Thursday, November 03, 2011

A book of old embroidery, 1921

It was a such a surprise to find this book on-line. I borrowed it from the library a couple of years ago, and it's great to have a pfd copy! Click on the link to browse and/or download it for free:

This book is a collection of embroidered pieces, some of them from the Victoria and Albert Museum. It focuses on different countries and different historical periods. What I like about this book is that it contains some images that I haven't seen elsewhere. When it comes to Medieval embroidery, some pieces keep popping up over and over again, so it's really nice to see something “fresh”.

My favorite is this German 14th century whitework wall hanging. Apparently, back in 1921 it was part of the V&A collection... I wonder whether it's still there, because I'd love to see it . (I wrote a tutorial about this type of border here). Click on the image to enlarge:

note: kbsalazar pointed out in the comments section that you can find this piece in the V&A on-line database here. Thanks for sharing!

 image taken from the Victoria & Albert database

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reference for ca 1340 French pouch in Krakow

Finally, I've found the reference for the ca 1340 French pouch in Krakow (I wrote about that one here). It's in this book:

Von Wilckens, L. (1991). Die textilen Künste von der Spätantike bis um 1500. München: Verlag C. H. Beck. ISBN 978-3406353635

On page 206 you will find two small b&w images of this pouch, one of the front and one of the back. On the side that I didn't get to see, the cap of the bearded man is pulled down. I must confess that the meaning of this all is a bit of a mystery to me :-) I scanned the German text, but so far, I haven't read anything related to this pouch. If anyone of you knows more, we'd love to hear about it!

By the way, this book is a real must-have if you're interested in medieval textiles. The book covers the following chapters:

  • weaving up to the 7th century
  • woven silks 7-13 th century
  • woven narrow bands and borders
  • woven silks 1300-1500
  • woven fabrics, linen ,wool and mixed fabrics
  • dyed and printed fabrics
  • embroidery
  • tapestry
  • “other” techniques (sprang, knitting)

It contains a lot of images, both b%w and in color, and is has a substantial amount of images I haven't seen in other books, or only in references which are hard to find and/or very expensive. I really enjoyed the chapter on embroidery, with quite detailed images of German 14th century whitework. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Building a wardrobe: a mood board

One of the things Isis and I are working on now is making warm winter cloths. Isis just finished a pair of lovely needlebound mittens and is now sewing a woolen overdress. I'm making a liripipe and a linen chemise, and I also need a really warm dress to wear over my brown one.

But, I must confess I don't really like making clothes: it's so difficult to get the shape and size right.... I'd much rather do some embroidery:-) So, when I cut the fabric for my liripipe, I indulged in a little procrastination by making a dress mood board :-)

brown fabric: my current dress (from a shop in Rijswijk, NL)
dark purple fabric: my liripipe (from a merchant in Visby)
hair pins: from merchants in Nijmegen and Visby
pouch hanger: from Handelsgillet, see more extant pieces in Kunera database
silk, gold and linen thread: thrifted
wooden spool: Bikkel en Been
pouch: embroidery pattern by Wymarc
wool and linen samples: from Naturtuche

Friday, August 26, 2011

Smocked apron finished

Finally, I've finished my smocked apron:-). I've already worn it during the Medieval Week in Visby, but I haven't got pictures of me wearing it. Sometimes, this type of events goes by in a whirlwind... (But then sometimes other people do have the pictures you need! Isis inserted some here)

Here are some final technical details and "do's and don'ts":

  • The embroidered part of the apron measures 55 * 5 cm. I used about 180 cm of fabric and made pleats of 0.5 cm deep. I found it quite difficult to make small pleats over such a length of fabric. It took me about 6 hours to make the pleats, and I used diaper pins to secure the pleats as I went along. I took them out again when I started the embroidery:

  • In previous posts, I wrote about using pencil. I've learned the hard way that you should always test whether pencil lines come out in the wash. The pencil I used this time didn't. I had to use some quite aggressive soap, but you can still see lines and dots when you take a closer look at the embroidery... aargghh
  • I used this embroidery chart:

Image via Christina

  • I started with a line of honeycomb stitches, and this looks a little wobbly. I couldn't quite manage to make a straight line. Next time (?), I think I will follow this chart and start with a horizontal row of stem stitches. This may help set the pleats, which probably makes it easier to do the honeycomb stitches next.

And this is what my apron looks like:

For more links to tutorials and background info, see my previous posts here.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Northern German frilled veil Part IV

Dillemma! An evening of total emotional unrest, stress and lots of cursing. I made the veil part of this new frilled headdress four centimeters too long for it to sit right. How I could have made a gross miscalculation like this is a total mystery to me, but somehow I managed.

