Showing posts with label Tassels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tassels. Show all posts

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Time for Tassels

For a recent project, I decorated my new pouch with several tassels. I had not made tassels in quite some time, so I had to re-educate myself on how best to do them. After some experimentation, here's what I came up with.

The pouch I was making featured some Or nue embroidery that was in green and yellow, so I picked floss of the same two colors for the braided cord and tassels. I worked the tassels in DMC cotton floss because of time and cost - getting enough silk in the right colors would have taken a few weeks in the mail, and would have been relatively expensive. The tassels here were completed using two skeins of DMC (one of each color). 

The tassels were made by wrapping embroidery floss around a mandrel. I used a ruler as my mandrel, but any squarish object could be used as your mandrel. You're basically just using it to easily create a number of loops of floss of the same size. The ruler I had happened to be the right width for my project, and had a cork backing which created a couple channels where it was easy to pass a needle or use scissors to cut the loops.

The first step was to wrap my embroidery floss around the ruler. I wrapped green and yellow at the same time about 25 times to create the body of the tassel. Pick one end (we'll call this "down") and have the floss both start and end in that direction. In this picture, I'm calling the lower edge "down".

The next step was to cut a string about 14 inches long. I actually cut two strings, one gree and one yellow, and passed those threads through the body loops. I then tied it into a knot at the top to cinch the body loops together. Once knotted, you'll use these strings to tie your piece. Cutting the strings 14 inches long gives you lots of room to play with when it comes time to attach your tassel.

Now that all the loops were tied together, I cut the loops across the bottom of the ruler. This basically gives you 50 or so pieces of string knotted together at the top. To turn this into a recognizable tassel, I cut another piece of your floss about a foot long. I wrapped the string around the body, and knotted it off with a square knot to create the tassel's head. I trimmed off the extra length.

Finally, I trimmed the tassel so the strings are all roughly the same length, and as mentioned above, I used the strings at the head to connect the tassel to the body of my pouch. I chose to run the strings first through a silver bead before sewing them to the pouch fabric. Trim all the knots, and voila!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Or Nue Heraldic Bee, part V

In my previous post, I completed the gold and pearl work for my embroidered heraldry, and appliqued it to the fabric ground. Now it was time to fashion a pouch out of the fabric.

I patterned the pouch as an alms purse, or aumônière. These purses are commonly seen in 13th-14th century artwork, and there are quite a few extant pieces showing that they were often embroidered, decorated with beads and tassels. It is thought, based on the name, that they started out as a purse for the distribution of charitable alms to the poor, but that they eventually became a standard purse for carrying around everyday items. I liked the alms purse idea, however, as a way not only to display my work, but also to carry around artisan-related items, such as personal tokens to give out when I see others doing great A&S work, as well as cards with my contact info that I can give out when I meet new artisans and would like to connect. 

My aumônière is not based on any single piece, but was instead creatively inspired by a number of extant pieces. A great article can be found online here with a number of photographs and descriptions of period pieces. I also found quite a few on Tumblr using a simple web search, and put together an idea of what I wanted mine to look like.
Half-silk velvet purse with tassels at the Museum of LondonAnother purse in the Troyes Cathedral10th or 11thc Byzantine relic purseParisian purse from 1340, other side

The first step was to sew the pouch. The front and back pieces are made of a very pretty mulberry wool fabric. The liner is black linen. The inner and outer halves were sewn together, then assembled and blind stitched together across the top seam. I then buttonhole stitched four holes across the top of the front and back to hold the lace string that would tie the pouch closed. This was my first time sewing buttonholes like this, but I thought they came out pretty well. 

To create the laces and decorate the seams of the pouch, I used cotton embroidery floss (more durable and easier to weave than silk) to create a cord. The cord was whipcorded using the Viking whipcording method as described by Mistress Eithni on her website. First order of business was to create a simple distaff to hold my cording. I created this from a 3' long dowel and a popsicle stick, glued and tied together.

I then wound the thread (two skeins of each color) onto some wooden doll form bobbins I picked up at Michaels. Dangle these off the distaff, and you're ready to weave!

The weaving was pretty easy and goes very quickly. I was using a diagonal stripe pattern. The only difficulty I had was that when I would pause to wind up the braided cord or to let out more floss from the bobbin, I would sometimes lose my place and ended up cording, then having to undo and redo the cording when I realized the pattern had gotten messed up. But, in an hour or so, I had more than enough cord to complete the project. 

The resulting green and yellow striped cord looked perfect against the mulberry of the pouch, and was a very close match to the colors used in my goldwork. Here's a closeup of the resulting cord. I was concerned as I was whipcording that the resulting cord would be too thin, but when I got it off the distaff and compared it against the pouch, I found the size was just right. 

I blind-stitched the cord down covering the seams of the pouch. There was one smaller loop going around the pouch opening (where the inner and outer pieces were joined together), and a bigger one going around the outside seams. 

The outer loop started in the middle of the bottom of the pouch, and was extended at the top to create a "V" that can be used to hang the purse from my belt. A third loop was used as the drawstring. I used some silver beads I found to create a cinch on the purse string and to tip the laces, then created some tassels to finish off the laces.

A couple more tassels for good measure, and the purse was finally done! 

I'm very happy with the final result, and plan to present it at a panel for The Keepers of Athena's Thimble for competence in metal thread embroidery at Birka next month.