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More about the rose embroidery for my friends hood .1 – the preparatory work

2016-08 - Racaire - 14th century hood - rose - roses - surface couching - hand embroidery - medieval embroidery - rose embroidery - SCAAnd finally a posting about what might interest you the most:
A step-by-step tutorial of how I created the rose embroidery for my friends 14th century hood.

Though the rose embroidery for my friends 14th century hood might appear quite simple at first sight, it is definitely much more complex than it looks like. Well, there is quite some work involved to make it appear so simple, proper and effortless.

And this effortlessness of my rose embroidery also requires a good amount of preparation work before I can even start with the actual embroidery. Which brings us right to the topic of todays posting and step-by-step tutorial – the preparatory work for my rose embroidery! Enjoy! 😀 [emember_protected not_for=3-4 do_not_show_restricted_msg=1]

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First I had to make a decision concerning a suitable embroidery frame. Given that the embroidered roses would consist of two layers of fabric, some padding in between as well as a lot of surface couching, a frame was needed which could ensure a stable and even surface tension.  Though small round embroidery frames might provide more convenience during the embroidery progress, they are definitely not my first choice whenever I need consistent surface tension. Therefore I decided to use one of my beloved “rolling frames”. This “rolling frames”, as I call them, ensure the stable and even surface tension which I needed for this project.

Well, let’s talk about tension a little…
In my opinion tension is always a very crucial factor when it comes to embroidery. Regardless if it is the tension of your thread or the used fabric – how tight you pull your stitches or how much you tighten the fabric – a too much or too little will always affect the end result in a rather negative way. Therefore it is important to get just the right amount of tension – not too much and not too little.

Unfortunately there is no easy way to get the tension absolutely right from the beginning. It takes some time and practice to develop a “feel” for it. However, you can spare yourself some frustration by using the right tools, by paying attention at the tension you mount the fabric for your embroidery and how tight you pull your stitches. The more practice you have, the faster and easier you will become and once you develop an intuition for it, trust your gut feeling – If it doesn’t look and feel right – it probably isn’t.

For example: If I see that the fabric mounted on my rolling frame starts to look wavy, I definitely have too much tension applied to it. On the other side, if it hangs through and can move by itself, it is far too little tension.
Whenever I tighten up the fabric on my embroidery frame, I try to apply just enough tension to straighten the fabric but not to overstretch it. The fabric has to appear smooth and straight but should be still flexible enough to give in when I push my finger against it.

2016-08_Racaire_rose-embroidery-in-progress-02But enough about tension for now – let’s get back to the rose embroidery:

After I chose the “rolling frame” for my embroidery project, I had to mount some fabric on the “rolling frame” to create a good foundation for the rose embroidery. For this purpose I decided to go with some fine but rather thin white cotton fabric.

After cutting a fabric strip in the needed width, I secured both ends with the Herringbone Stitch to the bands attached to the side parts of my rolling frame – as you can see on the picture on the left side. I like to use the Herringbone Stitch for this purpose as it distributes any tension applied to the fabric quite evenly to the band to which it is attached.

After mounting the fabric on my “rolling frame”, I sat down and drew up the rose pattern in the desired size:


Then I took some parchment paper, put it over the rose pattern, traced the exterior outlines of the rose pattern on the parchment paper and marked the top side of the pattern. To ensure that the felt padding would be a little bit smaller than the silk fabric which would cover it, I cut out the parchment paper close to the traced line – just a little bit smaller. As soon as the parchment was cut out, I used it as a model to cut the first felt padding.

I really like to use parchment paper for this purpose. It is rather cheap and slightly translucent which makes it quite easy to create models in any shape. Furthermore, though it is very thin, it is very bendable and seems to hold up much better than any normal paper when used as a model.

After I cut out the felt padding, I took the silk fabric and put it over the rose pattern. The silk fabric I work with for this project is rather translucent which enabled me to trace the pattern directly on the silk:


As you can see on the picture above, I used just a simple (and rather “hard”) pencil to trace the outlines of the rose pattern. This can be done when you are sure that whatever you draw on the silk will later be covered up with embroidery. However, please make sure to use a pencil with a rather “hard” lead which makes as fine strokes as possible on the fabric. And please take your time as you can’t simply erase any pencil strokes!

After tracing the rose pattern on the silk, I removed any excess fabric – leaving about 1cm (ca. 0.5 inch) seam allowance – and positioned it with the felt padding on top of the cotton fabric mounted in my “rolling frame”:


Then I used some pins to align the points of the leaves drawn on the silk fabric with the points of the leaves of the padding underneath and pinned the silk fabric to the cotton fabric underneath:


Btw. when you use a hand drawn pattern like I do here, it is good to pay attention to which side of the pattern is the “top side”. Due to slight differences along the outer outlines you might otherwise get a problem when you start with the next step.

After aligning the padding with the pattern drawn on the silk fabric, I threaded a needle with a simple sewing thread and carefully secured the silk fabric in place following the outer border. While securing the silk fabric to the cotton fabric underneath, I also made sure that the padding remained on the “inside” to create the desired three-dimensional effect along the border. Furthermore I also carefully stretched the silk fabric to remove some slight wrinkles. But I stretched it only a little as too much tension at the top would reverse the slight three-dimensional “step” effect along the border and it would appear on the backside where it wouldn’t be visible.


…and here a closer look at the mentioned three-dimensional “step”effect along the border:


As working at the embroidery in the middle of the rose pattern could cause an unintentional shift of the silk fabric to one side, I also added some stitches along the outline in the middle. This way I made sure that the fabric would stay where I wanted it to be and enabled me to focus merely on the embroidery.


I hope you enjoyed todays step-by-step tutorial about the preparatory work for my rose embroidery. And in the next part of my step-by-step tutorial you’ll finally get to see some actual embroidery work. I promise! 😀

Best regards Racaire