Friday, March 30, 2018

Japanese Landscape - Part M

The leaves at the center of Japanese Landscape took me a bit longer to stitch as it had more steps than the other sections. Not to mention it involved a bit of plunging. For me, stitching like this works better in small sessions with a specific goal in mind. By doing that I'm able to get through it much more efficiently.

The first steps involved passing. I love how passing thread looks when it's couched down in a line. However, I don't like it that much when it involves lots of plunging or going round and round. And these leaves involve both.

My passing thread came as a single wound strand. Normally when we couch passing, we do it in pairs. So I unwound the single strand (with help as it was very long), folded it in half and cut it. I ended up with two strands that I then wound around a pair of komas I had.

I think I need to buy more of these, they're very handy. The komas made it easier for me to control my tension and keep the passing from twisting. You'll notice below that I put in a piece of paper beneath the komas, that's because the wood isn't well finished and I was afraid it would snag on my fabric.

The lower leaves start and end at the edge of the top leaves. This mean that every strand of passing needed to be plunged at both ends. The top leaves weren't too bad, just tedious going round and round. I did find it particularly hard getting the tips just right. I'm not very happy with the result but it's not very noticeable from afar thanks to the yellow felt.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

For the top leaves there is a row of s-ing which perfectly covers whatever flaws I had at the tips. The leaves are surrounded by a line of pearl purl. It was really tight getting it in there. I guess I didn't enough space between the leaves but I also had very little space left between the left and right side, very strange as the original version in the book had plenty of space.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

The final step is filling in the center of the lower leaves with cutwork.

The first step is two lines of couched pearl purl in gilt and copper. The original piece had done this as a continuous line (folded at the point). Since it was such a tight space, I decided to cut the pearl purl at the point and couch a second piece to continue the line.

The rest of the space was filled with cut smooth purl and bright check. It was really hard cutting those piece as they were TINY. I kept losing them.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Here are the leaves all done. The more I look at my kid leather the less I think it was a mistake. It worked out quite well at the end.

The overall piece so far. This was part M and the parts go up to T, so there are 7 left.

Part N is the cutwork on the arc that surrounds the center flower. This one will look amazing when it's done. After looking at soft string padding examples online, I noticed that mine needs to be couched down more. I've started going over it to make sure there is no puckering before I start.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Napoleon at the Museum

The Montreal museum of fine arts is having an exhibition on Napoleon. The emphasis of the exhibition is on art and court life in the imperial palace.

Montreal always has an exhibit on Napoleon (this is the third I've seen) as the museum has a large collection that was donated to them. At this particular visit, they had four court dresses on display as well as a large collection of paintings and other objects used by the imperial court. This is the first time I went with a goal to study embroidery. I spent a lot of time looking at the court dresses, three of which were embroidered with metal and one in silk, but I also spent a lot of time looking at the paintings. You'd be surprised by how much detail is in them.

This piece is a mosaic made in Italy to showcase their craft.

There were a few examples of French lace as well. I love the hem on this dress.

My favorite at the exhibition is this dark green court dress with goldwork embroidery.

Now for the court dresses. Just to note these were livery, meaning they were worn by what amounts to servants for special court events. The first one was embroidered in silver. I noticed a lot of palm trees with lots of cutwork and spangles.

This is the second piece is very similar to the first but there is also satin stitching using metal thread.

There was also a dress worn by a court lady embroidered in metal plate. My pictures really didn't come out well but Natalie of Sew by Hand took some good ones with her professional camera that you can see here.

The last piece embroidered in silk on velvet that looks amazing for it's age.

The color is gorgeous too, a dark purple with a leaf motif.

How cute are those little flowers with the French knots.

There is a 350-page book available that catalogs the collection available to buy from the museum. They don't have an online shop, but the book is available to pre-order from Amazon. I decided to not buy it as it didn't have much embroidery content. Instead, I found a lovely book in French on Josephine's fashion. There are lovely pictures of her court dresses and accessories. It's now on my bedside table waiting for me to read.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Just realized that I completely forgot about this month's TUSAl. The yarn from my rabbit somewhat took over the jar this month. I did do some stitching over the weekend, that's where all the yellow thread comes from, but I'm not finished. I will give you a peek. 

I'm much further along than that, you'll just have to wait till next week (I hope) to see more.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Japanese Landscape - Part L

The second stem in Japanese Landscape went much better than the first one. The advise I received from Instagram really helped with my tension. This time around I payed more attention to take more pictures of the process so I can share it with you.

The first step is to bend the end of the plate using pliers. The hidden fold will be the start of your folded plate.

Next, I came out with the needle and hooked the thread in the fold. It's a little fiddly, but you can use pliers to close the fold and prevent the thread from coming out. Go down into the fabric, come out on the other side and couch down the plate. Here I made a small anchoring stitch so the thread isn't loose.

I did find I got better results if I folded over the plate keeping my thread taught, before I placed the anchoring stitch to hold it in place.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

To end the plate, another fold is create to hide the cut edge.

Not a hard process, but it does get tedious after the 20th fold. I still have to pay more attention to the edge of the line. It's not a problem when the area is covered on each side of the line of folded plate as you can hide uneven edges, however for the areas that will not be surrounded you can clearly see a jagged edge. I know I'm being picky, but I'm always looking for ways to improve. Something to work on in the next project.

The left and right flowers are now officially done! Next up are the four leaves in the center flower. There will be a lot of plunging in my future. I'll have to do this is stages as otherwise, I will start avoiding this project.