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For my previous stitch sampler I focused on practising some of the stitches used in Dresden whitework embroidery. Many of these stitches had been used from before the 18th century and continued to be used during the Regency. So for my next sampler, I decided to focus more on how the Regency embroidery designs had changed.

During the Regency period, embroidery designs became much more delicate and “flowy” than their 18th century predecessors. Some of the common flower, bud, leaf and frond motives had been quite large and bulky, but changed a little in shape to be more delicate. Often the designs were smaller in size and were repeated more frequently in the embroidery sequence, and – as a result – the areas of pulled work embroidered also became smaller during this era. Other Regency designs were still quite large but the flowing and dainty nature of the design made it subtly different to the style used in the 18th century. “Sprigged muslin”, where muslin fabric was embroidered with quite small motives to form a “dotted” design, became very popular. Linear designs also became more popular, probably due to its likeness of Greek and Roman clothing trims which the new model of Regency fashion was based on.

My design has been copied from a needlework pattern from Ackermann’s Repository, the one in the centre below.

A Regency needlework pattern, from Ackermann's Repository (June 1812).

A Regency needlework pattern, from Ackermann’s Repository (June 1812).

Once again used premium cotton muslin and chose a convenient handkerchief-sized piece for my sampler, finished with a handsewn rolled hem. I used many of the same stitches as I used in my previous sampler: chain stitch, satin stitch, eyelets and blanket stitched pinwheels. The pulled stitches I have used here have also been used before in my pulled work sampler.

My finished "handkerchief", ready to throw down so the nearest "redcoat" can pick it up for me.

My finished “handkerchief”, ready to throw down so the nearest “redcoat” can pick it up for me.

The six pulled work areas were worked in the centre of the paisley shapes and were all different: (from top left to bottom right) ring-backed stitch, double backstitch, faggot stitch, honeycomb stitch, spaced wave stitch and four-sided stitch. The pulled work in period examples leaves much larger “holes” in the fabric than I have in this example, so I will have to practice my technique some more.

A close-up of one edge of the embroidery, with the stitches labelled.

A close-up of one edge of the embroidery, with the embroidery stitches labelled.

I am really pleased with how this turned out, and now I am ready to start designing my embroidered fichu!

Related Posts

Pulled Work Sampler: Part One

Dresden Whitework Stitch Sampler

Sources and Relevant Links

Regency needlework designs (1811-1815), from Ackermann’s Repository – at My Fanciful Muse

Pulled work stitches – by Lynxlace

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Whitework is the name given to white embroidery on a white fabric background. This term is rather broad however, as it encompasses many different types of embroidery, such as Dresden, Schwalm, Ayrshire, Hollie Point, Hardanger, and Mountmellick. Whitework has also been popular (in many different forms) through many periods in history. I am now making my second whitework sampler, and I decided to focus on practising the stitches often used in during the 18th century for Dresden embroidery. Dresden work was the name given to a particular type of whitework performed on thin white muslin during the 18th century. During this period, the popular (and expensive) French and Flemish bobbin lace became more difficult to import to England, which created a need for a cheaper lace imitation. This type of embroidery uses a number of techniques to create the “lacey” effect that was particularly desirable at the time. According to Gail Marsh, Dresden in Saxony was one of the main centres of production for this type of embroidery, hence the name.

Techniques

The stitches that I used in my sampler are pictured below, with links included for further instruction. All of these stitches I have seen in extant examples of whitework viewable online and in books.

Outline stitches

Chain stitch

Chain stitch: I used this as an outline, but it can also be used as a filling. Source: Rocksea & Sarah

Chain stitch: I used this as an outline in this example, but it can also be used as a filling. Source: Rocksea & Sarah

Back stitch

Back stitch: I also tried using a double running stitch, where you use a running stitch one way and then a running stitch back again, filling in all the spaces. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Back stitch: I also tried using a double running stitch, where you use a running stitch one way and then a running stitch back again, filling in all the spaces. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Stem stitch

Stem stitch: A good outline stitch. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Stem stitch: A good outline stitch. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Filling stitches

French knot

A french knot: stitched close together they form a very textural filling. Source: Rocksea & Sarah

French knot: When stitched close together they form a very textural filling. I have also seen them used for a shading effect, and an outline. Source: Rocksea & Sarah

Shadow work (using herringbone stitch)

Herringbone stitch. When it is used for shadow work, the stitch is done on the underside with the stitches on the outside appearing like back stitch. Source: Rocksea & Sarah

