New Spoonflower Fabric – Scrolling Blackwork Strawberry Bands

Scrolling Blackwork Strawberry Bands on Spoonflower Fabric, by Sidney Eileen; Original design created in the style of Elizabethan freehand blackwork embroidery.

Scrolling Blackwork Strawberry Bands on Spoonflower Fabric

This week’s new Spoonflower fabric design is Scrolling Blackwork Strawberry Bands. This black and white fabric is of my own design, in the style of Elizabethan freehand blackwork embroidery.

This design is also available as wallpaper and wrapping paper.

This design completes my first collection, Freehand Blackwork Embroidery Designs, for now.  In the future I may add to this collection if there is interest.  Next week I will start releasing designs from a new collection featuring geometric blackwork embroidery designs.

Find all the currently available designs at http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/sidney_eileen

A new design will be released every week!

New Spoonflower Fabric – Scrolling Blackwork Embroidery Strawberries

Scrolling Blackwork Embroidery Strawberries on Spoonflower Fabric, by Sidney Eileen; Original design created in the style of Elizabethan freehand blackwork embroidery.

Scrolling Blackwork Embroidery Strawberries on Spoonflower Fabric

This week’s new Spoonflower fabric design is Scrolling Blackwork Embroidery Strawberries. This black and white fabric is of my own design, in the style of Elizabethan freehand blackwork embroidery.

This design is also available as wallpaper and wrapping paper.

Find all the currently available designs at http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/sidney_eileen

A new design will be released every week!

Elizabethan Blackwork Forehead Cloth

Blackwork Embroidered Forehead Cloth - Mannequin, by Sidney Eileen, Black flat silk on white linen, Elizabethan English style blackwork

Blackwork Embroidered Forehead Cloth – Mannequin

8 March, 2015

This is a forehead cloth of linen, embroidered with flat silk, in the style of English floral freehand blackwork from the late 16th century and early 17th century. I have used period materials and techniques wherever possible, including plain weave linen, flat silk embroidery floss, and a medieval reproduction thimble. I do not yet own a period needle appropriate to this type of embroidery, and I own a modern scrolling frame, though I did lash it into place on all sides to keep the fabric completely taught while working.

English women wore forehead cloths in conjunction with coifs as a hair covering from the late 16th century through the mid 17th century, as illustrated by portraits and extant pieces. After a woman put her hair up, the forehead cloth would be tied such that it covered the brow and front of the hair, while the coif covered the rest of the head.

Very often coifs and forehead cloths would be embroidered in matching designs or patterns. They were blackwork, blackwork with metal thread (gold or silver) and spangles, or polychrome embroidered. The Illustration for Elizabethan English Blackwork Forehead Cloth Documentation.  Strawberry embroidery is by Sidney Eileen. Historic piece is from The Metropolitan Museum of Art http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/228946embroidery floss was silk, and the ground plain white linen in all of the extant museum pieces I viewed from the decades to either side of 1600 c.e. Designs were varied, but most often were floral in a loose spiral pattern, interspersed floral designs, or bands of geometric counted work.

I chose to design my own motif for blackwork embroidery, which I worked with flat silk. I was advised towards flat silk by other embroiderers interested in blackwork of this period, and closely examined photos of extant pieces in relation to my own work to confirm that my flat silk presented the same appearance as the extant pieces. In the extant pieces there is sometimes what appears to be a very slight twist in the silk, especially in places that are stem stitched.

Blackwork Forehead Cloth - WIP3 - detail2 - Close up to show the detail of how flat silk twists more or less with different stitches as I work - by Sidney Eileen

Flat silk embroidery on linen fabric, detail area is about 1″x.5″. This photo show very close-up detail of the stitching.

As I embroidered my piece, I found that the flat silk had a tendency to twist slightly as I worked, especially where I was using a stem stitch, requiring me to untwist it periodically and creating a slightly twisted appearance in the finished stitches.

