Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Finishing things that should have been finished long ago.

This project has been going on for some time, since I put it down many times to do something else. I had wanted to make a present for Freiherr Gottfried for his Baronial investiture, but I didn't have enough time to finish it before the said event. His Lady, Baroness Magdelena got her present at the investiture, but he got his quite a lot later...

So What to make for a landsknecht? Not much to embroider there. He had some time ago finally got his coat of arms registered, so I decided to make him a banner with his arms on it. I managed to do some research on the subject, with Gottfried's and Magdelena's friendly assistance (He did not yet know about the project at that time).

A heraldic banner:

Landsknecht banners were very big and they look to be very thin as well. I think silk painting would be a better way to make them, but there are examples of heraldic banners made with embroidery or applique, so I felt it safe to stitch it, and so I did. I was a little worried about the weight of the seams, though. Would they effect the way the banner flyes?

An embroidered and appliqued heraldic banner at the Museum of Miltenberg, Germany. More information to follow soon.
(Pictures by Annika Madejska, 2011)

An embroidered and appliqued heraldic textile at the German National Museum in Nuremberg, Germany. This is an example of a medieval original textile of unknown origin. It was regarded as Charlemagne's flag before it was sewn into a tabard during the 19th century
(Pictures by me, 2012)

On to the planning stage! So, how was his coat of arms? HOLY COW! Couldn't he pick any more unstitchable arms? Well, I can do this. I hope.


So. I started with ordering some samples from Silkkikauppa.fi, since I don't know much about silk and needed to touch the fabric to decide what type would be best. (Nice service from them, by the way. Unfortunately their site is only in Finnish.) They didn't have the colors I needed of the fabric I picked (Crepe de China), so I ordered enough of white and dyed it myself. I used modern commercial dyes.

The grey was tricky, since I had to figure out how much of the black dye I should use to get a light grey, but I managed to do it, to my great surprize.

It was horrible to cut the silks into so many small pieces. I had no idea if it's going to work at all. I stitched the top part together with the halberd on it first, that wasn't too bad... I had drafted a paper pattern of the banner to know how the background should be constructed, and stitched black and yellow striped strips of required lenghts. The seams are sewn with back stitch and seam allowances layed flat with whip stitch. The sewing thread had to be switched from black to yellow everywhere where the fabric color changes, to have the right side of the banner neat. The seam allowances have to be folded on the black side of the seam, or it will show through the yellow.

The strips were then connected into a rectangle, the top part was added and the Griffin was sewn on. That was an adventure in itself, since tracing the animal on the very thin silk was not easy at all, and I almost run out of fabric since I wanted to cut him as one piece. (That is why his other leg is smaller than the other.) The Griffin was first sewn on with a running stitch, then the edge was sewn on the background with whip stitch, the running stitch was removed and the background cut out behind the Griffin. After that I secured the cut seams on the background fabric and sew the edges on the griffin again with whip stitch. The detail lines on the Griffin are painted. I had thought of stitching them with thin strips of the black silk I had saved from cutting the seam allowanses, but in the end I got lazy and ditched that idea. Then it was "only" cutting the edges streight and hemming them. Due to the strip construction, the edges are on bias, so this was not as easy as it sounds like. The final measurements: 2m x 2m.

The finished banner:
(Picture by me, 2012)

He finally got the banner over a year after his investiture, but I hope it was worth the wait. He seemd to like it. And the banner got it's first test the next day, when it was first used in a very windy weather and then someone had removed it from the tent where it was put to be safe in case of rain and it got drenched during the night. Well, no ripped seams or bleeding of colors as I had feared, so all is well.

Here you can find a picture of me with the banner.

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