How to do an Insertion or Faggotting stitch

insertion stitch

For a long time, I’ve entertained the idea of doing a hand-sewn Elizabethan shirt.  I’ve done enough hand-sewing to know that I can just whip-stitch all the pieces together, but the Janet Arnold book “Patterns of Fashion 4” has all these lovely shirts that are sewn together with insertion stitches.  There’s not a lot of instruction though and I’ve had a hard time figuring out how they were done.

There is a diagram on page 6 that shows several insertion stitches, but not a step by step instruction which is the thing I was lacking. After combing through my embroidery books I finally found instructions for one stitch (the second one below) which is pretty easy to do.  There are some tutorials online that show an insertion stitch, but most of them call for pinning the pieces to be sewn together to cardboard or similar to maintain an even spacing between the pieces.  Because I wanted to do seams, I wanted something decorative but that could be easily done for long pieces, in hand, without a large gap. I’ll try figuring out some of the other insertion stitches in the future.

insertion stitch 9

I’m calling it a twisted zigzag insertion stitch.

First, finish the edges of the pieces you want to seam together.  For my shirt I turned the linen under twice and did a running stitch.

Place wrong sides of the pieces you are joining together.  Pin long seams if you need to.

insertion stitch 2

Use an embroidery thread or similar weight thread.  I’m using Soie Perlee which is a twisted silk thread. (Resist the temptation to cut your thread too long.)

Knot the end of the thread and bury the knot under the hem on the wrong side of the fabric.

insertion stich 1

Put your needle through the fabric going into the center (about an 1/8 of an inch from the edge), catching only the front side of the two pieces.  Pull the needle through, with the needle over the tail of the thread.

From the back, put your needle through the fabric going into the center (about an 1/8 of an inch from the edge), catching only the back piece of fabric.  Pull the needle through, with the needle over the tail of the thread.

insertion stitch 6

Keep going.  Try to be consistent with how far down you enter the fabric with the needle and how far apart you make the stitches.  (Don’t make yourself crazy though.  It’s hand-work and it’s not going to be machine perfect.)

When you get to the end of your thread, knot it, bury the knot in between the pieces.  I haven’t quite figured out an elegant way to start a new thread, though putting the needle through the fabric going into the center and looping through the last stitch and then continuing as before seems to work.

If you have questions, please let me know.   Happy Stitching!

(Sorry for some of the pictures.  I’ll have to figure out a better way than using my phone.)

 

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Catching up on Projects

How do you get things done?  Most of us live pretty busy lives and the hobby stuff usually takes a back burner to everything else.  Sometimes you have to set aside a block of time to accomplish something, but it’s also possible to make progress with small bits of time like 15 or 30 minutes or even 5 minutes.  Over days and weeks that all can add up.

I started an embroidery project, collar and cuffs for a new Elizabethan shift ages ago, but the project kept getting set aside for other more urgent things.  I decided I really want to get it done and have been working on it for short bits of time over the last week.  The cuffs are done, and now the collar is almost done.

red shift embroidery 1

I’m also still working on an SCA award scroll, this one is a backlog court barony scroll.  While I would really like to block out some major time to work on it, I’m still making progress doing a little at a time.  I’m starting to lay down base colors.  There will be a lot of detail work coming later.

Cara scroll progress 6

On the big block of time end of things, a couple of weeks ago, friends had a sewing day and we spent most of the day sewing.  Sometimes, working with a group of people all doing similar things, keeps me going long past the time I would have stopped if I was working alone.  I got to work with an overlock sewing machine.  It’s a pretty cool thing if you want to finish the edges of fabric that frays like linen in a quick non-historical manner.  I made a couple of pairs of linen shorts to wear under costumes for those hot hot summer event days, inspired by this post from Whilja’s Corner:  http://tinyurl.com/y2vq27hs

How do you get things done?

 

 

The Next Step

I’ve always wondered about scribes who take on award scroll assignments and then never work on them but I read an interesting article recently that I find very enlightening. It was a discussion about procrastination and that procrastination doesn’t generally come out of laziness, but out of anxiety. That people don’t do things because they are afraid it won’t be as good as they want and also because they really don’t know how to tackle the project.

I think people get very excited about doing scribal work often after they’ve taken a class in calligraphy or a class in illumination or seen a scroll display at Coronation.  They look at the scrolls and say I want to do that, that looks like fun, so they take on an assignment.  But then they sit down to work on the scroll and get overwhelmed.  Some get anxious that their work won’t be good enough, or that they don’t know any calligraphy or they just don’t know where to start.

I want to help.  I know what it’s like to feel anxious about my work, I know that looking at entire scroll makes it feel impossible to do something like that.  But it’s really a matter of breaking it down into much small steps.  I want to help.  Let me know what you are working on, and together we can break down the process into smaller steps and identify the next one.

If you don’t know calligraphy and don’t want to do that part, I can find a calligrapher.  If you don’t know how to do a layout, there are templates on line that you can use (half-way down this page http://caidwiki.org/index.php?title=College_of_Scribes) , or classes that will teach basic layout.  If you need help with painting or color selection, I can help.

