Plate No. 70
Figs. 61 and 6ia explain how tambour gold is used over cardboard. The design should be first drawn on the material, then it is cut out in cardboard. Each petal or shape must be rather smaller to allow for the gold going over the card without enlarging the design. Place the pieces of cardboard within the lines of the design on the material and tack them firmly down, lay the tambour (used double, like passing) backwards and forwards, and stitch firmly with waxed horse-tail at each side of the card; the centre of this figure is filled in with basket stitch.
Fig. 62 is an example showing the use of purl.
Purl is made of the finest gold wire twisted to form a round tube. It must be handled very carefully, as it is elastic, and if once stretched is quite useless. First lay it on a piece of cloth, and cut the required lengths with short, sharp nail-scissors which meet well at the points. The pieces are then threaded like beads, as in fig. 62 and the flowers in fig. 64. It is quite simple to work. Bring the silk up at the base or edge of the figure to be worked, thread on the needle a piece of purl the length required, take the silk back close to where it came up, and secure the loop with a stitch, as shown in flower, fig. 62. Rough purl is used for the petals of the flower, and a straight stitch of bright purl fills the centre of each petal.
Plate No. 70.
Purl embroidery over padding is more difficult. The simplest way of padding is a single row of macrame string ; but that can only be used when the lines of the design are narrow and fairly even in thickness all over, as in fig. 63.
If the design has lines very varying in width, yellow stuffing cotton must be used. Lay as many thicknesses of the stuffing cotton as the design requires, and stitch over from side to side, letting the padding be highest in the middle and rounding down to the sides. As the design widens, add more cotton, one thickness at a time (cut the ends slanting); and when the design becomes narrower, cut away the cotton slantwise, one thickness at a time. Do not grudge time and pains spent in padding, for the success in purl embroidery depends largely upon the smoothness of the padding.
Bring the needle up on one side of the design, thread a piece of purl, and take the needle down at the opposite edge, giving the silk a firm pull so that the purl lies immovable over the padding. At first it is difficult to cut the purl exactly the right length, but that comes with practice. If the pieces are too short, little gaps are left at the sides; and if too long, the pieces lie loosely on the surface. The purl must be so firm in position that you can pass your finger along without displacing them. It must look as though it has actually been taken through the material like satin stitch. Purl may be worked in a slanting direction, as in fig. 63, or straight across.
Rough and smooth purl may be used together, two stitches of one and two of the other alternately; or for monograms, one letter may be rough and the other smooth.
Pearl purl is used for outlining purl embroidery. Basket stitch can be worked in purl - i.e. lay the padding as before described, and cut the purl long enough to cover the strings or padding. Horse-tail silk for purl embroidery should be well waxed. Silk purl in a variety of colours is made (over wire), and can be used with great effect. It is worked in the same way as the gold. In this drawing of a leaf in gold threads
(fig. 65A) it will be seen that the threads are carried backwards and forwards without a break. Commencing with two threads at the point of the leaf, they are continued through to the base of the form where the ends are buried beneath the stem. A fresh start with the thread is made for the stem and centre vein of the leaf. The red silk used for couching is so thick as to form a red line of close stitches round the leaf. The middle of the figure is slightly raised (padded). Plate is sometimes crimped before it is used. Alternate rows of crimped plate and fine gold cord, or passing used double, are very effective for a circle, nimbus, or rays. In old embroideries crimped plate is laid backwards and forwards for the centres of flowers and turnover of leaves, etc.
Plate No. 71.
Fig. 65 illustrates an interesting treatment of a pomegranate in gold work. The outside crescent forms are in tambour gold used over cardboard or vellum. The threads are here represented more often than in the actual example in order to explain the working. The centre of the fruit is produced by the use of gold threads couched. The run of the thread can be easily followed in the diagram.
* Also canvas stitch.
Plate No. 71.
Fig. 66 is called cushion stitch* It is worked on a canvas or loosely woven material, and is similar to laid embroidery, inasmuch as all the silk or crewel is on the surface, and only a single thread of the ground is taken up each time. Usually the stitches make a pattern formed on zigzag or meandering lines. The effect when finished is rather like a woven fabric.
Fig. 67. - Burden stitch was used a great deal for flesh work in the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century embroideries, no doubt worked in a frame on a fabric of fine, even threads. The same amount of silk appears on the back as on the surface of the material.
Fig. 68. - Japanese stitch consists of long stitches of equal length; the needle is brought back each time within a short distance of the starting-place. Their appearance should be that of even, parallel lines. This system of stitching is frequently found in old work.
The Opus Anglicum, or Anglicanum, described rather vaguely as English work, which is referred to by Dr. Rock in his "Catalogue on Textile Fabrics" as being the stitch chiefly used in the "Syon Cope" (Plate No. 21), was introduced about the middle of the thirteenth century, and used strictly for ecclesiastical purposes.
The foregoing typical stitches form the basis of all embroidery. On these numbers of others are constantly invented by ingenious workers. It is said by authorities there are only about seven or eight necessary stitches to learn in embroidery, and when the worker has once mastered those, if at all inventive, numerous others will follow. Never be afraid to unpick your work; a small piece badly done may spoil the whole embroidery. Stitches constantly vary in their application. In some instances, to avoid waste of material, experienced em-broideresses work as much on the surface as possible, while others do not trouble themselves about the quantity of material on the wrong side. In any circumstances see that your work is well finished at the back. •
Printed and bound by Hazell, Watson Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.