Captain Cook Museum Exhibition 2016: Stitch-Off Challenge!

If you haven't yet discovered this, Dear (Embroiderer) Reader, then you are missing a lot of fun! Dr Jennie Batchelor from the University of Kent has published a series of patterns from The Lady's Magazine, published between 1770 and 1818, and they are online for Embroiderers to play with. Here's the link:

I have been playing myself ('what's new', you cry!) For the last couple of months I have been finalising some items for the latest Exhibition at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby, North Yorkshire. This year's exhibition is called "Wives and Sweethearts: The Sailors Farewell", and focuses on the women left behind when their menfolk set sail. I've been completing a replica of Elizabeth Cook's Map Sampler which she stitched in about 1800 in memory of James, and this will be exhibited, alongside a replica costume from the 1770s, about the time when Elizabeth would have been saying goodbye to James as he set sail. If you were able to come to the museum last year on the days when I was stitching there, it was the costume I was wearing on a couple of the days!

The third part of my exhibition contribution is a partly-stitched piece of embroidery in a frame, to show how Elizabeth occupied herself while James was away. When I saw the patterns from the Lady's Magazine, I was delighted. Actual period patterns from the 18th century to work with! What an opportunity....

So I have been working with the pattern originally designated for a winter shawl. It seemed to me to be made to order for an apron. This was a popular way of making formal dress a bit less formal, as well as showing off the embroidery skills of the wearer (or at least the purchasing power of their income!) Close examination of the pattern threw up some interesting aspects about the way the pattern was drawn or engraved, which I have discussed in a earlier blog post ('Great Lady's Magazine Stitch-off!')

Trying out the stitching has been good. The pattern is not dissimilar to the design Elizabeth used for the Cook Waistcoat she stitched, which I replicated in 2014-15. I'm stitching the apron on Ivory silk satin fabric, using silk thread from The Silk Mill. There is no backing fabric, as the apron would not be lined, so the stitching can't be too heavy, but the pattern doesn't need heavy stitching. The main stem, which is in a wave pattern, is tamboured. The side stems are in chain stitch, as tambouring them would involve too many stops and starts, with loads of thread ends to be stitched in on the back. The buds are in long-and-short stitch, each in two shades of pink thread, with the same pinks used in the ribbon loop at the corners. This is stitched using satin stitch with stem stitch ended. Finally the scalloped border is in buttonhole stitch.

I've not got as much done as I had hoped to, but there is enough done to show the pattern and the stitching. The only snag is that after today I will probably have to wait till November to finish it off, unless I can take the frame out of the case and work on it when I do stitching days in the Museum! I suspect that won't be possible, so I'll have to bring something else to do: perhaps another of the Lady's Magazine patterns......

Picture show the Map Sampler, myself in costume, and the work so far on the apron. Enjoy!