Now how to solve this?
1. The lazy option: make a horizontal seam in the neck and cut away the access fabric
2. The die-hard option: take apart the whole veil, cut a new veil in the right size, and put the frills back on.

Option one doesn't feel really comfortable, option two ... well option two would take me right back to where I was in May. I could not possibly finish the veil in time for Visby then. It's too much hours of work. Too many teeny tiny stitches and sowing frills in place.

I'm not even sure if I could mentally handle option two. This veil has become almost a curse over the past few months. I want so badly to just get it finished.


Northern German frilled veil Part III

Remember the northern German frilled veil I was working on? Here you can see where I was with it last September. The photos above show where I got last May. I wanted to get it finished by the event in Lütjenburg, but utterly failed.
It is almost done now, only 3 straight hemming seams to do. Hoorray! I will make so pics of the finished veil in Wisby, hopefully while it is being worn by its new owner!

Lecture on frilled veils in Visby, Sweden

Effigy of Johan von Hozehausen (+1393) and Gundula (+1371), Dom, Frankfurt am Main

Catherine Countess of Warwick, 1370, Warwick, England

On August 10 I will be giving a lecture on frilled veils during the second half of the 14th century in North West Europe. Should you happen to be in the neighbourhood I'd love it if you could come and visit. The lecture will take place in the Kapittelhusgarden (click on this link to book your seat, and for the record: I'm not making any mony out of this, the fee is for the accommodation). This lecture will explore the frilled veil in different regions of Northwest Europe, focussing mainly on the period 1350-1450. I will also elaborate on the construction and arrangement of these veils. Some of this information you can find in my final thesis, but the geographical focus of the lecture will be much broader. Also I will be adding new evidence I have found since writing my thesis.

One day later there will also be a lecture on fabric and cut in medieval Norse clohting by Margareta Nockert (sadly, this lecture will be held in Swedish).

These lectures are part of the medieval event celebrating 650 years of the Battle of Wisby that will run from 5 trough 10 August.

Thanks to our 300 followers

Hi all!

As I logged in to blogger yesterday I noticed Medieval Silkwork has reached the mile stone of 300 blog followers! It seems quite unbelievable that in just 5 years (or even a little less) our blog has found such a large public of regular readers!

We would like to thank you all for your support, interest and enthusiasm over the past few years. Sharing our research and creative projects for you has been enormously rewarding and stimulating for the both of us.

So, a big thanks to you all!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A ca 1340 French pouch

Last week I was in Krakow, Poland, for a conference. I took some time off to visit the Wawel cathedral museum, and it was such a nice surprise to see this pouch. It's a French pouch from ca 1340, embroidered in silk and metal thread, with a lovely row of tassels :-) It measures approx. 15, 5 * 14,5 cm, height with tassels 21 cm. Now I'm really really motivated to give this type of tassels another try :-)

ps: click on the images to enlarge

ps: this pouch looks familiar to me, but I can't remember where I've seen it before. A book? A site? If anyone knows, we'd love to hear from you!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Letter pouch

I just came across this beautiful piece of work, a letter pouch which once belonged to Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter. It is made in a red velvet fabric with red ribbon along the edges and wonderful metal thread embroidery. It contained a letter dated 1663.
The purse is now in the 'Zeeuws Maritiem Museum' in the Netherlands.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Us and our men in HOME Eindhoven

These are us and our men during a quiet moment in the afternoon in the Historical Open Air Museum Eindhoven (HOME). Isis is wearing a gray dress and her man is sitting next to her. I (Machteld) am wearing a brown dress, my Birgitta cap and a belt made by my husband. He's sitting next to me with our daughter on his lap.

Laurens, thanks for taking this picture!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Embroidered border for my Birgitta Cap

Yes, I wanted a Birgitta cap too :-) I just finished the embroidered band that ties the cap together, and I hope I will finish it before the HOME Textile Fair in Eindhoven this weekend... Isis wrote a post about this cap and a paper:

Dahl, C.L. & I. Sturtewagen
, 2008, The Cap of St. Birgitta, Medieval Clothing and Textiles vol. IV, pp. 99-129

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A 14th century fragment with embroidered unicorns

My husband found me a copy of Kroos, R. (1970), Niedersachsische Bildstickereien des Mittelaters, Berlin: Deutscher Verlag fur Kunstwissenschaft . Lucky me :-) I wrote a review about this wonderful book here. If you're interested in German whitework embroidery, it's a mustread. It can be quite expensive, (he paid 140 euros, on the German E-bay site), but it's a heavy book, packed with information (2,5 kilo,a catalogue of 218 pages and an additional 427 pages of black and white images, in one volume).

