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Elmsley Rose

30 April 2010

Silver Background?

I mentioned in my last post about the possibility of doing the background in silver in Gobelin or Tent stitch.
After all, it’s goldwork, raised work, stumpwork (from the next century), and Elizabethan stitches and motifs, all on an Elizabethan vine. Why not throw in some extra glamour, in the form of a silvery background (which more normally appeared on bags and purses) and make it all the more sumptuous? It is a sampler. and I’m not conforming to any rules here, except those of taste (I hope!)
I do actually have an ulterior motive for doing this, as I explained before. Once I’ve finished the black dress (I managed to sew on a button last night!) I’ll go back to the sampler – but I might not be up to doing the embroidery involved. Or some days I will, and other days I won’t.
But some simple background stitching could be feasible on my less good days.
It will give me the feeling that I’m progressing the sampler, rather than leaving it aside for so very long. I really want to get back into embroidering.
The piece will be a wall hanging in the end, with a heavy metallic margin (couching multiple threads?), then a fringe, (ecclesiastical trim from E-bay?) and possibly some tassels – so there’s a lot of richness on the surround.
Will it be too much bling to have the silver as well, or will the plain linen background look too plain against all this sumptuary of the embroidery and the surrround?
Here’s a historical example of a drawstring bag with a silver background :-
Drawstring bag
English, late 16th–early 17th century
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection, 1943
Accession number: 43.1075
Baroness Eowyn Amberdrake created a swetebag with a silver background, which can be seen enlarged at
(Any problems with the link, go to and click on the Swetebag – the first picture - to enlarge it).
It shows the stitching and the effect of the silver background rather more clearly.
Should I add a silver background as well?
After some discussion with Eowyn, she recommends the historical form of Encroaching Gobelin Stitch in Jap Thread.
I’ve ordered a yard each of the 4 sizes of Imitation Jap Thread from the Sampler section of Tanya Berlin’s site so I can see which provides the best ground coverage (before buying entire reels). This thread is “burnished so have an antique look with a mat surface”
I prefer a mat finish to the thread, rather than a shiny appearance of using real Jap thread. And if imitation Jap thread tarnishes, that’s fine by me. I think it adds character to the piece.
I’ve put a little poll up at the top left of my blog. Please feel free to indicate your opinion. I’m leaning towards adding the
background, and I’m not worried about the amount of work. But I don’ t want it to seem ‘overdone’.
Any votes/opinions (you can also comment) would be greatly appreciated. :-)

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11 April 2010

Amior, Shelagh - Jacobean Embroidery

This arrived in the post yesterday, and I just had a look at it.

For a proper review of the book, check out Mary Corbet's review -

I just wanted to add
- the Sources of Inspiration section is good
- I like that she uses historical muted colours rather than brighter modern ones. Her patterns seen very historical from what I've seen of Jacobean work (tho I haven't studied it jet, just seen a lot of pieces)
- she has a useful section at the end, where she has clearly photocopyable shapes of flowers and leaves, and also a rabbit and squirrel.

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