Sunday, December 7, 2014

In-Progress: Celtic-Inspired Embroidered Tunic

I'll just start this one off by saying that this project is intimidating.

As I've gotten more comfortable with making garb for my husband, and we've both honed in on what he likes, I've been steadily increasing the effort that I put into it. And as that's happened, I've introduced decorative details, in addition to now almost exclusively hand-sewing his tunics.

Last year, when we did a fabric re-stash, we procured an amazing piece of linen. I don't know the exact weight, but I'd have to guess that is close to 4oz, which puts it in the "light-weight" category. It uses blue threads for the warp, and red threads for the weft, and the result is what we've lovingly called "3D". From a distance, it has a purple quality, but the blue and red are visible enough that, as soon as it moves, you have to question what it is you're really seeing. It's beautiful and unique, and perfect for something special.

As we discussed what to do with the linen, and what the final tunic might possibly look like, I suggested that an embroidered collar was probably in order. I've wanted to do fancier embroidery on his items, but I'd been holding back for some unknown reason. Probably fear of screwing it up. But as soon as that idea was on the table, there was no going back.

The tunic itself was fairly straightforward, and nothing different from what I've been doing. It's hand-sewn with black linen thread. It's the neckline, however, that's the kicker, since this is what I decided to embroider onto it:

Yeah. It's a little more than 9 inches across.

From my past embroidery thread experiments, I knew I wanted to use either a wool or a silk thread, but one that was lightweight, since the linen is so delicate. At a local embroidery supply shop, I discussed my project with the owner, and eventually I ended up at a rack of Caron Impressions 50/50 wool and silk blend thread. I'd used that thread in my experiment, so I knew that is was a lovely and airy choice. So I picked up white, pale blue and pink. (After checking several times with my husband that he was okay with pink.)

I also have a plan to include some gold details, but I'm not sure if I'll use metallic thread or find a gold I like in the Impressions line.

In order to get the design on the tunic, I decided (after some trial and error with other methods) to use modern transfer paper. While the pick and pounce method is most commonly thought to be the period method, the complexity of the design and the wobbly nature of the linen made that process ludicrous. I went out to the craft store and found some yellow-line transfer paper to use instead. After some trial and error, I decided to place the tunic on a (gigantic) embroidery hoop inside out so that the area of the design was stretched, but could also be laid flat against the table.

Then I placed my design using the marks I'd already made for centering as a guide. I taped just the two far edges into place.

I slid the transfer paper into place between the design and the tunic (color side down), and when the whole thing was just right, I taped the heck out if it to secure everything down.

Using a ballpoint pen, I traced over the entire design. When done, I removed both sheets, and voila! My design was in place.

Even though the transfer paper is not supposed to rub off, after a few stitches, I realized that my pattern was disappearing. So, very carefully and slowly, I used an ink pen to trace the lines again. They won't rub off, and the embroidery will cover them when all is said and done.

I'm starting off with split stitch. I've got in in my head that I will also use some Beaux stitch, stem stitch and satin stitch on other areas of the design. It'll be a labor of love, that's for sure.

This one has been on my in-progress pile for quite some time (it's kind of overwhelming), but my husband and I agreed that it should be done for him to wear for an event in July this year. Since we've got a month off from events right now, and nothing else really pressing at the moment, I've decided to move this one up on the priority list. Time to chew what I bit off.

1 comment:

  1. Looks beautiful! Another tip if having trouble with the pattern sticking to the fabric is sewing or at least taking the outlines straight through the paper. Paper and threads can then be removed afterwards and the method also works for very fluffy wool fabrics.