefully yours will come out a little nicer.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 110, by Sidney Eileen

And this is where we stop for Part 3 of the stitch-along. If you have followed along to this point doing the embroidery, you should have the eyes, forehead, and nose completely filled in, and the spiral placed on the left cheek. In Part 4 we will start with the right cheek spiral.

 

Project: Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along – Part1

Opus Anglicanum Kit Pattern, by Sidney Eileen

Opus Anglicanum Kit Pattern

This is the first installment of my Opus Anglicanum embroidery stitch-along.  I am not going to be selling any kits, and they will not be available through my web site, but below is all the information needed to create your own kit.

My article, Basics of Opus Anglicanum Embroidery, describes what Opus Anglicanum embroidery is and the basics of how it is worked.  I will refer to that article many times while doing the stitch-along, and I highly recommend reading it before starting the stitch-along for yourself.

Queen Pattern for Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along (.jpg)
Queen Pattern for Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along (.pdf)

The image to the right is the one I will be using for the stitch-along, about 2″ wide.  Use whichever format will be easier for you to print.  It is based on one of the drawings in the Codex Manesse, a German manuscript created between 1300-1340.  You will want to use a linen fabric with the highest possible thread count.  Two layers of handkerchief weight linen is ideal, but I am using one layer of handkerchief weight linen in this stitch-along because it is what I have on hand.  You will want to transfer the pattern onto your fabric in some manner, making the image at least 2″ in diameter.  There are a myriad of ways to transfer an embroidery pattern.  In this case I recommend either printing directly onto the fabric with an inkjet printer (using this wonderful tutorial on Instructables), or using a lightbox and tracing the pattern with a pencil or fabric markers.  I used fabric markers for my template.  The colors do not need to be the same as the ones you embroider with.  The important part is to show where the shading transitions happen.  Your pattern will be completely covered with embroidery when your project is finished, so all details can be altered during the embroidering process and no one will be able to see what you changed.

I purchased my floss through the Japanese Embroidery Center Store.  If you want to use exactly the same threads I do, they are listed below.  However, you can use whatever colors you would like from any brand of flat silk.  If you want to use Soie Ovale thread, or just different colors of the JEC thread, be sure to choose a light peach for the skin, black thread, white thread, two dramatically different shades of hair color, three shades of a color for the cloak, and three shades of color for the tunic.  You will also need gold(en) thread, #5 at the largest.  For a more historically accurate finish, you will want to use a smaller thread, ideally a #1 or #2, but for those to work you need to embroider on linen that is at least 40 threads per inch (two layers of handkerchief weight usually works well).  I am working on lightweight linen that is about 35 threads per inch.

Silk Threads I am Using:
Achromatic (White) #801 – eye & barbette
Achromatic (Black) #809 – outlines & pupil
Peach #211 – skin
Orange Brown #723 – hair
Orange Brown #727 – hair
Blue #504 – cloak
Blue #507 – cloak
Blue #509 – cloak
Plum #684 – tunic
Plum #686 – tunic
Plum #688 – tunic
Imitation Gold #5 (IG-5) – crown, clothing trim, frame

You will also need:
a thimble
a small gauge embroidery needle
a large gauge embroidery needle or chenille needle (#5 at the largest)
a spool of all-purpose thread (color doesn’t matter)
a pair of embroidery snips
a pair of craft scissors or kitchen shears (for cutting the metal threads)
an embroidery frame
string for stretching the fabric in the frame

 

Setting Up Your Embroidery

Once you have all your materials assembled, and the pattern transferred to your fabric, you need to stretch it into a frame.  A nice slat-frame is ideal, but can be expensive.  Scrolling frames are easy to find and work well.  This piece of embroidery is small enough that you shouldn’t need to mount it for scrolling.  I have also heard of embroiderers using frames for stretching a painting canvas as a slat-frame, and that should work well provided the frame you purchase is a minimum of 8″x8″, though I recommend 10″x10″.  Canvas frames are measured by their outer size, so your working area will be significantly smaller.

It is also possible to stretch into an embroidery hoop, though it’s a bit more difficult to get even tension than with a rectangular frame.  To do this, stretch each corner to the frame individually.  Then, following the same whip-stitch pattern shown below, run thread around the entire piece.  Be sure to pull more thread in, rather than cutting and starting again.  Once all your whip stitches are in place, tighten the whip-stitched thread around the piece, working in a circle.  You may have to make several loops of the hoop before the tension is even all around the fabric.  Once it is even and tight, tie it off.  By the time you are done, the initial ties on the corners will probably be very loose, so they can be removed.

If you don’t want to deal with stretching your fabric in a frame, you can stretch it in a hoop the way hoops are designed to stretch fabric, but you will be having to constantly re-tighten the fabric, which can make achieving a consistent tension in your stitches more difficult.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 01, by Sidney Eileen

Transfer your pattern to your fabric. I used a light box and fabric markers. My piece of fabric is a little larger than my frame, but the image is much smaller, so I don’t need to set up the frame for scrolling.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 02, by Sidney Eileen

Since the image is significantly smaller than my frame, I folded in the edges until the visible fabric was smaller than the frame. I made sure that the folded fabric was not underneath the area to be embroidered, so it won’t interfere with my stitching.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 03, by Sidney Eileen

I am using cotton crochet thread to stretch the fabric into the frame.

Use a whip stitch to secure the fabric to one side of the frame. Pull more thread along the stitches as you need to in order to stitch the entire side with one thread.

Tie off the thread at the far end (I find the wing nuts on scrolling frames a handy anchor) and then pull it barely snug along the entire side. Cut your thread from the spool and tie off the beginning end.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 04, by Sidney Eileen

Whip stitch the opposite side of the fabric to the frame. After tying off the far end, pull the stitches as tightly as possible before tying off the beginning end.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 05, by Sidney Eileen

Stretch the two remaining sides. Be sure to pull the whip stitch snug on the third side, and as tight as possible on the fourth side.

Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along 06, by Sidney Eileen

This photo shows the fabric stretched into the frame, with the threads needed to complete the embroidery. There is approximately four yards of each color wrapped onto the cards.

In the next installment I will start with the outline stitches in black.

Project: Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along