Herringbone stitch: When it is used for shadow work, the stitch is done close together on the underside with the stitches on the outer side appearing like back stitch. Source: Rocksea & Sarah

Satin stitch

Satin stitch: I found that doing an outline in running stitch was really effective in helping the final result to look good. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Satin stitch: I found that first doing an outline in running stitch was really effective in helping the final result to look good. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Single feather stitch

Single feather stitch: Basically blanket stitch on an angle. If the stitches are done very close together it can form a nice filling stitch. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Single feather stitch: Basically blanket stitch on an angle. If the stitches are done very close together it can form a nice filling stitch, with an edge already included. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

“Shaped” stitches (That is, stitches that form their own shape in the embroidery.)

Blanket-stitch pinwheel

Blanket-stitched pinwheel: A blanket-stitched circle, with an attractive eyelet-hole resulting in the centre. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Blanket-stitched pinwheel: A blanket-stitched circle, with an attractive eyelet-hole resulting in the centre. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Eyelets

Eyelets: Usually pricked with an awl first (to make a wide enough hole) and then an overcast stitch sewn around the edges. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Eyelets: Usually pricked with an awl first (to make a wide enough hole) and then an overcast stitch is sewn around the edges. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

My finished item is approximately the size of a small handkerchief, with a hand-sewn rolled hem on all the raw edges. I created the design myself to imitate some of the more common motifs used in the 18th century. These often included large stylised flowers, normally with pulled work in the petals or centres, and large fronds of ferns or leaves.

The finished piece!

The finished piece! You will notice, if you look closely, that I tried a few different techniques with the single feather stitch, none of which I was particularly happy with. The finishing touch to this work would have been the pulled work that is intended to go in the centre of the oval “flower”, which was very characteristic of Dresden embroidery, but as this is intended as a teaching sample I decided to leave it blank for the moment.

My next sampler will be more of a Regency whitework design, which often contains elements of the earlier Dresden embroidery.

Related Posts

Pulled Work Embroidery Sampler: Part One

Making a Pair of Lawn Ruffles

Sources and Relevant Links

History of whitework 18th Century Embroidery Techniques, by Gail Marsh – buy on Amazon

Types of whitework and techniques – plus a free sampler

Embroidery stitches – by Rocksea & Sarah

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The Victorian era has always been one of my favourite periods (coming a close second behind the 18th century), particularly for fashion. It is a very diverse period for fashion, and the more I have studied it, the more I have been intrigued by the great variety of fashions that existed for women throughout Queen Victoria’s reign.

A mid-late 19th century chemise.

A mid-late 19th century chemise. From: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

I have particularly wanted a Victorian wardrobe for a while, and the corset and chemise were my first items to embark on.

The Victorian chemises are a different creature to those that came before it. They seem to be lacey, frilly, pin-tucked, embroidered and – generally speaking – a whole lot more feminine! The only era to outdo the Victorians in this way were the  next-generation Edwardians.

I found this lovely chemise, complete with pin-tucks, a delicate vine embroidery, and dainty lace, and it took my fancy!

Pattern

I began with a free pattern by Serinde, and then made a few alterations to make it a bit more like the picture above.

The pieces of my Victorian chemise.

The pieces of my Victorian chemise: body, sleeves, yoke bands.

The extant chemise pictured above does have its own triangular-shaped shoulder straps that are cut separately to the sleeves and body of the garment, but I didn’t do that.

Construction Steps

Step One: Sew the sleeves onto the body of the garment, following Serinde’s instructions. I then flat felled the seams.

The two sleeves attached to the body.

The two sleeves attached to the body. The seams are not flat-felled yet.

Step Two: Sew the side seams, from the under arm down to the bottom of the garment. I flat felled the seams here too.

The side seams are sewn. Sleeve seams are pinned down for felling.

The side seams are sewn. Sleeve seams are pinned down for felling.

Step Three: Marking the centre front, create a series of pin tucks across the front, making sure that both sides look even. Press them to either side.

IMG_4827

The 1/8″ pin-tucks, placed 1/4″ apart.

This is the point that my chemise-making went awry. I did not take into account the pintucks and allow enough material across the width of the chest, so my resulting chemise was very tight.

Step Four: I embroidered the bands that I was using on the sleeves, neckline and centre front button placket with a scrolling leaf pattern. I used two strands of white embroidery cotton, and used a very short backstitch for the stem and a fishbone stitch for the leaves.

The scrolling embroidery, with the lace attached at Step Nine.

