Friday, January 17, 2020

A time of reflection...

I hope that you all had a happy and productive festive season and (hopefully) a nice break. Here in Australia, December is the end of the school and college/university year, and many businesses close over Christmas to give their employees annual leave. It can be a strange time of year if you get to enjoy the break. It also tends to be a reflective time for me; time to think about the year that has passed and to start making plans for the new one.

This particular Christmas break has been less festive than usual due to the terrible bushfires ravaging many parts of Australia. I am lucky to have only been impacted by mild smoke and this time didn't even have to pack the car in preparation to evacuate. However, many friends have lost homes and belongings. As a former wildlife carer, the knowledge of what the wildlife has suffered and the impact on ecosystems is just devastating, and events have certainly impacted the mood of most people that I know.

I have been surprisingly unproductive over the break, even for me! Last year was horrible for me in relation to my health, and my responsibilities and obligations have been weighing heavily on me of late (as well as current affairs). I did a lot of planning and researching, but not much actual sewing or crafting. It was actually good to take a break.

As usual, I have an almost never-ending list of projects that I want to start, or things that are waiting to be finished. I am prioritising things for other people, and I am very aware that there are a lot of projects waiting to be blogged.

I got some lovely Christmas gifts, which made me feel very spoiled. I collect acrylic and enamel brooches and pins, and I got some of those. I also got some books and fabric, so I was very very happy. (Honestly, just being safe and enjoying good food and friends and family would have been enough, given what so many Aussies are going through at the moment.)

I got this book for Christmas, and I am looking forward to continuing my cord making experiments during the year.



Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy year in 2020. May all your projects be speedily and satisfactorily completed!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Monday, December 9, 2019

Award Cord Project

Paperwork and admin has been keeping me busy lately. I haven't had much time, but I have been able to be able to continue working on the award cord project. The ones below are simple three strand braids. It is a simple technique but effective. The tension is quite tight, which results in a firm braid, and the result is nice.





Sunday, December 1, 2019

Embroidery Designs

I've been unwell again of late and so haven't been as productive as  I would have liked. One thing that I have enjoyed though, is doing some blackwork designs. I really enjoy the design process, and love looking at portraits and extant pieces and drawing up designs based on what I have seen. I recently drew up a coif design (that I absolutely adore!) for a friend, as well as a couple of partlet designs and some Elizabethan coif designs. I find it very soothing. (Tracing the design out - not so much! But a gift of a lightboard has made that part of the process a bit smoother too.)


Monday, November 18, 2019

A Woolen Tunic with Short Sleeves

Back in June when I made the long sleeve woolen tunic for a friend, I also made a short-sleeved one. The wool was lovely to work with; no fraying and beautiful to hand sew. I used the same 'pattern' as the previous tunic - basically just rectangles, squares and triangles. The main body is two rectangles. The sleeves are four rectangles. There is an underarm gusset which is a square, and triangles of fabric are added into the 'skirt' to add fullness.

I don't know the artist of this particular pattern but it is a good indicator of how the layout of my tunic looked. I didn't use a faced neckline because the wool was quite bulky, but the rest of the layout is very similar. I measured the wearer's body and added a little extra for ease of movement plus seam allowances.
I sewed the long seams by machine.
Once the seams were sewn, I whipped the seams open and down.
I added a supportive placket around the collar split so that the pressure of normal wearing wouldn't end up ripping the split at the front.
The rest of the neckline was turned down with a small hand-sewn hem to reduce bulk.


I left this tunic plain so that the recipient could sew trim on if he wanted. I have yet to get a photo of him wearing it, but it looks nice on.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Heraldic Favour

Another project that I completed recently was a heraldic favour. It is a simple sash with a representation of my device embroidered on it.
 I marked the design out by tracing it with frixion marker.
I embroidered the design with split and satin stitch. I tried to add some texture to the satin stitch. I added a shiny black bead for the eye.
 I sewed the panel into a sash and added some gold braid at the bottom.
I made the pin by adding a hat pin to a purchased heraldic seahorse pendant.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Indoor Heraldic Banner

As well as a silk banner, I made an indoor heraldic banner for  my friend.

I used velveteen as the base material and cotton broadcloth for the backing. I usually pre-rinse my fabric in hot water and dry and iron it before starting a project.

I enlarged the owl shapes and cut them out of felt (which I also used for the band across the top). I like using wool felt because it is easily available and doesn't fray.

I whip stitched the felt down and then embroidered over the edges. I couched a piece of gold cord across the edge of the band across the top.



 I embroidered on the details of the owls.

