Elizabeth was a great lover of her needle, just as she was a worshipper of chiffons and laces. One has often heard of her marvellous wardrobe, which, it is said, consisted of three thousand dresses, many of them being exquisitely embroidered. It was at this same period that the beautiful Scottish Queen was so deadly and hated a rival, not only a rival in her grace and charm of manner, but also in being as expert in the use of her needle as was England's Queen.
The old " Spanish embroidery" would also to-day, in a modified form, look charming on white linen. In this case the tunic should be cleaned, not washed, although, of course, it is possible to buy " boiling " filoselle in black.
The design of the illustration is that of honeysuckle. The flowers should be evenly worked in satin-stitch. For the leaves, plain darning, openly worked, would be excellent, the edges being previously worked in stem-stitch. French knots in gold may be placed between each row of stitches. The darning may be varied by taking a long and short stitch alternately.
Another way of working the leaves to obtain a light effect with the black filoselle would be to use chain-stitch. The leaves can be veined and the edges outlined in this stitch. It is ornamental and effective work, the stems being in chain or stem-stitch.
In the ancient examples of "black work" it will be noticed that the sombre effect was often varied by the employment of gold thread for the stems. Naturally, this must be left to the individual taste of the needlewoman. The black filoselle on linen, with touches of gold or silver, would certainly make a very exquisite ornamentation for smart wear.
For the holland or coloured linens, the entire design could be worked in the wearer's favourite colour in pastel shades. For instance, the entire honeysuckle design could be embroidered in soft shades of turquoise, vieux rose, or green, washing thread being used. If the tunic were composed of a coloured linen the design could be worked in shades of a darker colour, of in white D.m.c. thread. If the latter is chosen, satin-stitch for the entire design will be effective, using stem-stitch for the steins.
When the leaves or flowers are shaded, an embroidery stitch will at all times prove useful and beautiful. This stitch will enable the embroiderer to obtain her delicate gradations of colour. Work one long stitch and one short stitch alternately, working the stitches well in between each other.
The design, worked in the natural honeysuckle colours, would look effective on a white linen or on a pale shade of champagne coloured satin.
For a satin tunic - with the exception of the natural honeysuckle, with its soft green leaves and stems, on deep biscuit or champagne colour - the embroidery would look best if worked in one colour, in various shades, either lighter or darker than its satin groundwork. Work the design entirely in satin or embroidery-stitch in tiloselle.
Detail of honeysuckle design worked in satin-stitch and stem-stitch
For the velvet tunic - if black be chosen- again, the design would look well worked thickly in satin-stitch in black filoselle.
The tendrils or stems could be worked in gold thread, whilst the petals of the flower would look exquisite. if outlined in gold thread, after they had been embroideied with black filoselle.
It may be that one possesses, laid aside in an old chest, some half-forgotten embroideries, relics of the East, even possibly Chinese or Indian embroidery, but apparently of no practical use. A clever dressmaker could take these embroideries and use them for a tunic as illustrated.
Odd pieces of embroidery often lie idle, for no one seems to know what to do with them. It may be Finnish embroidery, or Japanese stitchery in quaint designs, or even coarse embroidered linen from Russia-any or all would help to decorate a very handsome tunic. It is a suggestion that may, perhaps, be carried out, if only to a small degree.
But to return to the linen, holland, velvet, or silk strips. When they have been completed they must, of course, be returned to the dressmaker to be made up into the tunic. If desired, the tunic itself could be made of muslin, with embroidered slips. It could also be composed of ninon, or even chiffon, and finished off with the embroidered satin collar, front-piece, and panels. The underskirt would in all cases be of the same material and colour as the tunic, made perfectly plainly as shown in the sketch.
The fashion for veiled effects suggests endless possibilities for embroidered tunics. If iridescence of colour be desired, two colours should be used, and much skill must be employed in selecting the harmonies; for instance, a creamy yellow soft satin might be the under tunic, of the exact shade of flowering honeysuckle petals. On this the embroidery would be worked. A somewhat coarse thread should be used, as bold effect should be aimed at, since the whole will be veiled with an over-tunic of soft green, the colour of honey-suckle stalk. This pale, almost invisible, green will enhance the subtle effect of the tunic. A skilled dressmaker will know how to make the over-dress separate at the seams, yet joined to the under-dress sufficiently to enable the wearer to put on the garment as one.
A veiling of grey chiffon over mauve satin, embroidered thickly in gold, would be charming for evening wear.
Two layers of chiffon might form the tunic, rose-leaf pink beneath and cream above. In such a case it would be best to paint the honeysuckle pattern in nature's colours on the under-fabric, as embroidery, however skilful, might look too heavy.