The scrolling embroidery, with the lace attached at Step Seven.

It is helpful if this is done before attaching it to the garment, as then the self-facing can cover the back of the embroidery. Make sure you mark the seam allowance and the fold line of the strip so that your embroidery is centred on the part that will be seen on the outside.

Step Five: Make the centre front placket. Firstly, slit the centre front down the middle, ending with an inverted V-shape at the bottom. (A helpful tutorial with plenty of pictures is here on sewing a partial placket, by Make It and Love It.)

Taking two small strips of the yoke bands, sew one on each side of the slit (right sides together). (Note: It could be a good idea to think about the lace placement on the sides of the top placket here, rather than at Step Seven, as I did! I appliqued mine on top rather than putting it in the seam.) Fold the excess over to create a self facing and, tucking the raw edges under, hand sew.

At the bottom of the placket (where the two sides of the placket meet), I created a V-shape on the outer strip of the placket and hand stitched the top layer to the bottom layer.

The V-shape at the bottom of the placket, before it is handsewn down.

The placket has been attached and the facing has been folded to the inside ready to handsew. The V-shaped placket can be seen at the bottom of the picture, before it is handsewn down. You can also see the mitred seams of the placket at the top of the picture (read below). I handsewed these mitred seams and tucked the excess under, as it was a bit easier to be precise.

Step Six: For the rest of the neckline, sew longer yoke band strips around it. Making mitred corners at the centre front where they meet the placket (as pictured above). For the centre back, gather the back panel to fit. I also adjusted the back of the yoke band with some angled tucks so that it would fit better over the shoulders. I moved some of the centre back fullness to the sides with two pleats on either side, as it was too small for me and this helped the fit.

The back neckband

The back neckband, embroidered and attached.

As before, fold the excess over to form a facing and turn the raw edges under to hand sew. Much fitting was done at the this stage to see if the neckline would fit properly under my dress.

Step Seven: Sew on sleeve bands in the same way that the neck band was sewn.

Step Seven: Trim the neckline, placket and sleeve bands with lace. Hem the bottom edge of the chemise.

Step Eight: For the centre front closure, I have seen chemises as late as 1850 with a dorset button. I decided I should utilise some skills I had developed at a previous Jane Austen Festival and so added a dorset button.

The dorset button, 5/8" wide. The ones I have seen on extant items are teensy, but this was the smallest ring I could find.

The dorset button, 5/8″ wide. The ones I have seen on extant items are teensy (about 1/4″ wide), but this was the smallest ring I could find.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

Usually the plain chemises of the 18th century and Regency do not take me very long to sew, but the profusion of Victorian pin tucks, embroidery and lace meant that this project was much more time consuming than I had imagined. Victorian chemises also seem to be more fitted, particularly across the shoulders, than in previous eras, which then consumed more time in fitting and unpicking and re-fitting!

In addition, it does not fit very well! I had to add a few “extensions” under the arms so that it would fit across my chest better. It is kind of disappointing when I spent so much time on the embroidery, but I may re-make the body of it at another stage.

Look out for the next post in my Victorian wardrobe – making an 1880’s petticoat.

Related Posts

Making a Victorian corset

My Regency Journey: Making a Chemise

Making an 18th Century Chemise

Sources and Relevant Links

An overview of Victorian underwear

Free chemise pattern – by Serinde

Extant chemise – Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Flat-felling seams – by Coletterie

Sewing Pin Tucks – by Burdastyle

Sewing a Partial Button Placket – by Make It & Love It

Fishbone stitch – by Rocksea & Sarah

Making Dorset Buttons – by Craftstylish

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This is the final post in this series and deals with the bordering stitch for my sampler. The pulled work I have been practising is for use in an up-coming project of mine, an 18th century embroidered fichu. From my recent research into some extant items, most fichus were either edged with a rolled hem, or blanket stitched into a decorative scalloped edge. It was this type of blanket stitch that I really wanted to try.

Blanket stitch is a very common embroidery stitch, and is sometimes called buttonhole stitch. These stitches are exactly the same in terms of structure.

The buttonhole stitch

The buttonhole stitch

In my reading regarding embroidered extant items, I found that sometimes a blanket stitch was used over the top of a folded raw edge, which to me sounded like a very neat way of doing it. Unfortunately, this is very hard to do over a scalloped edge and I had to abandon my attempt because it was very slow going and rather messy. It could work better if the scalloped edges were folded and basted down first though – something to try for another day!

