27 November 2011

Houses of Parliament

On eBay this year there have been several embroideries featuring buildings with royal associations, including this Houses of Parliament one with Big Ben and, in the foreground, the Thames.  They have been done in this impressionistic style of embroidery, quite fine stitching/thread, sometimes with a single thread colour like this one, and sometimes with multiple colours.  I wonder if they were transfers?  It seems unlikely that they were done freehand, and I can't see how they could be charted (well, they're not cross-stitch).  I've seen a couple of other examples which I'll add to this blog in the future.

If you know any more, please do leave a comment.

25 November 2011

Elizabeth II: Diamond Jubilee (II)

More Diamond Jubilee designs I've found.

From One Off Needlework, a cross stitch design with a more unusual palette of blues and greens displaying the plant symbols of Britain.  You can find the kit (with Aida cloth) here for £27.96 and other places have it (eg. Majesty magazine).
The next design is being marketed on eBay UK and also through the designer's Etsy site.  There doesn't yet seem to be a stitched example: instead, the images look like computer generated ones showing a whiter background and more cream toned background.

The designer's Etsy site is NeverDyingPoet - click here.  The Etsy sales are in PDF form, emailed (?the modern version of the transfers sold for coronation samplers?).

If you find Diamond Jubilee samplers I haven't already featured here, please do leave a comment with a link to alert me.

20 November 2011

George VI: coronation sampler with cross-stitched background, 1937

Listed on eBay earlier this year was this George VI coronation sampler from 1937.  In comparison to some other designs - for example the George V jubilee sampler with coaches from an earlier blog entry here - this looks distinctly chunky.  It seems to be due to at least two elements: the design itself (not a lot of grace about that coach, it looks semi-motor-car-like) and the size in which it has been worked (it's on tapestry canvas rather than evenweave linen or cotton).  Interesting to note the military figures: there were rumblings in Europe at the time.  The 1953 coronation samplers were much more likely to have jolly Beefeaters than the soldier and sailor featured here.

The background is also interesting.  The brown is cross-stitches - the entire background has been filled in.  One of the advantages of cross-stitch or embroidery samplers is that generally you don't have to fill in the background (unlike pictorial cross-stitch such as some of the photo-style William and Catherine designs illustrated in an earlier entry on this blog; or unlikehand-stitched needlepoint/tapestry with continental or ten stitch where every square of the design on canvas is generally filled).  Perhaps the stitcher stitched the design, saw how the canvas looked and chose to cover it up.

If you know where this design was published, please do leave a comment.

13 November 2011

George VI: coronation tablecloth, 1937

From a past eBay auction, all four corners of the tablecloth featured this design.  It measured about 33in x 34in and was in good condition, according to the seller, and sold for 17.78GBP.

I do wonder, with tablecloths, whether people really sat down to eat with their special coronation cloth on the table.  Was it made before the coronation, and used on the day?  Ever used after?  And always interesting, in relation to this particular coronation, is the switch from Edward VIII to George VI.  Was this design always George VI and Elizabeth (as the scrollwork names would seem to imply), or was it originally Edward Rex?  I know of one sampler design that I've seen done with elaborate initials that are ER (for Edward) in some versions and GR (for George) in others.  I don't know the lead time that manufacturers/designers/newspapers/magazines would have needed or worked to in those days.

I also wonder, with tablecloths and traycloths, whether they were more likely to be bought as preprinted linens rather than as transfers.  For a sampler, the embroiderer may well have a suitable piece of fabric, but a tablecloth sized piece, being larger - a preprinted and possible already-hemmed linen (or cotton) piece might have been the method of sale.  It would also make the placement of the transfer easier (eg. for this one, aligning all four in the corners diagonally).  Then again, a measurement of 33in x 34in is less than 36in, which has been a standard fabric size. 

If you know more about this design - where it was published, whether it was a transfer or a preprinted linen etc -  please leave a comment.

06 November 2011

George V & Mary: jubilee sampler, 1935

From 1935, a sampler celebrating the silver jubilee of George V and Queen Mary.  It appears to be stitched from a transfer.  The one above was in an online auction.
Here is another version of the same sampler from a different online auction:

There are subtle differences in the colour choices of the two embroiderers (eg. in the thread colour for the names of the king and queen).  Transfer patterns may or may not have specified thread colours, but stitchers would also be likely to look at their existing threads and use something close in colour because they had it, or different to the illustrated design's thread colour because they preferred it.  Transfer designs for patriotic samplers were sometimes available as kits, but could also (and I think, at this time period, more often) just be a magazine illustration and a transfer either with the magazine or available through the post, with the final thread choice being at the embroiderer's discretion.

These sorts of cross-stitch transfers used one simple stitch, and so involve less skill and, often, less variation than designs requiring even an easy range of embroidery stitches (eg. satin stitch, stem stich, back stitch etc).  It's interesting to compare them to present-day designs, most of which are sold as kits with fabric and thread provided.  The fabric is generally very evenly woven (aida or, more rarely, linen) and with the threads provided, the impulse to change colours is lessened.  Two versions of the same modern day cross-stitch kit (eg. from William and Kate's wedding) would be far less likely to have any variation than even the subtle changes evident in the two designs above.  The fabric imposes precision, and the thread uniformity.  The two embroiderers represented above, while they stitched the same sized transfer, chose their background evenweave fabric (linen, cotton or whatever they chose) and threads.

If you know where this design was originally published, or have any other information about it, or any other photos of it, please do leave a comment so the information can be added to this blog entry. 

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