Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bitchin' Stitchin'

PREAMBLE: So obviously I've been MIA for awhile. If you spent the past year making fancy cockades per my last post to fill the time, waiting for something new from me, then you should consider investing in a wider social circle. Also, I'm so touched that you actually read the post about making cockades, because even I had some misgivings about the whole value of that one. But hey, you can't be afraid to fail.

So what's next? Maybe it's the whole bohemian/Coachella/faux hippie trend thing happening right now. Maybe it's a need to take a bit of a break from the kind of crafting that requires scrubbing excess globs of paint primer and hot-glue-gun glue from the coffee table. Maybe it's that I've run out of Ikea furniture to shabby-chic and my roommate won't let me touch hers.*

The point of this preamble is that there's a whole aspect of 18th century culture that I haven't even remotely delved into yet: embroidery. It's intricate, it's gorgeous, it's everywhere in fashion now, and it's totally 18th century. Embroidery, of course, has been around for centuries, but in Western Europe, it reached impressive heights in the 18th century, with household linens and clothing getting particular attention.
Embroidered purse from the Colonial Williamsburg online archive collection.
Available at

If you want to know what diva status looks like in terms of 18th century embroidery, check this out. Then come back and do some sewing with me. You'll need:

  • embroidery hoop/frame
  • embroidery floss (usually silk thread works best)
  • evenweave or block weave fabric (here's a good guide) or for the more adventurous, linen

I'd never tried embroidery before, so I found an embroidery kit that conveniently comes with everything but the embroidery hoop. I highly recommend this for a beginner, because the fabric in the kits has a handy picture screen printed onto the fibers so you can just stitch right over it. Ain't no shame in that game.

Basically, your kit will include instructions for how many threads should be used in each type of stitch. Separate your threads, then get to work!

As you can see, I sew about as evenly and accurately as a chick applying lipstick on a plane with turbulence. So what? This was really fun, and pretty easy to do. I'm going to follow the bohemian mantra sewn on this and give it the 18th century mod girl's seal of approval. Bam.

If you took one look at this, however, and are filled with the desire to do justice to it, you can purchase your own on Amazon.

 *Which I personally think is a missed opportunity on her part.

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