Monday, November 10, 2014

the (sekrit) Viking collar project

in which our plucky heroine documents both the process and the hours involved in creating embroidered decoration...

(begun October 18th) I am not quite sure perzactly how I ended up working on this, since I have no affiliation whatsoever with the intended recipient. However, my friend K was coordinating this project... While I received the fabric for the collar several weeks ago, the package of floss didn't arrive 'til Wednesday the 15th, and Saturday the 18th the dimensions that the collar embroidery needs to fill, so could finally start on plotting out the pattern and marking it on the fabric; my part in the work needs be complete by November 1, as the whole project will be en route on November 6...

The design motif is based on the embroidery from the Valsgarde find*; while the original is in silver thread on red silk, this embroidery will be in silk thread on linen. The design will be filled in with green and gold (outlined in dark brown) as green and gold are the colors of the Kingdom of the Outlands; this embroidery is a part of a much larger project being made as Coronation clothing...

The preparation of the embroidery pattern, drawing the repeat in a size appropriate to the collar, and transferring the design to tracing paper so as to be able to stitch through it onto the linen, then basting it into place on the fabric took two hours...

I decided that couching the outline of the motifs in place first would allow me to then remove the paper backing and fill the motifs with color; this is my standard practice when doing freehand embroidery, as it does not leave any residue in or on the fabric to cause difficulty later

This shows a portion of the collar motifs with the backing removed, now ready to be filled with the green and gold silk... (This much couching so far has taken three hours, so the estimated amount for the outlining of the motifs on the collar will be twelve hours, which added to the prep will likely bring the total before adding color to estimated fourteen hours) Hand embroidery is not fast work, but it looks eversomuch better than any other option.

Couched design outline on collar completed, ready for green and gold silk embroidered fill. Total hours so far, fifteen and a half...

Starting the color fill embroidery on the collar, using outline stitch for a smoother effect than more couching would give, to try and take advantage of the subtly reflective aspect of the silk floss. Filling all the "buds" in yellow took two and a half hours. The amount of green "vine" filling done so far took just over another hour. Total so far nineteen hours (estimated additional time eight plus hours, will see how that works out, plus am hoping that there will be enough of the green floss)

Just as suspected, there was not enough of the darker green floss to complete the time so far is 26 and a half hours, with three more motifs left to fill, once more floss arrives. (remember that I am participating in this as a volunteer, and was not involved in procuring supplies)

Finished November 2nd, total hours spent 31 hours! Nonetheless, the project itself was both pleasant and educational; was the first time working with silk floss instead of either wool or cotton, and the particular floss was quite cooperative (unlike what I had imagined), and keeping track of hours spent will allow me to do more accurate estimates** should embroidery be desired for future work or work/trade.

photo credit: Khalja Khorkhoi
The new King and Queen of the Outlands: their clothing is a true tour-de-force of many volunteer hours and many people working together, most of the decoration is also done by hand, the embroidery is handstitched, the printed fabric of their garments is hand block-printed, the woven trim is made using tablet-weaving, her shawl is handwoven, and his pleated wool trousers and her pleated linen undershift and pleated and block printed silk back-train were hand pleated and steamed. The collar I made, attached to the herringbone linen undertunic, is just barely visible at the neckline of the King's coat - one small part of a much larger project...

*Silk Collar, 10th century. 51 x 6 cm, 'Samitium' (weft-faced compund twill), Embroidery thread silver foil S-spun around silk core. From Valsgärde grave 15, Uppsala, Sweden.

**At my normal rates for metalwork, enameling, or custom sewing, thirty-one hours would cost just under $800

1 comment:

  1. What beautiful embroidery you created, and what a great gift to the effort! I'm amazed at how quickly you work.

    I also enjoyed exploring a bit of your link showing archeological references for costumes and modern interpretations of those costumes. When I saw a brilliant green coat (trimmed in red) I wondered if that color was available in the middle ages, then remembered the leaves and twigs of bushes in front of my house create such brilliant greens with an alum mordant. The bushes thrive in the Denver climate, which sometimes can be challenging (right now it is minus one degree) so could have withstood the Scandinavian winters, too, if the bushes existed then. Wish I knew what they are!