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.

 As well as needing a new farthingale, I also need a new Roman frock, which is really simple, so I made that 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


~ by opusanglicanum on January 22, 2012.

22 Responses to “A little bit of Roman therapy”

  1. Well, we know they used both linen and silk, and the pattern coming from a mosaic seems authentic enough1

  2. I thought so, but its nice that someone else agrees

  3. How can you be grumpy when working with velvet and silk taffeta?

  4. Looks lovely, though. I really admire your skill and imagination.

  5. May I ask which plug-in you used to get

    “Fill in your details or click an icon to log in: (WP. Twitter. Facebook).

    There are SO many of these plugins. Would be nice to get one that worked straight off. I installed a plugin yesterday that killed my new blog SO thoroughly, I couldn’t get to the blog, I could get to the dashboard….it’s had to be rebuilt from the last backup (from a week ago). Luckily I have all my plugins recorded in a Word document, but honestly, after wasting all that time with the Register/Login thing, I could cry!
    And I *am* going to put in Gravatar Hovercards after seeing them in action on your blog.
    Did you know that if someone clicks on any of your post images they will get an enlarged image with zoom capabilities? I’m going to put a note in a header. (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/custom-headers-and-footers/), or you could put it in a Text Widget in the sidebar….if you wanted to. I went crazy trying to find a good zoom,. then just clicked on a piccie and …. !!!!! Oh! It’s a journey and a half!

    • erm..actaully I’m not sure how much help I can offer. I’m not brilliant with computers and I only spent about an hour setting up this blog, and haven’t touched the setup since – I found it fairly intuitive, which is good for someone like me (I don’t find computers intersting in and of themselves, so i lack patience with them)

      I honestly have no idea which plugin (widget?) you want, I checked my dash but nothing looked likeley. I did check out your wordpress blog last week, and couldn’t work out where your “follow” button was cos I didn’t get the grey bar at the top – I figured this meant you were using one of the paid accounts, whereas I’m only on a freebie one, so I think there may be some big difference becuase of that?

      I did know about the picture enlarging thing tho, but I sort of took it for granted, I hadn’t realised it was a big deal

      sorry I can’t be more helpful, I’m a bit slow with these things, you might have asked the wrong person – I think I probably only did what i did more by luck than judgement

      • *grin* – There’s no Follow coz I haven’t put it in there yet! You’ve done an awfully good job for “someone who is no good at computers”.
        I’m definitely on Freebie!!
        No worries – I’ll find one. I just liked yours. Now I’ve seen it, I should be able to recognise it from the description 🙂

      • I know – gareth couldn’t believe I’d put a blog together, he gave me a funny look and asked who I was and what I’d done with his girlfriend

      • Go you!!! Such a pretty header too – that didn’t come with any template!! I can’t do that – get the template I have to take a new header!

      • I seem to remember the header took me ages to work out (its a piece of my embroidery) but i do recall that it depends on which template you’re using, as some don’t allow you to change the header\az

      • Well, I did my header stacked on the *top* of the other one (horizontally, as in above)…. I don’t think my template likes the header being changed…

      • it might be your template, cos they’re all a bit differnt. it took me ages to get mine to behave tho, I fiddled with it for far longer than I usually have patience with computers

      • What we’ll do for “pwetty”……I’ve often admired yours….

      • I keep meaning to finish that project. It was never very important so it keeps getting sidelined. The work I’ve done on it was lovely, but…

        its actaully not like me to elave things unfinished

      • Well, the bit that is done is a great header…. come to mention it, I’ve always meant to ask about the rest of the piece. Asked and answered. 🙂

      • there is a bit more, just not much. it was menat to be a saxon dress of burnt orange silk taffeta with embroidered front strip and borders, covered with little orphreys. I think I did the sleeves, but its all cut out and marked in a box under the bed

      • You don’t want to make up the rest of the dress, maybe with a little trimming, and just have the embroidered sleeves? Or is it too UFO for that?

      • nah – all or nothing. besides which I think I;ve done a side panel as well.

        what puts me off a bit is that we no longer do a lot of late period saxon, so the only thing I could really wear it at is hastings, which I never have time to go to cos its so far away

      • Oh, stick them on a wall then. So pretty! Or gift to a friend, after making flat and into a sort of Crazy Quilt. Or perhaps, just leave under the bed…

      • they’re staying under the bed – I’ll get round to it one day. I was thinking last year that I might eventually make them a gareths house project, the only thing is that if I finish it I will have to go to one of the big hastings bashes cos its the only place I culd really wear it, but hastings is the opposite end of the country and happens at my busiest time of year for work, which is why I haven’t been for about 7years

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