I wanted to create an embroidery design of my own, reminiscent of actual Renaissance Elizabethan blackwork. I was inspired by several paintings to use strawberries for my subject, which I found particularly enticing because they naturally flower and fruit at the same time. I did not intend to use metal floss or spangles, so I wanted to stick to a relatively delicate flow defined predominantly by lines of stem stitch in loose roundels, which I laid out such that the embroidery could be worked in a band, or in a continual field with extra spirals joining the sections. By creating the design in that way I can not only use it for this forehead cloth, but also a fully embroidered coif, and a matching partlet or shirt with the embroidery laid out in bands around the collar, neck opening, sleeve cuffs, and down the sleeves. Since none of the examples of strawberries that I found fit that aesthetic, I went to photos of strawberries for inspiration on the shapes of the flowers and leaves.

Detail from Portrait of Eizabeth I; Artist unknown; Jesus College, Oxford, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_I_Jesus_College_Oxford_1590.jpg

Portrait of an Unknown Lady, (once called 'Catherine Parr', and then 'Catherine Vaux, Lady Throckmorton'); by British (English) School; National Trust, Coughton Court, http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/portrait-of-an-unknown-lady-130331

Blackwork at Fashion Museum, Bath; Blogger Chikanstitch, http://chikanstitch.blogspot.com/2012/07/blackwork-at-fashion-museum-bath.html

Extant freehand embroidered blackwork museum pieces I examined were worked with a variety of stitches. The ones with delicate designs of a similar aesthetic to my design predominantly used stem stitch for the outlines and lines, and back stitch or double-running stitch for the filling patterns. Following those examples, I used stem stitch for all the outlines and lines of my design. The individual elements of my design were too small for intricate filling stitches, so I decided to use stab stitches to illustrate the seeds on the strawberries and shading on the flowers, and double-running stitch for the veins of the leaves.

Since only one side was going to be visible on the finished item when it was worn, I was not concerned about keeping the backside clean like I might for an embroidery like counted blackwork on the collar of a shirt. This left me free to focus the way I worked the pattern for speed of embroidery, and efficiency of floss use. The back of my piece reflects this. Efficient use of thread was the primary motivation for choosing double-running stitch over backstitch for the veins of the leaves, and was also the primary reason in most places there is far less floss on the underside than the visible side. This made it inconvenient to tuck the tail ends of the floss under the stitches, so I left them dangling. I also ran the thread from place to place as I finished each branch of the motif and needed to move on to the next. These things were also done on every freehand embroidered extant piece where I was able to find photos of the underside.

Blackwork at Fashion Museum, Bath; Blogger Chikanstitch, http://chikanstitch.blogspot.com/2012/07/blackwork-at-fashion-museum-bath.html Smock; V&A Collections, http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O78732/smock-unknown/

Manchester Galleries: Blackwork Coif and Underside of Matching Forehead Cloth:      Medium: silk on linen

Manchester Galleries:
Blackwork Coif and Underside of Matching Forehead Cloth:
Medium: silk on linen
Visible on the back are messy stitches, knots, and tails dangling. They are left uncovered.
The detail of the underside also shows that the edging is rolled and stitched down. I could not find a photo that showed detail of the edging from the outside, so I am not entirely certain, but I believe it is secured with a tiny hem whip stitch.

Blackwork Forehead Cloth - WIP4 - detail1 - Close up to show the detail of the difference between the two flat silks I used - by Sidney Eileen

Flat silk embroidery on linen fabric, detail area is about 1.25″x.5″. This detail shot shows the difference between the two flat silk embroidery threads I have used on this piece.

I started the piece using Soi Ovale flat silk. When I had finished that skein I switched to flat silk from the Japanese Embroidery Center. I was interested in trying both brands and comparing the difference. I found that the Soi Ovale was slightly more robust, and the Japanese Embroidery Center silk was a bit more delicate. As a result, the JEC silk is about 2/3 the apparent thickness of the Soi Ovale. This can be seen on the front row of embroidery, half of which is a bit thicker than the other half. On hindsight I should have started the embroidery at the back corner, so the transition area would have been hidden under the coif when worn.

