Embroidery being work upon a stuff, it is inevitably raised, however imperceptibly, above the surface of it. But there is a charm in the unevenness of surface and texture thus produced ; and the aim has consequently often been to make the difference of level between ground-stuff and embroidery more appreciable by UNDERLAY or padding of some kind. The abuse of this kind of thing need not blind us to the advantages it offers.
There are various ways of raising embroidery, the principal of which are illustrated on the sampler overleaf.
In sprig A the underlay is of closely-woven cloth, darker in colour than would be advisable except for the purpose of showing what it is: it is as well in the ordinary way to choose a cloth more or less of the colour the embroidery is to be. The cloth is cut with sharp scissors carefully to shape, but a little within the outline, and pasted on to the linen. When perfectly dry, it is worked over with thick corded silk couched in the ordinary way.
The raised line at B reveals the way the stem in Illustration 86 (Renaissance Church Work) was worked. Two cords of smooth
To Work A.
To Work B
string (macrame, for example) are twisted and tacked in place. Over this floss is worked in close satin-stitch.
In sprig C the underlay is of parchment, lightly stitched in place. The use of a double underlay in parts gives additional relief. The embroidery upon this (in slightly twisted silk) is in satin-stitch.
The leaf shapes at D are padded with cotton wool, cut out as nearly as possible to the shape required, and tacked down with fine cotton. They are then worked over with floss in satin-stitch. The stalks are not padded with cotton wool, but first worked with crewel wool, which, being soft and elastic, forms an excellent ground for working over in floss silk.
In working a stalk like that at E, you first lay down a double layer of soft, thick cotton, and then work over it with flatter cotton (made expressly for padding) in slanting satin-stitch. Three threads of smooth round silk are then attached to one side of the padding and carried diagonally across to the other side, where they are sewn down with strong thread of the same colour close to the underlay, so that the stitches may not show. They are then brought back to the side from which they started, sewn down, and returned again, and so backwards and forwards to the end. The crossing threads make a sort of pattern, and it is a point of good workmanship that
To Work C
To Work D
To Work E
they should cross regularly. Such pattern is more obvious when threads of three different shades of colour are employed. Threads of twisted silk may, of course, be equally well used this way without padding underneath.
In sprig F the underlay is of cardboard, pasted on to the linen. It is worked over with purse silk, to and fro across the forms, and sewn down at the margin with finer silk. This is a method of work often employed when gold thread is used.
In sprig G the underlay or stuffing is of string sewn down with stitches always in the direction of the twist. It is worked over with floss in satin-stitch.
In sprig H the underwork consists of stitching in soft cotton, over which thick silk is embroidered in bullion-stitch. The rule is to work the first stitching in such a direction that the surface work crosses it at right angles. The small leaf is worked over with fine purse silk in satin-stitch, which is used also for the stalk.
In the smaller sampler of laid-work, Illustration 50 (Laid Sampler), the broad stem is twice underlaid with crewel, excellent for this soft sort of padding, on account of its elasticity. The leaves have there only one layer of understitching.
Raised work in white upon white is often used for purposes which make it inevitable that sooner or later the work will be washed. That is a consideration which the embroidress must not leave
To Work F
To Work G
To Work H
out of account. In any case, work over stitchery is more durable than over loose padding such as cotton wool.
The fifteenth-century work reproduced in Illustration 67 (Raised Work Showing Underlay) is in flax thread on linen, and the underlay (laid bare in the topmost flower) is of stiff linen, sewn down, not at the margins as in the case of the parchment on the sampler (Illustration 66 (Raised Work Sampler. L)), but by a row of stitching up the centre of each petal. The veins of the leaves in Illustration 88 (Modern Church Work By Miss Shrewsbury) are padded with embroidery cotton and worked over with filo-floss. The leaves themselves are not padded, though the sewing down of the veins upon them, as well as the fact that they are applied on to the velvet ground, gives some appearance of relief.