Saturday, 30 April 2016

A 17th century night cap

All antique needlework is to be admired but sometimes you see an item and you can't help a little gasp of delight escaping.

29.315 COSTUME cap; nightcap circa 1640-1660 overall: 180 mm Man’s night cap made from red silk velvet cut in six conical sections embroidered in metal threads with pomegranates and embellished with spangles. Said to have belonged to Major Buntine.
29.315 Glasgow Museum

In 2006 Glasgow Museum acquired a 17th century nightcap made of six panels of  red silk velvet  and richly embroidered with pomegranates in silver threads.  The raised and padded work is exquisite.

The main areas of the design are in couched and laid work with each four rows of thread stitched down and staggered with the next four rows to form a basket weave.

Pomegranates were popular motifs from the 1520's through to the late seventeenth century and is a sign of fertility and of Jesus' resurrection (see POST for more information).

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When King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile re-conquered Granada from the Muslims in 1492 they added the pomegranate to their Royal Coat of Arms.

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It was popular in England when their daughter Catherine of Aragon married Prince Arthur and later Henry V111. Her daughter, Mary I used the pomegranate as her personal device.

Queen Mary I
Queen Mary I

The nightcap's design is heavily influenced by Turkish Bullion Embroidery. England's trade with Turkey was well established during Elizabeth I's reign as a treaty between the Queen and Sultan Murad III in 1580 ensured unrestricted trade.

Murad III
Murad III

The Levant company was formed and from which the East India Company evolved in 1600.
The nightcap belonged to Magor Hugh Buntine who distinguished himself during the Civil Wars. Cromwell made him Master of the Horse in Scotland yet he also was involved in the Restoration of Charles II.

His early life has not been recorded but after the Restoration he prospered and the night cap reflects his position in society amongst the gentility.

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In the 1600's night caps sat on top of the head but by the mid 17th century nightcaps had become shorter and sat snuggly around the crown.

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This change was due to the fashion for periwigs driven by Charles II. Men started to shave their heads so that their wigs would sit comfortably. When they removed their wigs at home the night caps ensured their heads were kept warm.

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Samuel Pepys' diary entry for November 3rd 1663 notes:-
By and by comes Chapman, the periwigg-maker, and upon my liking it, without more ado I went up, and there he cut off my haire, which went a little to my heart at present to part with it; but, it being over, and my periwigg on, I paid him 3l. for it; and away went he with my owne haire to make up another of, and I by and by, after I had caused all my mayds to look upon it; and they conclude it do become me; though Jane was mightily troubled for my parting of my own haire, and so was Besse, I went abroad to the Coffeehouse, and coming back went to Sir W. Pen and there sat with him and Captain Cocke till late at night, Cocke talking of some of the Roman history very well, he having a good memory. Sir W. Pen observed mightily, and discoursed much upon my cutting off my haire, as he do of every thing that concerns me, but it is over, and so I perceive after a day or two it will be no great matter.
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With the assistance from the Art Fund, Glasgow Museums purchased the night cap in 2006 for £2640 at auction with Christies. It was previously in the collection of Christopher Gibbs and Harris Lindsay.
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Friday, 29 April 2016

Two books divided by four centuries


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"The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608" is one of the Folger Shakespeare Library's greatest treasures. Aside from "Shakespeare's First Folio", it is the only book in the collection to have had an entire exhibition devoted to it, in 2004.

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Its five hundred and ninety-four oversized pages depict life in Shakespeare's England in all of its brilliant complexities - from the mythical to the mundane, the poetical to the practical, the religious to the secular.

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Thomas Trevelyon, the compiler, was a skilled scribe and pattern-maker who had access to a stunning variety of English and European woodcuts, engravings, broadsides, almanacs and emblem books which he transformed from small monochrome images into large and colourful feasts for the eyes.

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Ostensibly created for the entertainment, education and edification of his friends and family, Trevelyon's miscellany is a lifetime achievement that continues to delight and mystify modern audiences, with its familiar scenes of domesticity and husbandry intertwined with epic Protestant and political epitomes: accounts of the rulers of England and the Gunpowder Plot, descriptions of local fairs, the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge and astronomy according to Ptolemy, illustrations of the nine muses and the seven deadly sins, of Old Testament history and household proverbs and whimsical flowers, alphabets and embroidery patterns.

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This massive volume provides an exciting and unparalleled snapshot of the passions, concerns and everyday interests of a highly talented London commoner.

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It is a monumental work that was intended to be both studied and enjoyed, its pages turned and savoured.