 I gave the owls multi-layered felt eyes to give a sense of depth.




Once all the details were done, I put the backing fabric and the embroidered velveteen panel face to face and machine sewed around most of the edges. I left a small section un-sewn. I clipped the corners to reduce bulk and then turned the banner right side out, pulling it through the un-sewn section. This technique is called 'bagging out' and is useful for sewing banners. It is important to make sure that the inside seams are sitting nicely; I run a bone turner or blunt knitting needle along the seams on the inside.

The final steps involved hand-sewing the smalls section shut and then turning a section of the top down and towards the back to make a hanging rod pocket. I whipped the section down, making sure my stitches did not show through on the front of the banner.

Finally, I sewed a section of creamy gold onto the bottom of the banner to finish it off.

Good starting points for researching medieval banners include:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraldic_flag
http://www.larsdatter.com/banners.htm
https://www.southerntailors.com/blog/the-origin-and-evolution-of-the-gonfalon/
https://www.theheraldrysociety.com/articles/heraldry-in-italy-during-the-middle-ages-and-renaissance/
https://www.southerntailors.com/blog/the-origin-and-evolution-of-the-gonfalon/

Monday, October 28, 2019

Painted silk banner

I recently tried my hand at silk banner painting for the first time. I had attended a class on silk banner painting in 2018 which was run by Sir Eva von Danzig and I used the notes from that class as my guide. The aim was to create a heraldic field banner for a friend.

I used Settasilk silk paint and gutta and a fine silk background fabric.
The first step was to draw up my design. I drew it on tracing paper and went over it with a felt tip pen.
I traced the design onto the silk using lead pencil.
The next step was to stretch the silk out and attach safety pins around the edges. I used rubber bands (looped around the safety pins) to attach the silk to the frame. I made the frame out of PVC tubing. Once it was evenly stretched with good tension, I used black silk gutta to draw the outlines. I was so nervous (as this was for a friend) that my hands were really shaking and so my lines were quite wobbly.
Once the gutta was dry, I added the silk paint. There were a couple of areas where the paint ran past the gutta lines. I did two coats of blue and two coats of yellow, with some orange highlights, letting each coat dry before adding the second.
Then I let the banner air dry thoroughly.
I left it on the frame in a warm place to completely dry.
Once the paint was fully dry, I ironed the banner under an ironing cloth with a dry iron following the manufacturer's instructions.
I turned the edges over twice to form a small hem and pinned it into place. It was whip stitched down.
Checking to see how my own banner was constructed (as it was made for me by a friend,) I realised that the delicate silk has worn away at the tip of the banner. This made me decide to add a cotton broadcloth pole sleeve rather than use the silk fabric to hold the pole. Hopefully, it will make the new banner last longer. I also need to make a sleeve to put on my own banner to extend it's life.
 Essential tools
 
Pinning the sleeve onto the edge of the banner.
I machine sewed the banner sleeve onto the banner.
The finished banner flying.
I followed the instructions given by the manufacturers of Settasilk silk paint. If I did the project over, I would wash my silk first (called "scouring") and iron it. I also would use thicker gutta lines to reduce the chance of paint runs. I might try spraying the silk with a mixture of water and rubbing alcohol to slow down drying time and reduce the chance of lines in the background. And I would work out a way -somehow- to stop my hands from shaking.
This project was certainly a learning experience. Even though I was not very happy with my result, I learned a lot. I have a new and greater respect and admiration for people who make beautiful silk banners on a regular basis- the process was more challenging than I thought it would be.





Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Gilded Marzipan Fruits at a Pirate Tourney

I went to a pirate-themed tourney recently, and (as usual,) took plenty of food to share with my friends. Something that always has a big visual impact is marzipan fruits. They are so pretty, and adding edible gold leaf just adds that extra bit of richness.
Violas are in flower at the moment, and I wanted to candy some to add to the dish. I have concerns about using raw eggs in my cooking, so I attempted to candy them in sugar syrup. I made up a simple sugar syrup (with a high concentration of sugar and a splash of rosewater,) and soaked the washed flowers in it. Then I coated them in caster sugar. Once coated, I left them in a dish covered with sugar and with a few cloves for a couple of days to add a delicious scent. They didn't work out as nicely as when done with egg white, but I feel that was made up for by not having to worry about possible salmonella contamination. I will keep experimenting.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Short Holiday

I had a few days break on the coast at the end of September. It was a quiet trip as I ended up getting sick with a few infections, but luckily I have a great doctor there. I did some hand sewing and drew up some embroidery designs.






It is an area of stunning natural beauty, and a very nice place to recuperate.