Initially I used two strands of embroidery cotton, but this made the edging too bulky and untidy so I changed to using one strand of cotton. I also altered my technique to using a blanket stitch over the raw edge, cutting away the excess as I went along. This is an easier way to do a scalloped edge and was a lot more successful in some ways, but I still feel that cutting away the excess does not leave the edge looking as finished or clean as it could. Using one strand of embroidery thread was a good move though, as the stitches look a lot finer and less bulky.

At the bottom right you can see the bulky stitches using 2 strands of thread. Then I moved to using just one thread. You can also see my markings and the running stitch along the finishing line.

At the bottom right you can see the bulky stitches using two strands of thread. Then I moved to using just one thread. You can also see my markings and the running stitch along the scalloped line.

Once I was halfway through I decided to change the direction that I worked the blanket stitch. I had been working it so that the “loops” (A & C in the diagram above) were on the inside of the work, but I switched so that they would be on the outside, that is, the side where I was cutting away the material. The loops are hard-wearing and designed to increase the stability and wear-and-tear of a buttonhole, so my reasoning was that it was probably better that they were on the outer edge of the piece. However, both ways were done in the eighteenth century. When the “loops” are on the inside of the work, the stitch can be pulled tighter to create little frays puffs on the edges of the piece. Whilst these looked incredibly untidy to me, to an eighteenth century needlewomen they mimicked the picot loops common in the bobbin lace of the time.

Here is my finished embroidery sampler:

All complete!

All complete! On the left side is the buttonhole technique that I finished with.

The blanket stitching around the edge is a little wonky, and I have realised that the quality of embroidery is impacted largely by the drawing that is done on the fabric. This is all the more reason to have a well-executed design drawing before I begin on my embroidered fichu.

I am looking forward to using some of these skills now! I hope you have enjoyed following my progress.

Related Posts

Pulled Work Embroidery Sampler: Part One

Sources and Relevant Links

Image source: Buttonhole stitch

Blanket stitch scallops – by Rocksea & Sarah

Shaped blanket stitch scallops – by Rocksea & Sarah

Many more Pulled Work stitches – by Lynxlace. At the top of this page there is also examples of different outline stitches. At the very bottom of this page there are examples of other edging stitches, including stitching over a folded edge.

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For the last square in my pulled work embroidery sampler, I had decided to do some stitches that created a raised appearance. This raised effect is produced by pulling the rows of stitches towards each other underneath the fabric, so that the top of the fabric has a small “bubble”.

The double backstitch uses the same concept as a backstitch, but uses it over two rows to pull these rows together. It is worked horizontally.

Double backstitch is worked horizontally. The needle comes to the front of the fabric at the black dot. The solid lines represent the thread on the face of the fabric, and the dotted line that on the underside of the fabric.

Double backstitch is worked horizontally. The needle comes to the front of the fabric at the black dot. The solid lines represent the thread on the face of the fabric, and the dotted line that on the underside of the fabric. The grid paper represents the thread count of the fabric.

This stitch creates rows of holes, with a raised row of fabric that puffs up in between. I found it very easy to do and it has a very pretty effect, which you can see in my sampler below.

As in previous posts, when you are beginning a new row be sure to take the thread from the top of one row to the bottom of the next (or the furtherest distance that the thread can possibly take), which helps the tension remain even throughout your work.

The cushion stitch is a variation of the double backstitch, and is structurally very similar to it. The main difference is that the rows move apart from each other in steps, instead of staying straight, to create rounder “puffs” in the work.

The cushion stitch is worked horizontally.

The cushion stitch is also worked horizontally.

As can be seen from this example, the double backstitch could be used to create a variety of different effects by varying the distance between the rows.

My finished square looks like this:

The top stitch is . The bottom stitch is.

The top is double-backed stitch and the bottom is cushion stitch. It is difficult to see the “puffs” created in this photo, but it is quite a textural effect.

I really enjoyed these stitches. The effect is quite different to what I had seen with the previous sampler squares and I liked it.

This was my last square in my sampler, but there are so many more stitches to try. I feel like this has just given me a taste of some filler stitches to use for my up-and-coming project: an embroidered fichu.

The last post in this series is Part Nine, involving the border, and it will be coming soon!

Related Posts

Pulled Work Embroidery Sampler: Part One

Making a Pair of Lawn Ruffles – with whitework

A Regency Letter Case

Sources and Relevant Links

Many different Pulled stitches – by Lynxlace

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For the seventh square in my pulled work embroidery sampler, I wanted to try some cross stitches. Normally cross stitch is associated with the embroidery of coloured threads to make a picture, but it can also be used to great effect in pulled embroidery.

