Monday, April 30, 2007

13th century- mid 14th century embroidered tassels

I think most (late) 14th century tassels were adorned with a turkish head knot. However, I saw some examples of tassels embroidered with gold thread too. This type of tassels were used in the 13th and 14th century, probably until ca 1350. You can find pictures of these type of tassels in:
  • Hoving, T., Husband, T., Hayward, J. (1975), The secular spirit: Life and art at the end of the Middle Ages: New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art v
  • Schneider, J. (1975), Textilien. Catalog der Sammlung des Schweizerischen Landesmuseums Zürich, Zürich: Verlag Berichthaus
  • Wilckens von, L. (1991), Die textilen Künste. Von der Spätantike bis um 1500, München, Verlag CH Beck

For online pictures, click here (insert LM 1825 a, LM 1825 b), here or here.

This is how I make these tassels. I used Aurora 2 ply silk for the tassels and Tanja Berlin's Japanese gold K4 (beautiful gilded silver thread!)

Make a basic silk tassel and a roll of linen

Wrap the linen around the tassel head

Wrap a silk thread around the linen core and attach with tiny stitches. And have a lot of patience! For me, this feels more like sculpure than embroidery :-)

Wrap the gold thread around the tassel head and attachit with tiny silk stitches.

The finished tassel

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Finishing the seams of 14th/15th century pouches

The outward seams of (embroidered) textile pouches can be finished in at least two ways. One method is to cover the seams by tablet weaving. There are some examples of textile pouches finished with this technique in Dress accessories (Egan, G., Pritchard, F. (2002), Dress accessories. c.1150- c.1450, London: The Boydell Press). The side seams of the 14th century London textile pouches discussed in this book are covered with tablet weaving.

Another technique is that of “embroidered braids”. The technique is described by Frida Sorber (Ceulemans, 1988, in Dutch) and she calls it “lussenvlechten”. I haven't found an English translation yet, so I just call it “embroidered braids”, because that's what the technique is all about. Some authors present descriptions of pouches, and seem to try to describe this type of braided finishes. In his embroidery manual “A stitch out of time” Wymarc, for example, describes his observations of the finishing of the German14th century pouches in the Victoria & Albert as follows: “The seams of the bag are covered with a decorative stitch. The stitch is composed of alternating colors, red and what might have once been gilt. I cannot be sure how the stitch was done, but I have re-created it using two needles (one for each color) and threading each color up through the previous stitch and back down, in a kind of double running stitch.” (p 41) Schmedding (1978) describes the finishing of a Swiss 15th century purse as follows: “Alle Kanten sind mit Grünen Seidenzwirnen und Goldfäden (...) in einer Art Flechttechnik befestigt.” p 190

It seems to have been quite common technique in the European mainland in the 14th and 15th century. You can find examples of purses finished with embroidered braids in these books and/or musea:

the Netherlands , Maastricht St Servaas Cathedral
Staufer, A. (1991), Die mittelalterlichen Textilien von St. Servatius in Maastricht, Bern: Abegg-Stiftung Riggisberg
Belgium, Tongeren
Ceulemans, C. (1988), Tongeren. Basiliek O.L. Vrouwe Geboorte. I. Textiel van de vroege middeleeuwen tot het Concilie van Trente, Leuven: Peeters
Germany, e.g. in Victoria and Albert Museum
Wymarc, “A stitch out of time”
Switzerland, Zürich, Sweizerisches Landesmuseum
Schmedding, B. (1978), Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen und Klöstern der Schweiz, Bern: Abegg-Stiftung
Schneider, J. (1975), Textilien. Catalog der Sammlung des Schweizerischen Landesmuseums Zürich, Zürich: Verlag Berichthaus

Some conclusions drawn from the literature discussed above and my own observations of purses in Maastricht and Zürich:
each seam is covered with a braid
use contrasting colours in silk or silk and gold thread
tassels are attached over the seams

This is how I apply the technique:

attach two loops of thread (A and B) to the inside of the pouch

attach loop A

attach loop A, finished

pull loop B through loop A and attach loop B

pull loop A through loop B and attach loop B

cover all sides

Sunday, April 15, 2007

14th century whitework sampler part 1: creatures

This is "sketch" for the Feldbach tablecloth.
  • 23 x 12 cm
  • background fabric: linen, thread count 14/14
  • DMC linen floss, Au ver a soie silk
  • body of the creatures: versetzter Gobelinstich, or satin/brick stitch
  • outline left: running stitch, outline right: stem stitch (I like stem stitch better)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Thread counts of medieval linen fabric

These are data about the thread counts of linen fragments discussed in “Textiles and clothing”

period: 1375-1400 nr of threads per cm, warp/weft: 20/ 19
period: 1400-1450 .. : 22/ 22

This type of linen is quite fine/ tightly woven. It can be used very well for “free style” stitches (e.g. stem stitch), but it is less suitable for counted work (e.g. brick/ satin stitch). Jenny Schneider describes the thread count of a number of embroidered Swiss linen tablecloths:

period: 1200-1250 nr of threads per cm, warp/weft: 13/ 14
period: 1300-1400 .. : 15/11
period: 1450-1500 .. : 14/14

This type of linen is quite “loose”. I think a thread count of about 14/14 or 15/15 is suitable for a tablecloth that combines both counted and “free style” stitches.

Crowfoot, E., Pritchard, F., Staniland, K. (2002), Textiles and clothing: c.1150-c.1450, Woodbridge, The Boydell Press
Schneider, J. (1972), Schweizerische Leinenstickereien, Bern: Verlag Paul Haubt