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Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Last Saturday I did another workshop with Christine Bishop at the Embroiderers' Guild. This was a workshop for the Certificate Course the Guild runs. All members are invited to attend, whether or not they are enrolled in the Course. I have attended a few Certificate Workshops this year. On Saturday there were ten attendees enrolled in the Course, and ten not. Quite a big group for our generous and accommodating teacher.

Wikipedia has a bit of background on Cilaos embroidery. The Guild's description of this cutwork embroidery says:

This is possibly the easiest form of cutwork with the grain of the fabric.  It is worked on a 38 count Ricamo linen. This style developed in the village of Cilaos in the late 19th to early 20th century but was based upon the much earlier Spanish Teneriffe lace of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Christine had very generously prepared fabric for us -  cut ready to start. There was a choice of a heavier or finer fabric. I went with the heavier. 

We did the preparation in class - folding back the cut sections and overstitching them, before tacking the linen to calico to mount it in a hoop and removing the short cut threads in the dividing sections.

Then we began the process of laying the threads - from one edge, through the middle threads where they are secured with knots and over to the other edge.

The design is then woven between the laid threads. We used a DMC Cordonnet No 10 for all work on this heavier fabric. Those working on the finer fabric used a DMC 40.

It requires quite a lot of concentration. I needed to check my steps a number of times with Christine - who is patient, spots errors at a glance and always has a solution.

As this is the last Workshop for the year, there was a shared lunch with a lot of relaxed discussion.

Nevertheless, we got back into stitching in the afternoon. 

As I have a number of unfinished products from recent workshops I really wanted to finish this one, so continued working on it over the weekend. I got this first motif finished the same night - but had to undo a bit the next morning.

As I progressed the work I realised the trickiest bit, for me at least, is achieving an even tension. It is not easy to ensure each section is as tight as the last.

 I finished the motifs on Sunday, then embarked on buttonholing the edge.

My motifs are not even - but I have improved as I went along and could, I think, improve significantly with finer thread and fabric (assuming I can see to do it!).

Today I constructed the pincushion, using an ecru linen. 
It is a bit wonky- a beginner's piece. It will, however, act as a record of the class and a guide to the technique. I'd be able to work out how to make it more even and precise in future efforts.

Once again, I am grateful for the chance to attend the workshop, to Christine for her knowledge, skill, commonsense, generosity and patience and my fellow students for their companionship and sharing.


Monica said...

This looks very tricky indeed! Congratulations for pushing though to the finish, I think I would be jumping out of my skin after an hour. But even for the first piece, I think you must be feeling proud. It's a rare accomplishment!

I've been wondering if a square frame would make it easier? Does Christine use a hoop too? Very interesting. :D

Jillian said...

Thanks Monica. For these small pieces she recommends and uses a 6" hoop - for simplicity and ease of taking in and out I imagine. Her preference, I think, would have been for the square hoop with the rounded corners, which is apparently very secure. One woman used a square roller frame successfully. It didn't need to be drum tight - just firm.

margaret said...

as you say the tricky part is getting the tension right and you certainly achieved that a lovely piece I so admire your talent with these delicate pieces

Katherine said...

Beautiful work Jillian.

Jillian said...

Thanks girls.I took the finished product to stitching night at Guild last week. Eagle-eyed Christine found every error - there's probably 10. Good to know what they are and what I need to improve.