A little bit of Roman therapy
Everyone has their bugbears, and one of mine is making farthingales – I simple never enjoy it. BUt, I really need a new one for work, since the old one (with authentic cane hoops) collapsed, so I knuckled down.
Except obviously, because I hate doing it, it all went wrong. First Boyes failed to get as much velvet ribbon as I’d ordered for the hoop casings, and an hour into the project it became very apparent that what they had got me really wasn’t going to be enough, and I’m therefore going to have to wait for the next lot to come in. Then I cut the pieces, using every last bit of taffeta, only to realise I hadn’t cut all the pieces, so now its going to have to have a panel of silk in another colour.
I got grumpy, had had enough, and realised I couldn’t finish it this afternoon anyway due to lack of sufficient ribbon, and decided to do something else instead.
Then I decided I wanted some pretty, so I decided to embroider the neck a little. Now, I will admit that I’ve never really researched Roman embroidery, so apart from recalling a quote from Catullus that mentions it, I was making it up as I went along. So I kept it simple – I’ve used a roman decorative border from a mosaic, and done it in stem stitch, which is pretty much one of the earliest stitches found in the embroidery of most cultures. I call that playing reasonably safe for a day when you just can’t be arsed with the academic faff.
Next came the problem of materials, cos I’m at Gareth’s this weekend and all I have is stuff left lying around from other projects rather than my full range of resources. I had some 60/2 nm silk, which is perfect for stem stitch but doesn’t wear too well with regular machine washing, which my Roman school outfits get cos I get a bit sweaty at work sometimes.
So I decided to experiment with a couple of oddments of linen thread I found in the bottom of the box, and which were in serendipitously Roman looking colours. I’ve never actually embroidered with linen before, so it sounded like a fun little experiment.
Ok, so the results –
Linen doesn’t lie quite as neatly as silk, but then I didn’t expect it too and I think it looks ok.
Geometric patterns are not completely impossible do freehand (I didn’t mark the attern out in an way) as long as you don’t mind a tiny bit of wobble. Once the garment is worn and is in movement I doubt that tiny wobble will be noticeable anyway.
I’ve tried modern thread conditioners on silk thread and they were…ok…not brilliant, but acceptable. However, with linen, the modern stuff was a disaster – the thread quickly went fluffy and disintegrated, which you may be able to discern on the outer lines. Beeswax worked beautifully. sometimes traditional is best.
I doubt I shall be wearing this on tuesday though, as I’m only about halfway along the fifteen inch panel. which isn’t bad for a sunday afternoon