Sunday, June 22, 2014

The embroidered velvet - Baldýring

One of the most beautiful parts of the national costume is the embroidery. Embroidery is used extensiely in the oldest form of the costume, Faldbuningur.  There is a large flower border on the skirts, although it was also known to make them without embroidery, but with velvet lines instead.  The embroidery can be of two different types, Skattering and Blómstursaumur.  The latter is a special Icelandic embroidery stitch, very pretty, but I do not know the origin of the other one or if it is known in other countries.

And then there is the embroidery on the velvet borders of the vest, and on the jacket of the Faldbuningur. That is always done in an embroidery technique called Baldýring which is known as Gold embroidery in English.  In the older costumes it was done either with gold and silver thread or with silk.  I love the silk myself because it is so colourful.

I took a course in Baldýring and I am making the border for the vest.  It is not an easy technique to master, but I found that sewing the twisted gold threads down was fairly easy.  The Baldýring itself is not and I need to practice a whole lot before I can tackle the real thing.

Making the borders is quite involved and I want to write it down so that I do not forget it.  And also so that others can know how to do it.  I really think it is important to share knowledge, especially about old handwork and methods because they might so easily be lost.

So here is the start of a tutorial for making the velvet borders.  Since I am making the 19th century version, it will mostly talk about that, but I will put in notes about the differences in that and the 20th century version when appropriate.

The borders themselves are made from 3 layers, 2 good quality fabrics and a parchment or cardboard :

8 cm x 25 cm - Black cotton velvet
5 cm x 25 cm - Acid free light to medium stiff cardboard (it must be flexible) or parchment which is what was used in the old days
5 cm x 25 cm - Thin white cotton material

Cut two of each, one for the right side and one for the left.

The needles that are used are very fine needle nr. 9 or 10 for the Baldýring itself (the same type that as is commonly used in quilting). And also a nr 7-8 for general sewing. And a very large needle for the gold twisted threads.

The borders for the 19th century vest are 4-5,5 cm wide, the length varies slightly with the size of the vest, but it should be cut around 25 cm long.  It's finished length depends on the vest on which it is eventually sewn.

For the 20th century costume, the border is wider, about 8,5 - 10 cm, depending on the chest measurements of the woman. The length is the same.

The thin white cotton is stitched to the cardboard around the edges. This can be done by hand or machine. There is no need for a seam allowance.

Mark the direction of the nap with an arrow, so that you don't get confused and make sure to have the two borders, left and right, facing in the same direction.

The black velvet is faced right side down (away from you), and the nap facing up.

The white cotton/cardboard is then placed on top of the velvet, cotton side facing up.

Center the white cotton/cardboard sideways (horizontally) on the velvet. The length should be equal for both pieces.

The edges of the velvet are wrapped around the cardboard and the velvet is pinned in place.

Make sure you do not pin into the cardboard.

Stitch the edges of the velvet to the white cotton, using overcasting and taking care to stitch only the white cotton and velvet.

Do not puncture the cardboard itself.
Next you need to cut out a piece of thin paper to be 8 cm x 30 cm. Architectural tracing paper works really well.

This paper is wrapped around the velvet and stitched in place with a running stitch, this time going through all layers, puncturing the cardboard.

This paper serves to protect the velvet from getting dirty while being handled when embroidering.

The last step before you can start the actual embroidery is to stitch the line drawing of the flower pattern in place.

Be careful to leave enough space above the pattern, at least 4 cm.

The line drawing is traced onto a thin mylar type of paper.

The stitching is done with a running stitch all the way around the rectangular shape and also around the shapes to be embroidered, through all the layers.

And now you need to make another one, with the drawing mirrored.

There are a number of patterns one can use and a multitude of colours, so the choice is not easy.  I went through a whole lot of patterns before deciding to draw my own.  Some of the patterns are quite old, while some of them date from the early 19th century.  But that is the subject of the next post.

Sombre colours

I bought this fantastic linen yarn on a cone. It was quite fine and I usually like chunky yarns to knit.  But I love linen and this was a...