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Historical Sampler – Linen Preparation, Pattern Transfer and Drawing the Scrolled Vines Lines at Full Width

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10 August 2008

Historical Sampler – Linen Preparation, Pattern Transfer and Drawing the Scrolled Vines Lines at Full Width

My linen is 29-30 Count Legacy Linen in Parchment colour.

A couple of days ago I prepared it according to Mary Corbet’s Linen Preparation formula at

I then followed her instructions in “Dressing a Slate Frame"

up until she folded up the edges of the linen, in order to cut it to size, and straight (!)

Thankyou Mary for providing this information :-)


I then pinned down dressmaker's transfer paper, and then the tracing of the design on top.

I ran over the design with a biro.

It came out fairly well (I used blue and green transfer paper - I needed two of them).

But there was a slight problem.

I'd pinned the design down crookedly.


I can't believe that I did that. I really really don't.


I turned the linen over and took a deep breath.

This time I measured from the top of the tracing paper (which was graphed tracing paper, and so guaranteed to be in straight lines) to the top of the material (which I'd run a thread from, so I also knew it to be straight) and made sure that the measurement was the same all along the top.

And then I did the transfer again.

Some of the design shows a little from the back, but it's faint, and it'll be covered up (apart from maybe a very small amount). I'm not paying for and waiting for another $20 piece of linen to start again - it's not that bad.

I tried to photograph the transferred design, but the warp and weft of the linen causes funny lines to appear in the photo. The same thing will happen with a scan, I know from experience.

I can see why Mary mentioned using starch when ironing the linen at the end of preparation. I didn't, and my linen was covered in tiny wrinkles after the first transfer and had to be re-ironed before the second attempt.

I imagine I'll have to iron it again before framing it up.

I will be framing it in an EverTite frame (reviewed by Mary at

and I'll be referring to the post above again when I actually set up my linen - when my EverTite frame arrives in the post in a couple of weeks.


I now had a single thin line on the fabric representing the scrolling vines.

However, the vines had been drawn one pen width thick. They are supposed to be much thicker in order to fit plaited braid stitch which I'll be using to embroider the vines. And the motifs have to fit inside these thicker vines.

So I needed to draw in the thicker line so I'd know how much space there would be for the motifs. (I'll have to re-draw the motif designs I've already done so they'll fit in with this thicker line.)

The linen is evenweave so I could count threads and make dots next to the line every centimetre or so, and then draw a line to connect them. This is much easier than trying to use a ruler to measure a few millimetres from the line although it has bee making me go a bit cross-eyed.

I'm making the thick vine 4 threads wide, and the thin vine (that curls off the main vine in some places) two threads wide.

I'll do some other stitch for that thin vine. I'll have to experiment on my 'working sampler' where I'll be experimenting with how thin I can make Ladder Stitch, or maybe I'll just use Chain Stitch.

For each segment of vine, I'm making sure that I place the dots so that it lies to the outside of the design on the edges, rather than the inside. Otherwise, by thickening the vine to the inside I'd just be eating motif space.


The red line is the one I'm placing, rather than the black line that eats into the interior of the design. (and no, I can't draw with a mouse)

Of course, as the vine travels into the interior, it eats space but this is a way to decrease that a little.

I noticed that when I did the transfer I had a slight tendency to flatten the curves - I guess the drag from the fabric slowed my pen (or I just tend to flatten curves) so I've needed to do a little fixing.

Sometimes the thin vines get cut off at the feet as the thick vine goes through them. For example, the straight line shown in under the red and black lines has a thin vine to either side of it. No matter which side I place the thicker line, one of those thin vines is going to end up 4 threads shorter.

I'm increasing them so they are all the same length.(10 threads length). It'll be more obvious to the eye that they are different lengths once they are embroidered in gold, than a difference in the amount of blank area they intrude into, especially once that blank area is covered with motifs.

I was thinking about *how thick* to make the thick vine this morning, and was wondering whether there were any rules (across an uneven number of threads, across an even number?) and I ended up deciding that there weren't any. It's a plait anyway, not a counted stitch.

I've made the vine at the largest thickness that still suits the design. I just hope that it isn't so thin that it makes it difficult to embroider in Plaited Braid Stitch, since the design in general is fairly fine. (The whole thing is 20" by 10")

I've never seen any information on how to draw down the scrolled vines, so all of this is a bit of an experiment.

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