It all began on a cold winter’s morning. As my alarm went off at 6.30, I rubbed my bleary eyes and realised the day was finally here. The day I get to go to the Dior exhibition at the V&A museum. I jumped out […]
Hello, So today I wanted to look at a brief history of Pulled Thread work and also include a free stitch tutorial that has been taken from my Whitework Brooch kit (as seen below) so you can have a go yourself. Early examples of Pulled Thread […]
Hello and welcome to another post, today we are looking at the history of Drawn Thread work, a whitework technique. By definition, Drawn thread is where the weave and or weft threads have been withdrawn from the linen fabric. Patterns and designs are then woven into the threads that have been left to create rich and intricate borders.
Drawn thread work borders are extremely varied and the earliest come from countries bordering the Mediterranean, later spreading to the rest of Europe. The earliest examples of needleweaving can be seen in fragments of linen from the Egyptian period. Arabic borders on fine linen also include needleweaving but these were worked in silk, as well as elaborate borders of Spanish and Italian embroidery of the sixteenth century.
Delicate and fine Drawn thread work decorated the elaborate ruffs shown in the Elizabethan portraits that were reserved for the wealthy.
Linen Vestments from the Elizabethan period also displayed Drawn thread work. The samplers of the same period record variations of stitches, patterns and designs. These samplers would be made up of a collection of the workers’ personal favourite patterns which had been passed from one embroidery to another. There were few pattern books or prints and a sampler was the best method for learning the intricacies of the stitches and counted patterns.
Linen cushions which also displayed Drawn thread borders and were a new luxury that carried a status of wealth. These cushions were not made for sitting on though and instead were used to present small gifts of books, gloves and other precious articles. They showed involved borders and insets of Drawn thread work, leaving the centre of the cushion in plain linen.
Drawn thread examples from around 1200 AD from Germany and Switzerland incorporate and open mesh background with figures of plain ground material which have details such as faces, drapery and surrounding patterns in stitches such as stem and chain. The work has an intricacy and craftsmanship which surpasses all linen work of the time and it illustrates stories of saints, birds and animals.
It was once thought that, during the centuries leading up to the fifteenth, Drawn thread work embroidery was worked in the seclusion of convents, acquiring a mystique as there was no other embroidery of such intricacy. In the fourteenth century noble ladies wished to learn the embroidery techniques so they were taught by the nun’s, which led to the use of this fine embroidery for secular and domestic purposes.
In the later and nineteenth and early twentieth Centuries an enormous quantity of Drawn thread work was produced on linen and cotton to decorate bed linen. Trailing designs of stem stitch, satin stitch and crochet borders added to the richness of the designs.
Below you can see my first attempt at a Drawn thread border.
I hope you enjoyed this post.
Hello, So I wanted to write this post to help those of you that are new to embroidery get a brief overview of some of the techniques, tools or terms that you may hear in your quest to learn more about embroidery. What I’ve come up […]
Mindfulness and meditation might seem like they are the buzz words of the moment, but it wasn’t until recently when I regularly started hearing these words that I realised I had already been practicing mindfulness. On the train to work I would always look out of the window and notice the changing seasons. I noticed what people wore, the same seats that they would sit in every day, a change in their hairstyle, while most of them never even looked up from their phones or newspapers. I remember as a child noticing the first leaf buds as we entered spring and sitting on the beach watching the waves roll up onto the sand (I would sit there for hours), all the time being mindful and totally absorbed in the world around me.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation and for some people can seem very daunting. It really shouldn’t be, as at it’s core it is about focusing on what you are doing in the present moment, thus helping to slow down the mind and de-stress. There are many ways to practise, yoga being one of the main, but embroidery can also be a wonderful way of focusing the mind and de-stressing. Focusing on the sound the thread makes as it pulls through the tightened fabric, the feel of the thread between your fingers, the position of your needle. These are all wonderful small moments to enjoy, rather than focusing on the end result and rushing to get your embroidery finished.
That is why I have taken the time to design a small range of kits that are for this very purpose, to slow you down a bit and take some time out for yourself and learn to be in the moment. Each design focuses on a variety of simple stitches such as chain stitch, French Knots, Stem stitch among others, so it is perfect for the complete beginner. The stitches are repetitive so that you can build a rhythm and also gain confidence in your ability. Each kit contains all the threads and fabric you require along with detailed instructions on how to work each stitch. I have also included some more information on mindfulness and a little practise you can work through as you start on your journey.
This fun flamingo design is the first in the series, click here to buy.
The next design is a greyhound that I am currently working on. Watch this space.
