11 February 2012

Continuing the Adventures in Crewel Embroidering

Earlier this winter I started embroidering a stomacher. Though I ended up ripping out a few flowers and leaves because I didn't like the color scheme, it has been slowly moving forward.

According to Winterthur's  American Crewelwork: Stitches of the 17th and 18th Centuries, "The work of the average needlewoman of Colonial times shows only three or four stitches in any one piece" (p2). So far I've used five stitches:
  • Slip stitch (my favorite)
  • New England laid stitch
  • Fishbone stitch
  • Trellis couching
  • Long / short stitch

Originally I had outlined this flower at the center with backstitches. It looked bare so ripped out those stitches and filled it in.
For the leaves, I tried to use two to three shades of green so they are more colorful and 18th century looking.

I also tried the long / short stitch, which I think turned out pretty well.
The authors of American Crewelwork write, "One characteristic of American work is the lack of wool showing on the reverse side. Where one finds much long and short, satin and heavy filling stitches on English work, the Colonists used stitches sparing of the wools: Couching, Flat and simple filling stitches." (p3)
The back (pictured above) reveals that my technique is more English as I am not very economical with using the wool.
A peek at the back of the embroidered berries.
However when I stitched the berries, I had a very limited among of the cranberry colored wool. To maximize the amount of berries that were the same color, I was more American in my approach--which you can see above.

One flower I have avoided was one of the first ones that I ripped. (I didn't like the colors.) As you can faintly see on the petal near the stem, I accidentally cut the fabric. Oops!! (I wish there were fabric band-aids.)

I must admit I'm a little frustrated with this project. I keep second guessing my color and stitch choices...does the palette look too modern in its coordinating scheme? Are the approrpiate stitches used in the appropriate places? I can't find comps online that I can review closely to attempt to answer these questions. While I have seen a few exhibits recently that would help answer my questions, I can't remember the details well enough.

I wish I could stop at Elizabeth Phillips school in Providence, RI where she instructed young ladies in, "all Kinds of Embroidery, and other Needle Work". I'm sure she could help.
Providence Gazette June 11, 1774
American Crewelwork describes the differences between English and American crewel embroidery design and execution, "English work is usually more professionally done, while the great charm of the surviving American examples is in the free interpretation and inventiveness" (p3).

I guess I shouldn't stress so much. I do have a little one who is always willing to help select colors.
My little helper, 16 months, wears my embroidery hoop as a necklace.

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