When I browsed through its pages, I was reminded of this embroidery. According to Kroos (1970), it's not known what it was used for. I think it would make a lovely design for a tablecloth :-)

The images below are from Bildindex, the links are below the images (I couldn't link directly). The first is also in Kroos, the others are not.

catalogue mi07917f02a

catalogue mi07917f05a

catalogue mi07917f04

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Turmhügelburg Lütjenburg

Photo by Julia Kerk

Last weekend I attended a lovely small scale event at the Turmhügelburg in Lütjenburg. Together with Bertus and Lea from Deventer Burgerscap. It was so nice meeting all our friends from Sweden and Germany again, and getting to know new people. The food was great (thanks Chris and Peter!), the setting was beautiful and after all the weather wasn't too bad.

The sad news is however, that I came home with a terrible cold. I am supposed to teach a two hour class on medieval dress to 30 18-year olds tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes. I hope I will have some voice left afterwards!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A smocked apron, continued

No, I didn't miscalculate the length of fabric this time :-) I wanted to make a smock sampler to get some more practice and then I thought “Why not turn it into an apron for my daughther”? (She's almost 2 now).

Here are some of the things I've learned along the way:

  • I used 60 cm of fabric with 0,5 mm pleats and I ended up with a piece of embroidery of 20 cm wide. This means that for my own apron, I need around 2 meters of fabric
  • I can't make these stitches in a straight line without help. The first row of honeycomb stitches looks really wobbly... That's when I decided to use a ruler and a soft grey pencil to draw lines on top of the pleats. This helped me to keep the lines of stitches straight
  • I put the apron in the washing machine at 40C. It came out well and clean :-)
  • I used both a fine and a thicker linen sewing thread. I like the fine thread, from Bockens, for the honeycomb stitches and the ticker one, from The Mulberry Dyer, for the stem stitches (horizontal lines and diamond panes)

And this is what I've learned from Trude (thanks!!!):

  • In my first attempt (which was so horrible that I threw it away) I pulled the embroidery stitches way too tight over the pleats. She didn't say this, but I realized this when I saw her apron
  • If you want to embroider the diamond panes, it works best to embroider the horizontal lines first. These “set” the pleats, so it's easier to embroider the diamond panes next
Isis showed me this link to the pleatwork embroidery website, which focuses on the 14th – 16th century. Really worth a visit!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Image of knitting Madonna

I accidentily came across this image of a knitting Madonna. This is a painting of the Holy Family, attributed to Ambrogio Lorenzetti (ca. 1345) of Siena. Size 54.5 x 25.5 cm. I think I have seen it in person years ago in the Meermanno Museum in The Hague, but didn't notice the knitting back then. I do remember drooling over the thread reel standard.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Some publications of the York Archeological Trust now downloadable for free

First of all, thanks to Katrin from A Stitch in Time for posting this link! If you're interested in medieval textiles and clothing, be sure to visit her blog.

The York Archeological Trust put some of their out of print publications online for free. You might be interested in the one below, and take look at their archive for more. I copied the abstract below from their website:
Link The Archaeology of York 17/15, Finds from Medieval York, Craft, Industry and everyday life by Patrick Ottaway and Nicola Rogers

This report is the definitive publication of some 6,000 objects made in a wide range of materials, including iron and non-ferrous metals, stone, glass and jet. They come from contexts dated to between c.1066 and 1600.
The first part of the report describes tools and implements, including those used in metalworking, leatherworking and textile manufacture. It also discusses the debris from craft activity, including a report on the analysis of non-ferrous metalworking waste at the Bedern Foundry and College sites. In addition, there is a full report on the metallurgy of seventeen iron knives to set alongside analyses of Anglian and Anglo-Scandinavian specimens from York.
The second part presents a wide range of objects, many of which were used on the sites where they were found. They provide a vivid insight into aspects of life as it was experienced in medieval York and include items of personal dress and clothing, jewellery, glass and other vessels, equipment for horse and rider, and a substantial assemblage of objects which illustrate the character of buildings, their fittings and furnishings.

I was particularly fascinated by this image of late 14th century double pointed knitting needles (p 2743, 2744):

I tried some silk knitting last weekend, and I kept thinking of the quote" Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." 1.9 mm needles definitely sound better than the 0.8 mm ones I was using!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

V&A textile rooms temporarily closed

Hi all,

This is just a short message to inform you all that the textile rooms and collections at the V&A will be temporarily closed over the coming two years. The collections will be moved to another location fot better storage, conservation and accessibility. You can find more info here.

I thought I'd just let you know so that you are not al dissappointed should you visit the V&A to find out the textiles are not on display.

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