Embroidering an 18th Century Waistcoat

3 Apr

Today I am going to show you some pictures of the process I went through in order to embroider the Count D’Almaviva’s vest (waistcoat) for my Marriage of Figaro Shoot.

Here is a picture of the finished vest:

For reference, I relied on the book “18th Century Embroidery Techniques” by Gail Marsh.

18th Century Embroidery Techniques by Gail Marsh

Photographs of the Embroidery Process:

Making and 18th Century Men's Vest

The vest fabric and lining cut out. The fabric is Plum dupioni silk. I did not use the ivory lining after some consideration, and cut another out of purple.

The collection of packaged ribbon flowers that I used for the embroidery. I used many red/purple shades.

I laid out the flowers in a pattern featured in the book "18th Century Emroidry Techniques" by Gail Marsh.

Using a white marking pencil (Which I don't reccomend. I have found a much better water soluble marking pen) I drew the embroidery pattern on the vest by eye.

I laid out a cord along the vine line, and pinned it in place. This will be "couched" over, where thread is sewn over the cord to hold it in place.

Starting the couching, I used a green thread to sew over the cord, taking the pins out after tacking the cord at each pin.

Here the vine is further along.

Next, I started adding little embroidery leaves to the vine using a slightly lighter green thread.

Once the vine is finished, I added three flowers according to the marking pencil pattern.

Here is a picture of both the left and the right, fully embroidered. I also used glass seed beads and sequins more and more towards the top.

Here is the unattached collar with the finished embroidery.

A picture of the covered button with a sequins flower.

Close up of the Finished Count D'Almaviva Plum Silk Waistcoat

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8 Responses to “Embroidering an 18th Century Waistcoat”

  1. Janet Granger April 4, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    This is wonderful! I trawl through my ‘tag surfer’ list of posts people have uploaded on the theme of embroidery everyday, looking for good examples of embroidery, and most days I’m disappointed. But not today! This is just great.

    I’m amazed that you did the embroidery on the pattern pieces *after* they were cut out – so, some of the embroidery seems to be done very close to the fabric edges, without distorting the fabric. Scary!

    • tysonvick April 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

      I’m so glad you stopped by and enjoyed your visit to my blog!

      You’re right, it is a bit risky to embroider without a hoop on fabric that is already cut out, but I don’t have a hoop, so I just make sure to pull the thread gently and stretch the fabric as I go. You can see that it does pucker more towards the top. I hope that you will come visit again!

  2. Relished Artistry April 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    Tyson, this really is a beautiful piece! I just found your blog, and I’m going to be coming back… I, too, have a soft spot in my heart for doing my own takes on historical clothing. I’ve been doing a series of female fairy tale icons… I am completely jealous that you have so many models helping you out!!!

    Your project is quite substantial, and you’ve obviously progressed quite a ways. I will definitely be coming back to explore in much more depth. I wish you all the luck in the world–your skills are so diverse and in such the perfect combination for this how could you not succeed?!?

    It is heartening to see someone else using dramatic fashion for his own ends! Mozart never looked so good! Keep up the good work!

    • tysonvick April 16, 2011 at 1:59 am #

      Hi Corey, Thank you for taking the time to write! I appreciate it!

      When we make Historical style clothing, I think it is absolutely necessary to do our “own take”. That’s what makes this process artistic, rather than scholarly, you know? I love the control over shape that period garments give, and I love using my own tastes to give them a unique flavor.

      My models are all talented and dedicated artists, and I am so glad that they help me out! I couldn’t do it without them!

      Thank you for the compliments. I do hope this project is a success as well! I look forward to hearing from you again in the future!

  3. Lauren R December 9, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    You have such dedication! I love the silk flowers used, plus the embroidery. I’ve been curious about that book, and will definitely get it now. I hope to develop my patience; I am certainly inspired by you to do so 🙂

    • tysonvick December 9, 2011 at 12:57 am #

      Ha, ha! Thank you! But I might not be as dedicated as all that! I always thought I cut corners by using the pre-made flowers… But I really hate making little silk flowers so much. I did it once for a while, but it kept making me sigh and roll my eyes like a teenager, so I quit.

      I like that embroidery book pretty well! It’s informative and has lots of pictures.

  4. Emilio Lovato July 21, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    In a Rough estimate how much fabric does it take for a waist coat such as this one, as well as a full coat as well?

    • tysonvick July 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

      Hi Emilio,

      It takes about 41 inches for the front fabric, and 2 1/4 yards for the lining. A full coat takes around 5 or 6 yards if it has godets. Hope this helps!

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