To finish the forehead cloth I removed it from the frame. Using linen thread I hand stitched a small rolled hem around the outside of the triangle, and attached hand-stitched tubes of linen to the corners of the long side, which are used to tie the forehead cloth in place when it is worn. I was only able to find one photo of the underside of a forehead cloth. It was unlined, so I left mine unlined as well.

References:

Coif; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Collections Online, http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/228945

Blackwork at Fashion Museum, Bath; Blogger Chikanstitch, http://chikanstitch.blogspot.com/2012/07/blackwork-at-fashion-museum-bath.html

Blackwork Coif and Forehead Cloth; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Collections Online, http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/228946

Geddes, Elisabeth, and Moyra McNeill. Blackwork Embroidery. New York: Dover Publications, 1976. Print.

Hogg, Becky, and England London. Blackwork. Tunbridge Wells: Search, 2010. Print.

Forehead Cloth; Manchester Galleries (currently offline due to site redesign)

Portrait of an Unknown Lady, (once called ‘Catherine Parr’, and then ‘Catherine Vaux, Lady Throckmorton’); by British (English) School; National Trust, Coughton Court, http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/portrait-of-an-unknown-lady-130331

Portrait of Eizabeth I; Artist unknown; Jesus College, Oxford, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_I_Jesus_College_Oxford_1590.jpg

Smock; V&A Collections, http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O78732/smock-unknown/

 

For Work In Progress images and musings, visit

Project: Blackwork Forehead Cloth

 

Portfolios – Embroidery and Applique

In this section you will find my portfolios, articles, and tutorials relating to artisan works, my artworks created with crafty and fibrous materials, such as embroidery, weaving, and metalwork.  I am no longer selling art or taking commissions due to health problems.

My embroidery is created using a variety of fibers, and in a variety of styles, mostly historical.  The majority of it adorns functional items or clothing.  Click on an image and scroll down slightly to see a full description of the item.

Blackwork Forehead Cloth – WIP7

Blackwork Forhead Cloth - WIP8 - Front, by Sidney Eileen, flat silk on linen, hand embroidered

Blackwork Forehead Cloth – front view of the finished embroidery.

I have finished the embroidery on my blackwork forehead cloth.  In the next week I will be turning it into an actual garment piece.  It is flat silk on linen, and the design is my own creation.  It is Elizabethan English style freehand blackwork embroidery.  Overall I’m very happy with how my blackwork strawberries came out, but I will also be happy to put this down for a while and work on other things.  It may be some time before I make the matching coif.

Blackwork Forehead Cloth - Embroidery Detail, by Sidney Eileen, flat silk on linen, Renaissance English style blackwork embroidery

Embroidery Detail – blackwork strawberries

Blackwork Forehead Cloth - WIP8 - Back View, by Sidney Eileen, flat silk on linen, English Renaissance style blackwork embroidery, back or underside of the embroidery.

Back or underside of the embroidery.

Blackwork Forehead Cloth - Embroidery Detail - Underside, by Sidney Eileen, flat silk on linen, underside or back of the work.

Detail of the underside or back of the embroidery

Project: Blackwork Forehead Cloth

Blackwork Forehead Cloth – WIP6

Blackwork Forehead Cloth - WIP7, by Sidney Eileen, flat silk on linen

Blackwork Forehead Cloth WIP

The end is finally in sight!

This is another entry in the continuing saga of my Elizabethan English style blackwork forhead cloth, embroidered in flat silk on linen.  The design is my own creation.  I should have the embroidery done any day now, and then I just need to sew the forehead cloth into an actual object.

Project: Blackwork Forehead Cloth

Blackwork Forehead Cloth – WIP5

Further progress on my late 1500’s English style, freehand embroidered, blackwork forehead cloth. It is flat silk on linen, and I am just starting the third row of the design. The design is my own, inspired by multiple period examples. The plan is to have this done in the next three weeks, in time for the Pentathlon competition, Kingdom of Caid, SCA.

Blackwork Forehead Cloth WIP, Flat silk on linen, by Sidney Eileen, Late 1500's English style blackwork embroidery

Blackwork Forehead Cloth WIP, Flat silk on linen

Project: Blackwork Forehead Cloth