So what do you do with a piece once you have finished working it? Well there are a variety of options and today we will be looking at how to mount the piece ready for framing. For many people they do not enjoy this process […]
A Brief History of Tambour Beading The exact origins of Tambour embroidery are not all that clear. However it is thought to have been brought over to France and Britain from India during the 18th Century. There is evidence to suggest that examples of Tambour were exported […]
This new exhibition at the V&A examines the life and works of the Basque couturier, Cristobal Balenciaga and the influences he still has over current designers today. On display until February 2018, it is well worth a visit if you can make it into London.
Balenciaga was born on 1895 in Getaria, a small fishing village in the Basque region of Spain. His Mother was a seamstress working for many of the most stylish and glamorous women in the village and it was from her that he developed his love and interest in fashion. At the age of just 12, Balenciaga started an apprenticeship at a tailor’s in the neighbouring fashionable resort of San Sebastian. It was here that he established his first fashion house, Eisa – a shortening of his mother’s maiden name.
In the example below you can see details of small pink ribbon embroidered flowers with the addition of bead and lace. This example is from a wrap front dress with inbuilt corsetry.
After his first fashion house was established Balenciaga went on to open fashion houses in Barcelona and Madrid. In 1937 he moved to Paris and established himself as one of the most expensive and exclusive couturiers. His early education in tailoring set him apart from the others of that time and he knew is craft inside and out. Balenciaga unusually was involved with every stage of the design and production process. Generally designers will start the designing process by putting pen to paper and sketching out their designs, Balenciaga on the other hand started his design process with the fabric, manipulating and draping to create the effect he wanted. Balenciaga’s dramatic colour combinations and textural effects often attracted attention. In the late 1930’s and after the second World War he was designing smart tailored suits with square shoulders and nipped-in waists, similar in style to his contemporaries (Dior, Chanel), as were his full skirted evening dresses. Balenciaga’s collections evolved slowly after the war, with small details like the shoulder line relaxing and the hemlines lengthening. Dior on the other hand used strong corsetry to mould women’s bodies into unusual geometric shapes and the collections changed quite dramatically from season to season.
Balenciaga’s Spanish heritage played an integral part in many of his early designs, such as this bolero jacket seen below. The traditionally masculine matador jacket has been re-styled and embellished with applied black silk velvet in heart shapes and beads for women to wear over an evening dress.
Fabrics where of great importance to Balenciaga, he put a great deal of time and consideration into choosing the perfect selection. For his Paris shows, fabric was sourced from wholesalers in Paris and from manufacturers in France, Italy, Switzerland and the UK. One of his most significant relationships was with Abraham Textiles who produced seasonal collections in different prints, fibres, weaves and colour combinations. As an influential client he was sometimes guaranteed the exclusive use of a design.
The coat below is worked in organza that has been dip dyed pink. Layers of stitching, tamboured vermicelli pearls then teardrop and feather shaped sequins were all layered on top of each other. To finish off, large pearls and Swarovski crystals were added. Worn by Baroness Phillippe de Rothschild with pink taffeta trousers that tapered at the ankle. I love the ombre effect that has been created and the way in which the layers have been built up to create a richly encrusted coat.
During the 1950’s and 60’s, Balenciaga dressed some of the worlds most glamorous women such as Ava Gardener and fashion icon Gloria Guinness, women with a strong sense of style. He built up a loyal following and when the fashion house closed in 1968 the news shocked his clientele and there was a great sense of loss among them. Four years later Balenciaga passed away, marking the end of an era.
Rather than using just conventional floral motifs, this dress is thought to be inspired by the religious imagery of Christ’s crown of thorns. A floral motif is surrounded by almost a barbed wire design. I have taken the embroidery on this dress as inspiration for a stumpwork and metalwork brooch from which I will be teaching a class at the V&A. The kits for this class are available to buy in my shop.
In 1986 the Balenciaga label re-launched under a series of Creative Directors. Nicholas Ghesquiere who revived the label from 1997 to 2012 and Demna Gvasalia who ensures the label is still current today are two of the most note worthy. Both designers have worked closely with the Balenciaga archives, focusing on cut, shape and materials to make sure that his legacy lives on.
Upstairs is a selection of work by various designers who have all been inspired by Balenciaga in some way, whether that be cut, fit or embellishment.
Hubert de Givenchy and Balenciaga became great friends after meeting in 1953. Balenciaga became Givenchy’s mentor and he took him under his wing, teaching him the importance of treating his clients well and keeping his work honest. Balenciaga even financially supported Givenchy when he opened up his own fashion house across the road.
A dress from Yves Saint Laurent’s couture collection demonstrates the attention to fine detail with beads, sequins and feathers expertly combined.
This is just a very small glimpse into what is a wonderful exhibition. There are many more pieces to see and if you have already been I would love to hear what your favourite pieces are?