Thursday, November 3, 2016

Seahorse Banner for a feast hall

Looking through my list of 'Draft' posts tonight, I feel a bit ashamed of how little I have been posting! Doing a dress diary or detailed post about things I have made often seems to be very tedious once all the hard craft work is over, and all too often doesn't happen. So I must try harder.

This post is about an indoor banner or gonfalon that I made in May this year. It was designed to be displayed in a feast hall and features my SCA heraldry. This was my second try at making an indoor banner. An introduction to Gonfalon can be found here:

Making the banner: 

I bought some purple cotton velveteen to be the background of the device. I found a patterned white bedspread at the op shop that I decided to use for the sea horse and the backing fabric.

I enlarged the design with the help of a photocopier.

My design was then traced out and pinned to the fashion fabric.

In this photo (above), I have cut the fashion fabric out, but the tracing is still pinned on top. To mark the details, I used a pin to prick the line into the tracing paper. Then I drew over the pinprick holes with a removable embroidery pen. This told me where to add accents and details later on in the process.

The fashion fabric with the pins and paper removed.You can't really see the lines that I have marked in this picture because of the low light level.

Pinning the applique securely to the backing is very important so that you don't get bubbles. Whether you use modern applique methods such as machine sewing the edges/needle-turning the edge as you hand sew it down, or use the more period technique of sewing the edge down without turning it under and then embroidering over the top, it is crucial to keep both pieces of fabric snugly together and well-pinned. I think I sewed the edge down by machine to ensure that it would stay stable as it was rolled up and unrolled (and save time as I was working to a deadline.)

I added an interlining layer of strong cotton to support the weight of the velvet and stop it being pulled out of shape by it's own weight.

Once the seahorse was stitched down, I went over the machine stitched edges with chain stitch for extra strength (and to make them look pretty). Chain stitch is an SCA period stitch with many applications. On the fin-areas like the mane and tail, I angled some quite large single satin stitches to give an illusion of movement. The ermine and eye details are black felt with embroidery over the edges, and the collar is a bit of pretty ribbon. I hand sewed these details.

The lining of the quilt cover made the lining of the banner. The edges were hand sewn with black bias binding.

After I made the banner up, I decided it was out of proportion, so I folded the top edge over to make a large rod holder and hand-sewed the edge down. Normally I would add a separate rod-holder, but this solution solved two problems.

A slightly wonky photo of the finished banner. It was too dark in the feast hall to get a good shot at the event. I feel that the seahorse could use a bit of darker embroidery to add definition to areas like where the mane meets the body, but that will have to wait until I make the next one.

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