On the other hand, if your life has changed and doing award scrolls is something you really don’t want to do right now, that’s okay too.  You can come back to it when you’re ready.  If you don’t see yourself working on your assignment in the next six months, consider returning the assignment.  When you are ready, there will be more assignments in the queue.

But if you want to work on award scrolls and you are stuck, I want to help.  Let me know what you want to be working on and how to contact you and let’s figure out the next step.  You can leave a message for me here or on the Caid College of Scribes Facebook group.  Let’s tackle the next step!

Gideon scroll

Time for Scribal!

Remember what I said last time about trying to keep this blog up more regularly?  Still haven’t managed that.

When last we left our intrepid scribe she was working on an SCA Court Barony scroll.  In the meantime, a friend won Crown tourney in Caid and I offered to be their Court Scribe.  Court Scribe in Caid handles putting together award certificates for each event the Royals plan to give awards at.  And the new Queen has a Norse persona.  While other Crowns in Caid have also been Norse and there have been some fabulous award certificates in a Norse style, none of them made it in to the Court Scribe box (which has blank certificates for a multitude of awards.)

So I decided to make some new ones.  I was stuck on what exactly I wanted to have them look like, until a scribe friend from back East shared a scroll that she had done in a Norse style based on carvings from a Stave church.  Bingo!  There was my inspiration.

So here’s some pictures of the Norse-inspired award certificates.

 

I have also managed (somehow) to make some progress on the Court Barony Scroll.  Calligraphy is done.

Cara scroll progress 3

And I transferred the design to the paper I’m using.  The transfer was a little faint, so I decided to outline everything in walnut ink which is giving me a chance to refine and fine-tune the design.  I’m about halfway done.

 

Scribe stuff and other things!

Sheesh, it’s been forever since I’ve done a blog.  (I need to keep this thing up more regularly.)

So, the last year, I’ve been studying Hebrew and this past Friday night I did an adult Bat Mitzvah with my mom and 4 members of the Hebrew class.  It’s a pretty amazing experience and the study of Hebrew and the prayers and my Torah portion took a fair percentage of my free time.  Now, though it’s time to clear the decks and get my scroll backlog cleaned up.

I’m working on this scroll, it’s really not the top priority scroll on my list, but it’s the one that calls to me the most right now to get it done.

Scroll in progress

Here’s the rough layout. I need to do a little more clean-up on it. The vines will be white with grey shading.  The background will be an ochre color. The flowers will all be natural (more or less).

 

Calligraphy practice 2Here’s the latest calligraphy practice.  I think I ought to practice the entire text 2-3 more times before putting it on the good paper.  I’m planning on using pergamenata for this one.  I’m really looking forward to painting it! Continue reading

Sweetbag

Work continues on the sweetbag.  It’s slow going but bit by bit things are filling in.

One thing that I will remember next time:  It’s a lot easier to do the outlining in black thread if the design on the linen is in a different color.  So better to use a sepia colored pen or a grey pen or something.  Stitching black on a black line is just confusing.

I also put the first little bit of plaited braid on the sweetbag, and it might have been easier to do that before the outline.  The plaited braid was a little nerve wracking and following the curve is a little awkward.  Hopefully I’ll get better with more practice.

People sometimes ask me why I’m all over the map on the stitching.  The answer is, I get bored if I do all the outlining first and wait until the very end to do all the background stitching.  So, I tend to alternate between black, color threads and metal threads.  It might not be the best method, but it keeps me from getting bored.

Here’s the sweetbag to date and the first bit of plaited braid.

Banner Time!

So when a friend contacts you and says their husband needs a banner for a weekend elevation, (and they are both dear friends) of course you say yes.

Most of the banners that I’ve made for the SCA were silk, painted with dyes and then steamed and all of those were done via workshops run by Phillip and Rebecca.  I knew I didn’t have time to do that (I’d have to buy the materials and build some kind of steamer, and some supplies would have to be mail-ordered.)  Another option was applique but that seemed like it would also take longer than I had.  So the last option was to paint a banner.

I bought a couple of yards of white cotton canvas duck (mostly for emergencies, I used less than 1/2 yard). And I bought acrylic paints (way more than I needed). I considered buying fabric paints but they are rather more expensive and didn’t seem better than the acrylics. I probably could have bought one each 2 fluid oz containers of black and red and had enough.

Working from a couple of different versions of Diego’s arms, but mostly this one:

Diego-antonia-de-palma-oeu

I needed to scale up a shield-shaped template (from a different project) to banner-size.  I got some brown paper, traced around the outside of my template, added about  5 inches all the way around, then after consulting with heralds as to the height of the chevron) I sketched in the chief and chevron for the arms.  I tried to do it mathematically, but ended up really just eyeballing everything and ended up with this:

diego banner template

Next I made a template for the clubs and the ermine tails (also noting that the spots for the ermine tails go on top not on the bottom) and traced the design and charges on to the canvas duck with a light tablet:

Diego banner starting

I did a little testing of the paint on a scrap of the canvas duck and decided to dilute the paint a little bit with water.  A couple of evenings painting and I was done:

Then I cut out a lining for the back of the banner, leaving enough extra material to fold over for a rod pocket.  I think I would do that part differently next time.  I had to do some weird things to sew under the raw edges.  But finally it was finished:

And that’s Banner Time!