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Posts Tagged ‘pattern’

‘Pattern’ is the name of the Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild exhibition, currently on at North Lincolnshire Museum. Those of us who took part all chose an object from the Museum’s collection and created a piece of embroidery in response.

When I went in January with four friends, we had an interesting discussion about the items we were drawn to and whether or not we should deliberately work out of our comfort zones and choose an object that didn’t appeal to us. There is definitely a time and a place for that, but I suspect that working on something with which I didn’t have a natural connection might have made it a bit of a chore. So unsurprisingly, I went Roman and chose my favourite thing in the whole museum: The Winterton Cup.

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The Winterton Cup is decorated with rows of enamelled squares on a copper alloy base. Some of the enamel has been lost, but the original pattern of diagonal rows of alternating yellow, red, blue and turquoise can still be made out.  Enamelling on metal is a technique found in the Romano-British tradition which carries on into the Roman period and the Cup is one of a small group of enamelled vessels which are apparently souvenirs brought back by soldiers from Hadrian’s Wall.

The squares immediately said reverse applique to me. I had some amazing silk which was hand dyed with natural dyes and a silk scarf dyed in dark blues with flashes of pink and gold which reminded me of the oxidised metal. I would do the stitching with my sewing machine and it would be a reasonably quick job. Famous last words…

I started by cutting a piece of tracing paper to the same size as the scarf and made a template for the size of squares I wanted so I could draw it all out life size. Then I cut out the hand dyed silks and began laying them in place.

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So far, so good.

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Very pleased with the result.

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Next to pin the scarf over the top, ready for the machining.

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This is where the photographs of the process stop. My beloved Frister and Rossmann decided that this was the one thing that it wasn’t going to stitch and ate the fabric instead. Once I had rescued the silk and managed to straighten out most of the chew marks, this left me with forty-eight squares to hand stitch round as well as attaching the other silk scarf I had chosen to back it with.

Let’s just say that there were a number of stupidly late nights before I got to this stage.

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I am happy with the concept – that is exactly what I initially envisaged, but the double running stitching really doesn’t bear close inspection (as you can see in the photo below – which is the closest I am prepared to show!) and I just didn’t have time to fray check the cut silk, so I am a bit disappointed with myself over all.

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Definitely better at a distance in one of the exhibition display cases.

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Last week I directed ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ for Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club – hence why I’ve been awol again.

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Everything was going swimmingly until two weeks from show week we discovered that we didn’t have First World War period evening dresses for ‘Bob’ and Lieutenant George in the ‘Major Star’ episode. Nothing in the Club stock and nothing available at the place we were hiring the uniforms from. It was too late to buy the dresses available on eBay as they were in China and so the only option was to make them. That job ended up on my plate.

I can sew. I can use a sewing machine and I made the tree costumes several years ago for one of our pantos, but that was under supervision from my mum, who is an experienced dressmaker. This was going to be flying solo with a deadline and with the memory of my one and only other excursion into making clothes hanging over my head.

My first needlework project at middle school was to make a blouse so my mum equipped me with a paper blouse pattern and some horrible yellow polyester. In the first lesson it obviously didn’t occur to my needlework teacher to tell a class of eleven-year olds that when you have a paper pattern from which you can make different versions of a garment, you only need the pieces for the style you plan to make. I did as I was told: I opened the packet, cut out all the tracing paper pieces, pinned them onto the fabric and cut every one out. I was then promptly held up to ridicule in front of the whole class. I never did finish it and that was the end of my sewing for a long while.

So I bought a pattern, hunted through the Club’s fabric stock for something that would be suitable for evening dresses and ten days before show week, I made a start on the first frock. It was…interesting. And challenging. And thank goodness a) I’m not working at the moment because I ended up pulling some seriously long days and b) I was able to ring my mum and get her advice when I couldn’t make head or tail of the instructions or the pictures. It was not the straightforward pattern I had hoped for as a complete novice.

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My 90 year old Frister and Rossmann coped superbly with taffeta, lace, satin and organza. Multiple layers? No problem? Different fabrics? Easy. I love that machine sooooo much!

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There was a lot of hand stitching and finishing as well – the Friday before our Sunday Get-In I stitched for thirteen hours with breaks for cooking and eating meals, but I am pretty pleased with the results. Firstly, Bob’s dress.

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There wasn’t enough of the floral print for a whole dress but the taffeta matched the turquoise flowers perfectly and she was literally on stage in it for less than three minutes.

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George’s dress had to be made for a very tall and skinny bloke, which was another interesting challenge, but thanks to the purple lace I found in a box while looking for something else, I think this one worked a treat.

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My middle one loves it and had to be dissuaded from taking it back to university with her!

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I’m proud of the back.

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Well out of my comfort zone, but I think I may have finally laid the ghost of that bloody awful yellow blouse. And the show was a triumph too.

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