Thursday, April 11, 2013

More book cushion progress!

Slowly but surely I am making progress on the brick stitch book cushion.  I finally have all of the major pattern element in place.  Hurray!  What you see has taken 100 hours 20 minutes to complete.  The blue medallions ended up being far more time consuming than I had thought they would be, taking between an hour and a half to two hours each.  The red flowers and filling in should go much faster, there is far less counting to do now so I expect to get this bugger done soon.  Then I just have to decided how to do the finishing.  It definitely needs some big tassels at the corners.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pattern Darning for Mary of Hungary Smock

Finally I am starting to make some progress on the long-stalled Mary of Hungary smock!  A big part of my problem has been sourcing materials, namely the silk.  Part of the issue was, I think, that I was not 100% happy with the quality of the linen I had for the smock.  It was a good handkerchief weight, but very slubby and poor quality (as has been most of what I have gotten from recently, fine for a smock but not good at all for fine needlework or anything I want to last).  A friend placed a large order with Gray Line Linens, and I got some of their handkerchief linen to replace it and Oh My Gawd it is lovely.  Perferct for this project and all of my Brigitta coifs where I have been struggling with the uneven quality of threads on the other stuff.  I am never going back.  Beautiful stuff.

Anyway, having got that out of the way I suddenly found myself motivated to do the sampling with the slik threads I have already got last night and *gasp* threw them in the wash this morning.  Putting filament silk in the washer and dryer is about the scariest thing I have ever in my life done, but wouldn't you know it, they came out beautifully!  I'm not saying this smock is going to get heavy laundering every single time I wear it, but it's good to know when it get's dirty, and it will, I can clean it!  In looking at the sample I much prefer the look of the more delicate Soie de Paris, which is the darker gold color on the top.  I think it will fill in the pattern better than the more tightly twisted Soie Gobelin bellow it, even though that was easier to work with and strikes me as more durable.  Both retained their sheen beautifully, even though I went on autopilot and put Biz in the wash (not a good idea with silk or wool in the mix) and machine dried it (admittedly on low).  Neither color bled in the least.  The grey lines you see are my smocking dot marks, I used non-washable marking pen on the sample fabric.

Now all I need to do is cut out the smock and get the pieces finished so I can start the embroidery.  I should be able to do that while I wait for the silk to get here.  The front, back and sleeves are constructed and finished separately and embroidered before being joined together at the shoulders and underarm seams, which makes a great deal of sense.  There is a huge amount of fabric to pleat, so that alone will take some time.  I went ahead and got iron-on smocking dots, which I know is a no-period cheat but the smock take just over 6 yards of fabric and I may be insane but marking dots on that much fabric by hand is beyond what even I am willing to do in the name of an authentic experience!