Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rolled Hem - Corners

Many people have written asking about how to do corners when doing a rolled hem. I have been trying to work up a tutorial for a while but I did about a dozen corners until I got one that was passable to show you - aside from the very first one I tried just to see if I remembered how to do it which of course, I didn't photograph! It is difficult to photograph and stitch at the same time and my daughter doesn't have the slightest inclination to help me out, so you'll have to forgive the photos. I hope they give you a little bit of an idea anyway.

One thing to note before we get started. I received lots of photos of what readers were trying out after following my rolled hem tutorial and I just have to tell you that when you are stitching into the roll, you do not exit out on to the front of the fabric. That is, when you catch a couple of threads of the roll to secure it down, you do so on the back of the work and you enter and exit the rolled fabric without ever coming out on the front.

Okay, so the corners: they are tricky but with a little practice (and some spit) you can do it!

When you get to the corner intersection of your Four-Sided Stitches, go up over a couple of ground threads and this time you do exit out onto the front of the work, catching one ground thread and the roll to secure the hem. This works great if you are stitching tone-on-tone, you'll never see this little stitch. However, if you are stitching with a thread colour that will be visible, go up a little farther so that when you roll the top hem over, your catching stitch will only be visible on the back of the work.

In the case of this hem, I have ten ground threads of fabric to roll. On the already rolled hem, I trim off the last bit of the roll (in this case about 4 threads):

This will make the top roll easier and less bulky but you must be careful that your edge does not unravel. Use a needle to wrap the top roll tightly - spit on your fingers for a better grip! Take your time with this step, if it's not a good roll, it will show.

The little catching stitch will now serve to hold down the roll as you turn the work and start your stitching as previously done when securing the rolled hem - that is, by entering the roll like the first photo here above.

The rolled hem corner works in theory just like a folded hem corner (not mitred), that is, one fold over the other with a little bit snipped off the edge of the hem that will be hidden. The photo above is the backside of the corner after completing the stitching.

This is the view from the front side:

I wish it was a little more even, but as you can see - I need to practice! I will be hiding my corners with tassels as they do in Assisi embroidery.

If anyone has any other tips for making this easier, please post a comment!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Luoghi e Volti del Punto Filza - new book

A few weeks ago I received a lovely package of things from Italy which included a book on Punto Filza or the Running Stitch. Now, you're thinking: the Running Stitch – really? You might pass it by thinking you already know all about the Running Stitch. I must tell you, this book is definitely worth hunting down.

The Running Stitch might be a simple embroidery stitch that you think you know but here it is used to execute some very special embroidery techniques. Luoghi e Volti del Punto Filza translates as: Places and Faces of the Running Stitch.

The book is softcover with 95 pages of glossy photos, historical information and how-to instructions for a type of Sardinian embroidery known as Puntu Vanu and su Bastonete and other names, depending on the region. This is terribly exciting as Sardinian embroidery in general has been jealously guarded for centuries. Up until very recently it has been impossible to learn the stitches of the many beautiful styles. We talked a little previously about Punt a Brodu and Punt'e nù and this is another of the Sardinian techniques that has long eluded me.

The first half of the book is dedicated to the different regions of Sardinia with emphasis on Puntu Vanu which is kind of like smocking... but different. There are step-by-step photo sequences and charted patterns and though the text is in Italian, those that already know how to smock may be able to figure it out from the photos. I don't smock but I'll be trying it out just as soon as I can find the time.

The second half of the book looks at the Running Stitch in other kinds of Italian embroidery like Catherine de' Medici Embroidery, Assisi Embroidery, Trapunto, Ars Panicalensis and Embroidery on Tulle, Lampugnani and Antique Deruta Pulled Thread. Then the last section is about the Running Stitch in other kinds of embroidery in other countries of the world. There are lovely large photos accompanying almost every one.