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If you would like to study  Thomas Trevelyon's 1608 Miscellany, Folger Shakespeare museum has made it AVAILABLE online. Embroidery patterns seem to start on page 9 although many of the images throughout the book would lend themselves to motifs.

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Most needleworkers will have heard of Yvette Stanton who is a highly respected needlework teacher and author of needlework books. Many will have her books in their library and will be delighted to hear that Yvette's eighth book, and her second on Hardanger embroidery will be released in June 2016.

Early-style or traditional Hardanger embroidery is different from much of the Hardanger that is being worked today and the book will:-
  • Distinguish what makes early-style Hardanger different from contemporary Hardanger.
  • Help you to understand how to correctly and accurately work the stitches and techniques of this traditional-style embroidery.
  • Provides both left- and right-handed instructions are included.
  • Learn to avoid problems, and have the self-assurance to fix any mistakes you make.
  • Will give you the confidence to use your new skills to create ten attractive early-style Hardanger embroidery projects.
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For more information and to pre-order your copy click HERE. As soon as we have our copy we will be back with a detailed review and a project from the book.

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Outlander period costumes

The second series of Outlander is well under way  and we are seeing some wonderful period costumes from the 1740's whilst Jamie and Claire are in Paris.

Costume designer Terry Dresbach is known for her love of period dramas, and she outdoes herself in the new season.

I am not sure that Claire's costumes are all historically accurate but this can be forgiven as Claire (in the spirit of the story) would have collaborated with her dressmaker bringing design elements from the 20th century. The costume below is very "Dior" from the 1940's, 200 year later but Claire's "real" time.

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Whilst Claire's costumes are stunning what has really caught my eye this week is the 
embroidery on Master Raymond's (the apothacary) coat.

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I wonder what stunning costumes the next episode will bring?

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Wordless Wednesday

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Monday, 25 April 2016

Stitching update and quilting soliders

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I have been working on Ann Lawle this weekend.

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There was a slub in the linen that could not be teased out. It was in the worse spot - the centre flower where a tent stitch had to sit

It is easy to think of quilting as a feminine pastime but during the later half of the 19th century to around 1910 (when khaki uniforms were introduced) soldiers often quilted.

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Portrait of Private Thomas Wood 1856 - injured at the battle of Inkerman
Painted by Thomas Wood and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1855 this portrait shows Private Thomas Walker sewing a quilt. In 1855, while convalescing after a successful trepanning operation, he was seen by Queen Victoria during her visit to Fort Pitt Military Hospital. Walker sustained a head injury at the battle of Inkerman in the Crimean War, when a shell burst above his head and a silver plate was inserted in his skull.

The painting shows how Walker is constructing his quilt by sewing triangles of uniform wool together. The colours, red, black, gold and white reflect the colours of his uniform which hangs at the foot of the bed. His regiment was the 95th Derbyshire Regiment

Military or soldiers' quilts are made from wool serge or worsted twill, used in the production of military uniforms. Because of the thickness of the cloth, piercing and sewing the quilts was extremely difficult and it is unlikely that any military quilts were made by women. The mid-nineteenth century was a period when the fashion for colourful and elaborate patchwork was most prolific in Britain and military quilts represent a unique chapter in the history of the craft.

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Military quilts are often referred to as 'Crimean Quilts' (Crimean War 1853-56). Brightness of colour is a key feature of quilts made in India, unlike the more subdued colour palette of Crimean quilts. Originally attributed to William Brayley, research revealed that the quilt shown above was actually made by his father, Francis Brayley, a Private in the 1st, 11th Foot Regiment, who served in India between 1864 and 1877. Within a month of returning to England, Brayley married Mary Ann Ash, with whom he had one son, William. Brayley died three years later from tuberculosis.

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The quilt is made from pieced wool with a complex geometric pattern created from small hexagons featuring six point stars, large diamonds and hexagons in black, white, red, green and yellow.

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Each individual hexagon measures 1.5 cm in diameter and is backed with green damask.
The quilt measures 238 x 238 cms squared.imageIt is thought that the quilt was made during the Regiment's 13 year tour of Bengal India (1864 - 1877). Long postings were monotonous and stressful. Soldiers had to cope with extreme heat, life threatening situations and disease. 

Quilting was a way to relieve the boredom and it was acknowledged in military and medical circles of the time that it helped healing. Private Bayley may well have pieced the quilt together whilst hospitalised in 1875/6 for "Rifle Drill Fatique" .
Images of the Francis Bayley quilt are the copyright of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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