Thanks to a requirement that I rest with my feet up ( it’s not sell it’s cracked up to be) and crappy weather I knocked out the embroidery this week.
Per my previous posts I knew this would take less time because I had half the pleats to embroider than I did before. Thirty eight (38) rows around 1/2 hr to an hour each row. Started it last week, finished last night. Total time about 32 hrs pleating and embroidery.
Next: fitting the shirt
In my last post I was woeing the need to rip out a horrific number of hours of embroidery because I was not happy with it.
So I did. Here is what happened next:
I put the shirt back up on the dress form to see how much fabric I could remove from the body without changing the drape ( about 10 inches front and back) .
I did 3 more test runs with pleat size.( decided on a larger pleat) .
Re-fit the shirt to my test dummy ( hubby).
Made sure I had enough thread in the same dye lot.
Put in Christmas movies and started pleating again.
This time, because there was less fabric and they were deeper, there are fewer pleats. This will actually be good because it pattern will be much more visible. The embroidery will also be easier because they will not be as tight. And I know the pattern now, so round two should be faster.
Two nights to re-pleat it and here is the result:
We all know we are our own worst critics. But there are times that I feel that an artisan should to take a step back and say ” this is just not working” or ” it’s not right” or “not to my standards”.
Last week I hit that point. Fifty plus hours into the embroidery on the hemd and I knew.
The thread I had ordered was a slightly different shade of white than the first spool but it took about 6 rows of the pattern to really notice it ( and the subsequent stripe).
The neckline ( per my previous posts) was too big. I was going to change the style slightly and run with it.
BUT.. I knew it wasn’t right. While I am doing this project to further my research, it is going to someone else and I want them to love it. ( they would have no matter what because the recipient is too nice to say otherwise. ) Better to stop part way through than put more time into something I would ultimately be disappointed in.
My friend’s reactions, were sympathetic of course, then everyone of them more or less said that if I felt I needed to tear it out then it needed to be: their reason? I have standards that I set for myself. They are high, but they are there so I always challenge myself. Again we are our own worst critics.
So what is the next step? Well if it’s a technique that is not working, I will go back to the drawing board to see what I need to do differently. If it’s a material failure ( or worse) it may be a case of cutting my losses and start it over.
For the shirt it means tearing out all the embroidery done so far, and the pleating. Re-measuring, doing more test pleats and see if it can be salvaged.
This is all a good thing btw. I do thrive on proving to myself I can do it. More to come !!!
Figuring out the pattern I wanted to use for the shirt was one of the biggest challenges I had. There are two ways to do the patterning: the pleats make the design or the threads do. They are essentially reverses of each other.
This handout from my apron class shows an example of using the threads to form the pattern. http://www.pleatworkembroidery.com/articles/apronintwoways
Here http://www.pleatworkembroidery.com/recreating I have a example of an extant shirt fragment and the recreated version.
You have to make sure that you do not use a pattern that carries the threads over too many pleats or the threads will catch on things and sag.
The other way to look at the pattern is to use the pleats to form the design. http://www.pleatworkembroidery.com/articles/15th%20Century%20Ladies%20Hemd
This is much more stable because the design threads are run through the majority of the pleats and only small stitches pass over the the pleats. I opted to go this route because after looking at shirts and necklines of similar design in the period artwork I decided that it would be closer to what I was seeing in these pictures.
The pattern is charted from an extant Modelbuch by Micholas Bassee. While the book dates from 1568, these patterns were widely used throughout German and Italian embroidery.
The charted pattern
The dots are where the thread goes over the pleats, the white spaces are where the thread goes through the pleat:
The first row is the hardest because that is laying out your pattern. After that, you can use the stitches in the previous row as a pattern guide. Hint: When doing the stitching, it is easier to pull the needle through multiple pleats as shown in the image above. It keeps the stitches lined up better and the rows even.
This is the pattern after 10 rows. The pleats are pulled in very tight and the pattern is beginning to emerge.