The authors, Rosalba Lecca from Sardinia and Ebe Ciampalini Balestri from Tuscany have worked hard to present a comprehensive and fascinating text. Email Rosalba Lecca for purchasing information. When I have some info on overseas purchase availability, I will post again.

I have just learned that the book is available through Tombolo Disegni - send an email request to order and she accepts PayPal.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Botticelli in the Lombard Collections - Poldi Pezzoli Museum

If you are anywhere near Milan before the end of this month and want to see some fantastic goldwork embroidery from 15th century Florence when it was at its height of splendor, you should head off to the Poldi Pezzoli Museum.

There you will find the hood of a cope executed from a cartoon by Botticelli (c.1480s) as part of a collection of liturgical vestments commissioned most probably by King John II of Portugal. The Portugese ambassador to Florence at the time, Cardinal James of Lusitania died in Florence in 1459 and was buried at the San Miniato al Monte Basilica of Florence. Great expense went into building and decorating the Chapel for the Cardinal and some of Florence's leading artists at the time contributed to the artwork and its construction.

The hood of this cope is done in silk shaded goldwork embroidery. Florence was well known for excellency in this technique as I told you about previously. The design is the Coronation of the Virgin. Information on it from the museum says " absolutely the most beautiful embroidery that has been handed down to us executed on the design of the artist."

Check out the details on the folds of this angel's robe (click on the photos for a closer look):

And the pattern designs on this architectural representation:

More exquisite details:

The exhibit: Botticelli in the Lombard Collections is to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist's death in 1510 and has been on display since this past November.

Photos courtesy of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum and are subject to copyright. They can be downloaded from the Museum's website and used only to promote the exhibit.

Thanks to Linda for making me look! 

This exhibit has been extended until the 25th of March, 2011!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Italian Hope Chests

I really am still here... just very busy, it won't last too much longer. In the meantime it occurred to me to point you to an article I wrote about the Italian Hope Chest (cassone in Italian) for TuttoRicamo. (**This article can now be found here)

It is a subject that fascinates me. Do you see the two ladies in the background of this marvelous Titian painting digging in what looks like a matching pair of cassoni?

A great book in English on painted cassoni of the Renaissance is The Triumph of Marriage by Cristelle Baskins. The painting above was done for a cassone by Botticelli and depicts the story of Lucrezia.

Venus of Urbino painted in 1538 by Titian - image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Story of Lucrezia painted between 1496 and 1504 by Botticelli - image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Veronese Crochet Lace - Il Pizzo di Verona

I can finally tell you some exciting news!

If you've been wondering why it's been so quiet on my blog lately, part of the reason is that I've been translating a fascinating text on a nearly-forgotten Italian needlework technique from the early 20th century called Il Pizzo di Verona or Veronese Crochet Lace.

The book will be published in about a month or so and presented at Palazzo Forti in Verona on March 12, 2011 at 11 am. I greatly envy you if you can go!

Bianca Rosa Bellomo will present the book during a lecture about historical events in Verona in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and how they impacted the creator of this lace, Laudomia Spazzi-Gonevino and her family. She will no doubt fascinate you with the story of how the authors of this new book (Anna Castagnetti, Donatella Granzarolo and Bianca Rosa Bellomo herself) researched this technique and it's creator and her family, starting from two all-but-forgotten booklets published in the early 20th century edited by Amelia Brizzi Ramazzotti for the Sonzogno publishing house in Milan.

Also from March 8th - 12th there will be free demonstrations of how to make this exquisite crochet and needle lace during the show Verona Tessile: "Le vie della seta si incontrano a Verona" [Verona Textile Show: The silk roads meet in Verona"].

March 8th is also International Women's Day which is widely celebrated in Italy so it is fitting that there be a celebration of a woman's life at this time.

This new book has some historical information as well as step-by-step instructions and photos for creating this beautiful crochet and needle lace, the text is in Italian and English. It is published by the NuovaS1 publishing house in Italy and I have no doubt that Elena at Italian Needlecrafts will have it for sale as soon as it becomes available. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!