Upright cross stitch is fairly similar to normal cross stitch, except that the lines of stitching are worked diagonally across the fabric and not horizontally or vertically. This means that the stitches are also offset from each other. One half of the stitch is worked along the row and then the second half of the stitch is completed when you work back along the row.

This stitch is worked diagonally...

Upright cross stitch is worked diagonally. The thread comes to the front of the fabric at the black dot. The solid lines represent the thread on the top of the fabric and the dotted lines represent the thread underneath the fabric. The grid paper represents the threadcount of the fabric.

The Greek cross stitch is made by first laying the thread for the first two “cross-arms” to form a reverse L-shape. The needle is then taken behind and up to the corner of the L and anchors it by forming the third “cross-arm”. The fourth “cross-arm” is made in a similar fashion and then the centre of the cross is anchored by a small stitch through the middle. I had never heard of this type of stitch before, and its effect (as well as the technique) seemed quite different to what I had seen before.

Greek cross stitch is a bit more complicated that the other stitches I have done, so I have shown the steps in this picture.

Greek cross stitch is a bit more complicated than the other stitches I have done, so I have shown the steps in this picture. The fourth “anchoring stitch” that is done in the middle of the cross is what seems to create the different textural quality of this stitch.

Greek cross stitch is worked diagonally.

Greek cross stitch is worked diagonally, with each cross offset to the one before.

When you are ready to begin a new row, try – as in previous tutorials – to take your embroidery thread in such a way which creates an even tension (or pull) on each of the stitches. I found that a bit more complicated to do with this stitch!

My finished square looks like this:

The top left is cross stitch, the bottom right is Greek cross stitch.

The top left is upright cross stitch, the bottom right is Greek cross stitch.

I don’t feel that I was particularly successful with the second Greek cross stitch, but it does have a bit of a different textural quality when compared to other pulled work stitches. This is because of the way the cross sits on the top of the material. For some reason my tension differed in the top areas of the cross compared to the bottom, but maybe after a bit more practise I will improve!

Part Eight will be coming soon!

Related Posts

Pulled Work Embroidery Sampler: Part One

Making a Pair of Lawn Ruffles – with whitework

A Regency Letter Case

Sources and Relevant Links

Many different Pulled stitches – by Lynxlace

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For my sixth square of my pulled work embroidery sampler, I decided to do some faggot stitches. As with most of the other pulled work stitches, there are many different variations you can do with this stitch.

Faggot stitch is virtually a wave stitch that is worked diagonally. This stitch forms triangles that pull apart the threads of the fabric. I found the most important part of this stitch was at the ends of the rows, where it had to be worked in a particular way in order to ensure the tension continued to pull at the fabric threads evenly. For this reason I have drawn out my pattern for two “row changes” so that you can get the idea.

Faggot stitch is worked diagonally.

Faggot stitch is worked diagonally. The needle comes to the front of the fabric at the black dot and follows the direction of the arrows. The solid lines represent the thread on the front of the fabric and the dotted lines that on the back. The grid represents the thread count of the fabric.

Spaced faggot stitch is worked in a similar way as above, but the subsequent row is offset by one vertical and one horizontal thread of the fabric. This spacing can be difficult to count for the first time in a new row, but for subsequent rows it is easier. The result is a pretty diagonal cross that appears between the pulled threads, which you can see in the sampler below.

Spaced faggot stitch is also worked diagonally.

Spaced faggot stitch is also worked diagonally. In the same was as mentioned above, the needle follows the arrows.

The “row changes” should be worked in a similar way as the plain faggot stitch above to ensure the tension for the ends of the rows is even. If the tension is not even at the end of each row, then a conspicuous “blank” or un-pulled area appears which can look weird when using this technique as a filling.

My finished square looks like this:

The top is, the bottom half is...

The top left side is faggot stitch, the bottom right side is spaced faggot stitch.

As can be seen above, diagonally worked stitches struggle to fill in a square area completely as it is difficult to get them worked to the very edge of the piece. For this reason, it maybe important to think about the area to be filled before deciding on a particular pulled stitch to use.

I hope you are finding this series useful. Part Seven is coming soon!

Related Posts

Pulled Work Embroidery Sampler: Part One

Sources and Relevant Links

More Pulled Stitches and outline stitches – by Lynxlace. This site also includes some free sampler patterns for you to try.

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